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Financial Aid for Physical Therapy Students

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

When thinking of entering the healthcare field, one should consider the hard work, dedication, as well as the proper training and education. Physical therapy is a healthcare profession which requires excellent training and a good education. Working with individuals and remaining patient through their therapy is part of a long list of tasks performed in this profession. Before a physical therapist reaches his or her career, they must pay for the right education. The best way for a physical therapy student to fund their education is to seek what financial aid is available to them. From the university or college itself, to federal and state aid, to outside scholarships, physical therapy students have many options to help defray the cost of a good higher education.

Federal and State Financial Aid Options

Starting with the college or university, physical therapy students should find out what financial aid opportunities are available to them. The financial aid office is a great place to start. Here students can learn about federal and state financial aid. To be considered for federal or state financial aid, physical therapy students must complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form can be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Once completed, students may submit it online for review and financial aid consideration.

The FAFSA is reviewed for federal financial aid before it is automatically sent off for state financial aid review. It is important to note the deadlines for both federal and state FAFSA, which differs in most cases, to ensure applications are received in a timely fashion.

If accepted for federal and state financial aid, physical therapy students can be offered one or more of the following aid choices: Federal Pell Grants, FSEOG, Federal Work Study, Federal Perkins Loans, or Federal Stafford Loans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also offers the Indian Health Scholarship Program to Native Americans pursuing careers in various healthcare professions, including physical therapy. A service obligation is required when accepting this scholarship.

State aid typically comes in the form of tuition programs, grants, and/or scholarships, which do not have to be repaid. For example, in New York State, students may qualify for the New York State Tuition Program (TAP), while in California students can be considered for the Cal Grant. State financial aid programs are generally awarded based on financial need from information found in the FAFSA, and/or academic achievements.

New York State Education Department also makes available to physical therapy students the Regents Professional Opportunity Scholarship Program. This scholarship is awarded to students of minority groups who are underrepresented in licensed professions, including physical therapy, when funding is available.

College Scholarships for Physical Therapy Students

Before a student can pursue a degree in physical therapy they must obtain a bachelor’s degree in another program. Afterward, they may apply to pursue a master’s or a doctoral degree in physical therapy. To help defray the costs of an excellent physical therapy education, most colleges and universities with physical therapy departments offer scholarships to its students. It is just a matter of fulfilling the requirements and applying for the scholarships.

For instance, the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill offers physical therapy scholarships to qualifying students. The Rebecca Irene Sande Scholarship Fund awards $3,000 to physical therapy students in their first year of schooling. At the University of Wisconsin—Madison offer the Caroline, Clara, Charles & Mildred Harper Scholarship awards $1,200 each to two female physical therapy students who demonstrate an excellent academic record and financial need.

Besides departmental scholarships and awards, physical therapy students should also consider the financial aid office for other scholarship opportunities. Typically this is where students find general scholarships based on merit and/or financial need.

Financial Assistance from Outside Scholarships

In addition to financial aid opportunities on-campus, physical therapy students can also seek free money, or scholarships, from outside sources like corporations, associations, and foundations.
Here are several examples:

  • The Tylenol Scholarship Fund awards $250,000 in scholarships each year to students pursuing careers within the healthcare industry, including physical therapy.
  • The Texas Physical Therapy Association offers scholarships which range from $2,000 up to $7,000.
  • The International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons offers the Health Careers Scholarship Program which is dedicated to students pursuing a health-related field including physical therapy. Award amounts are generally $1,000.
  • The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions provides two scholarship programs for students registered in an allied health program at an accredited institution. The two programs are the Scholarship of Excellence Award, and the Secretary’s Award.

Key Points about Physical Therapy Financial Aid

  • Speak to college officials from the financial aid office and the physical therapy department for scholarship availability.
  • Fill out the FAFSA early and note all deadlines.
  • Use the Internet. Outside scholarships can be found by simply searching local agencies, national organizations, and foundations which offer physical therapy scholarships and awards.
  • Check with your employer to determine if tuition reimbursement is available. Some companies will pay for an employee’s tuition as long as the courses they are taking are related to their current position and/or industry.
  • Loans should be considered as a last resort since they have to be repaid.

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