Going brokeYou can go broke trying to get your kid a scholarship, and that’s the opposite of what you’re after for your family. You want net gain, not net loss.

The amount of money parents spend on things that they think will guarantee or increase their kids’ scholarship chances is often based on emotion and not logic. What I’ve found is much of this money is spent out of fear or from peer pressure.

In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2015–2016 academic year averaged $24,061. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $47,831.

Yes, when it comes to the end of the recruiting journey, you want $10,000 … $20,000 … $30,000 or more each year staying in your pocket! Parents, I know the financial strain of paying for college. But spending a ton of money on things you hope will get your kid a scholarship is no guarantee at all.

Here are three things you can do to spend less in your scholarship efforts and still be successful.

1. Cut back on lessons. I sent my kids to hitting and pitching lessons, and paid quite a bit. But I was selective. It wasn’t an “until further notice” contract with the instructor. Be strategic. I would bet that you could cut your costs in half and still not sacrifice your kid’s future and improvement. You could save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year.

2. Cut back on tournaments and trips. If your son or daughter is on a club team, you’re pretty much obligated to go on the trips. But, really, you’re not. Take a stand at some point when you feel it’s too much. Or have your kid compete on a club team that doesn’t travel so much.

This may seem like foolish advice.  However, since you’re in the middle of this travel and competitive world, your perspective may be cloudy. The big thing is to be selective. Have a year-long plan and take control of travel. You could save hundreds of dollars per trip, dollars that may have no effect at all on scholarship chances.

3. Say “no” to camps. There will always be another camp to attend. Colleges thrive on camps to fund their programs. But you can get the wrong perspective that going to camps will increase your kid’s scholarship chances. It seems logical on the surface.

“If a coach notices my son or daughter at the camp, they’ll get recruited,” you think.  But this isn’t always the case. Camps aren’t a great way to get discovered. Choose the most strategic camps to attend– those that are indeed recruiting camps where your kid will get a lot of exposure. And, especially, ones on your list of schools.

Hard Decisions

Cutting back will take work and you’ll have to make some hard decisions that your son or daughter won’t like. But pouring money into things that don’t assure success is not right. I’d rather see you be selective and treat each opportunity with more focus and purpose. At some point there are diminishing returns on the money you spend. It’s important to discover what that point is.

Where to Direct Your Dollars Wisely

As you save money, you can redirect those dollars more strategically, such as making school visits to those schools where there is keen interest. Getting face to face with coaches is important as you are making this huge decision. Seeing schools first hand is key.

Investing in resources that lay the foundation for a quality recruiting strategy is also important. An hour with a consultant could be like gold. Purchasing a book or other guide can help in a big way to set your plans. Attending a workshop could clarify critical recruiting issues. Look for ways to leverage your dollars outside the playing field.

So, how about starting by taking an inventory of your 2016 plans in the three areas I described above? You’ll be making some wise decisions that will save you money while preserving the integrity of the process.

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