March Madness is my favorite event on the sporting calendar for so many reasons. I like the fact that it lasts 3 full weeks, and then it suddenly ends, just in time for baseball and the Masters. I like the unpredictability and the ever-present chance for a monumental upset. I like watching lesser-known schools (Richmond, Belmont, Bucknell, St. Peter’s) try to shock the nation with victories over the big schools. I like the fact that the Ivy League champion, with precisely zero scholarship players, gets to battle with “student-athletes” from schools like Kentucky. I like watching the consistent excellence of Duke and Coach K. I like the fact that I can write about sports and there is at least some relevance to my business. And I like the basketball itself. I did play in high school, I later coached, and I claim to have a decent eye for both talent and strategy (I guess the reason I don’t coach my son’s Y team today is because a) I morph into Bob Knight, yelling with intensity at 8 year olds for poor hustle on defense and b) because of A, my wife won’t let me).
Any fool can select winners between two college basketball teams. After all, each team has a numerical seed to give the viewing public an idea of a favorite (but if that’s the case, then why so many upsets?). In fact, it’s often those with little knowledge of the teams and their talent who end up winning your office pool, right? I mean, how much does Sheila from the marketing department really know about NCAA basketball? Each year I enter my own bracket, hoping that my vast knowledge of the game will send me to the winner’s circle in 3 weeks, collecting a pool of money. I don’t know if I’ve ever won.
And so, for the 4rd straight year, I’ve taken the ubiquitous Division I Men’s Basketball Championship bracket and added my own, unorthodox angle to the matchups. Specifically, I choose winners based on financial aid generosity. If a school gives more money, on average, then they’re a winner in my bracket. You can have Kentucky, Kansas, UConn and Wisconsin. I like Princeton, Notre Dame, Duke, Georgetown, and UNC. I like Gonzaga and Bucknell. Because when schools are more generous, the students are the winners. And I like when students win.
My key matchup: 1. Vanderbilt vs. Richmond. Both schools meet 100% of financial need, and both are excellent Southern universities. These are two schools that might, just might, end up costing less than a public state university because of the financial aid equalizer. And your kid is likely to finish in 4 years, thereby bucking the national trend of 5.5 years.
I’m not suggesting that you follow this formula when making your picks. In fact, I unequivocally deny any claim or responsibility should you follow my picks and lose. But you should examine the methodology, especially of you are the parent of a high school student. After all, many high school students select colleges based on their performance in the Dance, so I figure why not examine those schools and their financial aid generosity. After all, how do you select between UNLV vs. Illinois, or St. John’s vs. Gonzaga? Most folks have no knowledge of either team, so why not go with a random formula? All financial aid statistics come from the College Board, a reputable source. So click on the link below, and let me know what you think.
If you want the full court press on financial aid generosity, then take a time out and check out my free, upcoming workshops. Winning your office pool is NOT a financial aid strategy. But attending my workshop could be where your college strategy takes shape. If you’re a parent of an 10th or 11th grader, don’t settle for a desperation 3 as the clock winds down on your financial aid eligibility. Proper planning can make all the difference in getting an easy basket.
For more information on my upcoming free workshop, visit www.LearnCollegeFunding.com.