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30+ MFT Scholarships & Resources to Help You Graduate with Less Debt

Want to get into the therapy field without getting into debt? This list of financial aid opportunities and resources should help you cover costs as you earn your MFT masters.

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A young couple is smiling and sitting closely together, engaging in a conversation with another person whose back is turned to the camera. The couple appears happy and relaxed, perhaps discussing available scholarships, in a bright and airy background.

If you’re interested in strengthening families, improving interpersonal relationships, and encouraging healthy dynamics, marriage and family therapy is a great career. While you may be discouraged by the price tag of a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, it is required in most states to become licensed.

Fortunately, marriage and family therapists — along with a plethora of other clinical professions like counselors, therapists, and psychologists — are in high demand, so the ROI on a master’s degree is quite promising.

One way to save on traditional program costs is by attending an online MFT program. Scholarships, grants, fellowships, and other programs can also dramatically reduce costs for students. The key is knowing where to look, and what to look for. Keep reading for a master list of MFT scholarships and financial aid options to help fund your degree and ensure you graduate with less debt.

18 MFT Scholarships & Fellowships Students Can Apply for Today

Let’s kick things off with what most students think of debt-free financial aid. Scholarships get most of the press on this topic, but especially in clinical fields, there’s also a lot of room for fellowships and internships. There are also plenty of opportunities for another business or organization to pick up the tab on your education through a sponsorship or tuition reimbursement program.

Most funding opportunities are case-by-case and will depend heavily on your situation. Where you are, the sorts of clients you’ll be working with, and who you’ll be working for will affect what’s available to you. For this list, we’ve tried to keep our examples broader in scope and to select programs that are representative of the kind of help you can expect to find.

General MFT Scholarships

The rank and file of scholarships are general admission, with the primary requirements tied to academic excellence. Because they accept all takers, they tend to be fiercely competitive and have the highest GPA stipulations. However, they also tend to offer more per award, on average.

Future Counselors of America Scholarship

Offered by datingadvice.com, a journalism and media site focused on relationship guidance from industry experts, this scholarship is an excellent example of how financial aid can come from surprising places. Marriage and family therapy is highly relevant to the website’s subject matter, and students earning MFTs or similar degrees are the only scholarship beneficiaries.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: June 30th
  • Eligibility: Applicants must study psychology and pursue a profession in relationship counseling or similar. Beyond that, evaluation is based on academic performance (3.5 GPA minimum) and a companion essay that must be written as part of the application.

Jewell Taylor Graduate Fellowship

This fellowship is awarded by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) to members pursuing post-graduate degrees for careers in the family and consumer sciences domain. Preference is given to candidates with previous field experience (including roles with titles like assistant, intern, trainee, etc.), among other criteria.

  • Amount: $5,000, plus up to $1,000 expense reimbursement
  • Deadline: January
  • Eligibility: The primary aspects of eligibility are based on the AAFCS’s focus—the productivity and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. To be considered, an applicant must pursue a degree and career under this purview.

DEI-Focused MFT Scholarships

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is as important for universities as for professional organizations. This makes sense—if underrepresented demographics can’t afford an education, they’ll continue to be underrepresented in the workforce. To help close those gaps, there are numerous programs where person-of-color status is a key requirement. You’ll find a few of them below.

NLBHA Josie Torralba Romero Scholarship Fund

This scholarship, offered by the National Latino Behavioral Health Association (NLBHA), requires that applicants be New Mexico residents, commit to work their first two years postgraduation in New Mexico, and be at least bachelor-level juniors or above. Applicants from all demographics are welcome, but priority is given to those who “self-identify as Latino/Hispanic/Chicano or another ethnic self-identifier as listed on the JTR Scholarship Application.”

  • Amount: Varies; award amounts tied to volunteer service hours
  • Deadline: April 30th
  • Eligibility: In addition to more common requirements, applicants must be U.S. citizens, legal residents, or DACA and they must be residents of New Mexico, be studying in a behavioral health program, and committed to working in New Mexico and volunteering at the NLBHA after graduation.

Ida Sweeney LeBlanc Scholarship

A program offered by San Francisco State University, the LeBlanc Scholarship is focused on promoting behavioral health and mental well-being among African Americans. While applicants don’t strictly need to be African Americans, they must show a dedication to serving and supporting them through their profession as therapists.

