The field of physical therapy is becoming increasingly important as a part of any full-spectrum healthcare strategy.
Because of this, qualified physical therapy professionals, including physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are seeing strong and sustained job growth in this field.
This is especially true for physical therapy assistants, who provide a wide range of services to physical therapists and patients alike.
Fortunately, for those seeking employment in this field there are a number of scholarships and grants that are available to defer the cost of becoming a licensed physical therapy assistant (PTA).
By using these grants and scholarships, an individual can quickly complete the educational requirements for licensure and enter this fast growing field.
The Educational Requirements to Become a PTA
Currently, PTAs must be licensed in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The educational component of the licensure process requires that the student complete a physical therapy program at an accredited school.
In most cases, a full-time student will take about two years to complete the course, after which he or she will graduate with an associates’ degree.
Many schools offer part-time and online options for those students who cannot attend on a traditional schedule.
While these types of programs will generally take more time to complete than a full-time schedule, they are an excellent option for working students, as well as those students with family obligations.
The Importance of Accreditation
Any individual who is considering entering a PTA program should verify that the program is currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
Most states will not accept work done at a non-accredited school, either for the initial licensure or when evaluating an individual who has been licensed in another state for licensure by endorsement.
In addition, many grants and scholarships require that the recipient attend an accredited school.
Scholarships and Grants for PTA Programs
There are a wide range of scholarships and grants available to individuals seeking to become a PTA. They are offered by federal, state and local government agencies, in addition to a variety of private sources.
In fact, many students can complete their education without having to spend any of their own money at all if they qualify for a scholarship or grant.
Finally, unlike a student loan, scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid. This allows the successful student to graduate without being burdened by an excessive debt load. This can be especially important for students who are also supporting a family.
The Difference Between a Scholarship and a Grant
Although they are similar in some respects, scholarships and grants differ in the reasons they are provided and the qualifications the student must meet before he or she can obtain them.
Grants are usually need-based, which is to say a student’s eligibility is evaluated based on his or her financial situation.
A scholarship is usually merit-based, in which the student’s academic and professional qualifications are used as a guideline to determine if he or she qualifies for the scholarship.
Obtaining a Grant
Because a grant is based on financial need, the student must be able to demonstrate that he or she qualifies.
This will usually require documenting the student’s current economic status, including his or her income, savings and property.
In addition, the student will have to report any change in his or her economic status, which may result in the loss of the grant money.
Some grants are intended to assist certain groups or areas.
For example, there are grants specifically designed to assist minority groups to obtain a college education.
Other grants may be focused on students who live in a certain area, or who suffer from some form of disability.
Today, many grants are aimed at assisting former and currently serving military personnel. Because of this, students seeking grants should make certain that they are fully aware what types of grants may apply to their specific situation.
Scholarships are generally merit-based, which means that the offering authority evaluates the student’s qualifications before offering a scholarship.
Because of this, an individual who is seeking a scholarship must maintain very high academic standards, in addition to being active in other areas.
For example, sports based scholarships may demand continued sports activity during the student’s education.
In other cases, taking part in extracurricular activities such as after-school clubs, internships and volunteer work may help a newly graduated student qualify for a scholarship.
Like grants, some scholarships are intended to benefit specific groups. For example, some companies offer scholarship programs for their employees’ family members. Other programs may be focused on minority or traditionally disadvantaged groups.
A student should always try to determine what scholarships he or she is eligible for and apply to all of them in order to maximize the chance of obtaining a PTA scholarship.
It is important to note that both scholarships and grants often have eligibility requirements that the student must maintain while he or she is attending school.
A student who fails to maintain his or her eligibility may lose funding, and in some cases may also be required to repay the money he or she has received, such as when a grant recipient fails to graduate or drops out of school.
In most cases, a student must maintain an agreed upon enrollment level, grade point average (GPA), and possibly continue to participate in other activities.
In addition, most grants and scholarships, especially those offered by government agencies, can be withdrawn if the student is convicted of a criminal offense. In general, scholarships are more closely tied to the student’s academic progress while grants focus on whether or not the student has completed the program.
Because there is such a wide range of grants and scholarships that can be used to fund a student’s entry into a PTA program, it is important that the student obtain all possible information about his or her options.
In many cases, high school and college academic advisers and career counselors will be able to provide the student with a wide range of information about what types of scholarships and grants he or she may qualify for.
In addition, there are a number of state and national professional physical therapy and physical therapy assistant associations that can help students obtain information about grants and scholarships that may help individuals seeking to become a PTA.
By obtaining a grant or scholarship in order to complete a PTA program, a student can ensure that he or she will be able to enter this fast-growing job field without being burdened by excessive student debt.
Because of this, anyone interested in this field should investigate every possible opportunity to obtain a grant or scholarship in order to fund their education.