Social Work Scholarships
Most social workers earn a bachelor of social work (BSW) degree before pursuing their career. Others may choose to earn a master of social work (MSW) first. Most learners complete a bachelor's degree in four years and a master's in two years with full-time enrollment.
With one or both of these degrees, professionals stand to bring in a good salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports social workers earning a median $51,760 per year. Social and community service managers earn a median $69,600 annually.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, annual bachelor's tuition and fees average $9,400 at public institutions and $36,700 at private ones. These costs do not include room and board, books, and other fees. Some social workers earn a master's degree, averaging $66,340 total according to Education Data Initiative statistics.
Since costs add up quickly, scholarships and financial aid can make the difference in students' ability to afford school. Thankfully, many organizations offer social work scholarships.
Questions About Social Work Scholarships
How do you pay for a social work degree?
Students pay for social work degrees through cash payments, loans, scholarships for social work students, and financial aid. Financial aid and scholarships usually come in the form of grants, meaning they do not require repayment. Borrowers do need to pay back loans, however.
Where can students find scholarships?
Students find social work scholarships from different organizations, such as the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). They may also find scholarships for social work students from their institution.
Are there grants for social work students?
Social work students can apply for need-based grants from their school. They may also apply for merit-based grants specifically for social work students from their institution or outside organizations.
How do students qualify for a social work scholarship?
To qualify for social work scholarships, students must prove they currently major in or plan to major in social work. Other qualifications include pursuing a secondary degree in social work. Some scholarships for social work students require an application, essay, and/or short-form questions.
Do international students qualify for social work scholarships?
International students can qualify for certain social work scholarships. However, some social work scholarships do not accept applications from international students. Learners should check with their institution and scholarship councils before applying.
Scholarships and Grants for Social Work Majors
Students can apply for various social work scholarships, many available to students of all levels. Some scholarships use more specific requirements than others. Below, find just a sample of the available scholarships for social work students. Although a scholarship may not currently accept applications, students should check back during the next application cycle.
Fully Funded Master's in Social Work Programs
The list below highlights a few universities offering full funding for MSW degree-seekers. Fully funded master's programs provide students with full tuition remission and a stipend throughout the entire program. Universities provide full funding with the expectation that recipients will teach or complete research during their program. Some programs also require learners to hold a position in a public setting after graduation.
The MSW program specializes in public child welfare and places students in the field for a practicum experience. Students who receive full funding must work for the Arizona Department of Child Services for 36 months after graduation. The university administers the program in person at the Phoenix and Tucson campuses.
Arizona State University - MSW Child Welfare Education Program
The program provides students with an annual $18,500 stipend for up to two years. Learners prepare to work in the public child welfare field. After graduation, recipients must work for a county child welfare agency for the same amount of time they received funding.
California State University San Marcos - Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program
The MSW program at Illinois State prepares learners to work in a school environment. Graduate assistants get monthly wages, a 100% tuition waiver for the appointment semester, and a tuition waiver for 12 credits the summer after the appointment. In return, graduate assistants teach undergraduate classes or help professors with research.
Illinois State University - Graduate Assistantships
Graduate assistants in SLU's MSW program work with professors for 20 hours per week. They help with research, administrative work, and teaching. In return, the university waives assistants' tuition. Students must reapply each year. Learners can apply for part-time assistantships for partial tuition waivers.
Saint Louis University - University-Funded Assistantships
The Title IV-E child welfare education program covers tuition and fees for MSW students and BSW seniors. The program prepares learners to work in public child welfare. Graduates must work in a Georgia Division of Family & Children Services office for 12 months for each year they received aid.
University of Georgia - Title IV-E Child Welfare Education Program
Social Work Scholarship Application Tips
To take full advantage of scholarships, students should keep track of the programs they want to apply to. A spreadsheet or document with each scholarship's deadline and requirements can help students stay organized and meet deadlines. Applicants should ask for recommendation letters from trusted mentors well in advance. See below for more tips on applying for social work scholarships.
Familiarize Yourself with Funding Types
To apply effectively, students should familiarize themselves with the different types of funding available. Narrowing down what types of funding they want to pursue helps students in their scholarship search.
For example, some students might decide to only apply for grants with no repayment required. Others may choose to apply for stipends that go specifically toward costs such as tuition and fees.
Focus on Your Niche
Applicants should consider their niche, or the subjects they focus on in their studies. Some learners might focus on working with students. Others might want to work in public health policy. Narrowing their niche can help students find suitable social work scholarships.
Some scholarships for social work students require applicants to complete a research project. Students should decide if they think this commitment is worth it, or if they'd prefer to focus on scholarships covering tuition and fees.
Develop Your Personal Statement
Most scholarships for social work students require a personal statement. For the statement, applicants usually describe their personal history and reason for studying social work in an essay. Scholarship committees often outline what they're looking for in a personal statement on their respective websites.
Applicants may want to write one general personal statement, but tailor it for each individual scholarship. When writing a statement, candidates should connect their experience and studies with the scholarship committee's goals. If a scholarship aims to help underserved populations, a student could write about their experience working in such an environment.
Highlight Your Experience and Achievements
Students should highlight their individual experiences and achievements when applying for social work scholarships. They might get the chance to do so in their personal statement, short answer questions, or resume.
Applicants should emphasize related experience such as research, published papers, and internships. Students' personal statements and short answer questions let them explain how these experiences connect with the scholarship's intentions and goals.
Financial Aid Resources for Social Work Students
Students do not need to pay grants back. This form of financial aid comes from the federal government, state governments, and individual schools. Applicants with financial need usually receive grants, since committees often consider need over merit.
Students should file the FAFSA to qualify for the Pell Grant, a federal grant for students with financial need. In 2020-2021, learners received up to $6,345 from Pell Grants. Some states issue grants, as well, such as Illinois' MAP grants and New York's TAP grants.
Borrowers will need to pay loans back. Colleges and universities, federal agencies, and banks loan college students money for school. Some learners qualify for certain loans based on their need, such as with subsidized loans. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while students are in school, which helps limit the overall interest they pay.
Work-study programs let students work at their school in exchange for wages paid for by the federal government. Only learners with financial need qualify for work-study programs. Those without financial need can still get an on-campus job, but the school will pay their wages, not the federal government. Students do not need to repay their work-study earnings.
Work Study Employer-Sponsored Programs
Some employers help workers pay for continued education. Some employers offer specific job-training programs. Others give their employees aid to pay for the tuition of a program related to their occupation.
Typically, students do not need to pay their employers back for this type of aid. Only employees of companies that offer this type of aid can receive it.
Social Worker Loan Forgiveness and Repayment
Besides funding a degree with social work scholarships and grants, learners can find student loan debt relief programs. These programs pay down a graduate's student debt in exchange for employment, usually in underserved areas or public sectors. The list below describes a few of the programs available to social work graduates.
The PSLF Program pays the remainder of a student's Direct Loans after they've made 120 qualified monthly payments while working full-time for a qualified employer. Qualified employers include nonprofit organizations or U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government agencies. Government agencies employ many social workers, especially at the local or school level. This means that many social workers may qualify for the PSLF Program.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
The FLRP will repay up to $40,000 of student debt for professors at health profession schools. Faculty must show that they come from a disadvantaged background and that they hold an eligible health professions certificate or degree. Faculty members in clinical social work and professional counseling may qualify.
Faculty Loan Repayment Program
Licensed clinical social workers receive loan repayment assistance through the NHSC Loan Repayment Program. In exchange, practitioners must serve two years at an NHSC-approved site in a health professional shortage area. These areas, populations, or facilities experience shortages of healthcare services.
National Health Service Corps
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