EMPOWER MSWs Scholarship: Expanding the Mental Health Professional Workforce in Rural NC

Program Goals:

1. Increase number of graduates practicing clinical social work in primary care and in or with medically underserved communities

2. Increase recruitment and retention of students from educationally, environmentally, and economically disadvantaged backgrounds

Application Cycle: 

Applications for the 2024-25 year are now open. Applications are due May 1, 2024. Notifications will be made by May 15th, 2024. It is anticipated awardees will receive awards in three payments (summer, fall and spring). 

Program Summary:

The EMPOWER MSWs Scholarship Program is funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program. This program provides scholarships to full‐time students from disadvantaged backgrounds who also have a financial need enrolled in the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at UNCP. For most students, the amount of the award covers their graduate tuition and fees plus some living expenses. Applicants should be advised that student loans will be reduced to accommodate these awards. Awards can be applied to Summer, Fall and/or Spring terms. No financial aid awards may exceed the estimated cost of attendance. Eligibility for a scholarship award does not guarantee full funding, as funding is limited.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible, you must have financial need AND come from either an economically OR environmentally/educationally disadvantaged background.

Economically Disadvantaged: Applicants who come from a family with an annual income below low‐income levels according to family size based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' poverty guidelines will be considered to be from an economically disadvantaged background.

Environmentally/Educationally Disadvantaged: Applicants who meet two or more of the following criteria will be considered to be from an environmentally/educationally disadvantaged background.

  1. First generation college student
  2. Graduated from or last attended a high school that meets one of the following criteria: has a low overall student average SAT score; OR has a low percentage of seniors receiving a high school diploma; OR has a low percentage of graduates who go to college during the first year; OR has low per capita funding; OR has a high number of students who are are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches (all based on the latest available data)
  3. Belong to an underrepresented minority in higher education defined as those identifying as Native American (NA), African American (AA), Hispanic (H), or multiracial.                                                                                        

Application Requirements:

Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fasfa.gov.

May be required to submit copies of federal tax return for self or caregivers. 

Students must provide documentation of their age.

Students must be a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Students must be enrolled full time (9+ credits per term) in the UNCP MSW Program.

Students must make satisfactory academic progress following University policy.

Students cannot receive more than one HRSA grant/scholarship award per year.

Applications are currently accepted now through 11:59 P.M. on May 1, 2024. Late applications will not be accepted.

To apply, complete the application available here: 2024-2025 EMPOWER Application 

Information Session Slides

This program 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 $3,106,304 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.