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PA School Scholarships

PA School Scholarships

Physician assistant (PA) school is not cheap. After already completing and paying to attend undergraduate college, the idea of spending even more for graduate school is daunting. Also, many PA programs require you to agree to no work throughout schooling so that the program has your undivided attention. This makes it hard to make an income while attending a physician assistant program and many enrolled PA students struggle with their finances. According to the PAEA 2020 Student Report, the majority of anticipated total debt from attending PA school ranges from $75,000 to $149,000. Luckily, there are grants available for both prospective pre-PA students and current PA students to apply for. PA school scholarships provide free money that you do not need to pay back.

PA School Scholarships for Prospective Students

If you are a prospective student interested in pursuing a PA career and becoming a physician assistant, there are various competitive scholarships that can assist you. These opportunities are aimed to help students dedicated to health professions with the costs of applying to graduate healthcare programs and furthering their PA education. Often times these can be found via scholarship search engines. If you are currently attending college, reach out to the schoolțs financial aid office to ask about any local scholarship opportunities, or student loans that are specific to you, your background, and your goal of becoming an outstanding PA in the healthcare field. Here is one specific example of financial assistance aimed to help students furthering their education:

  • Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship: $25,000 stipend and 50% of required tuition. Awarded to immigrants and children of immigrants pursuing graduate school in the United States.


The earlier you start looking into various scholarship opportunities as a PA student, the better. There are numerous scholarship opportunities that encourage young PA students with strong academic performance, but they often require in-depth applications including essays and letters of recommendation. For example, the popular and competitive National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarships. It offers a full year of scholarship support in exchange for a commitment of at least two years in full-time service at a NHSC approved site. These sites provide primary care health services to underserved rural, urban and tribal communities. Financial benefits from this scholarship include tuition, required fees, reasonable educational costs, and a monthly support stipend.


The American Associate of Physician Assistants (AAPA) has various scholarship opportunities available for PA students via The PA Foundation. To qualify for the scholarship, the student must be a member of AAPA, attend an ARC-PA accredited PA program, have successfully completed at least one term of Physician Assistant school while remaining in good academic standings, and be enrolled in a PA program at some point during the scholarship application cycle. AAPA offers two application cycles per year. The first runs from January 11th through March 12th and is available for two PA students with even-numbered birth years and the second cycle runs from
June 14th through August 13th and is available for applicants with odd-numbered birth years.

The PA Foundation scholarship opportunities include the following:

  • PA Foundation Scholarship: Physician Assistant Foundation is the philantropic arm of the AAPA and offers 13 awards, $1,000 each. Awarded to students who meet the general eligibility criteria listed on their website.

  • AAPA Past Presidents Scholarship: 3 awards, $1,000 each. Awarded to students who demonstrate service leadership throughout their time in PA school.

  • Ron Nelson Memorial Scholarship: 1 award, $2,000. Awarded to students from a rural area who are committed to serving a rural community.

  • NCCPA Endowed Scholarship: 2 awards, $2,000 each. Awarded to students who identify as an underrepresented minority and/or economically or educationally disadvantaged.

  • Ron Pace Memorial Scholarship: 1 award, $1,000. Awarded to a Florida-based student who is a veteran or the child/dependent of a veteran.

  • Willian H. Marquardt Community Health Access Scholarship: 1 award, $2,500. Awards to students who are dedicated to promoting accessible primary and preventative healthcare amongst underserved communities and populations.

  • Joyce Nichols Memorial Scholarship: 4 awards, $1,000 each. Awarded to Black PA students.

  • Other grant opportunities include the PAs for Latino Health Scholarship, Prentiss L. Harrison Memorial/African Heritage PA Scholarship, and The Eva Dimitrov, MD & PAHPM Student Scholarship.


There are also many specialty organizations that offer scholarship opportunities to PA students who demonstrate financial need. For example, The Association of Physician Assistants in Oncology offers a $2,500 award, American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants offers a $1,000 award, and Physician Assistants in Orthopedic Surgery offers $500 scholarships. Other medical specialty organizations that offer PA students financial aid include the Society for Physician Assistants in Pediatrics, Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants, and the Society of Physician Assistants in Otorhinolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery.


PA students may also qualify for specific scholarships based on the state they live in or attend PA program in. Many states PA societies have special opportunities for their residents. This includes PA organizations based in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire (read our article about the best PA schools in New Hampshire), New Jersey, New Mexico, New York (see a list of best PA schools in NY), North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming (learn more about the best PA schools in Wyoming), and more. These grants are usually awarded every year or multiple times per year. Each association has specific general eligibility criteria for selection listed on their individual websites.


