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Tom Osborne And The Cost of Attendance

Peter over at Burnt Orange Nation loves Tom Osborne and gives him a nice endorsement , specifically about the issues Osborne has raised recently (well, recently in May, but it’s the off-season and time isn’t a factor). Ironic that a Texas guy would be gushing over Tom while I have to take issue with at least one of his statements, specifically the one that Peter emphasized:

"The student-athlete has probably gone backwards over the last 40 years in terms of the value of a scholarship," said Osborne, 71, who won three national titles at Nebraska in the 1990s.
"At one time, student-athletes got $15 a month for laundry in the 1960s. Those dollars would now be worth $80 a month. At one time, they had travel sports jackets and movie passes for student-athletes, and those things have been taken away.
"So what we've seen are coaches' salaries escalating, facility expansion and renovation escalating, and yet the economic plight of most student-athletes is not as good as it was 30 or 40 years ago. I think those are things we need to take a look at."

From this statement, it’s clear that Osborne isn’t worried about putting anyone through college. We do have a problem in collegiate athletics with the amount of money that’s pouring in - exactly as Osborne states. But we have another problem that rarely gets mentioned - that non-scholarship students are facing a mountain of debt by the time they graduate. Had Osborne made his statement to cover students as a whole, he’d be right on the money, but the idea that student-athletes have it rough it preposterous.

Given the resident and non-resident costs to attend the University of Nebraska , you’d think that more people would recognize that student-athletes are being compensated pretty well:

Resident Costs
Resident tuition: $169.50/credit hour
Fees*: $1,230.50/year
Tuition and Fees*: $6,315.50
Room and board: $6,653.50
Total: $12,968.50
Non-resident Costs
Non-resident tuition: $503.50/credit hour
Fees*: $1,230.50/year
Tuition and Fees*: $16,335.50
Room and board: $6,653.00
Total: $22,988.50
*Fees estimated. Actual course fees may vary.

So, assuming you’re going to spend five years getting your degree:

  • Five years in-state:             $64,842.50
  • Five years out-of-state:         $114,942.50

Nebraska is in line with other Big 12 schools with regards to cost of attendance. Compared to other universities it might be considered a bargain. As examples, I recently spoke with a fellow Nebraska alum whose daughter will attend the University of Michigan and he’s figuring on paying out $37,000 per year for her education. Another I spoke with commented on his daughter, who has finished dental school with $150,000 in debt.

The good thing is that Tom Osborne is looking out for the student-athletes. The down side is acting like student-athletes are being exploited when they’re not. The key here is that full-ride scholarship student-athletes are going to graduate from college FAR ahead of their non-scholarship counterparts because they aren’t going to have massive amounts of debt hanging over them when they’ve finished.

I'll probably touch on this issue a little more here in the off-season as it's one that hits close to home. Like a lot of parents, I have to make a choice in the next few years - save for retirement or help fund my kids' education. Perhaps Osborne could consider throwing his considerable weight behind the problem facing all potential students. One thing is certain - he'd have a much bigger audience as more people would be willing to listen.