Financial Literacy & NIL

Financial LIteracy NIL

We have a confession to make, we missed publishing this post during Financial Literacy Month, which is April, and the tardiness of the blog does not reflect how important we know financial literacy to be for student-athletes. 

As Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation sweeps across the floors of our nation’s legislative bodies, the aspect of our student-athletes’ financial readiness has been propelled to the forefront of the discussion. Many pieces of legislation passed in some states require a minimum number of hours dedicated to financial literacy, and this is music to our ears. 

In this blog, we will discuss what financial literacy is, why we think it is important and what to think about when providing educational materials to your student-athletes. 

What is Financial Literacy? 

Investopedia defines Financial Literacy as “the ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. Financial literacy is the foundation of your relationship with money, and it is a life-long journey of learning.”

As NIL is fast approaching, it is critical that higher education institutions start thinking about ways to ensure financial literacy curriculum is available to their industrious student-athletes. 

Why Do We Know It’s Important?

In addition to the benefits of understanding financial principles, it is just as important to understand financial pitfalls and traps. Being able to identify risky opportunities or debt levels that may be too high, will help prepare student-athletes for a bright future far beyond their college career. 

Being financially literate and confident plays an important role with respect to our mental & physical health, relationships, and the opportunities that arise as we transition from student-athletes to the professional working world. Just one example is having ample savings, which will allow individuals to explore opportunities that may be more meaningful because of financial security.

What Should Institutions Cover in their Initial Financial Literacy Package? 

With student-athletes in mind, we feel some of the most important aspects of financial literacy are below:

Relationships with Banking Institutions

Establishing formal relationships with banks and/or credit unions allow for safe harboring of hard earned money. These institutions offer excellent ways and opportunities to receive payment, keep track of income/expenses and set up the core foundation to establish healthy savings practices. As student-athletes start to take advantage of NIL opportunities, it is imperative they have banking relationships established to receive payments. 

You should offer your student-athletes material around banking relationships, what to expect, how to interact with them and differences between checking and savings accounts.

Budgeting and Exercising the Savings Muscle

“Pay yourself first” is a popular saying among financial literacy gurus. This basic principle means that as income comes in, be sure to set aside a percentage towards your savings and as you get more and more used to this process, the savings muscle grows and grows. Just like with anything new, the aspect of doing this may start off feeling uncomfortable but you’ll quickly realize the benefits of this practice as your savings grow along with your financial literacy confidence. 

There are plenty of great budgeting programs out there, one we find particularly useful is from our friends at FinancialStress and their 50-30-20 Budget template. The idea behind this program is 50% of your income goes to the most essential bills, 30% goes to things you want and nice-to-haves, and then the remaining 20% goes to paying down debt or saving.



Student Loans & Financial Aid

For most student-athletes, athletic scholarships will not cover the entire costs of tuition, student loans become a necessary bi-product of attending college for these individuals. It is critical for student-athletes to understand the impact of taking on loans, their interest rates and expected payments as they graduate and enter the workforce. 

With respect to NIL, earning potential of student-athletes can possibly impact need based aid. This presents new challenges for both the institution and the student-athlete, we want to ensure the student-athlete does not jeopardize their financial aid by taking advantage of NIL opportunities that push them over a need based threshold. Institutions should educate, inform and supply ample tracking mechanisms to make sure the student-athlete is readily informed of their financial aid position. 


Credit Cards

We are not advocating the use of credit cards but seeing how readily available they are and their popularity, we feel it is important to educate the student-athletes on the importance of knowing how credit cards work, what their risks are and what a credit score is and how it is calculated. 

Our friends at FinancialStress, offer a great piece of advice on what is the best First Credit Card For College Students. We encourage institutions to look at educational materials that encompass the advantages and disadvantages of credit cards and the impact of missing payments, etc can have on their credit scores.


As student-athletes across the country start monetizing from their name, image & likeness, the tax implications will be far-reaching and daunting. For anyone earning over $400 from self-employment, a federal tax return needs to be filed. Institutions need to ensure their student-athletes are equipped to adhere to the federal & state tax laws. It is our opinion that institutions should focus on both tax education as well as provide solutions to enable student-athletes to properly file their tax returns. NIL opportunities very well might be the first time student-athletes have a tax burden and it is imperative that they are equipped to handle the situation with confidence.

These foundational financial literacy topics will help ensure your student-athletes are ready to take advantage of the upcoming NIL legislation changes and do so with confidence! 

We stand by the concept that financial literacy is important for everyone, and supplying purpose built material for higher learning institutions and their talented, hard-working student-athletes. 

Lyle Adams


Lyle was a member of the 2007 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship team at Wake Forest. After embarking on a professional soccer career, Lyle transitioned to the tech industry, where he was one of the first 100 employees at Uber, designing platforms and tools for data consumers. Lyle also holds a Master’s in Sports Management from Columbia University.