Changes to Scholars Program

At its meeting in October, the AMBUCS National Board of Directors approved the following changes to the Scholarships for Therapists Program:

First, only students accepted into a graduate level program are eligible. Undergraduate juniors or seniors will no longer be considered for an award.

There were few undergraduate applicants in past years and data from the Tri-Alliance (APTA, AOTA and ASHA) showed that the conversion rate from student to therapist for graduate students was exponentially higher than for undergraduate students. In short: investing in graduate students exclusively will raise our positive impact on people with disabilities by simply producing more therapists.

Second, students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and supply us with the Student Aid Report (SAR) in order to apply.  Taxes must be filed before filling out FAFSA and it can take a few weeks for the SAR to come back – so please encourage your students to plan accordingly.

Now students do not have to share their (or their parents) financial information in excruciating detail…and our committee will not have to plow through it. All of this leg work of figuring out financial need is already being done in a regulated and standardized way by the federal government. Using the information found on the SAR will help maintain a bit of privacy for families and will better ensure accurate information for us; It’s a pretty big decision to lie to Uncle Sam.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the two new Board directives above, a few other changes are underway:

First, the application will not open until March 5 and the deadline will extend until May 4. Since students must fill out the FAFSA (after filing taxes) and then wait for their student aid report, this will give them the extra time they need before the deadline.

Second, we will ask all students to submit their supporting documents before the May 4 deadline. The application will be very streamlined after we remove all the financial questions. So we are asking for supporting documents up-front in order to prevent flippant or casual applications. This will also hone the process in the office a great deal. The online application will save students’ work and they can go back later at any time and upload documents.

Third, there will no longer be semi-finalists. Don’t worry. Every chapter-sponsored student that meets ALL the eligibility requirements will be considered by the committee. Since we are asking for all of the supporting documents up-front, this is an unnecessary step.

A few reminders:
  • Every chapter may submit one student for consideration. Past that one student, please only submit three students for every $500 given by your chapter to support the program. We will send you a report (we call it 100% Giving) of how much your chapter has contributed to the program at the end of March.
  • We think you will also like using the SAR as a screening tool. On the SAR, you will want to look for an EFC (Expected Family Contribution) that is very low. Students with the highest need will have all zeros. You can look up the COA (Cost of Attendance) for the college or university near you, it’s generally somewhere on the website. If you take the COA – EFC = overall need.
  • We encourage every chapter to not only nominate a student but to require participation in a chapter project. We ask applicants to tell us about their community service and working with a chapter sure looks good in their personal statement!
  • The committee really likes those few lines of text you give them about your sponsored students. It often tells them things that the student wouldn’t say about themselves.
  • If you are interested in considering the students who have already filled out applications but who are not already chapter sponsored, please reach out to Alyssa Evan (alyssae@ambucs.org) for leads. You can ask for students studying a certain discipline, at a particular school or in a certain state.
  • The Chapter Sponsorship Form can be filled out at any time before the May 4 deadline.
  • If you or your chapter has a Named Scholarship and you would like to review or change your preferences, please contact Jessica Wall at jessicaw@ambucs.org or 800-838-1845 x113. Keep in mind that the committee tries to exactly follow your directives so, for instance, if you say you want it to go to 1. a PT 2. a student in Connecticut please don’t be upset if they don’t give your scholarship to the student your chapter sponsored who is an OT from Massachusetts. You can of course add “a student sponsored by my chapter” as your first criterion if you would like. You can also just ask the committee to pick out the student they deem most deserving.