Paying For College

Figuring out how to pay for college when hockey is a part of the equation can get complicated. There are institutional expenses as well as potential additional expenses to play hockey. Factor in athletic, academic, and 3rd party scholarships, need-based financial aid packages – and it’s a lot to unpack and understand. To help families make sense of it all, I have a series of ‘posts’ designed to help you better understand the F-A (Financial Aid) process and certainly at minimum, your own finances.

We’ll explain what financial aid is, how it can be used to help defray the cost of paying for college expenses, the many nuances, as well as a whole host of other relatable topics on the subject. Just read the posts below. At the end of the day you could be the best player in the world, admissions could accept you, but if the school isn’t affordable – it generally won’t work out. As our ‘tag line’ states, ‘Be Informed and Get Educated’. Knowledge is definitely power and when you understanding how the financial aid piece works, you can make better informed decisions without surprises.

So enjoy the posts below!

Post #1 – The Family Financial Evaluation


Any parents trying to assess how to pay for college for your hockey-playing daughter(s) should first do what we call: The Family Financial Evaluation. The goal is to come up with an amount of $ you can ‘afford’ and are willing to use each year towards your daughter’s education to attend school and play hockey. Knowing that number as early as you can will only help you and your daughter evaluate the hockey opportunities as they come along. Unfortunately, the hockey recruiting process doesn’t always line-up well with the financial aid process at each institution. Players get asked to make commitments before all of the information you’ll want to know – like how much it’s going to cost – are known.

Do Some Math

To help families figure out if a particular school is affordable, we’ve created a set of what we call ‘Family Financial Worksheets’ with a list of expenses in certain categories to work through. Just Click HERE for the Google Doc Sheets and you’ll find the different category tabs at the bottom. Feel free to download and use. These categories include A) Family Expenses, B) College Expenses w/out hockey, C) College Expenses w/ Hockey, C) Personal Income + College Savings, and E) Outside Revenue Sources. The last tab is a cumulative worksheet that brings everything together. Just plug in the total amounts from each category worksheet and the math should compute.

Below are the types of categories you’ll see and list of expenses/line-items to consider when evaluating.

Non-Hockey Related College Expenses:

  • Tuition Fees… Total cost of a full load of classes for 1 academic year
  • Dorm/Housing Fees… Cost of housing, on or off-campus, for 1 academic year. Could be on or off campus depending on your situation. Some schools require students to live on campus for a certain number of years before being allowed to move off campus. Best to budget for the higher amount in your calculations.
  • Institutional Meal Plan… cost of meals for 1 academic year that the school provides
  • Books… cost of books required for classes in 1 academic year
  • Institutional Fees… Many schools charge fees on top of tuition, housing, food… a school could have many type of fees such as for technology, athletics, environmental, labs, etc.
  • Health Insurance… Cost for 1 full academic year. Especially important for international students!!! Some athletic departments offer a plan to purchase, others do not.
  • Computer/Laptop & Software… Some schools and academic majors require both
  • Academic Supplies… Notebooks, pens, paper, etc.
  • Clothing… For all seasons
  • Spending/Entertainment… Fun money for the weekend, dinner out, etc.
  • Transportation/Car… If your plan is to have a car, then plan for how expensive it will be to have… school parking permits, gas, insurance, maintenance, etc.
  • Travel Expenses… Roundtrip travel from home to school. Keep in mind the total number of trips in a year. Think about vacation periods – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, End of year, etc. and how travel will occur – plane, car, bus, train??

Hockey Related Expenses

  • Team Fee’s… These could be anything from needing to purchase team required apparel, defraying team travel costs for a special team trips, etc.
  • Playing Equipment… Skates/sticks/protective equipment that is not issued to players by the program. Keep in mind many programs, especially at the D-III level, require equipment to be turned in at the end of the year. So if you want to train in the summer months – you’ll need equipment of your own.
  • Team supplies… Miscellaneous things, for example shower supplies for the locker room, etc.
  • Pre-season Ice Time… Many rinks do not have ice until a certain date in the fall (especially at the D3 level). If the team plans on having captains practices or pre-season ice, there will most likely be a nominal cost.

Most of the above expenses are fixed and there’s not a lot of wiggle-room to get them lower. They are what they are because the school or hockey program sets the amounts. There are some expenses that you potentially can manipulate on your own, to lessen the total cost. These could include:

  • Housing… could live off-campus and live with other students to split rent/utils.
  • Meal Plan… if living off-campus, don’t buy a school meal plan, or don’t buy a full meal plan

Below are potential revenue sources parents & students may have access to that can help offset the above costs broken down by personal and outside sources.

Personal Income & College Savings

  • Parent income – include bonuses, commissions, income from part time jobs/side hustles etc.
  • College savings plans… 529 Education Plans, mutual funds, other investments specifically for college
  • Parental personal non-investment type savings for college… cash on hand
  • College savings plans, investments, or personal savings in the name of the student
  • Student income… part-time job, investment income, any add’l income

Outside Revenue Sources

  • Athletic scholarships from the institution (D1 only)
  • Financial aid package from the institution… this is $ that comes from U.S. government programs or $ direct from the institution that it allocates for its own student financial aid-packages
  • Academic money from the institution based on the student’s high school academic performance
  • Government college/university aid programs from your home country, state/province, city/town or territory
  • Student/Education loans from the institution, a bank, or other 3rd party
  • Money from a family member

Things to keep in mind

  • Students/families need to apply to receive ‘Financial Aid’ from an institution. Combined family income & assets like the equity in your house and other investments, # of children in college, are all examples of what schools use in determining financial aid packages. But these components vary school to school. No matter what you financial situation, you should always apply for aid. You never know what a school is willing to give you
  • Loans need to be paid back
  • Athletic scholarships have tax implications for international students, be sure to know what that means exactly
  • Academic award $ does not have to be paid back
  • Institutional financial aid packages are made up of several components… be sure to know exactly what your package is made up of… Institutional money, Gov’t student aid money, institutional loans, etc.


Do your own Family Financial Evaluation and fill out the worksheets as early as you can. Doing so will help you create a budget from the time you plug in the numbers until your daughter graduates college. Figure there will be a 4-yr window for her to graduate. So if your daughter is heading into grade 11 for this fall, you’re looking at a 6-year budget window. A lot can happen in a 6-year span. Inflation anyone? Just as food & travel have raised prices, so too will schools. Don’t for get to include a cost adjustment for inflation too!

One caveat. There will be expenses and money sources to help offset those expenses that you won’t be able to determine exact amounts for right away (hockey related costs, athletic scholarships, financial aid from schools etc.) In these cases, estimate high on expenses and low on outside revenue sources. All schools have financial aid calculators which is a good ballpark number to get institutional financial aid figures from. For hockey related expenses, again tough to know exact figures until you can get hard numbers from coaches. It’s doubtful team fees (mostly at D3 level) would be more than a few thousand at the highest (not including parent travel to games etc.)

Good luck!