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Financial Aid for Occupational Therapy Students

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

The demand for occupational therapists is growing rapidly, as is the cost of affording the proper education for this career. However, occupational therapy students need not worry. There are many financial aid options to consider when seeking ways to defray the cost of a good education.

First, check all financial aid resources on-campus for every financial aid opportunity available. Occupational therapy students can find federal and state aid, as well as scholarships. The financial aid office provides detailed information needed to apply for federal and state aid. In addition, the occupational therapy department offers departmental scholarships specific to this field. Besides college scholarships, occupational therapy students can also take the initiative and seek outside scholarships to help pay for college costs.

Federal and State Financial Aid Options

Starting with the educational institution, occupational therapy students should find out what financial aid options is available on-campus. The financial aid office is a great place to start. There students can find the many federal and state aid possibilities available to them. Typically, federal financial aid comes in the form of grants, work-study programs, scholarships, and loans. State aid usually includes grants and scholarships.

To be considered for federal or state financial aid, occupational 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. This form 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 on time.

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 from the FAFSA, and/or academic achievements.

Other state initiated aid includes the Regents Professional Opportunity Scholarship Program for students in New York State. This scholarship is awarded to students of minority groups who are underrepresented in licensed professions, including occupational therapy.

College Scholarships for Occupational Therapy Students

Since the cost of a solid education in occupational therapy can get costly, many colleges and universities with therapy programs offer departmental scholarships for students enrolled in their program.

At Rush University in Chicago, IL, occupational therapy students have several scholarship opportunities. The College of Health Sciences includes the Occupational Therapy Department which offers two departmental awards. Each scholarship is worth $10,000, and awarded based on financial need. Applicants are required to fill out and submit a FAFSA and a university financial aid application to be considered. The Ellis-Jones Merit-based Scholarship is awarded to outstanding students enrolled in the university’s occupational therapy program. The Occupational Therapy Fund Merit-based Scholarship is awarded strictly based on merit. Recipient is determined by the College of Health Sciences with academic achievements as the main factor.

Western Michigan University’s Occupational Therapy program provides two departmental scholarships for qualifying students. The Alma S. Boughey Occupational Therapy Scholarship is awarded to a junior or senior level student demonstrating financial need. Applicants must be enrolled in the university’s occupational therapy program to be considered. The Don F. Thomas & Jane E. Thomas Scholarship is awarded to full- or part-time students enrolled in the university’s occupational therapy program. Applicants must show financial need. The award amounts for either scholarship differs each year.

In addition to departmental scholarships and awards, occupational therapy students should also speak to financial aid staff regarding other scholarship availability. 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, occupational therapy students can also seek scholarships from outside sources like corporations, associations, and foundations.

Here are several examples:

AMBUCS Scholarship Program offers awards ranging from $500 to $1,500. Each year this program helps therapy students pay for their college education. Occupational therapy students must be in their junior or senior year of schooling to apply. AMBUCS also offers a two-year scholarship in the amount of $6,000. Assistant programs are not eligible for these awards.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) through the American Occupational Therapy Foundation offers over 40 scholarships each year to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in an accredited occupational therapy program. AOTA and 21 states and the District of Columbia participate in this scholarship program. Award amounts for these scholarships range anywhere from $150 to $5,000 each.

Key Points about Occupational Therapy Financial Aid

  • Do your homework. Check with college officials from the financial aid office and the occupational therapy department for scholarship opportunities.
  • Be sure to fill out a FAFSA to be considered for all federal and state financial aid as well as any institutional awards.
  • Know all deadlines to ensure scholarship applications are received in time.
  • Loans should be considered as a last resort since they have to be repaid.

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