Another source of potential scholarship opportunities is your undergraduate college or the PA program you plan to attend. Speak to financial aid officers at both to ask if you qualify to apply to any. The financial aid office will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Undergraduate universities like to support their own graduates! If you were in a sorority or fraternity during college, the national Greek organization may offer multiple scholarship opportunities for student members who are furthering their education. Also, check out local hospitals and foundations. Some scholarships are limited to specific counties, which can increase your chances of being awarded as the recipient of a scholarship. While searching for scholarships you may also come across some unusual ones. Examples may include creative writing or illustration scholarships. They may sound unconventional, but still accept scholarship applications and award money to multiple recipients. So, if you have a specific talent, research if there is a unique scholarship opportunity out there for you!


  • Apply as early as possible.

  • Save all written essays. You may be able to merge a few, make some edits, and be ready to submit a whole “new” essay to another scholarship application.

  • Broaden your horizons on the types of scholarships you are applying to.

  • Reach out to your college’s financial services department for scholarship opportunities.

  • Secure a professor, employer, etc. early on in the scholarship application process who will be willing to submit letters of recommendation on your behalf.

  • Continuously seek out scholarships. More become available every day, so be on the lookout for new ones.

  • Make sure your social media is appropriate. Scholarship providers may search your name, so clean up any social media content that can portray you in a negative light.

  • If necessary, create one universal cover letter, then tweak it as you submit specific scholarship applications.

  • Apply to as many scholarships as possible. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t get it.

  • Have a friend, family member, or colleague review your application and give you constructive criticism.


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Q: How long do scholarship applications take to fill out?

A: It differs for each scholarship. Some scholarships only require minimal demographic information, but others require various short responses or longer essays. Often times essay questions are similar amongst scholarship applications and your written essay may be used as is for multiple applications. Other times, an essay may fit multiple applications with minimal tweaking. This hack can save you time while applying for scholarships. Also, many applications require references or letter of recommendation. Before completing your application, secure a professor, employer, etc. to complete this requirement for you. It would be a shame to spend time and effort writing a scholarship essay only to be stuck with no one to complete the letter of recommendation for you. Applying to scholarships takes planning, just like applying to PA programs does!

Q: What are easy scholarship finder websites to browse through?

A: The following are scholarship finder resources to match you with scholarships you qualify for:







Q: How many scholarships should I apply for?

A: The more, the merrier! Applying to multiple scholarships is advantageous because it can increase your chances of being awarded a scholarship. When looking for scholarships to apply to, consider your background, demographics, goals, hobbies, etc. There are specific scholarships for very specific people, and you may fall into the category that qualifies to apply! As an example, the Indian Health Service Scholarships Program offers qualified students of American Indian or Alaska Native heritage the opportunity to receive funding for tuition, required fees and living expenses for serving for at least two years at health facilities in these communities.


Tuition costs for a physician assistant degree depends on if the program is public or private and if the student is in-state or out-of-state. The PAEA 2020 Program Report gathered data on tuition and defines it as the “estimated current total tuition that each student will incur for the entire length of the graduate, professional phase of the PA program, excluding fees.” According to the PAEA, the average cost for attending a public PA program for in-state students is $53,131 and for out-of-state students is $87,750. The tuition costs for attending private PA programs do not differ for in-state vs. out-of-state students, costing a median of $92,175. There is an upward trend for tuition costs over the past few years with a prediction that prices will continue to rise. For in-state students attending public PA programs, there has been a 35.5% increase in tuition from 2013-2014 school year to 2018-2019 school year, with tuition rising from $38,794 to $52,585. For out-of-state students attending public PA school, there has been a 36.6% increase in tuition from 2013-2014 school year to 2018-2019 school year, with tuition rising from $68,311 to $93,313. For students attending private Physician Assistant school, there has been a 27.6% increase in tuition from 2013-2014 school year to 2018-2019 school year, with tuition rising from $74,475 to $95,058.

Interested in the PA profession? The scholarship opportunities for PA students are endless. Tips for success while applying for scholarships include applying early, saving copies of existing applications/essays you complete, broadening your horizons of the type of scholarships you apply to, and constantly seeking out scholarships. Remember, the only way to be awarded with PA scholarships is to apply for them!