how can my young friend stay in college?
August 20, 2017 11:42 AM   Subscribe

A close family friend is at college on a sports scholarship. This past spring he contracted Lyme disease and after months of neurological and physical struggles, he's been told he can't play sports for the foreseeable future. I'm looking for any and all options he may have.

He's completely distraught, as are all those who love him. So far I've found the Jewish Free Loan Society (he's not Jewish, but the loans don't seem to require that) but I wonder if there are other grants, scholarships, etc. out there for him. He can't afford to take on large student loans. He lives in LA and goes to school in Maryland, if that makes a difference. Google is not helping, or I don't know where to look.

Thank you!
posted by aimeedee to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The college is not honoring his scholarship while he is out for medical reasons? Why not red shirt him? I would contact the financial aid office at the college where he had a scholarship. A friend of my son when he got injured before his senior year, the college moved him from a partial athletic scholarship to financial aid which covered about 90% of his tuition. It was actually more than the athletic money.
posted by AugustWest at 11:51 AM on August 20, 2017 [11 favorites]

You might get better answers if you included what year he is in, how long he has until graduation, whether he is a good student, and what he is studying, and any other details you can think of.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:10 PM on August 20, 2017

He needs to talk to his advisor/assigned staff member in the athletics department. They will know how they have handled athletes who have been injured and unable to fulfill scholarship requirements. Chances are this will also involve talking to the Financial Aid office, who has his FAFSA information on file and would know the full gamut of finanacial aid he qualified for before he was awarded the athletic scholarship (he very may well have qualified for other scholarships/grants before the athletic scholarship was credited to his account).

Is he in a fraternity or any other student organization? They often offer scholarships for members. While the application deadline has passed for this year, he can apply for subsequent years if needed.
posted by MultiFaceted at 1:57 PM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Normally, if a scholarship student-athlete can't play sports for medical reasons that are no fault of their own, the school honors the scholarship as long as the student is maintaining good academic standing.

At least my alma mater always does, and if they didn't, I'd raise holy hell about it.
posted by COD at 2:32 PM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

He absolutely needs to talk to financial aid to find out the real picture of what things will cost.
posted by k8t at 3:10 PM on August 20, 2017

"Normally, if a scholarship student-athlete can't play sports for medical reasons that are no fault of their own, the school honors the scholarship as long as the student is maintaining good academic standing."

Unfortunately only a very tiny proportion of NCAA schools do this; the others cut student athletes loose and take away their scholarships if they can't play or get cut or the coach just doesn't like them or he has a better recruit.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

MD has terrible Lyme issues and if he got it in the spring, good chance he got it on campus and/or the practice and playing fields. Nearly all D1 schools in MD look like they are in areas where Lyme is very likely. I think this should come into consideration by the school so maybe they can bring this up. Also maybe they can help to find him a work/study type job on campus. Without practice and travel time, he will have more time to have a job (and a lot of them are not strenuous).
posted by maxg94 at 7:59 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

He should absolutely speak to the financial aid office at his college. Completely different circumstances, but when my father lost his job, which made up about 75% most of my parent's combined income before my junior year, I met with the financial aid office at my college and they were incredibly helpful in reassessing my financial aid package.

If all else fails, are there any stipulations with the sports scholarship about what happens if he takes a semester or even a year off? I don't know anything about sports scholarships in particular, so that may not work with the terms of the scholarship, but if it is possible to take a semester or two off without losing the sports scholarship, that may be something to consider if he can't find other ways to cover tuition. (It may also help give him more time to recover from his illness).
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:42 PM on August 20, 2017

I am concerned about the nature of your friend's medical advice, in particular that he's on the receiving end of some of the snake oil / woo that is too commonly dispensed for Lyme. It sure doesn't sound like the athletic department's medical team was one who benched him for the "foreseeable future" -- they would only do that for repeat concussions or some other condition or vulnerability that can't be remedied where impact or repeated use would put him at dire risk.

In any event, it's the AD's medical team that needs to disqualify him (for whatever period they do) before whatever provision exists for alternative financial aid (scholarship continuation, switch to standard financial aid) can even start to be considered.

In what sense can't he not "afford" student loans? What makes him different from the vast majority of college students who are borrowing most or all of the difference (substantial at all but the best-endowed schools) between attendance costs, what their parents can contribute, grants, and part-time work. PLEASE don't take this to mean that literally all student loan borrowings for all students are "affordable" in the ordinary sense of the word -- some kinds of student loan balances are totally idiotic -- but if he already has one year paid for, and he's reasonably book-smart enough to graduate and enter a learned business or profession, a $50k or $75k student loan tab is completely worth it.
posted by MattD at 6:20 AM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

It turns out the reason my alma mater is so willing to let athletes continue on scholarship is that it is state law. However, given that the state is a very right leaning (hello former Gov. Pence) I'd be surprised if they are on the forefront of student rights here.
posted by COD at 7:42 AM on August 21, 2017

Thank you for these responses. I've reached out to get additional information from him and will share some of these answers with him as well. I'm assuming he's spoken with financial aid but perhaps not! By the way, he's had a series of concussions, which is what led him to a doctor in the first place. He thought he was just recovering slowly, but that's when they found the Lyme and the related neurological issues.
posted by aimeedee at 10:36 AM on August 21, 2017

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