Pay-to-play continues to cost families of student athletes

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March 17, 2016
Kids playing soccer

School budget challenges have resulted in deep funding cuts for middle and high school sports. Many school districts now charge “pay-to-play” fees for student athletes. These fees are a flat charge per year or per number of sports but parents often pay additional fees as well, for things like equipment and transportation.

In a 2012 NPCH Report, nearly 1 in 5 parents in lower-income households reported a decrease in their child’s school sports participation due to cost. Only one-third of lower-income parents reported that their child participated in school sports, while more than half of higher-income parents had a teen playing a school sport. Over 60% of children who play school sports had an athletic pay-to-play fee.

Figure 1. Participation in School Sports for Kids 12-17 Years, by Household Income

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Recently, the Michigan High School Athletic Association released the results of their 2014-2015 Participation Fee Survey. According to their survey, 51% of the responding schools reported requiring a participation fee for their athletes, up from 41% last year. Out of those schools, 97% said this was not their first time requiring a fee.

What do you think?
Should schools require a participation fee for student athletes? What about for other extra-curricular programs offered by the school? Share your thoughts in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.


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