  • Amount: One year of tuition per award
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility: In addition to requirements tied to GPA, class load, etc., applicants must have one graduate semester in a counseling program already under their belt. Most importantly, they must “document their demonstrated track record of service to African Americans.”

Diversity Scholarship for Emerging Leaders

This scholarship for diversity students has a broad scope. Offered by the Foundation for the Advancement of Human Systems (FAHS), it is available to individuals who self-identify as one of several diverse groups—including people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBT community—and helps these underrepresented students pursue careers in marriage and family therapy.

  • Amount: Up to $3,000
  • Deadline: May 1st
  • Eligibility: In addition to minority status and intent to become an MFT professional, applicants must be either members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) or nominated by someone who is.

Pride Foundation Scholarships

Members of the LGBT community often face unique challenges and opposition that can make it difficult to get an education or pursue a career. To help these students close the gap and build a better future for themselves and those like them, the Pride Foundation has a wealth of scholarship and aid programs. While not all the aid opportunities are suitable for those studying in therapy-related fields, many are, and you can apply to the whole host of them with a single application.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: January
  • Eligibility: Scholarship awards are based on need and prioritize Pride community members and other diverse groups. The only strict requirements shared by all programs are that applicants must pursue a postsecondary education and be residents of the Northwest region—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—though residents may study at universities elsewhere.

Services for Transition Age Youth (STAY) Fellowship

Offered by the American Psychology Association (APA) and funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this program helps master’s-level students in psychology programs, specifically those that prepare them to “provide mental health services to transition-age youth.” While applicants need not be transition-age youth or members of a community of color, they must demonstrate commitment to serving individuals in these groups.

  • Amount: Up to $13,000 for one year
  • Eligibility: The standout requirements for this program are a commitment to serving STAY individuals and communities of color (including a two-year commitment to serving professionally after graduation) and current enrollment in an APA-accredited, terminal master’s program.

Need-Based MFT Scholarships

The line between scholarships and grants can be slightly fuzzy, but the dividing line is usually merit-based vs. need-based. Traditionally, scholarships are awarded based on outstanding performance in academics, athletics, artistic media, etc.

It’s also common for scholarship programs to at least include a component of need-based consideration, mainly when the intended recipients are members of an underprivileged demographic. We’ve collected a few examples of such programs for you here.

Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program has a narrow scope regarding intended recipients. Recipients are female survivors of intimate partner abuse, and the program is designed to help these students gain a better position to support themselves and maintain separation from their abusers.

  • Amount: Up to $2,000 per semester
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be female abuse survivors and must be pursuing education via a university, community college, technical or vocational school, or similar accredited institution. Preference is given to returning WISP students, single mothers with young children, and students seeking their first degree.

Ronald D. Lunceford Scholarship

Provided as one of several financial aid opportunities from the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), the Lunceford Scholarship offers support to nonwhite students who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need.

  • Amount: $4,000
  • Deadline: November
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be BIPOC in good academic standing and demonstrate financial need. They must also pursue an approved degree program or related advanced degree/certification, participate actively in community events, and prove commitment to the MFT profession.

HealthForce Partners Need-Based Scholarship

Created as part of the San Joaquin County Behavioral Health Workforce Partnership (SJCBHWP), this program is designed to help fill the current gap in the county’s mental health workforce. Applicants are incentivized to work in a “network adequacy-facing organization with the MEDI-CAL population” (a phrase that probably makes more sense if you already live there).

  • Amount: Up to $5,000 per year, with a total max of $10,000
  • Deadline: April
  • Eligibility: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and pursue a graduate program in social work, psychology, MFT, or counseling. Preference is given to students living in San Joaquin County, working at an approved San Joaquin organization, who demonstrate unmet needs.

Regional MFT Scholarships

Many scholarships, including some already listed, are tied to specific schools, states, and geographic regions. While scholarships offered by a particular school require attending that institution, some programs cast a wider net, even if only at the county or state level.

While nationwide programs can be nice, looking closer to home can often be more effective if you know where you’re going to live and study.

CAMFT Educational Foundation Scholarship

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT) Educational Foundation Scholarship provides financial assistance to one student participating in advanced training or an unpaid internship within the field of marriage and family therapy.

