College Skiing Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we discover the difficulties you might run into when trying to get a skiing scholarship. We'll also explore a few facts about collegiate skiing and deliver some tips as well.


For many of us skiing is a fun pastime and a way to stay active during the long winter months. Ski lodges and resorts across the country can also make for great couples or family vacations. While it is a leisure activity for most of us, some choose to ski competitively, competing in events like alpine skiing or slalom.

If this is you, then you may be surprised to find out that skiing can even help you pay for your college education. This lesson will go over the nitty-gritty of earning a scholarship in skiing, and provide a few tips to help you get recruited.

Schools and Scholarships

Skiing is not a major spectator sport in the United States outside of the Olympics. Roughly half of the country exists in climates where skiing on water behind boats on the weekend is the only type of skiing possible. As such, there are not nearly as many schools that have competitive skiing programs as there are in other sports.

In fact, the amount of schools competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and giving out scholarships is even smaller than you might expect. In 2017, only 35 schools competed in the NCAA's three divisions, and only 19 of those schools competed in the top two divisions where scholarships can be given.

The amount of scholarships that can be handed out to students depends on which division a school participates. The breakdown is:

  • NCAA Division I: 6.3 for men, 7 for women
  • NCAA Division II: 6.3 for men, 7 for women
  • NCAA Division III: 0 scholarships

In the NCAA, no sport in Division III is allowed to give scholarships to student-athletes. This means that if you want to attain a scholarship for skiing, you should steer clear of Division III schools--even if the 16 schools that participate at that level make up just shy of half the schools fielding varsity ski teams.

To make things more difficult, skiing is an equivalency sport in the NCAA, meaning skiing coaches can divvy up scholarships any way they please. With the average ski team fielding between 12 and 14 skiers, it is possible, even likely, that you may only get a half scholarship or less. This means you will have to find a way to pay for the rest of your education.


Trying to get recruited in skiing is more difficult than other sports. Unlike football or basketball, where coaches have an extensive staff with several positions devoted just to scouting new players, skiing coaches often have few resources beyond themselves and perhaps one or two assistants. Depending on the school, it can be difficult for coaches to make it to many skiing competitions outside of their area.

As such, most skiers who want to compete at the collegiate level need to take it upon themselves to get recruited. If possible, find out who the ski coach is and contact them to let you know your intentions.

Unless you are an Olympic athlete or a state or national champion, they probably don't know who you are. Calling them up and saying 'I intend to go your school, and I plan to join your team and compete for a scholarship' will certainly get their attention. If you have a coach who has contacts in the collegiate world, this can be a huge help too.

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