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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Money for MFTs

Stipend and loan reimbursement programs for family therapists, updated for 2012 with current links, updated amounts, and additional programs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

A number of state and federal programs offer tens of thousands of dollars in stipends and loan reimbursements for marriage and family therapists to advance their careers. Generally, these programs aim to help bring mental health services to underserved areas and to reward therapists who dedicate themselves to such communities. Here are just a few of the programs MFTs may find enriching.

The federal National Health Service Corps program offers a whopping $60,000 in loan reimbursement, on top of the salary one would already make in an eligible position, for two years of service. Continue working in an NHSC-eligible position over time, and you can get as much as $360,000 in loan reimbursement for 16 years of full-time service. NHSC-eligible jobs can be found at the NHSC Jobs web site.

Also on the federal level, the Indian Health Service (IHS; offers a similar program, awarding $20,000 per year for two years of service at an IHS site. (A cautionary note: MFTs are legally recognized for employment within IHS, but appear to fall within "other professions as determined by need" in the loan repayment program.)

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) / US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Minority Fellowship Program awards stipends to cover education, plus funding to conduct research and travel to conferences and trainings, to doctoral students in MFT programs. These awards can be worth tens of thousands of dollars and are renewable for multiple years.

In California, there are additional state-based stipend and loan reimbursement programs. The awards offered by each of these programs are in addition to the salary one would already earn in an eligible position.

The California State MFT Stipend Program provides awards of $18,500 per year to MFT Interns who agree to work in public mental health positions in underserved areas for at least one year. In 2010 and again in 2011, 60 of these stipends were awarded through the statewide MFT Consortium, which covers most of the state; Loma Linda University and CSU-Chico each administered a handful of additional stipends through the same state fund. For 2012, Alliant International University (where I teach) also is administering its own stipend program, awarding 15 stipends per year of $18,500 each, distributed across our four CFT campuses.

There are separate stipend programs at the county level. The Los Angeles County MFT Stipend Program has awarded more than 300 stipends of up to $18,500 since 2005, with recipients committing to similar service requirements. San Diego County and Orange County have more recently launched similar programs.

Finally, the state offers MFTs and MFT Interns its Mental Health Services Provider Education Program, which awards up to $15,000 in loan reimbursement for two years of service in an underserved area, and its Mental Health Loan Assumption Program, which offers $10,000 in loan reimbursement for a one-year commitment. Though these programs are both run by the same state agency, their separate amounts and selection processes are because their funding comes through two distinct streams (license renewal fees, and the Mental Health Services Act). They have different application forms and run on different deadline cycles. The next MHLAP deadline is in August; the next MHSPEP deadline is in September.

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To put in a plug for my program: Alliant students are eligible for our own stipend program, the county programs in San Diego and Los Angeles, and the state and federal programs. Some campuses are still accepting applications for fall 2012; more information is available here: Alliant Couple and Family Therapy programs.

Are you aware of other federal or state-based programs that should be added to this list? Email me at ben[at]bencaldwell[dot]com and let me know, and I'll be happy to expand this post.


Naiyana said...

Nice information, now this is what I call good news!!! But all these programs are for post-MFT master, what about continuing edu, are there any programs that can help during the master program? I do not recall seeing any info in your previous entries.

Lisa said...

This of course is FANTASTIC news. I am particularly excited about the $50k in loan reimbursement. I am an undergrad right now but I will be finished with my program next June and will be applying to Alliant at the Sacramento Site and I am also looking at Notre Dame de Namur in San Mateo and USF. I guess my major concern has been that I am a self supporting adult and during the practicum phase, how is this going to affect me financially? Of course I will not let it dissuade me but I have had some thoughts about how I will be able to do the practicum, my other courses and work too? Maybe others can share their experiences and how they go through it.

FutureMFT said...

Hi Ben thanks for this amazing blog! I wanted to make you aware of a couple of broken links. The link here: "(SAMHSA) Minority Fellowship Program awards stipends of $20,000 per year," and the link here: "There is a separate Los Angeles County MFT Stipend Program," Not sure if those are the only two. Again thanks for such a great and helpful blog.

Ben Caldwell said...

Thanks, FutureMFT! I'll be updating this post soon, and will bring the links up-to-date when I do so. I appreciate the heads-up!

jsm said...

THANK YOU, Ben! I'm the noobie MFT on the block - I just got my MFT intern number in the mail this week, exciting!

Great information and I'll be back for updates.

Pat said...

Hi Ben, I was wondering if these programs will work towards my Masters program, I am deciding if I will continue on this year and start my Master's program but I am wondering if these programs will help with Masters level funding?
Thanks for the info again

Ben Caldwell said...

@Pat - The stipend programs noted above make their selections when students are in the second year of their masters programs, so depending on your (and the program's) schedule, if you are selected you might receive the check while still in your program. The loan reimbursement programs can also help with costs incurred at the masters level, though obviously you first have to take out loans in order to get loan reimbursement. For programs that provide money while you are in school, it is smart to review with your university the scholarship programs available. Most universities have at least some school-specific scholarships, and there are a lot of private ones out there as well. I hope that helps!