Scholarships for Pharmacy Students - Paying for School With Less Debt
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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.

Three Doctor of Pharmacy students in regalia are shown at a commencement ceremony.
Scholarships can help pharmacy students pay for their education and embark on a financially rewarding career.

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 they graduate.

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 distinguishable.

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.”

Learn how PCOM School of Pharmacy students can maximize funding sources and minimize student debt. Visit the Office of Financial Aid section for information about cost of attendance, types of aid available and applying for financial aid.

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