  • Amount: $4,000
  • Deadline: November
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be and demonstrate financial need. While a CAMFT membership is not required, it is strongly recommended.

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Scholarships

HRSA programs are another example of an attempt to meet the need for primary care professions in underserved areas. Unlike most others, these are funded via federal grants, so location-based is less a matter of geography and more one of regional disparity.

While specific institutions offer these scholarships, they’re funded through the HRSA. While the source of the funding is centralized, you’ll have to dig a little to find the appropriate school and program. The link above is for the “find grants” page, which will help you narrow that search, but you must follow up with the schools.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility: Varies, but standard requirements include area of study (some programs are only for primary care providers, like physicians, while others focus on behavioral health) and an agreement to provide care to underserved areas after graduation.

Eugene R. Bonynge Memorial Graduate Student Scholarship

Available only to graduate students from Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin’s Bonynge Memorial Scholarship helps behavioral health students complete their education and achieve their desired careers. This scholarship does not stipulate commitments to serve the related local communities after graduation, so if you’re an eligible resident and don’t plan on staying in the state after tossing the cap, this one might be a good fit.

  • Amount: $1,000/year
  • Deadline: May
  • Eligibility: Minnesota resident and attending high school (including home school) in a Minnesota school system. Applicants must also be graduate students enrolled in or accepted to an approved program such as LP, LICSW, LMFT, or LPCC.

Counseling Scholarship from Heartland Counseling Center

The Counseling Scholarship is funded by The Heartland Counseling Center—a network of behavioral health clinics in Missouri. For this one, you don’t need to be a Missouri resident or pledge to serve communities in the state after graduation. You only need to be a graduate student attending a master’s-level counseling program at a college or university in Missouri.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: July 1st
  • Eligibility: The primary requirement is attendance in an appropriate program at a Missouri institution. Recipients are then chosen based on academic performance and the accompanying essay.

NBCC Garden State Scholarship

This scholarship from the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) is offered to help increase the number of Black or African American counselors available to serve underserved populations in New Jersey’s inner cities. This fellowship explicitly requires applicants to identify as African American, which should help limit competition for those who qualify.

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: April 30th
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be New Jersey residents or studying in the state. They must be currently enrolled in an accredited masters-level counselor program with no other behavioral health masters under their belt already. They must identify as Black or African American, and to receive the award, must commit to at least two years of providing mental health services in specified New Jersey populations after graduation.

Post-Grad MFT Scholarships & Fellowships

As many marriage and family therapy careers (and, more broadly, counseling careers in general) usually involve some form of postgraduate degree or certification, many financial aid opportunities focus on supporting graduate students. Below are a few examples.

Courtland C. Lee Multicultural Excellence Scholarship

This program, offered by the American Counseling Association (ACA), is available to postgrad students working to promote multiculturalism and diversity in counseling. While some scholarships focus on helping disadvantaged students close the gap, this program aids allies looking to do their part to make the profession more inclusive.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: TBD
  • Eligibility: To be eligible, applicants must be an ACA member pursuing a graduate degree in counseling, have an outstanding academic record, and have demonstrated a commitment to multiculturalism and diversity.

Doctoral Fellowship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Another program offered by the APA and funded by SAMHSA is available to doctoral-level students in behavioral health programs. The fellowship requires a two-year commitment to serving the needs of communities of color. It provides access to several additional benefits beyond financial aid, including travel and dissertation support, assistance with the internship application process, and more.

  • Amount: Three years maximum of financial support
  • Deadline: November
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be full-time doctoral students enrolled in an APA-accredited program and commit to serving communities of color. While being a person of color is not required, these students are strongly encouraged to apply.

AITCOY Graduate Scholarship

The Association of Illinois Township Committees on Youth (AITCOY) offers two scholarships for students pursuing behavioral health and relationship therapy degrees, one undergrad and one postgrad. The basic requirements and awards are roughly the same, and both require that applicants be Illinois residents. The details below are for the graduate scholarship.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: September
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled or accepted in an approved master’s program, plan to pursue a career in social services with youth after graduation, and have experience working with youth programs or social services.

