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:www.hesc.com