For community colleges like Orange Coast College, recruiting athletes does not come easily, as out of state tuition costs plague student athletes with unwanted burdens.
According to the California Community College Athletic Association’s bylaws, student athletes are eligible to receive federal or state aid. Additionally, student athletes can only receive academic grants based on previous academic achievements, unlike a four-year college.
“When I meet with them here they are like ‘I didn’t know about the out of state tuition. I’m in debt $2,000 to $3,000,’ and they are unable to register for their spring courses because there are holds on their accounts,” counselor for student athletes Luis Miranda said.
With little to no support financially through scholarships, paying for housing in Southern California’s expensive market has become a difficult reality for students and athletes alike.
Balancing school, work and practice is a challenge for student athletes, as they spend countless hours at practices and games every week, and still need to find time to study.
“For most of them if they just went to school it would be a lot, then you add the basketball too — it is a huge time commitment — and you add work on top of it, and now it’s just tough, but if they don’t work they can’t play,” said men’s basketball head coach Steve Spencer.
According to rentcafe.com, on average, an 851 square foot apartment costs around $2,000 in Costa Mesa.
When that is added on top of the college’s $276 per unit for non-resident tuition, officials say it becomes unsurprising that athletes may struggle to afford not only housing, but schooling and food as well.
OCC’s own student housing project, The Harbour, will provide a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit for $2,050.
“The most important thing is your health, after your health is your financial need, and your food you know because if they are not eating I try to refer the Pirates’ Cove,” said Miranda.
Along with the ample food options at Pirates’ Cove, sleeping bags have begun to be provided as well.
“There’s also a big effort by the team [at the Pirates’ Cove] to wash out and have sleeping bags donated, which we store and we make special referrals for students to access,” Maricela Sandoval, manager of the Student Equity center said.
According to Miranda, trying to balance school and work often causes student athletes to quit their sport. Miranda estimates that two to three student athletes a year quit due to their housing situation.
“They love the sport, academics are ok, but because they don’t have a place to study, or are living in the living room, they are telling me ‘You know what? I’m really thinking about quitting because of my housing situation,’” Miranda said.
All but four athletes on the men’s soccer team are from California, and the majority of them are from the surrounding area.
Officials said that other sports, such as baseball and volleyball tend to group its players together when finding housing.
With apartments being built on campus, there will soon be more solutions that will arise. However, as of now, athletes won’t find any special treatment.