College athletes not only dedicate countless hours to their sport but also to perform well academically. However, amidst the rigorous training schedules and demanding course loads, financial literacy often takes a back seat.

As with any college student, this should be a large concern for universities. Over 40% of athletes have taken on student loans of $20,000 or more.1 Without proper management, these loans can quickly add up over time and cause issues.

Recognizing this gap, colleges have started adopting measures to enhance the financial knowledge and skills of their student-athletes. By instilling solid financial literacy in college athletes, institutions can empower them to navigate their post-sport careers more effectively.

Why Focus on College Athletes?

Many college students struggle when it comes to financial literacy, as a large portion of learners enter their higher education years with little to no financial education.2 This puts them at a major disadvantage in managing their finances independently and can lead to long-term negative effects as students begin to take on college loans.

But college athletes, in particular, face unique challenges due to the specific opportunities that arise from their athletic abilities. Over 450,000 college students have been compensated through new NIL deals to date3 – introducing students to financial responsibilities and opportunities they may not have encountered before.

These opportunities, such as endorsement deals, appearance fees, and potential professional contracts after graduation, can have a significant – potentially disastrous – financial impact if not properly managed.

That is why colleges need to prioritize the financial literacy of their student-athletes to ensure they make informed decisions and secure their financial futures.

10 Tips to Boost Student Financial Literacy

1. Mandatory Financial Literacy Courses

One effective way for colleges to promote financial literacy is by making it a mandatory curriculum for all student-athletes. Incorporating courses that cover essential topics such as budgeting, saving, and investing can ensure that athletes graduate equipped with critical money management skills.

2. Personal Finance Workshops

In addition to mandatory courses, organizing personal finance workshops specifically tailored for student-athletes can be highly beneficial. These interactive sessions provide opportunities for students to learn from finance experts who understand the unique challenges athletes face when it comes to managing money.

3. Mentorship Programs

Establishing mentorship programs with professionals who specialize in finance or have experience handling finances within sports organizations is another valuable initiative colleges should consider implementing.

Pairing student-athletes with mentors who can provide guidance and support in financial matters can significantly enhance their understanding of money management.

4. Financial Planning Services

Colleges should provide access to financial planning services for student-athletes, either through on-campus resources or partnerships with external financial planning firms.

These services would help athletes create personalized financial plans, understand investment options, and make informed decisions about saving for the future.

5. Real-Life Case Studies

Integrating real-life case studies into the curriculum can be another effective way to teach student-athletes about the consequences of poor financial decisions and the benefits of proper money management.

By analyzing case studies involving well-known athletes who faced financial challenges after their sporting careers ended, students can learn valuable lessons that will inspire responsible financial choices.

6. Guest Speakers from the Sports Business Industry

Inviting guest speakers from the sports business industry to share their experiences and insights on managing finances would give student-athletes a unique perspective on how finances operate within professional sports organizations.

Hearing firsthand accounts from individuals who have navigated these challenges successfully will provide valuable insight and motivation for aspiring athletes.

7. Budgeting Tools and Resources

Colleges should provide accessible budgeting tools and resources specifically designed for student-athletes to help them track expenses, set savings goals, and plan for the future. Online platforms or budgeting apps can be incorporated into athletes' daily routines to make financial management more convenient and efficient.

8. Financial Literacy Programs and Initiatives

Colleges can launch financial literacy programs and initiatives targeted specifically at student-athletes. These campaigns can include workshops, seminars, webinars, and online resources focused on topics like debt management, understanding credit scores, tax planning, and the importance of long-term financial planning.

9. Partnerships with Financial Institutions

Colleges should consider forming partnerships with local banks or other financial institutions to provide student-athletes with access to tailored banking products and services that meet their unique needs. These partnerships could offer special accounts or benefits for athletes to encourage responsible saving habits.

10. Collaboration with Alumni Athletes

Interacting with successful alumni athletes who have managed their finances well after graduation can be incredibly impactful in promoting financial literacy among current student-athletes. Alumni can share their experiences, advice, and strategies for achieving long-term financial security while pursuing careers outside of sports.

Financial Education Tailored for College Students

As colleges prioritize student-athletes' financial literacy, implementing these tips can provide a comprehensive framework for success. However, managing and coordinating all these initiatives may seem challenging. That's where iGrad’s financial literacy program comes in.

The iGrad Financial Literacy Platform is a powerful online tool designed specifically to address the financial education needs of college students, including student-athletes. By partnering with iGrad, colleges can seamlessly incorporate financial education into their existing programs and resources.

With iGrad's platform, student-athletes can access interactive courses on topics ranging from budgeting and debt management to investing and retirement planning. They can also benefit from personalized budgeting tools, as well as real-life case studies that showcase the importance of making informed financial decisions.

If your college is committed to equipping student-athletes with a strong financial education, then partnering with iGrad Financial Literacy is the next logical step. Contact iGrad for a demo to learn more about how your institution can help set your student-athletes up for long-term success.

1 - Student loans of NCAA student athletes in the U.S. 2019

2 - NGPF Annual Report

3 - Who is the highest paid college athlete? NIL endorsement deal money in NCAA sport