Scholarships & Online Resources for Occupational Therapy Assistant Students

Explore the best scholarships and grants, academic support, and career resources for your OTA college education.

Being able to pay for college shouldn’t make or break your ability to earn your occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree. Similarly, you shouldn’t feel as if you don’t have the support needed to thrive while in school. Whether you’re attending an in-person or online OTA program, this guide highlights scholarships, resources, and support systems available to you as an OTA student and explains how to best take advantage of them. Keep reading to learn about top scholarships for the 2020-2021 school year, tips for standing out from the competition, and academic and career resources that can help you excel on your path to becoming a certified occupational therapy assistant.

Scholarships and Grants for OTA Students

Scholarships are a popular option among occupational therapy assistant students due to the fact that they don’t have to be repaid so long as learners meet all the requirements of the award. This is also true for grants, work-study funds, and fellowships. Many students look at these types of awards first and supplement with loans after exhausting other options. Colleges and universities, professional associations, private foundations, and for-profit businesses all offer scholarships. Check out some of the best options below.

School-based OTA Scholarships

Finding school-based scholarships is a smart option for students who want to avoid the overly competitive national awards and focus their efforts on applications with a smaller pool of contenders. Scholarships open to OTA students throughout the country may receive hundreds of applications, while schools typically receive far fewer as the award is only open to attendees.

To find out if a prospective school offers any scholarships specific to occupational therapy assisting, there are a few options. Closely looking on the departmental or program website is a good place to start, as is reviewing general scholarships available. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, try contacting the financial aid office or program director for more info. We’ve highlighted two colleges with outstanding scholarships for their OTA students below as an example of what to look for from your school.

OTA Scholarship Spotlight: SUNY Orange

Campus-based students enrolled in SUNY Orange’s occupational therapy assistant can qualify for this award provided by the SUNY Orange OTA Program Alumni Association. The amount offered varies both by student and year, as do the number of financial awards available. Students receive consideration for this scholarship upon being admitted to the program. Interested applicants wanting to learn more can check with the OTA program chair or the financial aid office for further details.

OTA Program Alumni Association Scholarship

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

Due with application (annual)

Eligibility

Admitted students completing an occupational therapy assistant program at SUNY’s Orange campus.

How to Apply

The alumni association reviews the applications of all admitted students and makes decisions based on submitted materials.

OTA Scholarship Spotlight: Lake Area Technical College

Based in South Dakota, this community college provides an occupational therapy assistant scholarship in partnership with the state government to campus-based learners. Students must be in good standing, with preference given to South Dakota residents and/or those who are members of the South Dakota Occupational Therapy Association. Award amounts and number of scholarships given vary each year and applications are due in the spring.

Harlan and Rita Temple Scholarship

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

Spring (annual)

Eligibility

Students enrolled at Lake Area Technical College in a campus-based occupational therapy assistant program can apply if in good standing.

How to Apply

Application instructions are released in late winter.

National and Regional Occupational Therapy Assistant Scholarships

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Organization

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation

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Amount

$500

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Deadline

11/5/20 (annual)

Eligibility

Students must be enrolled full-time in an AOTA-accredited associate degree in occupational therapy and have completed at least one year of coursework.

How to Apply

Required materials include a statement on academic background, resume, reference/recommendation forms, a program director’s statement, and an answer to the annual essay question.

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Organization

Daughters of the American Revolution

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Amount

$2,000

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Deadline

1/31/21 (annual)

Eligibility

This program offers two awards annually to students accepted to or enrolled in an accredited occupational therapy program. They must demonstrate financial need to qualify.

How to Apply

DAR membership or chapter sponsorship is not required, but students must supply an online application, statement of career objectives, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

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Organization

The ARC New York

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Amount

$3,000

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Deadline

1/11/21 (annual)

Eligibility

Students residing in New York who are enrolled in an occupational therapy program can apply for this award, which can also support a fieldwork program for 2-3 months but is not required.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply a departmental chairperson sign-off, a letter of recommendation, answers to essay questions, and previous educational details.

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Organization

Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

August (annual)

Eligibility

Applicants must be attending an accredited occupational therapy assistant program in Oregon and maintain an active Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon membership.

How to Apply

Students should submit a professional resume, statement on awards and achievements, and a 500-word maximum statement of objectives and purpose.

