Want to receive a full-ride scholarship for men’s college ice hockey? Recruits will need to prove that they are 100 percent committed to competing at the collegiate level. This means showing dedication on the ice, with hours of training and competing, as well as in the classroom working hard to make good grades.
As an equivalency sport, NCAA Division 1 and 2 hockey coaches are allotted a scholarship budget that they can divide up among recruits and current roster players. Full-ride scholarships are generally awarded to athletes who are top tier competitors with USHL junior hockey experience. Because college hockey heavily recruits internationally, these athletes are also contenders for full-ride scholarships, as college coaches use financial funding as an incentive to make the move to the US. While NCAA Division 3 programs are unable to provide athletic scholarships for hockey players, they often come up with financial aid packages, including merit-based scholarships, that are equal to or better than athletic scholarships. In this section, we outline what recruits need to know about men’s college hockey scholarships.
There are four different types of offers that a men’s ice hockey athlete can receive. Even if a recruit is not awarded a full-ride or partial scholarship, they can still earn a roster spot as a recruited walk-on (preferred) or unrecruited walk-on. Below we briefly describe each of these four different types of offers.
Student-athletes looking to play for an ACHA will need to have strong academics in order to receive any form of financial aid. All aid packages at ACHA schools are academic-based.
|Division Level||Number of Teams||Total Athletes in Division||Average Team Size||Scholarships Limit Per Team*||Scholarship Limit Type**|
*Scholarship Limits Per Team: The NCAA establishes scholarship limits per team that dictate the maximum number of full-ride equivalent scholarships that college coaches are permitted to award student-athletes each year. Fully funded Division 1 and Division 2 programs have a maximum of 18 and 13.5 full-ride equivalent scholarships to award, respectively. While recruits can and do receive full-ride NCAA hockey scholarships, they are generally reserved for top tier athletes who compete in the USHL junior hockey league. Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships, but rather award financial aid through academic scholarships.
**Equivalency: As an NCAA equivalency sport, college hockey coaches divide up their scholarship budget to award as many recruits and current roster holders as possible with financial support. With 18 full-ride equivalent scholarships at the Division 1 level and an average of 28 players on the roster, men’s ice hockey has a larger scholarship budget than other NCAA sports. While this doesn’t mean that recruits should expect to receive a full ride, it does make it more feasible for college coaches to award full-ride scholarships, while still being able to provide financial aid to multiple athletes.
The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that loosened regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Effective August 1, 2020, teams in equivalency sports like hockey will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against a team’s athletic scholarship limit. Prior to this rule update, athletes were required to meet certain criteria for their additional aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.
Hockey teams will still have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes can seek to add as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they qualify for. With school and family budgets being impacted by the coronavirus, this rule change means that hockey programs may now have more funds to extend to families and athletes that need it—especially at private colleges with higher tuition costs.
How many Division 1 hockey scholarships are there? Division 1 college ice hockey coaches have a maximum scholarship limit of 18 full-ride equivalents per team. Coaches are free to divide up their scholarship budget amongst current roster holders and recruits however they would like. It’s important to note that not all college ice hockey programs are fully funded, which means not every program will have the full scholarship limit to award. For programs that are fully funded and able to offer full rides, these big dollar scholarships are most likely to be given to USHL junior hockey athletes and international athletes. Twenty-one percent of NCAA Division 1 hockey players are from outside the US.
NCAA Division 2 programs are allotted a maximum of 13 full-ride equivalent scholarships per team. Just as with Division 1 programs, not all Division 2 ice hockey programs are fully funded, which means the scholarship budget varies from school to school.
Athletic scholarships are not offered at the Division 3 level. Instead, recruits can aim for merit-based scholarships, if they meet the academic standards set in place by institutions. In many cases, athletes have reported that their Division 3 financial aid package was larger than the athletic scholarships they were offered by Division 1 and 2 institutions.
College coaches generally prioritize scholarships money for recruits who compete in the USHL junior hockey leagues. These athletes are considered the best hockey talent in their age group, with 98 percent of USHL athletes going on to play at a Division 1 school and the remaining two percent being drafted by the NHL. Fortunately, there are a decent number of scholarships available at the NCAA Division 1 and 2 levels, so athletes playing in a lower junior hockey league still have the opportunity to receive an athletic scholarship.
Here are a few tips to better the athlete’s chances of getting an athletic scholarship.
All student-athletes who wish to play for an NCAA athletic program must meet the NCAA eligibility requirements, which determine the athlete’s academics and amateurism status. Even after a recruit signs an NLI, the agreement is invalid if the athlete fails to meet the NCAA eligibility requirements upon graduating high school.
To be eligible to compete at an NCAA school, recruits must:
NCSA’s annual Power Rankings list identifies the best colleges with hockey by analyzing a variety of factors that play a large role in the college decision-making process, including academics, size, location and cost. Below is a list of the top 10 NCAA men’s ice hockey programs.