Financial Aid for Physical Therapists: Where to Find a Scholarship?

Before you begin your studies in physical therapy, you need to spend some time thinking about financial aid for studying physical therapists, specifically where you can go to find a scholarship.

Unlike student loans and other means of financial assistance that have to be repaid, scholarships, bursaries and grants provide merit or situation based funding to students who qualify. Scholarships are easier by far to get than either bursaries or grants, and are offered by more institutions. Primarily, scholarships are granted and/or awarded by the following institutions:

  • Federal, State and Municipal government bodies
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Foundations

Scholarships are provided based on different criteria, and you’ll need to do extensive research to find the ones that are best suited to your needs. It is also worth applying to several scholarships for which you qualify. Competition for available scholarships is fierce, and the more you apply to, the greater your chances of getting at least one. If you can get multiple scholarships all the better, but you want to at least hedge your bets.


The first step in your search for available scholarships should be to complete a FAFSA (Fee Application for Federal Student Aid). You can do this through http://www.fafsa.ed.gov, and through that website you can also gain invaluable information on State and Federal physical therapy scholarships. If you’re approved for a  FAFSA scholarship you can expect to receive aid in one of the following categories:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Work Study
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Federal Stafford Loans

You may have noticed by the names of these categories that some of the above aid does not technically qualify as a scholarship. If you are awarded a loan, rather than a scholarship you are free to refuse that aid. You should never put yourself in a situation you are not financially comfortable in.

State based scholarship programs are also available to you, and are based on the following criteria, as well as other determining factors:

  • Financial need
  • Academic achievement
  • Minority status

The same kinds of scholarships are awarded through educational institutions, though these often have other criteria attached to them. It’s best to look into what kind of financial aid is available to you before deciding what physical therapy school you wish to attend.

You can also look into scholarships and grants provided by various foundations. These are provided by many organizations, but the following organizations provide aid specifically for physical therapy students, and in a wide array of categories, so they are well worth looking into:

  • The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
  • The Texas Physical Therapy Association
  • The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions
  • The Tylenol Scholarship Fund
  • The International Order of King`s Daughters and Sons
  • The Hawaii Community Foundation

One last potential resource to consider is a sponsored exchange program in physical therapy, which will not only allow you to study abroad, but often covers all expenses associated with your education and residency. Highly coveted, these exchange programs are few and far between, and there are limited spots, but well worth the effort of vying for.

Whatever scholarship program(s) you apply for, you’ll need to demonstrate a keen mind, an enthusiastic approach to your future, and a willingness to apply yourself to your studies that goes above and beyond the ordinary. Scholarships, bursaries and grants are about marketing yourself based on your future potential. As much contests as merit awards, the most qualified, and more importantly most promising students are awarded these coveted prizes.