Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

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The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program (SDS) is now accepting applications from new incoming students for the spring 2022 semester. The scholarship will cover at least 50% of your educational costs with no repayment required.

We are very interested in reviewing the candidacy of students who have demonstrated financial need and are interested in working with underserved communities and populations. The Bureau of Health Workforce Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) Program promotes diversity among the health professions by providing grants to eligible schools for use in awarding scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds that have demonstrated financial need and are enrolled full-time in a social work program.

In order to be eligible for this grant, you must have been admitted into the program and complete a two-step Scholarship application process, described below. Scholarships are awarded by the school to any full-time student who is an eligible individual as defined by statute. The definition of “eligible individual” means an individual who: (A) is from a disadvantaged background; (B) has a financial need for a scholarship; and (C) is enrolled, or accepted for enrollment as a full-time student. All students who apply for the scholarship must demonstrate financial and academic eligibility. Also, in providing scholarships under this program, schools are required to give preference to students for whom the cost of attendance would constitute a severe financial hardship. Schools receiving SDS funds must maintain and operate a program to recruit and retain students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups. The Program also aims to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds working in the health and human services field in nonprofessional roles that have been unable to obtain a graduate degree due to financial constraints.

Please note that there is no guarantee that any student will receive the scholarship even if they meet all of the eligibility criteria. This is a highly competitive process for which GSSW receives many applications for a set amount of awarded scholarship funds. If granted, the HRSA scholarship will only cover a portion of tuition costs and students will be required to pay the remainder of any tuition and fees from other sources. In order to cover all educational costs, students may have the option to apply for a student or private loan (if eligible). In the case that a student is awarded a scholarship after they have taken a loan through the school, the loan can be adjusted or reversed.

The HRSA Scholarship cannot be combined with any Dean’s Scholarship, Dean’s Fellowship or Mayors Graduate Scholarship awards. A recipient of a Dean’s award is permitted to apply for the HRSA Scholarship but students are permitted to accept only one award. If granted the HRSA Scholarship, the student would relinquish the Dean’s award. HRSA students remain eligible for the advanced year fellowships in aging, mental health and the military. The HRSA SDS Scholarship cannot be combined with the HRSA Opioid Workforce Expansion program (OWEP) stipend for advanced year students.

GSSW has made a strong commitment to address opioid use disorders (OUDs) and other substance abuse disorders (SUDs), a HRSA Clinical Priority.  In addition, because of the common comorbidity of OUD/SUD and mental illness, the Scholarship program includes an educational component on diagnosing and treating persistent mental illness, which is also one of HRSA’s Clinical Priorities. Scholarship students will be encouraged to take specialized electives in Opioid Use Disorders (OUD), other Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and persistent mental illness.

Award Criteria

  • The definition of “eligible individual” means an individual who: (A) is from a disadvantaged background; (B) has a financial need for a scholarship; and (C) is enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) as a full-time student. Economically disadvantaged means an individual comes from a family with an annual income below a level based on low-income thresholds, according to family size established by the U.S. Census Bureau, adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index, and adjusted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for use in all health professions programs.  Low income family/household is defined as having an annual income that does not exceed 200 percent of the Department’s poverty guidelines. A family is a group of two or more individuals related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together. A household may be only one person. 
  • Parental income will be used to determine a student’s eligibility as economically disadvantaged in all cases except those where the student is considered independent by being at least 24 years old and has not been listed as a dependent on his or her parents’ income tax for 3 or more years. In those cases, the student’s family income will be used instead of parental family income (please see the poverty guideline for parental and student’s family income). Documentation must be provided to the school for age and independent status. Students need to provide either their last 3 years income taxes or the parents' last 3 years income taxes as sources of proof of income or independence.
  • Applicants may also apply on the basis of being educationally or environmentally disadvantaged: an individual comes from an environment that has inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to enroll in and graduate from a health professions school, or from a program providing education or training in an allied health profession. For example a student comes from a family that receives Medicaid, TANF, Public Housing, SNAP, SSI, or graduated a high school in a low income area (based on graduating from a school with low per capita funding).
  • The student must attend Touro College Graduate School of Social Work full-time (minimum of nine credits per semester).
  • An applicant must be a citizen or national of the United States, or a lawful permanent resident of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia. A student who is in this country on a student or visitor's visa is not eligible.
  • Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students are intended for students who demonstrate financial need and are newly admitted full-time to the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work. Once admitted, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. In addition, in order to be eligible to receive the scholarship for a second year, the student must submit a new FAFSA to demonstrate continued financial need and provide documentation as required. Continued funding in future years is contingent on Congressional reauthorization.
  • Upon graduation, students are strongly encouraged to serve as a social worker with medically underserved communities and populations and are required to remain in contact with GSSW to report on your employment.

GSSW and the student both acknowledge that there is no commitment to award the scholarship in future years beyond the 2021-22 academic year, ending June 30, 2022. Continued funding of the SDS Program is contingent upon Federal appropriation of funds.

Applying for the Scholarship

To apply for the scholarship, students must meet the specified criteria summarized above, and follow the steps below:

Step 1

Submit a scholarship application online. In the application, click on the green arrows to advance the pages or go back.


Step 2

Complete the FAFSA, and upon request, provide required income documentation to demonstrate economic and/or environmental/educational disadvantage eligibility to the Financial Aid Office. Applications without completion of the FAFSA will not be considered. Students should accept the loan provision in the FAFSA. If awarded the Scholarship, the loan can be adjusted or reversed.

Upon submission of the HRSA application, the student should immediately gather the required financial information to establish HRSA SDS eligibility. Upon notification in writing that a student has been admitted to the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work, the student has two weeks from the date of the award letter to submit the required documentation to the Financial Aid Office. Scholarships will be awarded on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis and the student will be informed as quickly as possible as to his/her approval for the scholarship. Upon notification in writing, the student has two weeks from the date of the award letter to accept admission to the School, confirm acceptance of the scholarship, register for classes and sign a memorandum of agreement. The awarding of the HRSA SDS scholarship is contingent upon registration and is not activated until the student has registered for classes. Failure to adhere to these deadlines may result in the loss of eligibility for the scholarship. 

We are accepting applications now and awards are granted on a rolling basis. For more information about the scholarship, please contact:

Eric Levine, DSW, MSW, LMSW
Director, Social Work Alumni Engagement,
Continuing Education & Development



Persons in family/household*Income Level **
1 $24,980
2 33,820
3 42,660
4 51,500
5 60,340
6 69,180
7 78,020
8 86,860

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $8,840 for each additional person.

*Includes only dependents listed on federal income tax forms. Some programs will use the student’s family rather than his or her parents’ family. **Adjusted gross income for calendar year 2019.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $628,642 with no percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit