PhotoWhen a student athlete gets a college scholarship how far does it go? Scholarships cover the basics -- room and board and tuition. But if an athlete is coming from a family situation that is tight already, there is not much money to send to get extra food or even shampoo.

It might seem like nothing to the average middle-income person but if there are younger siblings at home the athlete's family can be struggling to make ends meet.

With a grueling athletic schedule and studying for school it is pretty difficult for a young adult to hold down an outside job as well. But that is about to change. The NCAA is allowing schools to give cash stipends to fund things like late-night snacks, laundromats and student fees, with a little left over for entertainment.

This is supposed to bridge the gap between scholarship money and what it actually costs to attend school.

Most major sports

The stipends will be available for most of the major sports programs throughout the country. The students will get between $2,000 - $5,000 a year. Some schools are upping the ante by a few thousand more.

Athletics are a big money draw for schools but it can be a touchy issue because student athletes can’t draw a salary. There are a lot of rules on the books about giving money to students. In fact they are not supposed to receive anything like food or clothing. Coaches can be sanctioned for even trying to help a student go home if there is a death in the family.

The new stipend "is a modest amount, but it's definite solid progress," said Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, which is trying to become the first union for college athletes.

If you are worried about the colleges spending money they may not have, you can stop. Division I college football and men's basketball teams made a combined profit of $1.7 billion in the 2013-14 school year, according to federal data. According to Huma the schools will be spending about $100 million. 

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