A Surprising New Way to Pay for College

Study Breaks Magazine
College is expensive, and tuition rates are rising year by year. Lots of students turn to academic or sports-based scholarships to help cover the cost, and over the past few years, some students are even getting scholarships through online gaming. It's no surprise that the rapidly growing videogame space is making its way into academic institutions, given that esports are expected to be a $1.5 billion market by 2020.

That means that, just as many people ritualistically sink into their couch for Sunday football, more and more fans are going to be logging onto various sites — like twitch, the massively popular streaming service bought by Amazon in 2014 for $1.1 billion — to watch their favorite players compete in games like Fortnite or DOTA. According to the New York Times, "Over the past two years, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is engaged with 98 varsity programs across the United States and Canada, has helped to facilitate $16 million in scholarships, according to the executive director, Michael Brooks."

An esports tournament

Those lucky students who qualify for these video game scholarships earn money towards tuition by joining an esports team at their prospective school. For example, at Robert Morris University Illinois, there are currently 80 students on the esports team, 70 of which are receiving some scholarship money. At the University of California Irvine, there are 23 students on esports scholarships, and the team is only expected to grow in coming years. Brooks says that he expects esports to grow at an extremely rapid pace, "Certainly within five years I hope to see varsity esports be a common sight on college campuses across North America."

Other scholarships available for video game fanatics focus more on the intention to study game design in college. For example, NYU offers $24,000 in partnership with the Evo gaming tournament to a student, "who best demonstrates an active participation in the fighting game community, an interest in game design with a focus on innovating in the field of competitive games, and a legitimate financial need."

So how do you go about receiving an esports scholarship? Brooks told Forbes that students earn esports scholarships just as they would earn a more traditional sports scholarship, "based off of three characteristics; academics, merit, and athletic. Our member institutions award esports scholarships (which we would relate to athletic scholarships) based off a number of different traits including; player skill, academics, ability to communicate, available positions open on the team, etc." So next time you start to tell off your child for playing too many video games, consider the possibility that they may just be helping pay their college tuition.

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