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Organization

Alabama Occupational Therapy Association

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Amount

$500

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Deadline

Spring (annual)

Eligibility

Each spring ALOTA provides two scholarships to OTA students studying via an accredited Alabama OTA program. They must also be members to receive consideration.

How to Apply

Students must be nominated by a fellow ALOTA member. Applications are considered based on merit and should include academic records, a personal statement, and a letter of recommendation.

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Organization

Virginia Occupational Therapy Association

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

5/15/21 (annual)

Eligibility

OTA students enrolled in an accredited, Virginia-based program can apply for this award if they maintain membership with the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association.

How to Apply

Students must supply a completed application form, 2-3 page essay, faculty endorsement form, and up to two letters of recommendation.

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Organization

Illinois Occupational Therapy Association

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

11/5/20 (annual)

Eligibility

Students living in Illinois can apply to this annual award if currently accepted to or attending an accredited occupational therapy assistant program. The association provides 1-2 awards each year.

How to Apply

Applicants must verify their active membership in ILOTA and that they are in good standing with their university along with a completed online application.

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Organization

ConnOTA

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Amount

$500

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Deadline

Winter

Eligibility

Members of ConnOTA who are currently completing an OTA program in Connecticut are eligible to this annual award.

How to Apply

Applicants must provide a list of leadership activities that demonstrate their commitment to the OT field at a level far above their peers. They must also supply a completed application.

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Organization

Iowa Occupational Therapy Association

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Amount

$500

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Deadline

8/15/20 (annual)

Eligibility

IOTA members in their final year of studies in an OTA program can apply if they possess a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

How to Apply

In addition to a completed application, students must also supply a letter of financial need and a letter of recommendation. Applications can be sent by email.

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Organization

Health Professions Education Foundation

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Amount

$8,000

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Deadline

2/23/21 (annual)

Eligibility

OTA students can enroll in this program if they take at least six credits per term and have a 2.0 or higher GPA. They must also be willing to work in a medically underserved area for one year after graduating.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit all required materials via the OSHPD funding portal.

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Organization

Foundation for Seacoast Health

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Amount

Up to $5,000

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Deadline

4/1/21 (annual)

Eligibility

Students living in New Hampshire or Maine can apply to this award if pursuing an undergraduate degree related to health or healthcare.

How to Apply

Required materials include three student assessments, transcripts, professional and volunteer experience, and career goals statement.

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Organization

John Randolph Foundation

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Amount

$2,500

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Deadline

2/15/21 (annual)

Eligibility

Students living in Virginia who possess a 3.0 or higher GPA can apply to this award if planning to work in an eligible healthcare field, including occupational therapy.

How to Apply

The application should include official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation, FAFSA application.

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Organization

Health Occupations Students of America

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Amount

Up to $7,000

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Deadline

4/15/21 (annual)

Eligibility

Students who are members of HOSA can apply to this award if working towards an approved healthcare degree, including OTA.

How to Apply

Required application materials include demographic information, transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume, and a statement on career goals.

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Organization

Sharps Compliance, Inc.

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

5/31/20 (annual)

Eligibility

Undergraduate students currently accepted to or enrolled in a healthcare studies or related topics can apply to this award.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit an essay highlighting how they plan to use their degree after graduating. They also need to supply letters of recommendation, a resume, and transcripts.

5 Keys to Landing Scholarships for Your OTA Degree

As we’ve discussed, scholarships are competitive due to so many students looking for financial support for their OTA educations. Because of this, it’s important that you don’t make any careless mistakes that preclude you from receiving consideration. For many awards, you only get one chance to catch the eye of panelists reviewing applications and making decisions. Check out our tips below on how to ensure you win the money you need to complete a degree.

  • Be realistic: If you come across an occupational therapy assistant scholarship that requires a 3.5 GPA but you only have a 3.0, don’t waste your time. Apply only to awards you can realistically receive.
  • Choose relevant references: If deciding between an occupational therapist or other medical professional who can speak to your talents or your old English teacher, go with the former. They can highlight your specific OT skills and interests.
  • Follow instructions: Scholarship award panels can throw out your application for failing to go through the right steps. Review them carefully before getting started.
  • Keep looking: Many OTA awards exist for current students rather than those who’ve yet to begin their studies. Research awards regularly while in school to find new opportunities.
  • Differentiate yourself: If you have any work, volunteer, or personal experience with physical or occupational therapy, state this clearly and early in your application.

