Guide to Counseling Scholarships (2021-2022)

Counselors make a career out of providing help to people who need it. But the educational requirements for becoming a counselor often mean aspiring counselors need some help of their own, too. The cost of undergraduate and graduate programs has grown significantly more expensive over the last decade, and salaries haven’t kept pace. To reduce their financial burden and focus on getting the training they need, many aspiring counselors turn to scholarships.

Counseling scholarships are generally grouped into three categories: general, regional, and demographic. General counseling scholarships are available to practically every counseling student, though they may focus on a particular specialty or need area. Regional scholarships are available only to applicants who live, study, or work in a certain region—and that region can be as small as a single county or school, or as large as a multi-state area. Demographic scholarships prioritize particular demographic groups, and often focus on the service of those groups, too.

In reading our guide to counseling scholarships, you will note that there is overlap between groups. In some cases, those overlaps are restrictive, but in others, they make for more inviting and inclusive programs. It’s important to read the eligibility requirements carefully, but if they seem confusing or limiting, don’t get discouraged. There are dozens of different counseling scholarships, and while they do differ significantly, the most important eligibility requirements are often nothing more than passion and financial need.

If you’re ready to see what help is out there, so you can get to work on helping others, check out our guide to counseling scholarships below. Please note that for any passed deadlines in 2021, it is assumed that these scholarships will be offered in 2022 around the same time.

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Counseling Scholarships: Common Application Requirements

Each counseling scholarship will have its application requirements, but there are some common requests that applicants should be aware of, such as:

  • Financial information
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Strong academic transcripts (3.0 or greater)
  • Relevant experience

Outside of other demographic or geographic requirements, a common requirement is in service commitment, wherein applicants commit themselves to serve a particular population or working towards a particular research goal.

General Counseling Scholarships

David H. and Beverly A. Barlow Grant

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the David H. and Beverly A. Barlow Grant aims to support innovative research into anxiety and anxiety-related disorder done by graduate students or early-career researchers.
  • Amount: Up to $7,500
  • Deadline: September 15, 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be graduate students and be able to demonstrate knowledge of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, either basic or clinical. Proposals will be evaluated based on applicant competence, the criticality of funding, and the potential impact on the field of anxiety.

AITCOY

  • About the Donor: AITCOY (Association of Illinois Township Committees on Youth) is an incorporated, statewide, non-profit organization of township-affiliated family/youth service agencies and programs. It is a statewide resource and voice for community-based human services agencies. The mission of this organization is to advance the professional identity of Township Committees on Youth by providing professional training, leadership, networking, and community education for enhancing the quality of life for families and youth in the Townships throughout Illinois. AITCOY offers an undergraduate scholarship for high school seniors planning on attending a four-year college and a graduate scholarship to support the education of students pursuing a master’s degree program.
  • Amount: $500 (Undergraduate); $1,000 (Graduate)
  • Deadline: Graduate (September 17, 2021); Undergraduate (May 2022 – estimated)
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate students must have an interest in serving the community, have at least a B grade point average, and plan on majoring in fields such as counseling, social work, psychology, youth prevention, sociology, or youth recreation. Graduate students must be enrolled or accepted in an approved master’s program (master of social work, master of science or arts in psychology, counseling, family therapy, recreation, or prevention with a focus on youth), have experience in youth programs or social services, and have a career plan in social services with youth.

Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant supports graduate and early career work that can increase the public’s understanding of the pain and stigma experienced by adults living with visible physical disabilities.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: October 1, 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be full-time graduate students in good standing at an accredited university, and working towards improving the public’s understanding of physical disabilities. Application requirements include a detailed budget and justification, an abbreviated CV, letters of recommendation from faculty advisors.

Grungo Colarulo Giving Back to the Community Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Grungo Colarulo is a law firm that believes it’s essential to lead by example and serve one’s community, and, through its scholarship program, they hope to encourage students to do the same. This scholarship will be awarded to the applicant whose essay best describes their experienced commitment to community service and what role has their experience with community service played and will play in their academic career.
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: October 31, 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited undergraduate or graduate program in the United States, and be able to expound upon the role of community service in their lives. Application requirements include an updated resume, a 750-word essay, and current transcripts. Incoming first-year college students who have graduated high school or have a GED may also apply.

