Budgeting for a Debate Team


There are various costs associated with having a debate team. I outline some of these here in order to assist with budgeting.

Entry fees.  There are entry fees for nearly all tournaments. And those fees vary between $20 and $90 per competitor.

Judge fees.  As discussed in the essay on tournaments, schools normally provide judges to cover their own entries, but if schools have to hire judges (when judges are available for hire), those costs will be approximately $75/competitor.  Certain events do allow/encourage parent judges, so participating in those events can help reduce your judge costs.

Food.  People will need to eat while they are competing. Students ordinarily pay for their own food, so that isn’t an expense that you need to budget for, but coaches and judges will need to eat.  You should budget your school’s daily meal stipend for that.

Transportation.  Transportation, even for local tournaments, can be a significant expense.  The cost of a bus can be up to $1,000 per day and airfare probably averages $350/flight.  When planning tournaments, you need to be mindful of transportation expenses.

Hotels. If you are staying overnight at a tournament, you will need to budget for hotels. If students will stay 3-4 in a room, you can budget $50/night per student. If it is 2 to a room, you should budget $75/night per student. Coaches should be budgeted at $150/night per coach.

Rental car. If you are flying to a tournament, you will need to rent a car. You should budget $300/weekend/car.

Coach stipend/salary.  Coach stipends and salaries vary substantially. The stipends can be anywhere from $500 to a full-time salary.  You need to think carefully about the competitive expectations and tournament participation expectations for the team when determining the salary for the coach.  Many schools also support assistant coaches.

Instructional materials.  Instructional materials consist of books, online applications, and websites such as millennialsd.com that help support student research efforts. You should budget $500-$1000/year for instruction.

Debate organization memberships.  Membership in at least one debate organization is recommended.  You should budget $300 per year for these memberships.