Massage Therapy School Financial Aid Options
You may have more opportunities for funding massage school than you realize! Your options, though, do depend on the school. Different schools participate in different federal, state, and local funding programs. Accreditation status is important for determining eligibility for federal financial aid. Vocational schools can receive eligibility. The program does not have to award an academic degree. A certificate is just fine. Accredited massage therapy programs are much like accredited programs in other fields.
Schools are a resource. Many have their own financial aid page that summarizes programs that they participate in.
For private scholarships, you may need to search a little further. Sometimes it helps to broaden one’s search from massage therapy to health related scholarships, though there are a few out there that are specific to massage.
You may have multiple sources of support. Don’t forget tax incentives for education.
Qualifying for Federal Financial Aid
Many massage programs reference Title IV federal financial aid programs. These include the typical financial aid grants and loans offered through accredited schools around the nation. Accreditation does not automatically confer eligibility, however.
Grants and loans are common options. The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants; these do not require repayment. This is also the case with the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), an additional program for individuals with exceptional need. Federal Direct Loans, on the other hand, require repayment.
In order to receive financial aid for an eligible program, you will need to meet certain basic requirements, for example, not being in default on a previous loan. The amount of coursework for which you are enrolled is a consideration.
You will need to fill out a FAFSA to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. An eligible school will have a code. Filling out the FAFSA does not commit you to attending that school. You do get a chance to see what funding you will receive. The process does take time. There is a wealth of information available from the federal government, including deadlines (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa).
Service Awards and Work Study Options
Institutional eligibility is about more than just federal grants and loans. Massage therapy programs may be eligible institutions for Americorps educational awards. The Commission for National and Community Education notes massage schools among the eligible vocational options (https://americorps.gov/members-volunteers/education-award-faqs). The FoodCorps program lists massage school among the creative ways alumni have used their educational awards.
Then there’s work study. Chances are you won’t be able to perform massage for money while you’re in school, but your institution may have work study options (http://www.swedishinstitute.edu/federal-work-study-program/).
Additional Funding Opportunities through Governmental Agencies
You may qualify for state or local funding in part because of your employment status. Some massage therapy schools participate in multiple programs.
Many massage therapy programs are WOIA-approved providers. WOIA refers to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Funds are available for individuals who qualify for re-training. Program eligibility depends on how in-demand the program is in the particular geographic area. Fortunately, massage therapy is a growing occupation. You will need to do a search for eligible providers in your area. Directories are managed at the state level. Career One Stop has links to individual state websites (https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/EmploymentAndTraining/find-WIOA-training-programs.aspx).
Military status is another factor. In addition to the standard benefits (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/military), many states administer their own programs (https://www.legion.org/education/statebenefits). The Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) is a workforce development program for military spouses.
Some individuals may qualify for assistance through Vocational Rehabilitation.
Massage Therapy Scholarships and Financial Awards
There are a limited number of merit-based scholarships and awards specifically for massage therapy students. They can be quite competitive. Due to limited availability, there may be an element of luck as well.
The Successful Hands Grant Program a cooperative venture of Massage Envy, Performance Health, and Biofreeze (http://www.successfulhandsgrants.com). The program has been announcing eight winners a year. Interested individuals can read essays of past winners online (http://www.successfulhandsgrants.com/pastwinner). It helps to have a strong vision!
The American Massage Therapy Association awards just one scholarship a year, but the prize is big: $5,000.
The individual school may also have a scholarship or two. Cordiva Institute, for example, offers the Founders’ Scholarship and the Presidents’ Scholarship.
The Massage Therapy Foundation Student Case Report Contest is not a scholarship per se, but the monetary rewards are generous: $1,500 to 2,500 – funds that a massage therapy grad will surely find use for! The materials submitted are more academic than the short essay required for the Successful Hands competition. There are resources on the Massage Therapy Foundation website that students can use to develop their case report skills.
Funding from Healthcare Systems and Charitable Foundations
Individuals who are already employed in some capacity within the healthcare industry may have additional scholarship or employer tuition reimbursement options. Some health systems offer continuing education scholarships. Among them are the Tuality Healthcare Foundation (http://tualityfoundation.org/our_funding/employee_scholarships/) and KentuckyOne Health (https://www.kentuckyonehealth.org/employee-scholarship-program).
Health systems also provide scholarships to members of the greater community. Legacy Health, for example, has multiple scholarship programs, including the Geraldine Stephenson Continuing Education Scholarship, which is awarded to one or more individuals who have been out of school for at least five years and who are now preparing for careers in healthcare. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in programs and approved to receive financial aid (https://www.legacyhealth.org/our-legacy/legacy-values/in-the-community/scholarships.aspx). Perham Health in Minnesota, meanwhile, awards six scholarships a year to help community members complete health-related degree programs or one-year vocational programs (https://www.perhamhealth.org/scholarship-program).
Students may also want to seek out local foundations to see what may be available to them based on geography or group membership. Foundations typically boast many some of which are designed to carry on a particular person’s legacy.