8 Grants MFT Students Should Consider

The terminology surrounding student financial aid has been in flux for the last few years, but don’t let that stymie your search. In addition to scholarships and fellowships, there’s a treasure trove of grant opportunities for MFT students. There are also many affordable online MFT programs available to students.

The traditional distinction between grants and scholarships is that scholarships are for scholars, meaning they’re based on academic excellence. Grants are based on financial need, functioning essentially as loans you don’t repay.

Here’s what you need to know about grants, specifically for anyone looking to lower the costs of tuition for an MFT degree:

  1. Since grants are also awarded to schools, nonprofits, and research organizations, search results can be frustrating without using precise wording.
  2. Sometimes, the confusion is due to how funding reaches students. The school may receive a grant and award those funds as student scholarships.
  3. Most of the grants specific to behavioral health are intended for graduate students and are designed to facilitate research projects.
  4. What the aid is called is less important than what’s expected. You’re in the right place if it doesn’t use the word “loan,” and you’re not expected to repay the funds.
Grant Amount

Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant

Supports efforts to increase public understanding of the challenges faced by adults living with visible disabilities.

$10,000

David H. and Beverly A. Barlow Grant

Funds research on anxiety and anxiety-related disorders conducted by grad students.

$8,000

Russell Sage Foundation Dissertation Research Grants

These dissertation research grants (DRG) support “innovative and high-quality dissertation research projects” focused on RSF’s areas of concern, including behavioral science.

Varies

APAGS Psychological Science Research Grant (PSRG)

Funds innovative research projects in the fields of psychology and neuroscience.

$1,000

AAMFT Graduate Student Research Award

Provided to graduate students to assist in completing their thesis or dissertation, which must be related to couples and family therapy.

$2,500

CAMFT Educational Foundation Grant

Designed for individuals and groups of students looking to fund activities like training events, collaborative events with other organizations, research projects, etc.

$2,500

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) USA Doctoral Student Grant

Supports doctoral students interested in evaluating the processes, outcomes, and impacts of MHFA in the U.S.

$5,000

OHA-BHWi Tuition Grant & Stipend

Tuition assistance program for graduate counseling students, particularly those from communities of color or those who can provide culturally and linguistically appropriate service to underserved communities.

$5,000

Expert Tips for Landing an MFT Scholarship

Competition is fierce, and everyone’s looking to cut some pennies off the cost of their education. Even when looking at resources specifically for marriage and family therapy degrees, you may find it challenging to find and claim the funding you’re hoping for.

However, many students aren’t even aware of the options, opportunities, and programs they might be eligible for and don’t know where to find them. If you’re willing to treat this as a job or investment, you’ll reap the rewards of more affordable education once done.

Tip 1: Start Wide, End Narrow

Generally, the broader a program’s eligibility, the better the funding but the stiffer the competition. Nationwide aid is easier to find, has bigger average payouts, and can be taken just about anywhere. Similarly, programs that award funds irrespective of degrees or specialties will be convenient yet elusive. Start your search for financial aid with these big, high-visibility options, but don’t stop there.

There are countless smaller funds, programs, and opportunities, most hidden away on less trafficked websites or have particular eligibility requirements. These may award a fraction of the funds but usually have fewer applicants.

Start with the big names. The school’s in-house aid, the federal programs, and so on. Then, make a list of all the ways you’re unique from most of the other MFT students in the country, including your location, your background, and your specialization. Use that list as a guide to find programs that disqualify everyone but people like you, and then start firing off applications.

Tip 2: Strength in Numbers

Assemble your financial aid piece by piece. Most programs don’t have limitations on receiving funding from multiple sources, and even then, it’s often just limits on aid from the same organization. Sure, $500 doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things, but once you’ve got four or five different scholarships at that amount, you’re getting somewhere. The funds are there to help people like you reach your professional goals. If you need them and you qualify, use them.

Tip 3: Follow the Funding

When you’re searching, you’ll likely reach several dead ends, including inactive programs, funds that have been moved to new trustees, student scholarships that turn out to be university grants, etc. Most of the time, that money is out there somewhere. You just need to follow the breadcrumbs.

If a scholarship has changed hands or the web page looks outdated, see if you can find where that funding went. Perhaps you find a grant that seems related, but it’s awarded to schools, not students. Look into the school to see if they have special aid programs and if that grant was awarded to others. If you find a national program funding a local institution, see if they’ve done the same elsewhere. If you find a local program tied to a bigger organization, see if they have other options available.

