While college costs continue to rise, unemployment hovers around 10% and even professionals who have jobs find that raises have seen raises and bonuses curtailed. It’s meant that many long-time collectors with children about to enter college are looking for fresh funding sources. Turning their sports collections into liquid assets is one way to do it.
New Jersey-based Just Collect is eBay’s largest seller of vintage sports cards and collectibles, taking in thousands of dollars in consignments each week. It’s a trend they’ve seen first hand. Recently, a collector with two teenage daughters turned over a huge collection of high grade vintage programs and baseball card sets.
“This seems to be a common theme among many of our baby boomer, or slightly younger, clients,” said Just Collect’s Scott Greenwald. “As collectors choose whether to keep their collections or pay for their children’s eduction, consignors we are seeing are choosing the latter.”
Tuition and fees for the current school year average $7,605 for in-state residents at public four-year colleges and $27,293 at private institutions, according to a report released last month by College Board. Tack on room and board expenses and the cost increases by $8500-$9700 per year. Grants and aid have increased, but so has competition for scholarships, which combined with high unemployment, means incoming freshmen just don’t have the means to cover even the first year themselves.
It may not be easy for students or collecting parents, but in the long run, college pays off. The typical full-time year-round worker with a four-year college degree earns over the course of a working life more than 60 percent more than the worker with only a high school diploma according to the College Savings Foundation. By age 33, the typical college graduate who enrolled at age 18 has earned enough to compensate for borrowing to pay the full tuition and fees at the average public four-year institution, including interest on student loans to cover those charges, and earnings forgone during college years.
Just Collect has seen items come into its office that haven’t been seen in years as collecting dads decide to raise tuition money by letting go of at least part of what they own. The latest consignment is one Greenwald describes as “exciting”.
“The vast majority are World Series programs, and there are a few All Star Game programs too,” said Greenwald. “Most exhibit very bright colors and have obviously been stored in a dark area, as they really ‘pop’ when you look at them. The collection also had a 1951 Bowman Near Set with Mantle and a number of starter sets from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.”