Can you get a scholarship for women’s hockey? While the answer is yes, it’s not easy. Convincing a college coach to award an athlete with an athletic scholarship requires a great deal of time and effort from the recruit. NCAA Division 1 college coaches tend to focus their recruiting effort on AAA travel hockey athletes with the intention of offering these athletes an athletic scholarship. To prove to college coaches that they’re seriously committed to continuing their athletic career at the collegiate level, recruits must show that they are dedicated on the ice and in the classroom, putting in hours of training and studying to be the best student-athlete that they can be.
College coaches at the NCAA Division 3 level are unable to award athletic aid, but student-athletes can receive financial aid through merit-based scholarships if they meet the school’s academic standards. In this section, we take an in-depth look at NCAA hockey scholarships and how to get a hockey scholarship.
Not every recruit that makes the roster will be offered an athletic scholarship. College coaches have four different types of offers that they can award recruits: full-ride scholarship, partial scholarship, recruited walk-on (preferred) or unrecruited walk-on.
How does ACHA women’s hockey compare to NCAA hockey when it comes to scholarships? All aid packages at ACHA schools are academic based, so recruits who plan to play for an ACHA program will need to have strong academics in order to be considered for financial aid.
Full-ride NCAA hockey scholarships are available at the Division 1 level, but they are most awarded to recruits with AAA travel hockey, top prep hockey team or Minnesota varsity high school experience, if a college coach has the budget to offer full funding. For programs that aren’t fully funded, recruits are more likely to receive a partial athletic scholarship.
|Number of Teams
|Total Athletes in Division
|Average Team Size
|Scholarships Limit Per Team*
|Scholarship Limit Type**
*Scholarship Limits Per Team: How many scholarships for D1 women’s hockey are available? According to the NCAA’s scholarship limits per team, which establishes the maximum number of full-ride equivalent scholarships that a program can award student-athletes each year, fully funded Division 1 programs are permitted a maximum of 18 full-ride equivalent scholarships. While it is possible to receive a full-ride hockey scholarship, recruits are more likely to be awarded a partial scholarship. Ivy League schools that feature Division 1 athletic programs only offer merit-based scholarships, not athletic scholarships.
**Equivalency Scholarship: NCAA ice hockey is an equivalency sport, which means college coaches are given a scholarship budget that they can divide in a variety of ways to award as many recruits and current roster holders with financial support. Offering up to 18 full-ride equivalent scholarships for hockey players at the Division 1 level, women’s ice hockey has a larger scholarship budget than many other NCAA sports. However, this doesn’t mean that student-athletes should expect a full-ride offer. College coaches want to provide financial aid to as many recruits as possible, so a partial scholarship is more likely.
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.
NCAA Division 1 college coaches have a maximum limit of 18 hockey scholarships per team. Each coach decides how to award their scholarship budget amongst current roster holders and recruits. Because not all college women’s hockey programs are fully funded, not every program has 18 full-ride equivalent scholarships to offer.
Recruits cannot receive an athletic scholarship at the NCAA Division 3 level. Division 3 schools offer financial aid to student-athletes through merit-based scholarships. To receive a merit-based scholarship, student-athletes must meet the academic standards set in place by the institution. It is not uncommon for athletes to receive a stronger Division 3 financial aid package than the athletic scholarships offered by Division 1 programs.
No, ACHA hockey programs do not offer athletic scholarships. These programs are not funded by institutions, but rather student services and player fees. Student-athletes who want to compete on an ACHA team but need financial funding to cover the cost of college will need to seek out merit-based scholarship and grant opportunities.
These non-varsity programs are known for being well organized and supported by the campus community. While these programs do not receive the same level of recognition as NCAA programs, ACHA programs offer another option for finding a roster spot to athletes that want to compete in collegiate hockey. Talent and competition at top ACHA programs are considered comparable to NCAA Division 3 programs.
While Division 1 college coaches tend to prioritize AAA travel hockey athletes when awarding athletic scholarships, these athletes will need to find a program that needs their skillset to complete the team’s roster. College hockey coaches don’t prioritize certain positions over others when recruiting but instead look for talent that the roster is currently missing. The best way to find the right team, and one that presents scholarship opportunity, is to research college rosters to see what positions will be opening due to graduating athletes.
Here are a few additional tips to improve a recruit’s chances of getting an athletic scholarship.
To be eligible to compete at the collegiate level, all recruits must meet the NCAA eligibility requirements, which determine the recruit’s academics and amateurism status. These requirements include passing 16 core courses during high school. The NCAA uses a sliding scale to combine the recruit’s GPA in these core courses and their SAT or ACT test scores to determine eligibility.
Finding the right women’s college hockey program means finding an institution that meets the recruit’s athletic, academic, financial and social needs. Determining what schools meet these criteria can take time, so NCSA has developed an annual Power Rankings list that ranks the best schools with college hockey scholarships based on the school’s academics, size, location, cost, etc. Below is a list of the top 10 NCAA women’s ice hockey programs.