Scholarships for Pharmacy Students Paying for School With Less Debt
May 5, 2023
Pharmacy school is a significant investment of time and money. For many pharmacy students,
paying for their education can be a serious financial challenge. Fortunately, scholarships
provide an excellent way to help Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students offset the cost of a degree.
Scholarships are financial awards given to students based on various criteria such
as academic achievement, community involvement, leadership and financial need. Scholarships
originate from a variety of sources, including universities, private organizations,
professional associations, and pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacy students may apply
for scholarships before they begin their program, during their program, and even after
Pharmacy, specifically, has the great asset of having more high-profile companies
than many other industries, according to Brad Schutts, MBA, associate director of
student services, communications and marketing with PCOM’s Office of Financial Aid.
“A pharmacy student can seek out companies who may offer a scholarship specifically
about their program more easily than say an actuary or lawyer would,” he said. “Pharmaceutical
companies, like Pfizer, and retail pharmacies, like Walgreens, are regularly looking
for philanthropic endeavors like funding scholarships.”
Benefits of Pharmacy Scholarships
One of the main benefits of scholarships is that the money provided does not have
to be repaid. With student loans, the amount borrowed plus accrued interest must be
paid back after graduation. This means that pharmacy students who receive scholarships
are able to complete their degree with less debt and have more financial freedom after
graduation. However, certain scholarships—such as the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) or the Community Pharmacy Scholarship—may offer educational funding in exchange for various service requirements.
Another benefit of scholarships is that they may provide students with opportunities
to network and gain exposure to the pharmacy industry. Many scholarships are offered
by professional organizations, alumni associations or pharmaceutical companies. These
scholarships allow students access to industry events, conferences and internships.
By helping pharmacy students build valuable connections and gain experience in their
field, students will have a competitive advantage when looking for jobs after graduation.
The Georgia Pharmacy Association Scholarship, the CVS Health Foundation Scholarships
and the Walgreens Scholarship are just a few examples of these types of scholarships.
You can learn more about available scholarships by searching the PCOM Scholarships Database.
Scholarships can also be a great way to recognize and reward pharmacy students who
have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and community involvement. Many
scholarships are merit-based, meaning that they are awarded to students who have achieved
a certain level of academic success or have shown leadership skills in their community.
By awarding scholarships to these students, organizations help to encourage and support
the next generation of pharmacy leaders.
With free federal funds, such as Pell Grant and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity
Grant (SEOG), unavailable at the graduate level, third-party scholarships become that
much more valuable, Schutts explained. Scholarships, he added, also serve as a signaling
tool to prospective employers about a student's academic performance.
“But the core benefit of obtaining a scholarship is definitely reducing the student's
debt and borrowing,” Schutts said. “It is money for the student that would have been
a Direct Unsubsidized Loan or Direct Graduate PLUS Loan otherwise. With the rising
costs of higher education and student borrowing, this point cannot be emphasized enough.”
Advice for Pharmacy Students Applying for Scholarships
According to Schutts, quality and effort matter.
“Putting your best foot forward with a full and robust application can set you apart
from applicants that are not necessarily putting that extra effort to stand out,”
he advised. “Similarly, a scholarship with a very low threshold to submit an application
will yield a large pool of applicants and will be harder to distinguish yourself.”
While applying for multiple scholarships may give you proverbially "more bites at
the apple," Schutts cautioned it may not result in more scholarships than if a student
puts more effort into researching quality scholarships and making their application
In addition to focusing on quality and effort, Schutts advises students that slow
and steady wins the race.
“Putting in a lot of energy early commonly leads to burnout and adverse feelings about
applying for scholarships,” he said. “Setting a reasonable amount of time and creating
a structure to follow can mitigate these issues so that when a quality opportunity
comes, the student can have the optimism and energy to submit a quality application.”
Scholarships for Pharmacy Students
There are numerous resources available to help current and prospective pharmacy students
find scholarships. PCOM’s Office of Financial Aid offers the following information
to help students begin their search:
Scholarships are a great way for pharmacy students to pay for their education and
embark on a financially rewarding career without the worry of student loan debt. Pharmacy
students should explore all scholarship opportunities available to them and take advantage
of available resources to help them achieve their educational and professional goals.
Schutts encourages scholarship applicants to remain positive and keep in mind that
a rejection is not a reflection of them as a person or their academic background.
“There are a lot of high-achieving students applying,” he said. “That is why it is
important to put your best foot forward for each application and treat each opportunity
as unique in itself.”