It’s all about odds, options, and opportunities

If your goal is to make a women’s college hockey team, your odds of making any NCAA roster are about 5 to 1 which, compared to other sports, is pretty favorable. In fact, with about 21% of high school players making an NCAA roster, there have never been more opportunities for women to play collegiately than there are right now.

While that’s great news, the chances of landing a college scholarship for women’s hockey aren’t quite as favorable. It can be done, but if your goal is to also earn a scholarship to play in college, here’s what you need to know:

Women’s Hockey Scholarships Are Limited Because Teams Are Limited

Between NCAA Division I and II, there are only 42 women’s college hockey programs. With an average roster of 25 athletes for Division I teams and 24 at DII schools, that means, at most, there are 1,044 roster spots at those schools. However, at the collegiate level, women’s hockey is considered an equivalency sport, and each team is limited to a total of 18 scholarships. And that means…

Full-Ride Scholarships Aren’t Common

Though they’re most commonly found among Division I women’s teams, all-encompassing full-ride scholarships are rare. Remember that, with a maximum of 18 scholarships, but a roster of 25 players, most college coaches will try to stretch their scholarship budget as far as possible and award more players partial scholarships (i.e. dividing those 18 scholarships evenly among the 25 player roster would mean each player would have 72% of their fees and tuition covered). Given that, full-ride scholarships are most often earned by the players from the top AAA, prep, or high school teams.

There Are Other Options

While women’s hockey has a larger scholarship budget compared to other NCAA sports, some programs aren’t fully funded. Therefore not all schools have the money to offer the equivalent of 18 scholarships. That means some coaches may try to max out their available scholarship funds by offering every player a partial scholarship equal based on the funds they have available. As the example above notes, a fully-funded team could offer each player a partial scholarship covering 72% of their college costs. However, if one or several players were awarded full-ride scholarships, the percentage of available partial scholarship money would be reduced accordingly. If a team isn’t fully funded, then the potential partial funding would be reduced further. Given that, it’s important to know the estimated costs for each of the schools you might be targeting. That way you’ll have an idea of how much of your college costs you and your family might be responsible for, even with a partial scholarship.

Even if you don’t receive a scholarship offer, many women’s coaches are receptive to walk-ons. Some coaches offer “preferred walk-on” status. This is where a recruit may be offered a spot on the team with no scholarship offer. Others hold open tryouts for unrecruited walk-ons to fill out their rosters. And while it certainly isn’t guaranteed, the upside of making any college team as a walk-on is the chance, however small, that you could play your way into a scholarship.

Academics Are Important

If you do earn a partial scholarship to play in college, you may still need help paying the remainder of your expenses. And that’s where an academic scholarship can come in handy. That’s why it’s important to keep your GPA up, make sure your high school class load makes you eligible for admission to NCAA schools, and have solid standardized test scores. Remember that many coaches will assemble packages of athletic and academic scholarships to, in effect, provide a full-ride scholarship to a recruit. The better your grades are, the more likely you are to be eligible for academic scholarships. By qualifying for more academic scholarship money, you also allow coaches the flexibility to stretch their athletic scholarship budgets further, and that makes you a more attractive hockey recruit. Good grades are also important because…

Division III Schools Offer More Opportunities To Play In College

There are 68 NCAA Division III schools that offer women’s college hockey programs, more than DI and DII combined. The catch is, DIII programs don’t offer athletic scholarships and the rosters are smaller (23 players). However, most DIII schools offer abundant opportunities for academic scholarships. And that means, your athletic ability paired with your academic achievements can help pay for your education while you play college hockey in DIII.

Now that you know the basics about women’s college hockey scholarships, start thinking about where you might find the best fit. Keep your grades up to ensure you have the most options and do your research to know what each school you’re interested in might be able to offer, athletically and academically. Finally, make sure you know all your alternatives in regard to where you might play, their athletic and academic scholarship availability, and the potential for additional financial aid at each. That’s the best way to turn your on-ice goals into the goal of earning a college scholarship.

Did you enjoy the article ‘A Guide To Women’s Hockey Scholarships’? If so, check out The 5 Things You Need To Do To Get Recruited In Women’s College Hockey or more of our articles HERE.

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