Students of Social Work become involved in communities to help solve social problems. There are many levels of professional service in which to meet the needs of people in distress.
- Issues of survival and emergency assistance are usually dealt with in child welfare agencies.
- Clinical mental health services include individual, couples, family and group therapy.
- Administrators keep social service agencies functioning as smoothly and efficiently as possible, while meeting the goals of the agencies.
- Researchers continue to look for ways to deal with social issues more effectively and find ways to assuage or resolve new problems.
Social Work grants and scholarships come from several sources. These categories will be discussed more thoroughly throughout the article:
- Federal and state government programs serve those with the most financial need.
- Professional organizations related to Social Work award grants and scholarships annually.
- Many private organizations also fund specific types of social work majors.
- Colleges and universities provide grants, scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships and work-study programs.
- Nontraditional students have grant and scholarship options for their special circumstances.
- Grants and scholarships are available to military personnel and their families from all branches of the military.
- Church-affiliated scholarships for Social Work are available in some churches.
- Community service organizations like the Elks, Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Policemen and Firemen service clubs often award scholarships to students in their own communities.
Social Work, as a major course of study in higher education, must follow through on its own principles. Many awards are set aside for minority students, and every facility of higher learning, that has a school of Social Work, has funding for students in financial need. Many of these funds are earmarked for underserved populations.
Federal government help is in the form of PELL grants, through the United States Department of Education. These grants are given to students with the greatest financial need; their parents must make less than $20,000 per year. Apply for PELL grants on the FAFSA application, which every college-bound student should fill out, online, for free, at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- There are also layers of PELL grants. Some awards are for students that already receive PELL grants and participate in the Academic Competitiveness Grant to win $1300. The SMART Grant is a continuation of this support, for juniors and seniors in an undergraduate program.
- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program is for students with exceptional financial need who already receive the PELL grant.
- NIH, or National Institutes of Health, is also a federal grant provider. Their Social Work grants are for undergraduates in a four-year accredited institution. A student’s GPA must be 3.5 or higher, or he or she must be in the top 5% of the class. It is a specific grant for students who want to focus on research in Social Work Practice and Concepts in Health. Apply at www.nih.gov.
- Federal Healthcare Scholarships for students with disadvantaged backgrounds will award funds for Clinical Social Work. It is recommended that the student apply at the student financial aid office of the school in which the student is enrolled or will be enrolled.
State Incentive Programs
Here is a selection of some example state financial aid programs available to social workers.
- A tuition assistance program allows for an award of up to $5,000. It is not an actual grant, but functions like one. It is the New York Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program. Social Work graduates must contract to work in the state’s most disadvantaged areas for a set period of time that is established by the state. Student loans are “forgiven,” or erased, after students have fulfilled their contracts.
- The James F. Reville Scholarship goes to full-time students in any field, including Social Work, that includes direct contact with the developmentally disabled population. Applicants cannot be currently employed by NYSARC, Inc.
- The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation has grants and scholarships for very specific types of students that are New York state residents, but does not rule out any specific major course of study. Relatives of plane-crash victims and 911 victims in police, fire, emergency and other related fields involved in this tragedy are included in some of the eligibility criteria. See the website for more information:
The Division of Youth and Family Services have state and federal grants to pay tuition for Social Work students who will work in a DYFS facility for one year after they graduate. The state needs Social Workers for these positions, as soon as possible, to fill the shortage.
The Maryland Department of Human Resources, a state-level department, has partnered with the University of Maryland School of Social Work to offer stipends to BSW (bachelors) and MSW (masters) level students who agree to work for the state after graduation. They must work one year for each academic year that they received stipends. The stipends cover tuition and fees. This is under Title IV-E, Education for Public Child Welfare. There is a shortage in the state workforce of qualified Social Workers, and this stipend aims to repair the situation.
The North Carolina Child Welfare Education Collaborative is another state program to recruit Social Work students willing to work in child welfare agencies after graduation. It is directed at students at the University of North Carolina campuses. These schools will have relevant information.
Professional Social Work Organizations
The National Association of Social Workers awards grants to graduate students who do research to find programs needed to aid underserved areas of the community.
- The Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to students who are committed to working with “American Indian/Alaskan Native and Hispanic/Latino populations.”
- The Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship goes to an MSW candidate who is committed to working in the African-American community and demonstrates an interest in a health/mental health field.
- Both scholarships are awards up to $2,000 annually.
- The Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship is for students enrolled in an accredited Social Work doctoral program and writing dissertations on welfare policy and practice. The award is up to $2,000.
- The Jane B. Aron Doctoral Fellowship is for students in dissertation research of health care policy and practice, with a diversity component. It is also an award of up to $2,000.
- Find information at: email@example.com.