Where to Find Additional Financial Aid for Your OTA Degree

After exhausting all your scholarships options, you may find that additional funding is still needed. Other financial aid options exist, some of which require repayment and some which do not. Work-study funding is provided via the federal government and allows you to work part-time at your school in exchange for an hourly wage. Employment tuition reimbursement programs are a great idea if your employer wants to provide funding toward your education.

Best left as a last resort, the federal government along with private banks and financial organizations also offer a variety of student loans. These can help bridge the gap between available funds and cost of tuition.

Academic and Career Support Resources for OTA Students

As you work your way through your OTA degree program and prepare for your career, it’s important to take advantage of every support resource and group you can. From reaching out to the student support center at your school to becoming a member of an OT student or professional organization, there are so many ways to get academic and career-prep help. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best places to get this support below.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Student Support Centers and Services

Colleges and universities offer many valuable academic and career support services that can help you before, during, and after your time in school. Getting to know these early on can ensure you get through college and advance your career with the support you need to succeed. Services vary by institution, making it important that you speak with a student services professional at your school. To help give you an idea of the services you may have access to at your school, we’ve showcased the support services of two colleges that go above and beyond in their support of their OTA students.

Cleveland University

Based in Kansas City, Cleveland University prides itself on being a school that’s intentional in its care for students – both during their time of enrollment and beyond. To ensure occupational therapy assistant students are prepared to join the ranks of OTAs after graduating, the school ensures students meet the eligibility requirements for the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant exam mandated for state licensure.

Students also gain access to support services though the College of Health Sciences, including a library, details on internships and clinical experiences, guidance on online degrees and courses, and information on graduation requirements. The school also put out “Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career” to help students understand what the process looks like from start to finish.

St. Catherine University

St. Catherine University maintains campuses in California, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia as well as online. As the school that launched the nation’s first OTA program in 1964, St. Kate’s works diligently to continue leading the pack in terms of support services. Students interested in the hybrid occupational therapy assistant program gain access to support finding fieldwork placements, once-a-month skills labs, personalized instruction, and assistance in finding a meaningful career.

To help students prepare for the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant exam, the program offers free prep classes to ensure students excel on their first try.

Resources for Online Occupational Therapy Assistant Students

As more and more students take advantage of online and hybrid learning options, plenty of resources have become available to help them navigate the process and learn how to take full advantage of their educations. While plenty of general online learning resources exist, there are also some that specifically support OTA degree seekers. We rounded up five helpful resources to get you started.

Student Organizations and Professional Associations

  • Pi Theta Epsilon
    As the honor society dedicated to the field of occupational therapy, Pi Theta Epsilon champions student scholarship and research while also providing an academic and professional support system.
  • Assembly of Student Delegates
    This group functions under the umbrella of the American Occupational Therapy Association and lets students have a say in the future of both the organization and the discipline.
  • Student Occupational Therapy Association
    The University of Southern Indiana offers just one example of the many student-based occupational therapy associations available at colleges and universities.
  • World Federation of Occupational Therapy Student Membership
    The WFOT offers a special discounted student membership tier for OTs and OTAs in training who want to connect with other professionals while still in school.
  • State-Based Association Student Memberships
    Plenty of state-based OTA associations provide discounted student membership rates, as evidenced by the Illinois Occupational Therapy Association.

Online Communities, Networking Sites, and Other Social Groups

  • CommunOT
    This online forum exists for current OT/OTA students, recent graduates, and early practitioners to come together, share their experiences, and ask questions.
  • r/OccupationalTherapy
    This Reddit group brings together students and practitioners alike to chat about the industry, showcase their therapeutic ideas, and connect with others.
  • Occupational Therapy New Grads and Students
    This active Facebook group has more than 70 posts per day on topics ranging from finding a great program to starting the job hunt. OTs and OTAs are both welcome.
  • AOTA Twitter
    If you’re looking to keep up with the American Occupational Therapy Association, the organization’s Twitter handle is updated regularly and provides helpful resources.
  • Student Doctor Forums
    Student Doctor’s OT forum has more than 75,000 posts spread across nearly 5,500 threads. You can find answers to myriad existing questions here or ask your own.

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