Each WSU student on a full athletic scholarship will get an additional $3,542 this school year. Even though it’s cheaper to live in Pullman than it is to live in Seattle, WSU’s cost-of-attendance stipend is more than the $2,679 per scholarship that the Huskies have allocated.

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Last month, Washington State students on athletic scholarships came back to school to find a little extra money awaiting them.

The five power conferences in college sports voted in January to allow schools to have athletic scholarships include a cost-of-attendance stipend – an additional sum of money meant to cover college expenses beyond tuition and room and board.

That rule, which took effect in August, marked the first time schools have been able to include cost-of-attendance stipends in the aid package they offer to student-athletes.

The amount of aid differs from one institution to another, and each Washington State student on a full athletic scholarship will get an additional $3,542 this school year. Interestingly, even though it’s generally cheaper to live in Pullman than it is to live in Seattle, WSU’s cost-of-attendance stipend is more than the $2,679 per scholarship that the Huskies have allocated for their student-athletes.

Matt Kleffner, the Cougars’ chief financial officer and senior associate athletic director, said WSU’s athletic department didn’t have any input in determining that cost-of-attendance amount. WSU’s financial aid office, working in consultation with the state’s Financial Aid Association, devises the cost-of-attendance stipend that has been part of traditional academic scholarships for a long time.

WSU’s cost of attendance is higher than UW’s because “the cost of travel into and out of Seattle is easy, but to get to and from Pullman is not as easy,” Kleffner said. “I know it factors in cost of living and transportation.”

According to WSU’s financial-aid website, that $3,542 breaks down into $1,434 for transportation and $2,108 for miscellaneous expenses. Conversely, UW’s financial aid website estimates transportation expenses of $414 and miscellaneous expenses of about $2,265 annually.

Instead of doling out the money in monthly increments like some schools are doing, WSU will distribute the stipend to its student-athletes on scholarship once per semester.

The extra funds have already come in handy, said Dom Williams, a senior receiver on the WSU football team.

“It helps great. I’ve paid most of my bills off, I’ve paid my insurance, I have a lot more groceries in the house and I don’t have to worry too much about money,” Williams said.

Quarterback Luke Falk predicts that he and his teammates will appreciate that extra money even more come summer, when athletes generally stick around for voluntary workouts and 7-on-7s before fall camp begins but don’t get scholarship money unless they’re in summer school.

“Guys struggle a lot in the summer with housing,” Falk said. “A lot of guys are going to save it up to pay for rent and food in the summer.”

The Cougars have yet to determine whether they will give student-athletes who enroll in summer school additional cost-of-attendance money.

“We’re still discussing that,” WSU athletic director Bill Moos said, adding that many athletes who take summer classes don’t have the time to work and earn money.

But whether WSU decides to pay out cost of attendance stipends through the summer could depend largely on the bottom line.

WSU has 334 student-athletes receiving some portion of athletic aid this year. That works out to an additional expense of $820,000 divvied up among what is the equivalent of 231 full scholarships, with athletes receiving a cost-of-attendance stipend proportional to the percentage of scholarship aid they’ve been awarded. (A baseball player on a 50 percent scholarship, for instance, would get $1,771 in total cost-of-attendance money.)

That’s a significant expense for an athletic department that has struggled to stay in the black in recent years.

WSU’s total operating revenue for the 2014 fiscal year was about $54.4 million. But the Cougars’ operating expenses totaled just under $61 million. That, coupled with their annual debt payment of about $7.16 million (from the construction of the Cougar Football Complex and premier seating on the south side of Martin Stadium), means WSU finished last year with a deficit of about $13.7 million.

Moos said he hopes to pay for the additional $820,000 in cost-of-attendance stipends through fundraising dollars.

“If it doesn’t come from there, we’ll have to subsidize it from other revenue streams such as our television or multimedia contracts,” Moos said.

WSU ‘s athletic department took in about $7 million in contributions for the 2014 fiscal year, including about $5.6 million in the Cougar Athletic Fund. However, scholarship costs totaled roughly $9.6 million.

Throw in the extra $820,000 in stipend money, and the Cougars will have to generate more than $10 million in fundraised dollars this season if they want to fully cover their scholarship expenses in 2015.

WSU’s athletic department breakdown
How the WSU’s athletic department’s costs broke down in the 2013-14 fiscal year. The debt service was for the construction of the Cougar Football Complex and premier seating on the south side of Martin Stadium:
Category 2013-14
Total operating revenue $54,426,817
Gate revenue $5,888,263
Contributions $7,017,692
NCAA/Pac-12 contributions $23,190,435
Total operating expenses $60,978,745
Salaries, benefits $20,964,331
Financial aid $9,602,596
Team travel $4,418,889
Day of game $1,802,630
Net operating income -$6,551,928
Debt service -$7,162,514
Net operating income with debt service -$13,714,442