Training Grant to Pay Tuition, Stipend to Rehabilitation Counseling Students
Seven University of Arkansas master's students in rehabilitation counseling can apply for full tuition and fees, plus a $550 per month stipend, thanks to a training grant awarded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant of $150,000 per year for five years will overlap with another grant awarded in 2004 to Brent Williams, program coordinator for the rehabilitation education and research program in the College of Education and Health Professions. That means as many as 14 graduate students will receive the funding in the 2008-09 academic year. The first grant will then expire and seven students will receive funding for each of the next four years.
The grant addresses both the high unemployment rate of people with disabilities and the shortage of rehabilitation counselors and placement specialists. It will pay tuition for 12 hours of graduate coursework in addition to fees and the monthly stipend.
"The federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 created many jobs in the rehabilitation field," said Williams, associate professor of rehabilitation education. "Do the math – we are about to have a massive retirement out of the field. One of three rehabilitation counselors is expected to retire in the next five years."
The Iraq war and continuing U.S. military involvement in the region will also drive up the demand for rehabilitation professionals, Williams said.
"Because of the Iraq war, the Veterans Administration needs to hire almost double the number of counselors it employs now," he said. "The United States government is anticipating the largest number of disabled veterans in our nation's history.
"There are just not enough of these folks (counselors) to go around."
Williams estimated about half the people who will receive the training grants are people already working in the rehabilitation field. They want to increase their skills and move up the career ladder from caseworkers to counselors and administrators. The other half he expects to be people who are pursuing a career change.
"Some will likely be people from more traditional business careers who say, 'OK, I've done this, now I want to help people.' People come in our door and say that what they're doing doesn't allow them to contribute to society the way they want to. It's also not uncommon that some of these people coming from unrelated fields have had some direct experience with disability. It's that experience that clues them in that this field exists."
Students interested in applying for the traineeship for fall should contact Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 575-8696.