The Melanie Foundation Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Melanie Foundation was formed in honor of Melanie Merola O’Donnell, who died at the age of 33 whilst pursuing her doctoral degree in psychology. The foundation’s goal is to provide scholarships to those who have the best chance of extending Melanie’s legacy: those in graduate study in the mental health field. Through this scholarship award, this foundation seeks to increase awareness about the link between community violence and mental health issues.
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: March 5, 2022
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be currently enrolled in a mental health graduate program accredited by CACREP, APA, CSWE, COAMFTE, or ACGME. They must also have experience as a volunteer or researcher in a relevant field. Application requirements include a curriculum vitae, unofficial transcripts, two letters of reference, and a typed essay.

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

  • About the Donor: The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund honors Marian Davis and Norman Putter, who emerged from a life of injustice to become vocal activists for civil rights. Since 1961, it’s awarded well over 1,200 scholarships to students who represent a spirit of and commitment to activism. Early recipients fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; today’s grantees participate in the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression. This scholarship aids those who are active in movements for economic and social justice. Students who can do academic work at their university or college or are enrolled in a technical or trade program and who are active in the progressive movement will be awarded these scholarships.
  • Amount: Up to $15,000
  • Deadline: April 1, 2022
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be active in movements for social and economic justice, and attending or planning to attend an undergraduate or graduate program in the United States. Application requirements include a completed application form, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a SAR or FAFSA worksheet.

NHSC Loan Repayment Program

  • About the Donor: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is working to address the lack of primary care health workers in the US. They focus on caring for everyone (even if they can’t pay) and preventing disease and illness. The NHSC supports skilled healthcare workers who serve in high-need areas through scholarships and loan repayment programs. Clinicians providing patient care under the specialties and disciplines such as primary care medical, dental care, and behavioral & mental health are eligible to apply to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program.
  • Amount: $25,000 to $50,000
  • Deadline: May 2022 (estimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be fully trained and licensed to practice an NHSC-approved mental health discipline. In exchange for loan repayment, applicants will serve two years at an NHSC-approved site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA); half service and half repayment are available.

NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program

  • About the Donor: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is working to address the lack of primary care health workers in the US. They focus on caring for everyone (even if they can’t pay) and preventing disease and illness. The NHSC supports skilled healthcare workers who serve in high-need areas through scholarships and loan repayment programs.
  • Amount: $37,500 to $75,000
  • Deadline: May 2022 (estimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicant must be a licensed professional counselor (or hold a similar professional title) and specialize in substance abuse disorders. Applicants must also be able to serve a three-year commitment at an NHSC-approved site. Half service and half repayment options are available. Eligible specialties and disciplines include nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, substance use disorder counselors, behavioral health professionals, pharmacists, and registered nurses.

NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program

  • About the Donor: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is working to address the lack of primary care health workers in the US. They focus on caring for everyone (even if they can’t pay) and preventing disease and illness. The NHSC supports skilled healthcare workers who serve in high-need areas through scholarships and loan repayment programs.
  • Amount: $50,000 to $100,000
  • Deadline: May 2022 (estimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be of an eligible professional role, such as Licensed Professional Counselor, Marriage Family Therapist, or Addiction Counselor. Applicants must also be willing to serve a three-year commitment at a rural, NHSC-approved site. Half service and half repayment options are available.

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship supports graduate-level scholarly projects that use psychology to help understand and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The scholarship funds are meant to address research that shows that stigma is a significant barrier to treatment and recovery for many of the 50 million Americans living with mental illness.
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: May 2022 (estimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be graduate students in good standing who have demonstrated a commitment to stigma issues. Application requirements include a CV, a letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor, and a detailed budget and justification.

AAC Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

  • About the Donor: Since its founding in 2007, the American Addiction Centers (AAC) has grown into the largest network of rehab facilities worldwide, and the AAC Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program addresses the growing need for qualified behavioral health, addiction, and mental health professionals in this area. Undergraduates and graduates will be provided with financial assistance for pursuing careers in the areas of behavioral health and addiction-related studies. The programs that are eligible for this scholarship include social work, nursing, psychology, counseling, substance abuse, or mental health, and marriage and family therapy training programs. This scholarship was not awarded in 2021, however, students are encouraged to try for 2022.
  • Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Deadline: May 2022 (estimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in accredited psychology, counseling, social work, or marriage and family therapy program that focuses on mental health and substance abuse disorders.