The National Association of Black Social Workers awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students. Awards cover tuition and books. Graduate students must have an interest in researching issues in the African-American community. Apply at www.nabsw.org
The Council on Social Work Education has $500 scholarships, from the Carl A. Scott Memorial Fund, for minority undergraduate seniors or graduates in the last year of their Social Work Master’s program. A student must have a 3.0 GPA and work for equity and social justice in the community. There is also a pre-doctoral fellowship for an ethnic minority student working in the field of substance abuse and mental health. Apply at www.cswe.org or call 703-683-8080.
The American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work offers the Judith Holm Memorial Student Awards Program grant for master’s level students. Students must present papers “demonstrating mastery of the essentials of clinical Social Work and readiness to enter professional practice.” The award is $2,000 in cash. Apply here: www.abecsw.org
The California Society for Clinical Social Work
This organization is for Clinical Social Workers in the state of California, but it is a professional organization, and it is not part of a state incentive program. There are two scholarships for MSW students interested in clinical practice at UCLA or USC. There are other scholarships for students at any California university. Details can be found at: clinicalsocialworksociety.org.
The American Cancer Society
- This organization has a very generous two-year grant for second-year Social Work master’s degree students who will work in the field of oncology. It is an annual gift of $12,000. Apply by October 15th. The student will train to provide psychosocial services to individuals with cancer and services to their families. See details at: www.cancer.org.
- Doctoral Training Grants in Oncology Social Work: Doctoral students researching ways to help cancer patients and their families may apply for a two-year grant of $20,000 that may be renewable for another two years.
The John A. Hartford Foundation
This is only for pre-doctoral students in Social Work. It is a generous amount of money in various forms of support: Stipends, research training, travel money for scientific conferences and connecting with researchers across the country, and grant writing. The fund has been established to help students complete their dissertations.
American Indian Education Program
- A student must belong to a “federally recognized tribe” and have a 2.0 GPA. It is for juniors and seniors in college planning to get a master’s degree in Social Work. Apply at: indianeducation.spps.org
- This same website has other, more general scholarships, not specific to Social Work, set aside for students from federally recognized tribes that Social Work students could qualify for. The states of Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Nebraska have scholarship money for students of tribes in those states.
- Indian Health Services Health Professionals Program in Minnesota has scholarships for a junior or senior in college planning to get a master’s degree in Social Work or Physical Therapy. The student must be from a federally recognized tribe, have a 2.0 GPA and agree to a service obligation upon completion of school. Students can apply here: www.ihs.gov
The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans
This award is for students in any graduate field of study. Students must have a green card or be first generation, naturalized citizens of the United States. A student must be a college senior or not be beyond the second year of a graduate program. The student must be under 31 years of age. Awards can be up to $25,000 in maintenance and $20,000 in tuition payments.
AARP Andrus Foundation Graduate Scholarships
- Undergraduates obtaining bachelor’s degrees in Social Work with a focus on Gerontology are eligible to apply for a one-year $5,000 scholarship.
- Master’s degree students in gerontological Social Work can apply for a $7,000 scholarship.
- Doctoral Social Work students in Gerontology may be awarded up $15,000.
- Try the AARP website for information. It is not clear how to retrieve this information.
The Morris K. Udall Foundation (Arizona and Alaska)
This grant primarily goes to Native Americans and natives of the state of Alaska pursuing a Social Work degree from an Arizona University. It is based upon merit and need, and the student must have a focus on “native health care.” The student must be recommended by the faculty representative at their college.
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health (Texas Social Work graduate students)
This is specific to Texas students who are going to attend one of twelve graduate schools in the state of Texas, with a concentration in the mental health field. Students must be nominated by the dean or director of their graduate program. The school must be accredited or have accreditation pending with CSWE. The award is up to $5,000 for tuition, room and board, and other educational costs. See this website for guidelines: www.hogg.utexas.edu
The Margaret Freeman Bowers Fellowship (graduates of Wellesley College)
This fellowship goes to a Wellesley College graduate entering graduate studies in Law, Public Policy/Public Administration, Social Work or an MBA career in Social Services. Apply here: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Horatio Alger Association Award
This nonprofit educational organization provides college funding for “deserving young people who have demonstrated integrity and determination in overcoming adversity.” The student must have a “personal aspiration to make a unique contribution to society.” The student must be a full-time high school senior, who will definitely graduate on time, with plans to attend college in the fall quarter. The student must have a 2.0 GPA and must be a citizen of the United States. His or her parents must have an income limit of $50,000 per year, or less. The student should have involvement in co-curricular and community activities. The student must intend to obtain a bachelor’s degree at an accredited four-year college or university, or start at a two-year school and transfer to a four-year school. There are more details at: www.horatioalger.org
The Ron Brown Scholarship Program
This is for African-American students that are high school seniors and are citizens of the United States, or have a permanent resident visa card, and have financial need. The student must go to an accredited four-year college or university in the United States. He or she must excel academically, show exceptional leadership potential and be active in community service. Any major field of study is acceptable. Submit your application at www.ronbrown.org
Derivative Duo Scholarship
Residents of the state of Washington who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight ally, and who are in mental health or human services at the postsecondary level, may apply. The scholarship will be given based on the “strength of the overall application and financial need.” Electronic submissions should be sent to: www.pridefoundation.org
Colleges & Universities
Every school of Social Work has scholarship or grant funding set aside for students in financial need, particularly minority students. Every state has a school of Social Work, if not several. Large states like Ohio, California, Texas, New York and Florida have wide choices of school locations as well. Alabama has a large number of accredited schools of Social Work.
