College Hockey Truths – Part 3 - Scholarships and Decisions
Part 3 in this five-part series will take a look at college scholarships, how rare they are, and how this can affect college hockey choices.
What are College Scholarships?
Scholarship talk has been around for a long time. Everyone would love to obtain a scholarship to offset the rising costs of a college education. College is expensive and the current student debt crisis makes attending school for cheaper costs a much more attractive option. After Letters of Intent are signed and commitments to schools are concrete then comes the money talk.
There are two types of scholarships: Athletic and Academic. Athletic scholarships are monies given to cover the cost of a college education for the purpose of playing the sport in college. Academic scholarships are merit-based monies awarded to high-achieving students within the classroom to attend the college. The types of scholarships are mutually exclusive. However, both can potentially be awarded to a student-athlete to attend a school.
Division 1 and 2 Schools are the only schools that can offer athletic scholarships. Division 3 does not award athletic-based money. Not even all Division 1 schools give out scholarships (Ex. Ivy League), and they do not have to give out the full amount the NCAA allows.
The NCAA only allows 18 athletic scholarships per year to be given out. That means not all rostered Division 1 athletes (anywhere from 7-12 of them) may still be paying full price to attend the school.
NCAA Hockey is an equivalency sport which means they can break scholarships up. This is often done to alleviate costs for players but not give full rides. Division 1 athletes are given 4/4, ¾, 2/4, or ¼. 3/4 means three of the four years attended with be covered by the school to play the sport. Instead of giving one player a 4/4, the school may give two players 2/4 scholarships. Dividing up the money helps more players and brings in recruits.
Remaining monies can be offset by academic aid, grants, and low rate loans as a part of need-based financial aid. All students would fill out the FAFSA for this. More aid given federally, the less athletic money needed to give to a student.
Division 2 Hockey only exists in seven schools (soon to be six, as Stonehill is moving to Division 1) that are a part of the Northeast-10. These schools could offer athletic scholarship money but do not. The follow suit with the Division 3 schools who are not allowed.
All Division 3 schools do not offer athletic money. This begs the questions: Why do they recruit athletes then? Colleges are educational institutions, but they are also businesses. Bringing athletes into the school also brings in tuition dollars. Any College and University can offer need-based financial assistance and academic aid. Each school is different in how they award those monies. However, a strong GPA, High SAT scores, and a solid academic resume that passes NCAA Clearinghouse can help colleges make those decisions. The Registrar and Bursar’s office at each school can become a college coach’s best friend when they can help athletes get the appropriate assistance to attend their school.
Essentially, if a player is not a top 10-15 player on a Division 1 team they are likely paying some sort of money to attend a college, no matter what.
There is often a big financial investment by families in hopes to achieve a full scholarship. However, the amount of full scholarships is low, and the amount invested can sometimes equal that of the scholarship over time. The experience of the high level and resume additional of being a scholarship athlete is beneficial.
What does this all mean?
College hockey is a great goal. However, it is hard. Many good, quality players never end up playing NCAA hockey. Why is that? There are a lot of reasons.
1) Attending college beyond traditional age seems faux pas. Students that take a gap year, or three, are often ostracized by their decision. Following the crowd to go directly to college has pressure associated with it. Student-athletes have peer pressure from classmates and do not know how to explain their plans to others in a way they would understand. Student-athletes also fear they are missing out on college experience their peers will soon have. Parents have the same difficulty explaining their child’s choice to take a gap year, and often can be criticized for not looking out for their child and placating to childish dreams.
2) Players give up. Every level is a stepping stone to the next level. With each level comes new challenges. The pyramid gets tighter at the top and there is more competition. The challenges can be too great mentally and/or physically.
3) Priorities change. There are many good young players. When they reach high school age, new distractions come into play. Peer Pressure, social life, dating, money, holding a job, and thinking about a future career. Simply put, sports no longer take precedent.
4) Money. Hockey is expensive and competing at higher levels continue to get pricier every year. The need for professional coaching and exclusive teams begins to price families out.
In Part 4 we will examine the paths to college hockey as they stand now. No paths are the same, but they share some common threads.