It is really hard to completely recover from the disease of addiction. People that face addiction are in constant struggle to stay sober on a daily basis. If you add to the list the obligation of going to a college while in recovery, it can be challenging to keep on your game. But what if financial aid made the process much easier?
Many organizations, institutions, and private individuals as well as state agencies and colleges are happy to assist students in addiction recovery with funding to earn a degree in any field they’re interested in. What’s most important: funding can cover many branches of education. Scholarships are not intended only for fields related to addiction therapy, psychology, counseling or psychiatry. So, to begin, think broad and ask yourself, “Where do I see myself five (5) years in the future? What profession would be serve my needs and talents?”
Funding in any discipline
The truth is, funding for college is available for recovering addicts in any career path they want to pursue. The attitude towards addiction and addicts in recovery has changed to the point that, now, for the most part, institutions are ready to support addicts and alcoholics in recovery, including helping them better themselves through pursuing a college education. What steps do you need to take?
How to prepare for scholarships in recovery
Stay sober. The first and most important way to prepare to earn scholarship money as a recovering addict or alcoholic is to stay sober, stay close to the twelve-step program or recovery program of your choice, and avoid people, places, and things that could tempt you back to your drug of choice. An addict no longer in recovery is in grave danger of not only losing any college funding they earn, they are in serious jeopardy of ending up in prison, in a mental hospital, become seriously ill, or even wind up dead. Staying clean is the best way to prepare for continued education opportunities!
Get documents in order. Second, while you’re recovering, get your ducks in a row. Gather letters of recommendation from mentors in your life. You might ask your twelve-step or other recovery program sponsors and friends, business colleagues, or work partners to write a 1-2 page letter for you. It’s also important to maintain a good GPA, participate in volunteer activities and extracurriculars. Become an attractive candidate by doing your best in your current situation.
Set a trajectory. Decide on a subject of interest. Consider also that some schools may be interested in your talents as a recovering addict. Deciding on a path of study will help you find niche opportunities for people who want to help you. While not obligatory, you may be a more interesting candidate if you choose a field of study that could help other people still suffering from addiction. You don’t have to pursue a career as a substance abuse counselor or therapist to get money for college as a recovering addict, but pursuing such a degree may make more funding available to you, generally speaking.
Do your research. Commit to researching some time every week to unearth information about the scholarships offered and other aid packages available to addicts and alcoholics in recovery. With so many local, state, and national organizations dedicated to assisting people in recovery, information and award amounts change all the time. That means you need to stay on top of the latest offers to know what sorts of help you can receive. No one is going to hand you money for nothing, much in the same way that no one can hand you recovery. You have to work your program to stay sober, and you’ll have to work to get the college funding you need as well.
Where to start looking for college funding
There are many offers around the country for addicts in recovery who want to continue their education. We’ve outlined a few places that are known to help people who are recovering from addiction. Start with these awards, then reach out and look for your own sources of funding.
1. Hope for Addiction Scholarship Program
Members of the Hope for Addiction program are dedicated to the belief that all addicts deserve a chance to reach their full academic potential. The Hope for Addiction Scholarship offers addicts in recovery a new chance at education to improve their future. To earn this award, you must commit to abstain from all drugs and alcohol for the rest of your lifetime, and while receiving funds, you may be asked to prove your abstinence through voluntary urinalysis or other drug tests. These awards are only available to those in recovery who are 28 years old or younger. Multiple awards of $1,000 annually are given to students who fit these criteria:
Students who are continuing their education at a community college or other secondary school.
Students who are attending a trade school for fields such as electrical, plumbing, and carpentry.
Students who are attending any technical school awarding certification in substance abuse
2. Texas Tech University Recovery Community Grants (ttu.edu)
Texas Tech University is at the leading edge of colleges who dole out huge scholarships to students in recovery, thanks to their new Program in Addiction Studies and a school history which supports researh in addiction and alcoholism. Each year, Texas Tech hands out 35 grants for recovering addicts, covering their entire tuition and fees and often paying stipends to students who demonstrate financial need.
These grants also come with one-on-one counseling and support as well as strategic planning for recovery from any addiction, whether it is from alcohol, eating disorders, self-mutilation, drug addiction, or anything else that falls under the category of addiction. Texas Tech is not the only university offering such grants, but their program is probably the best in the country as of this writing, and they certainly hand out more cash for recovering addicts than any other single educational institution.
3. Association of Recovery Schools
The Association of Recovery Schools brings together students, secondary and post-secondary schools, and helping professionals to support students in recovery from alcohol or other drug dependence. Their web site provides a list of high schools and colleges dedicated to achieving both academic and recovery goals.
4. Directory of Addiction Study Programs
The Directory of Addiction Study Programs (DASP) is a comprehensive list of institutions that offer a certificate, associate, bachelor, master and/or doctoral program in substance use disorders. Also included in this directory are institutions offering a concentration, specialty or minor in the addictions treatment and recovery services field. Scroll the universities by state and contact programs for more information about scholarship opportunities directly.
5. PARfessionals (parfessionals.org)
Offers tuition-free scholarships for their online 50 hours Peer Recovery Support/Addictions Recovery Coach training for individuals seeking a second chance from incarceration to those recovering from various addictions and/or mental illness. The training is approved by many state and international credentialing boards, as listed on the site.
You don’t need to feel alone!
Recovery from addiction is hard enough without having to struggle to pay for college. If you use your skills to seek out funding, you’ll find yourself with plenty of money to finish your schooling. Stay close to your supports, maintain your grades and sobriety, and you should find that nothing can stop you from achieving your goal of earning a college degree at a price you can afford.
Continuing education issues can challenge people in recovery to move forward with their lives while balancing their recovery process. The good thing is that there are many options that support your decision and help you build your personal stability again.
By Lee Weber and Bojan Zdravevski of AddictionBlog.org