Allstate Insurance; or, Deception and Student Scholarships?

I've been watching college football for years, but it was only at the end of last season that it dawned on me that for a number of those years I've been watching field goals and PATs fly between the uprights and into the "good hands people" net of Allstate Insurance. When that happens, the sportscasters are mandated to say something about Allstate contributing about $3+ million towards scholarships since 2005. Even Allstate's own website boasts:

Allstate has been involved with college football since 2005 when Allstate's The Good Hands appear on the field goal nets of 82 colleges and universities as well as during championship bowl games across the country. For every field goal kicked into these nets, Allstate donates to the school's scholarship fund. Since 2005, Allstate has contributed over $3.4 million to collegiate scholarships through this program.

It then goes on to list all the 2014-2015 Good Hands Field Goal Net Program Schools to which Allstate contributes, many of which come from major athletic conferences. One doesn't know how much money Allstate has raised for Allstate in that same period of time, but we'll get an idea soon enough.

So, for a decade, since 2005, Allstate has contributed $3.4 million dollars to scholarships across the United States. Apparently, that figure is supposed to make me "ooh and/or ahh" about Allstate's largesse. Well, it doesn't. As a matter of fact, that amount is shameful. That enormous amount of scholarship money comes to about $340,000 per year over ten years, which is paltry in relation to what the cost of college actually is. According to CollegeData, "In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a 'moderate' college budget for an in-state public college for the 2014-2013 academic year averaged $23,410. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $46,272."

The cost of a college degree in the United States has increased 12 fold over the past 30 years, far outpacing the price inflation of consumer goods, medical expenses and food. According to Bloomberg, college tuition and fees have increased 1,120 percent since records began in 1978. So, as college costs have risen exponentially, Allstate has essentially appeared stagnated in its college contributions.

Even at the "moderate" level of $23,410 per year, that total would amount to $94,000 for four years at an in-state institution, and around $185,000 at a private institution for the same amount of time. So, in real dollars, what is Allstate contributing at a "staggering" $345,000 per year over ten years? Even if Allstate were contributing $10,000 in scholarship aid per student that would only amount to 34 scholarships a year, so why should I be so excited about their contributions especially when one considers just how much Allstate earns in a year? And how much does Allstate earn?

According to Allstate's 2015 Annual Report, revenues exceeded $35 billion and returned $2.8 billion to shareholders through a combination of common stock dividends and the purchase of 8.7 percent of the beginning-of-year outstanding shares. Allstate reported a 25 percent rise in its 2014 net income over the prior year to $2.85 billion. So, I'm wondering from what revenue pool they're doling out all that scholarship money. If my math is correct, the amount of money Allstate gave in scholarships based on their net income comes to a staggering 0.0001210526315789 percent! That's right, 0.00012 percent of their net income has gone for scholarship aid to students. The question one has to ask at that point: is one supposed to get excited over that kind of largesse? It even poses the bigger question: am I really in such good hands with Allstate to begin with? Just how many students are being advantaged by that rather paltry amount of money? As college costs rise every year, Allstate seems to be fine with their paltry $3+M donation to scholarships regardless of how much their net income increases.

But actually, their apparent largesse is really disingenuous. It's bad enough that one has to watch each and every PAT and field goal be metaphorically collected by the "good hands of Allstate," but for Allstate to pretend they are really contributing to the needs of university students is patently fraudulent. As a matter of fact, it seems that this year someone in the "good hands people" marketing department must have "crunched the numbers" since broadcasters no longer give a specific figure anymore, but now say Allstate has given away "millions." Yes, 3 million can be considered "millions" (since it's more than one), however, by not really stating how many millions they've given, I can only assume it's the same 3+M they've been touting for years which results in the same paltry amount they've been doling out to students in the past. The difference is that by stating millions rather than the rather insignificant amount they do "award," it makes Allstate appear more generous than they are. Kudos to the genius in the marketing department for making Allstate appear as if without that scholarship money students would walk around campus barefoot and hungry. Really?

Unfortunately, there are no penalties for that sort of "offsides."