Using Athletics to Pay for Your Degree

If you're on of the thousands of student-athletes attending college, you already know that sport can be a handy way to help pay for your degree.

Australian basketball players have made headlines recently with how many of them are coming to the United States to play basketball on scholarships. Although Eddie Palubinskas was the first Australian to star in an American college when he came to Louisiana State in the '70s, going on to become shooting coach to Shaquille O'Neal, the last 20 years have seen a spike in Australians coming to America.

Since the days of Palubinskas, and later Andrew Gaze and Andrew Bogut, U.S. colleges have been turning to Australia to mine their depths, taking advantage of the country's sophisticated and well-developed sports system. As of Nov. 17, 2013, the NCAA boasts of 54 men and 39 women from Australia playing Division 1 basketball, and this doesn't even include lower divisions and junior college systems. But the American school most on board with scooping up Australian hoopsters is St. Mary's College in Moraga, California, with the Gaels having welcomed 14 Australians since 2001.

Not only is it a chance for athletes on the other side of the globe to prove their skills on the court in front of the largest audience, but they also get a chance to have their education partially or fully paid-for at some of the world's best and most elite universities. With a year's tuition at the country's best schools regularly topping $20,000 per year, Australian basketballers have found a way to both get a quality education and keep in shape at a high level. And because the United States is a country so devoted to athletics, Aussies have the chance to make their sport a career once they've crossed the stage to collect their degree.

Playing basketball at the collegiate level may not be for everyone, let alone the rising numbers of Australians looking for an in, but it can prove to be a cost-effective way of securing a degree on someone else's tab.

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