GREENSBORO, N.C. — Low-income families in Guilford County Schools with student-athletes will have an additional expense to budget for this academic year. The system-wide change means students who participate in sports will have to meet certain qualifications in order for the $45 fee to be waived.

According to information on the GCS website, the district currently spends approximately $609 per student-athlete each year. 

"Guilford County Schools values the important life and character-building lessons our students learn through school athletics and is proud of the hard work and dedication of our student-athletes," read a statement on the website.

However, due to a shortage in funding, district says it can no longer afford to continue broadly waiving the athletic fee.

"Unfortunately, we can no longer afford to do so and maintain our core academic programs. That's why we're asking families of our student-athletes to pay $45 per year, regardless of the number of sports the student plays," the statement continued.

Families must now fit into at least two of the following three categories and provide supporting documents to be considered for a fee waiver. 

Category #1: The student is approved for free- or reduced-price meals at school or receives another form of assistance (food stamps, for example). 

Category #2: The student and/or student's family is considered homeless or lives in transitional housing, faces a possible eviction, or otherwise meets the requirements for Student in Transition/McKinney-Vento, which supports the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness. 

Category #3: Extenuating Family Financial Circumstances (If checked, please circle one item below and attach supporting documentation). 

• Unforeseen/excessive family medical expenses 

• Three or more student-athletes 

• Recent loss of home and/or job 

• Death of a student's parent within the last calendar year. 

If families are unable to provide documentation they are asked to contact the child's school social worker for assistance. 

Below are the general guidelines on GCS Athletics Fee from GCS website. 

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GENERAL GUIDELINES

o    The Guilford County Board of Education approved an annual fee of $45 for each athlete regardless of the number of sports played.

o    A student enrolled in an early college, middle college, or other schools without a sports program will pay the fee at the student's base sports school.

o    No athletic fees will be collected by schools until after tryouts and the coach has placed the student on the team roster.

o    Students whose families cannot afford the one-time athletic fee may apply for a waiver. (See the complete Athletic Fee Information Sheet and the Athletic Fee Waiver Request Form for more information.)

o    The fee does not guarantee playing time.

o    The fee does not guarantee a team's schedule will include a certain number of contests.

Payment Options

• Pay online by credit card using the link on your school's website or directly to www.k12paymentcenter.com 

• Pay at the school office with cash, check or money order for $45 per student-athlete. (Make check or money order payable to the school) 

Refunds 

• Refunds will not be given if a student-athlete quits a team, is dismissed from a team, withdraws from the school, or is injured during practice and/or contest and cannot play. 

• Refunds in other circumstances beyond district and/or family control will be decided on a case-by-case basis. 

• Exception: A student-athlete who pays the fee for a sport that is canceled by the school prior to the first contest will receive a refund. 

Waiver Process 

• Students/families who cannot afford the fee may request a waiver from the GCS director of athletics by submitting an "Athletic Fee Waiver Request" along with supporting documentation. 

• No students are automatically eligible for a fee waiver. A waiver request must be completed and approved. 

• A separate "Athletic Fee Waiver Request" must be submitted for each student-athlete in the family. 

Fee and/or Waiver Deadline 

• A student-athlete who makes a team must pay the athletic fee or be approved for a waiver prior to the first regular-season contest in their sport.

• A student-athlete who has not paid the fee or met waiver criteria by the first regular-season contest will be removed from participating in practices and contests. 

• A student may rejoin their team once the athletic fee is paid or approved for a waiver.