Average lifetime value of Your student Fans

What is the end result and long term benefit of a robust new-age student section?

Lifelong fans.

Students who have an irrational loyalty and passion for your school and athletic programs because of the memories they made.

How many of you reflect back on your college experience as “the glory days” and think about the incredible memories? Gives you chills most likely.

Sports have that kind of power. There’s a reason terms like BIRG (Basking In Reflected Glory) or CORF (Cutting Off Reflected Failure) exist.

These lifelong fans have a lifetime value to your institution.

Have you ever wondered what they are worth?

How much revenue do they generate for your institution over the course of their lifetime?

What is the value of a student section?

This blog is to help you calculate some numbers and answer those questions.

By no means do I have the perfect formula, nor would consider myself a financial or economic expert, but I do want to provide a resource to help you calculate those figures yourself.

First, what is Average Lifetime Value?

In the collegiate athletics context, the Average Lifetime Value of a Student (fan) is the total revenue a university can reasonably expect from a single student over the course of their lifetime.

Why does this matter?

I see many collegiate athletic departments too focused on the short term. Quick fixes, quick hits, big promotions because they need to hit a certain attendance number to meet a certain metric to please “the powers that be”, whatever that means.

Congratulations, you just spent thousands of dollars on a t-shirt giveaway and food and hit your student attendance record for the year. But the next game only 10% of those students show up, and even fewer are engaged.

Culture, experience and connection are what turn students into lifetime fans.

So let’s apply this to a student and your university to calculate your ALVF, Average Lifetime Value of a Fan.

I’ve provided a calculator to give a conservative baseline number. It focuses on the three primary revenue sources, so there is plenty of room for this number to grow.

You may need to collaborate with a few different departments to complete this formula and determine your ALVF.

You’ll notice I exclude student fees, student tickets and student section membership fees. You’ll see why after.

The metrics you will need for this calculator are:


  • Avg tuition cost/yr

  • Avg yrs enrolled/student


  • % of alumni who donate

  • Avg alumni donation amount/yr

  • Avg yrs alumni donate

Season Tix

  • % of alumni who purchase season tickets

  • Avg alumni season tix price

  • Avg alumni season tix quantity

  • Avg yrs alumni purchase season tix

Once you have these numbers, you can plug them into the calculator I’ve provided. I have a brief video tutorial included in the calculator explaining each metric.

Click here to download the ALVF Calculator (Google Sheets). Click 'file' > 'make a copy'

Click below to download the ALVF Calculator on Excel.

Download XLSX • 51KB

Warning: These numbers may be mind-boggling, especially when you see the impact of retention rates.

Do an experiment. Take your current retention rate and increase it by 5% and see how much additional revenue that generates?

How much is your university and athletic department losing from an apathetic culture or poor retention?

So how can you use these numbers?

The benefits of a robust new-age student section are what I call the 4 “R’s”.

Recruiting, retention, recognition, revenue.

ALVF speaks directly to retention and revenue. Now if you’re reading this blog, you probably already have a decent sense of the value a student section brings to your school.

Home court advantage, fun atmosphere, happy coaches and players, engaged students and fans.

But maybe other campus departments are having trouble seeing the value of investing in the student section.

Use these numbers to change their mind. You and I both know Athletics is the front porch to your university, and your student section is the front porch to athletics. So if every student is REALLY worth your ALVF, campus will have a vested interest.

Incoming freshmen are no longer just worth your standard $65 student fee or $100 student season ticket fee… that student is worth $50,000 or whatever your ALVF is.

And what about the students who transfer at semester or after their freshman year because they didn’t get involved, feel connected or plugged in to the university? Dollars out the window.

As I mentioned before, I’m not an economics or financial expert and maybe you need to seriously modify this formula, but it should at least get you thinking about the importance of the average lifetime value of your students.

Treat your students like future donors.

Invest in them, build a new-age student section, create a rowdy environment for them to make lifelong memories.

Transform students into lifelong fans.

To your success, Brandon