Tip 4: Read the Fine Print

Just like taking a multiple-choice test, reading the instructions carefully when applying for assistance is critical. Failing to do so may mean that you’re awarded less funding, that you don’t get subsequent payouts you qualified for, or that you don’t get selected at all.

Here are a few common sticking points to look out for:

  • Membership requirements
  • GPA minimums
  • Reapplication requirements (e.g., yearly payouts that require you to apply again each time)
  • Any strict limitations (word count or page limits, deadlines, exclusions based on previous awards, etc.)

Any time a program page specifically provides advice for your essay, determining factors, or similar information, pay attention. Don’t overlook what is essentially a study guide for the application.

Tip 5: When in Doubt, Ask

There is truth to the idea that organizations, agencies, and systems are all rooting for you to earn your degree, especially in a high-demand field like marriage and family therapy.

Don’t be afraid to get in touch and ask if help is available, whether it’s your university program, a professional organization, a local group funding a smaller scholarship, or anything else. In the worst-case scenario, they don’t have any help to offer you. However, in many cases, you’ll find they may have advice, additional resources, or other things up their sleeves.

When it comes to your school, don’t be afraid to dig deep and get to know the people in the financial aid office. If your need is sufficient, they may have quite a bit of leeway to mitigate your tuition costs.

15 Valuable Resources for Your MFT Degree

This list of relevant resources is for anyone looking to enter behavioral health programs and professions, including marriage and family therapy.

  • AAMFT (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy)
    This professional organization represents more than 72,000 therapists. Despite its name, the AAMFT represents therapists in the US, Canada, and other countries.
  • ACA (American Counseling Association)
    The ACA is a nonprofit organization for counseling professionals. Its goal is “advancing mental health and well-being through advocacy, community, inclusion, and research.”
  • APA (American Psychology Association)
    With over 150,000 members, the APA is the leading professional psychology organization in the U.S. It’s also where all those APA style citation rules come from.
  • APAGS (American Psychology Association of Graduate Students)
    Part of the APA, the APAGS focuses more specifically on supporting graduate students as they work toward joining and enriching the field of psychology.
  • APS (Association for Psychological Science)
    A growing global organization, the APS is a professional organization comprised of researchers, practitioners, teachers, and students in psychology.
  • CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists)
    An independent professional organization throughout California, CAMFT is similar to the AAMFT and is committed to “the advancement of marriage and family therapy as an art, a science, and a mental health profession.”
  • Kinsey Institute
    A research institute at Indiana University, the Kinsey Institute is dedicated to unbiased research regarding human sexuality, and “documenting the diversity of human experience.”
  • MHFA (Mental Health First Aid)
    A program run by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, the MHFA is a training organization. Much like organizations that offer courses and training on first aid, CPR, and other emergency response skills, the MHFA trains individuals to respond to behavioral health: mental illness, substance abuse, etc.
  • NCFR (National Council on Family Relations)
    “A multidisciplinary professional association focused solely on family research, practice, and education,” the NCFR publishes scholarly journals, hosts an annual conference, and serves to connect and promote matters central to MFT professionals.
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health)
    Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health serves as the country’s medical research agency. Behavioral health isn’t the only domain under their purview, but it’s relevant to therapy and counseling professionals.
  • NIH “All About Grants Podcast”
    This is NIH’s official podcast about grants, specifically funding provided by NIH to clinicians, researchers, and students.
  • NIH Grants YouTube Channel
    Like the NIH podcast, this channel features videos aimed at helping professionals understand what funding is available, how to get funding, and how to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.
  • Psi Chi
    As the International Honor Society in Psychology, Psi Chi is a student organization. It’s a valuable resource for students still working toward their MFT degree.
  • SIECUS (The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States)
    As a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing sex education, SIECUS is relevant not just as a resource for MFT professionals but also as a reference to other connected organizations that focus on MFT-adjacent topics.
  • SSSS (Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality)
    SSSS is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to scientifically based sexuality scholarship. As sexuality is a significant component of many relationships, membership can provide MFT pros with career resources, an expanded network, and access to up-to-date industry research.