The first thing a college hopeful needs to look at is their budget.

When it comes to this particular pathway, it’s the first thing you need to understand.

What really determines your budget? How can you understand your financial capabilities? and how can you maximize your opportunities through your budget?

Right from the start your budget is probably the single most important aspect of the whole college recruitment process as it will determine everything.

Everything will be built around what your budget is and the financial capabilities of the family. If you get to the end of the college decision making process and you finding the costs are not down to a range that is affordable for the family, then it’s not really going to be a viable option for you.

What you’re prepared to spend is probably the most critical part of it all and this blog is about getting you to think about how to come up with that magic number.

How can you figure out your financial capabilities?

A lot of people go into this process thinking, “Oh, scholarships. I don’t really need to have too much of a budget, I want/need a scholarship.”

Typically, the term Scholarship is interpreted differently from person to person.

In Australia and New Zealand, usually a scholarship means that you don’t pay anything as your school is covering your school fees. Like most Australian families, we don’t calculate the costs to participate in a sport or the cost of living into the value of the scholarship as it technically has “nothing to do with school” In the US, you can get a scholarship and still be left paying a large amount of money per year.

The term scholarship, is a piece of an overall puzzle. If you can get a sports scholarship and you can mix that with an academic scholarship or some sort of merit scholarship; then you can work to bring the total cost of that institution down into a range that you deem to be affordable through working out your budget.




By creating a budget you know that all of your efforts are being directed in the right places, and you’re not going to waste your time going through the entire process with a particular college to then to find out that it’s actually not going work from a financial standpoint.

When determining your budget you need to have the mindset that you’re not receiving any scholarship and this amount (your budget) is what you’re working with in terms of the money you can afford to spend.



So many international students go into this process with a “full scholarship mindset” with the following sentence being one that is often heard.”  Well, I can only afford a full scholarship”

That doesn’t make any sense…………………..

Because you’re not actually affording anything if you’re getting a full scholarship. If you get a full scholarship, fantastic. That’s a bonus.

The hardest thing to really grasp the concept of, when it comes to searching for scholarships in the USA is like anything in this world, the more that you’re willing to spend, the more that you can have. That’s just life, and no, sometimes it’s not fair.

In saying that though, the larger the budget, the more complicated it actually gets.

If you determine your budget early and you put a limit or threshold on what you’re willing to spend, then you know that all of your efforts are to land somewhere within that range or better, and if you get better than what you’re willing to spend, then it’s a bonus.

It’s more about maximizing your time by not wasting time too. By looking at things that are going to be affordable  then you are making the most of your time.



When determing your budget, a good rule of thumb and something that we always talk to our NSR families about is that you must be willing to spend what you’re currently spending on keeping your children at home.

There are things that are definite costs that you can’t avoid, those are the things that you need to look at and still be willing to spend.




For example, weekly expenditures on food. For some families this amount can vary, I’m sure, but a very conservative and lenient amount you can budget for is about $18 a day in food, which is –

Six dollars a meal.

If you think about it in a yearly format, six dollars a meal for 52 weeks, 365 days, all right, you do that’s that’s six-and-a-half thousand just there!

Just in food!

Add to that the money you spend on other daily things. Travel costs to and from school, back and forth to training and sporting events, petrol etc!

Be sure to include your sporting equipment in your budget too and depending on the sport that you play, that could be high or it could be just a pair of boots every year.

Stationery, books and uniforms too are all costs that you just become used to, but these are all things, that you need to be aware of and can help you to prepare a budget.

You can also look at mobile phone bills and miscellaneous things like PlayStation games, cinemas, going to the footy etc.

Literally everything that you spend money on over the course of a year, should be used to calculate a potential budget.

You really need to look at everything that you’re spending money on now for your son or daughter, or on yourself, to have a good estimate on what you can budget, for college.


Now you have a budget, that you’re willing to spend regardless if you get a scholarship or not, because as mentioned above, a specific scholarship amount is impossible to calculate in advance.

What if a coach says:

“Look, we don’t have any scholarship to give, but our total costs are fourteen-and-a-half thousand dollars a year. I want you to become a part of my program.”

If that works with your budget, then this college is already an option for you which is great!

Let’s say that you’re looking at a school that’s $30,000 a year, that has the ability to provide scholarship too.  It’s $30,000 U.S. per year at full price for schooling, books, accommodation, food, everything, and they look at you and they say,

“Well look, I would love you to come and be a part of the program. You’re going to get $8,000 for your academics. I’ll match that and I’m going to put $8,000 in as an athletic scholarship, you get $16,000 in scholarship,”

AND there you go, from 30 down to 14,  and if you budgeted for that amount in advance then again this college would work.

Let’s say you got a College offer that is 40K per year…..

The coach has told you they put together a package that brings your costs down to $18,000 a year. Well then you have a decision to make. Is that opportunity worth enough to you in terms of where it is to pay out that additional $2,000 ( if your budget is 16,000) keeping in mind that $18,000, that’s schooling, that’s books, that’s accommodation, that’s meals, that’s sport, that’s any sport related travel.

These are the types of decisions that you have to sit down and think about prior to starting the process.

You need to take scholarship out of the equation, because nobody owes you anything.


Think about the figure you’re willing to spend, establish that right away and I promise you that it will guide the entire process going forward for you.

Especially if you don’t have the help of NSR, your budget is key


If I have any advice for any Australian (or international family for that matter) whether you’re an NSR athlete or not, it’s never too early to look at this pathway and think about the future. It’s only going to help you prepare and plan out your path.

So the way to maximize your budget and the way to think about it is

1) Plan to spend money you are already spending;

2) Plan early and really start saving.

If you’re the athlete, and this genuinely means something to you, work, save a bit of money and prepare for the expenditures associated with the US Collegiate Pathway.

Planning is the key.