Sports | March 9, 2020 11:48 am

Report: Many College Students Pay Thousands to Support Athletics Without Knowing It

An NBC investigation found students pay hidden fees that don't always appear on tuition bills

The NCAA logo seen on the wall. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
The NCAA logo seen on the wall. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
Getty Images

According to an NBC News investigation, many college students like James Madison University junior Katelyn Waltemyer pay thousands of dollars to support athletic programs at their schools without knowing it.

Waltemyer, who works for her campus newspaper, broke down her $23,000 tuition bill and discovered it contained a required fee of $2,340 solely to finance James Madison’s sports teams.

“For someone who doesn’t care a whole lot about athletics, it seems a bit much for me to have to contribute,” Waltemyer said. “I have two jobs. I’m a full-time student. And I’m paying for athletes’ scholarships? To me, that hurt.”

NBC reports Waltemyer’s situation is far from unique and that many students routinely pay fees that don’t always appear on their tuition bills and are sometimes only discoverable by searching the university website or filing a public records request.

NBC did just that and found that four out of five of the 230 Division I public universities charge students a fee to finance sports teams. Of those, more than half assessed an annual athletic fee of at least $100, and the fee at several was more than $2,000. The highest confirmed by NBC was the $3,340 annual athletic fee charged by the Virginia Military Institute.

It sounds crazy, but private universities are not required to disclose how much they charge students to help finance sports teams. “It’s by design that they’re not being transparent because they know that it’s not right,” Natalia Abrams, the executive director of the Student Debt Crisis advocacy group, told NBC. “It’s incredibly deceptive to bundle it that way.”

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.