There are online degrees, too, but the “social” part of the degree is essential, and the student needs some sort of support in the Social Work field if he or she pursues a degree online. Understanding professional standards is crucial to being a successful Social Worker, and interacting with Social Work professionals is necessary in order to truly grasp this concept.
Figure out which schools are the most suitable and then research funding possibilities in each one. The state of residence will have financial aid for students that live in that state. In other words, Minnesota residents may have the best chance of getting help from schools in Minnesota.
Nontraditional Student Grants & Scholarships
Nontraditional students include these types of students:
- Single mothers
- Single fathers
- Adult learners
- Students who did not go straight on to college after high school graduation or after receiving their GED, and are beginning their college or university education later in life
- Students who experienced an interruption in their college education for a few years, or more, and are returning to complete their degrees
Philanthropic and corporate foundations that provide scholarships for single parents:
- Arkansas Single Parent Fund
- Denny’s Single Parent Student Scholarship, Hispanic College Fund
- Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) Program for Continuing Education
- Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards
- Association on American Indian Affairs Displaced Homemaker Scholarships
- Association of Nontraditional Students in Higher Education Scholarships
- Hispanic College Fund Scholarships
- The R.O.S.E. Fund Scholarships for Women Survivors of Abuse
- Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) for Women Survivors of Abuse
- Osher Reentry Scholarship Program: This money is for students aged 25-50, and for 86 specific institutions in 47 states; the institution that the student will attend must apply for tuition funds for perspective applicants.
- AAUW, or American Association of University Women, funds are for women in any field. See more here: www.aaua.org
- Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women: These funds are for women 25 years of age or older, single or married. Women must be United States or Canadian citizens attending a college or university in the United States or Canada. More information at: NBPR@nancyberland.com.
- The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation: This award is for women 17 years of age or older. Women must be mothers with minor children, enrolled in school for skills training, ESL, GED, a technical or vocational career, an associate’s degree, a first bachelor’s degree, or a professional master’s or doctoral degree. They must be enrolled in an accredited program for the 2012-2013 school year and be in a low-income bracket. See more information at:
- Employers often pay tuition for women, and sometimes men, to attend school, especially if it will benefit the employer upon the student’s graduation. Clarify whether or not an employer will cover part of, or all, tuition for a Social Work degree. Corporations employ Social Workers for EAP, Employee Assistance Programs, and might be willing to support an employee’s efforts to become educated and return to work in this part of the business. The employee would be familiar with the system already and would not need orientation training as a new hire would, saving money for the employer.
State and school financial aid for single parents:
- Florida George Snow Scholarship Fund Scholarship for Single Parents (students in Palm Beach and northern Broward Counties)
- Illinois College of DuPage Foundation Single Parent Scholarship
- Iowa Kirkwood Community College Scholarships for Single Parents
- Kansas Emporia State University Single Parents With Children Scholarship
- Minnesota State University Coplan Donohoe Single Parent Scholarship
- Wisconsin-The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Single Parent Scholarships
Every branch of the military makes provision for military personnel and their families to attend college or university if the criteria are met. This includes, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, AMVETS, the American Legion and many more. It is easy to find information on educational funding, online, for the relevant branch.
Church Affiliated Scholarships
It is possible that there are more sources of educational funding for Social Work students that were not found here. There may be more church-affiliated scholarships in existence that are not advertised outside the church conference. Students belonging to a specific church, as members, should explore this avenue. Presbyterians and Lutherans may have scholarships available for Social Work students.
The UCC, or United Church of Christ, offers scholarships to members of a UCC congregation that are entering their sophomore, junior or senior year of college. They must be under 25 years of age and have excellent academic standing at an accredited four-year college or university. Contact them by email at email@example.com.
Community Service Organizations
The Elks, Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions and Policemen and Firemen service clubs give scholarships to students in their respective communities across the nation. High school seniors should contact local service clubs in their communities to find out what the application process entails. More often than not, applicants do not have to be related to members of these clubs to apply. These types of service clubs focus on ways to improve their own communities, and Social Work fits into that qualification. Don’t pass it up from unfamiliarity; find out what the possibilities are.
*Social Workers will always be needed, as decades of proof have shown. Funding is always the key to jobs in this field. Getting an education is the first step in joining a field that works to improve the condition of society by helping those who need it the most. Good luck in this noble quest.