William White Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) represents the professional interests of over 100,000 addiction counselors, educators, and other addiction-focused health professionals. Its William White Scholarship was created to promote student addiction studies research. This scholarship will be annually awarded to one undergraduate and one graduate NAADAC student member with the best student addiction research paper on the topic assigned in that year. It will be directly applied to the students’ educational debt.
  • Amount: $1,000 to 2,000
  • Deadline: July 31, 2022
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program for addiction studies or an addiction-related field. They must also be current NAADAC members. Application requirements include a completed application form, unofficial academic transcript, three letters of recommendation, original and individually created APA-formatted research paper, a ten- to 12-page essay for graduate students, and a five- to seven-page page essay for undergraduate students.

Regional and School-Specific Counseling Scholarships

Ida M. Pope Memorial Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Hawaii Community Foundation helps people make a difference by inspiring the spirit of giving, and by investing in people and solutions that benefit every island community. They distribute over $4.5 million to deserving students every year. This scholarship was established to benefit female students of Hawaiian ancestry studying science, health, education, or mathematics.
  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: January 31, 2022
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be female, of Hawaiian ancestry, living in the state of Hawaii, and pursuing a full-time degree in counseling or social work.

National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA) Graduate Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Since 1962, the NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program has awarded more than 579 grants that total nearly $1.4 million for graduate study in fields that address the special needs of children and youth. NAJA was formed in 1941 to unite members to render charitable services which are beneficial to the general public, with particular emphasis on children, and to cooperate with other organizations performing similar services.
  • Amount: TBD
  • Deadline: February 1, 2022
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be planning to work directly with children, and pursuing graduate studies in a field such as counseling, psychology, or mental health. Applicants must also be permanent residents of a state with a JA chapter: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, or Tennessee.

Harvey Neal Kretzer Memorial Scholarship Fund

  • About the Donor: The Youngstown State University Foundation, with an endowment of over $250 million, is committed to providing this “edge of excellence” for the University and the students it serves. The sole purpose of this foundation is to benefit Youngstown State University providing more than $8 million in scholarship assistance annually for its students. The Harvey Neal Kretzer Scholarship was established by Harvey Neal Kretzer’s family. Harvey was a former teacher in the Youngstown City Schools who worked ceaselessly to provide opportunities for children from impoverished backgrounds.
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: February 1, 2022
  • Eligibility: This scholarship will be awarded to graduate students enrolled in the counseling program. Applicants must have a desire to work with disadvantaged students and show evidence of financial need. Non‐school counseling students who wish to work with disadvantaged children and adolescents will also be considered.

Harry and Susanne Clay Scholarship for Graduate Study in School Counseling

  • About the Donor: Chartered in 1964, the Michigan School Counselor Association is the leading advocate of professional school counselors in Michigan. Its Harry and Susanne Clay Scholarship is awarded annually to a Michigan student pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling. This scholarship is intended to be used for books or tuition and will be awarded annually.
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: March 2022 (estimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be current members of the Michigan School Counselor Association, and be accepted as a student in an approved preparation program for school counseling. Application requirements include a written statement, a letter of recommendation, and a completed scholarship application form.

Marie C. Quinn Memorial Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Nassau Counselors Association is a regional professional society that supports students pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. A chapter of the New York Counseling Association, it has over 700 members. NCA awards this scholarship to students graduating from counseling programs to assist them in their studies. Scholarship money is available to those who qualify.
  • Amount: $4,000
  • Deadline: March 2022 (esimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must either attend school, intern, or reside in Nassau County in New York, and must be enrolled in a full-time or part-time master’s degree counseling program. Applicants must also be a member of the Nassau Counselors Association.

OSCA Undergraduate and Graduate Student Scholarships

  • About the Donor: The Ohio School Counselor Association (OSCA) is committed to supporting post-secondary excellence, and offers both scholarships for school counseling students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • Amount: Undergrdauete ($500); Graduate ($1,000)
  • Deadline: April 30, 2022
  • Eligibility: For the undergraduate award, applicants must be accepted to a four-year university in Ohio, and have attended a high school where at least one counselor is an active member of OSCA. For the graduate award, applicants must be enrolled in a master’s school counseling program in Ohio, and maintain an active student membership in OSCA.

