Paying for Social Work Degrees

Help Yourself First

Social workers fill a vital need in communities all across the country. For the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised, social workers provide a bastion of hope when events and circumstances become too much to handle. It is a noble profession, and one that requires a unique dedication to the welfare of others. Social workers bring relief and counseling to people in a variety of difficult, and often life altering, circumstances. Students with degrees in social work often find themselves working with abuse survivors, families and children in troubled circumstances, the aged and infirm, and the mentally or physically disabled. These are the people who depend upon social workers on a daily basis.

A career in social work offers many rewards, but it also requires an extensive education. While there are some career opportunities for graduates with a bachelor’s degree, the majority of the professional positions open to social workers require a doctorate or a Master’s degree. The extensive education required to become a licensed social worker brings with it a greater financial burden for college students. To meet this burden, both the public and private sectors support a wide variety of financial aid programs designed to help students find the funds they need to complete college. These programs are supported by Federal and state governments, professional associations and colleges and universities. If you have the desire to serve others, and the determination to succeed in your educational goals, there may be a grant, scholarship or loan-forgiveness program that meets your needs.

social grants

Federal Grants for Social Work Students

The Federal government offers a number of college grants through the United States Department of Education. While they are not specific to students pursuing a degree in social work, they can offer vital financial assistance to students pursuing a public service career path. The following grants from the Federal government are open to all students, including those pursuing a degree in social work.

As with all Federal and state supported financial aid programs, students must first fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid before applying for any of the above programs.

State Supported Grants for Social Work Students

Many states offer financial aid for students pursuing careers in public service, particularly in areas where there may be critical shortages of qualified professionals. States routinely offer grants and loan-forgiveness programs for students pursuing degrees in nursing, teaching, primary healthcare and social work. Typically, these will be award-for-service programs requiring the student to agree to a predetermined term of service working within the community. These programs vary significantly from state to state, and students should contact their state’s Department of Higher Education for information on specific programs which may be available to them.

The following examples of state supported financial aid for social work majors will give students an idea of what to look for from their state government.

Financial Aid from Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities offering degree programs in social work often support grants, scholarships and fellowships for students majoring in social service and related studies. Available financial aid programs will vary from school to school, and students are encouraged to contact the financial aid offices at their college of choice to learn about programs which may be available to them.

The following grants are typical of the kinds of school supported financial aid programs for students pursuing degrees in social work.

Social Work Grants Supported by Professional Associations

Students pursuing degrees in social work will also want to look for grants, scholarships and fellowships supported by the professional associations that represent, and advocate for, social workers. These organizations routinely offer financial assistance to students who are pursuing degrees in social work. In some cases, it may be a requirement that students become members of the association or organization in order to be eligible for any benefits. In addition to providing much needed financial assistance, many of these professional associations also offer career advice and counseling for new graduates who are moving into the workforce.

The following are a two examples of the financial aid programs sponsored or administered by professional associations related to social work and social services.

A career in social work brings great rewards, and great responsibilities. It is a proud and noble professional path to follow, but students often find that the extensive educational requirements bring financial burdens that are difficult to surmount. Fortunately, there are many sources of financial aid available to students pursuing degrees and careers in social work. Grants, scholarships and loan-forgiveness programs make it possible for students to pursue their devotion to the service of others.

Students interested in pursuing a career in social work should also refer to our section on Scholarships for Social Work Majors for information on further financial aid opportunities.