Social worker financial aid is something that is not often talked about but which is really necessary. Social work is one of the most demanding, fulfilling, thankless, rewarding and necessary careers in to which one could enter. Social workers are the glue that holds the community together through difficult times. There are many individuals and families that would not be around anymore were it not for the services of a social worker.
Social work is a career that is an honorable calling, and can be split into four main specialist areas:
- Children, family and school
- Mental health and substance abuse
- Medical and public health
- Policy and planning
Each specialization has its own requirements when it comes to studies, with some having more economics and psychology majors and others which have more speech and biology. These specializations can be further enhanced with more majors, and most social workers go on to do their Masters.
Unfortunately there are many individuals that do not further their studies because they do not have the financial means. Fortunately there is no need to stop your studies as there is plenty of social worker financial aid to assist you if you are in financial need. This aid comes in the form of scholarships and grants which can be accessed via virtually every college or university’s Financial Aid Office.
Finding Information About Financial Aid
The best place to begin is the Financial Aid Office of the institution at which you intend to study. This office will be able to provide you with student aid that is available to you via the school itself, the state and commercial private sources.
Other places that you can source for information is the Internet, and your parents’ employers or unions, many of which offer tuition payment plans or scholarships.
There are private scholarships, fellowships, grants, loans and various other forms of financial aid available to students, including those offered by religious organizations, community organizations, foundations, and civic groups. There are also those offered by organizations related to your field of study, such as the American Medical Association or American Bar Association.
Your first port of call when looking for financing for educational purposes should always be the federal support that the Department of Social Work encourages applicants to apply for. The Federal Application for Financial Aid, more commonly referred to as FAFSA, is a free application that you need to submit as soon after 1 January as possible.
You can go to the FAFSA website and choose any of the following three methods:
- Login to apply online (Recommended) or
- Complete a PDF FAFSA PDF FAFSAs must be mailed for processing
- Request a paper FAFSA by calling us at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 319-337-5665. If you are hearing impaired, please contact the TTY line at 1-800-730-8913.
In order to apply for federal social worker financial aid you will need to fulfill certain requirements, such as:
- You must have your high school diploma or GED certificate, have completed homeschooling, or pass an approved “ability to benefit” test.
- You have to be a United Statescitizen or an eligible non-citizen of theUSand have a valid Social Security Number (SSN).
- You must have be financially in need (except for an unsubsidized Stafford loan).
- You must be enrolled in an eligible program as a full-time student seeking a degree or certificate.
- You must be making acceptable academic progress.
- You must not be in default on a federal education loan or owe a refund on a federal grant.
- You will need to complete a Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to ascertain whether you are Partially Eligible or Eligible for aid if you have ever been convicted for the sale of or possession of illegal drugs whilst receiving any form of federal student aid.
- Males between the ages of 18 and 25 must register or already be registered with Selective Service. You will also be required to register if you are not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. You are exempt from registering if you are a citizen of the Republic of Palau, theFederated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of theMarshall Islands.
There may also be other requirements, which you will find out about when applying for FAFSA.
Once you have submitted your FAFSA, it should not take longer than 3-5 days for a Student Aid Report (SAR) to be sent to you and the colleges you have listed. The SAR contains a summary of the data as submitted by you and a Data Release Number which you will need in any communications with the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
If you need any further assistance in completing the FAFSA, you can go here.
The FSA social worker financial aid that you may be eligible for are listed below:
- Federal Pell Grants are available to social work undergraduate students who can prove their financial need. The amount of the grant awarded depends on the level of need. Although this grant can go up to around $5 000, the typical amounts awarded range between $1,000 and $4,000 per annum.
- Federal Stafford Loans – provided through the Federal Direct Loan Program.- A Subsidized Stafford loan is a loan for which the government pays the interest during grace periods, and during any deferment periods.- An Unsubsidized Stafford loan is one that you are fully responsible for repaying all interest.
- Federal PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans made to parents of undergraduate students. Interest rates for these loans vary depending on when the loan is taken out.
- Graduate and Professional Student PLUS Loans are for graduates and professional students.
- The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is specifically directed at and designed for those who went through a very rigorous high school program of study as determined by the U.S. Department of Education. This grant is offered to first and second-year students who meet the criteria.
- There are three Campus-Based programs which are financial aid programs that are administered by participating schools:- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is aimed at and specifically designed for students with extreme financial need that exceeds the requirements for the Federal Pell Grant eligibility. Students who meet the requirements for social worker financial aid via this grant can look forward to receiving between $500 and $4,000, depending on the tuition fees. Students who receive an FSEOG grant can also apply for a Pell Grant.– Federal Work-study provides undergraduate and graduate students with work opportunities in order to pay for their studies.
- Perkins Loans are repayable, but at a low interest rate of only 5%. The maximum a student can get per annum is $4 000.
For more information about federal student aid:
Phone: 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
You can also get the free student publication:
FundingEducationBeyondHigh School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid
Address: Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 84
Benefits Of Social Worker Financial Aid
Social worker students who receive federal grants can concentrate on their studies instead of having to worry about finances. The federal grants that are awarded to successful applicants do not need to be repaid as long as the student maintains acceptable grades and are not in default on any federal loan. Not having to repay the debt gives awardees of financial assistance a better chance of getting ahead and getting out of the poverty-cycle when they eventually graduate, as they will not be burdened with education debt like so many other graduates will be.
Income Tax Credits
Another form of social worker financial aid that you may be eligible for is educational income tax credits, which can reduce your or your parents’ federal taxes.
- The Hope tax credit can be claimed during the first two years of college, up to a maximum of $1,800 per annum.
- The Lifetime Learning tax credit is available for any level of post secondary study, up to a maximum of $2,000 per year.
- The American Opportunity tax credit can be claimed during four years of college, up to a maximum of $2,500 per year.
Recent Changes To The Student Aid Programs
Due to recent changes in the legislation, there are some new requirements for the federal student aid programs. Most of these changes will take effect for the 2012-2013 school year. More information can be accessed here.
Remember, you do not have to give up your dreams to become a social worker just because you are in financial straits, all you have to do is do your research and apply for social worker financial aid from either the college or university that you wish to attend or apply for federal aid by completing a FAFSA.