Ab Irvine Scholarship Program

  • About the Donor: The Santa Fe Civitans are a group dedicated to improving their communities through helping others. They’re involved in a wide range of service projects designed for deserving organizations and schools, primarily those in New Mexico. Internationally, along with thousands of other chapters, the Civitan International Research Center focuses on the research and treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities. This scholarship is in honor of Ab Irvine, who dedicated himself to work on the Special Olympics. Through this scholarship program, the foundation awards scholarships to students who are either college, junior, senior, or graduate students in fields such as special education, deaf or blind education, learning disabilities, allied health professions, and mental health professions. Winners can use the money earned through this scholarship towards either books or tuition.
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: Spring of 2022
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be legal residents of New Mexico, Colorado, or Texas (El Paso County), and enrolled as a junior, senior, or graduate student at a college or university in one of those three states. They must also have career plans to work with children with special needs.

Emeliza Swain Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Emeliza Swain was a long-time counselor educator at the University of Georgia, and her work was instrumental in the early years of the Georgia School Counselors Association (GSCA), which hosts a scholarship in her name. The recipients of this scholarship are selected by the State School Counselor of the Year and the President.
  • Amount: Up to $1,000
  • Deadline: Contact sponsoring organization for the 2021-22 deadline.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be earning a master’s degree in guidance or school counseling from the University of Georgia.

Demographic-Specific Counseling Scholarships

NBCCF Minority Master’s Fellowship (Addiction)

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations. The NBCC minority fellowship program for addictions counselors will administer up to forty master’s degree-level counseling fellowships of $15,000 for addictions counseling students, in addition to the travel expenses to participate in other program-related training.
  • Amount: $15,000
  • Deadline: December 15, 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited master’s program, and demonstrate knowledge and experience in addressing substance abuse within underserved minority communities. Applicants must also commit to serving those communities for two years within a year of graduation. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

NBCCF Minority Fellowship for Mental Health Counselors (Masters)

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations. Their primary strategies towards this end include scholarships, fellowships, and grants. The NBCC minority fellowship program for mental health counselors will administer up to thirty master’s-level counseling fellowships of $10,000, in addition to the travel expenses to participate in program-related training for mental health counseling students.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: December 15, 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in a CACREP-accredited master’s program. Applicants should have knowledge and experience with underserved minority communities, and commit to serving them for a minimum of two years within a year of graduation. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

NBCCF Minority Fellowship for Mental Health Counselors (Doctoral)

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations. Their primary strategies towards this end include scholarships, fellowships, and grants. The NBCC minority fellowship program for mental health counselors will administer up to twenty doctoral-level counseling fellowships of $20,000, in addition to the travel expenses to participate in program-related training.
  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: December 15, 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be board certified by holding the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, and be enrolled in a CACREP-accredited doctoral program. Applicants must have knowledge and experience in serving a minority community, and commit to serving such a community for two years within a year of completing the program. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

Pride Foundation Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Pride Foundation provides financial resources and community support to LGBTQ+ and allied student leaders across the Northwest. Since 1993, it’s awarded more than $6 million to over 1,800 students in Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. Pride Foundation has over 60 scholarship funds, 10 of which are geared towards health, wellness, counseling, and psychology.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: January 2022 (estimated)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must live in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington, and identify as LGBTQ+, questioning, or an ally. They should also be able to demonstrate financial need, along with leadership skills, and a strong commitment to social justice and LGBTQ+ issues.

Services for Transition Age Youth (STAY) Fellowship

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the STAY Fellowship is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The fellowship is designed for students in terminal master’s programs in psychology who are being trained to provide mental health services to transition-age youths (16 to 25 years) and their families.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: January 15, 2022
  • Eligibility: Applicants must have a strong commitment to a career in mental health services with ethnic minority transition-age youths and their families. They must be enrolled full-time at a program housed in the same department as a doctoral program accredited by the American Psychological Institute. Applicants must sign a commitment to work for two years in a capacity that addresses the needs of racial and ethnic minority populations. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog

Writer

Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California, and he believes a strong society demands a stronger mental health system. Since early 2018, he’s written extensively about emerging topics in counseling, research, and healthcare education. Drawing upon interviews with hospital CEOs, healthcare professionals, professors, and advocacy groups, his writing and research are focused on learning from those who know the subject best.