Overcoming drug addiction is a monumental task which takes time, patience and support. Many people who make it through recovery develop a desire to help others. Becoming a drug counselor or therapist is one way to do this. Degrees in counseling usually take four years and require a sacrifice of time and money. Many recovering addicts may lack the funds to pursue an education but they may find grants and scholarships that will help alleviate the financial burden.
The federal government offers financial assistance to those pursuing a higher education based on financial need. Prospective students need to complete the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If eligible, the student receives grant money that does not need to be repaid. Usually the money is paid directly to the student’s school of choice and no preference is given to field of study, race or age. Qualifying for the Pell Grant makes the applicant eligible for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants from the government as well. There are questions on the Pell Grant regarding drug use and prior convictions, however the rules are lenient and past addiction is not necessarily a disqualifier.
Grants for Recovering Addicts
Recovering addicts in California may apply for a scholarship from the Justin Foundation. This scholarship targets students pursuing a career as a drug abuse counselor. Based in California, the foundation gives preference to California residents but does not exclude out-of-state residents. Scholarship awards for this program in 2011 was $500 per semester with a maximum award of two years. The Hope for Addiction organization offers a scholarship to recovering addicts who commit to a drug-free life. The award amount for 2011 is up to $1,000 for use at a trade or technical school as well as traditional colleges.
Potential counseling students may explore individual universities for counseling scholarships. Many individual college programs offer scholarships to potential students pursuing a counseling degree. San Francisco State University offers multiple counseling scholarships for current and new students enrolling in their counseling programs. The awards are both merit and need-based with specific program criteria. As of 2010 the University of Oklahoma will offer a graduate scholarship in the amount of $1500 each fall to those interested in becoming a substance abuse counselor.
Grants for Minority Counselors
Minority students who are also recovering addicts have many scholarship opportunities open to them. Visiting the NAACP website or the United Negro College Fund site is recommended for minority aspiring counselors looking for scholarships. Many of these scholarships target low income, disadvantaged minority students. Some are specific for women or returning students. Examples include the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship for financially needy women over age 35 and Raise the Nation which provides grants to single mothers. Raise the Nation offers grants from $100 to $5000. In 2007, the Rankin Foundation gave out 80 scholarships of $2,000 each. Some, such as the Women’s Independence Scholarship, target those who have left a domestic violence situation. This scholarship can be used to pursue a degree in counseling.