DOTW Grant

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) Grant # T08HP39287

In July 2020, the Department of Occupational Therapy at Chicago State University received a 5-year, $3 million grant that awards Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the U.S. Department of Human Services.


The Diversifying the Occupational Therapy Workforce Grant (DOTW) will provide financial assistance for tuition, fees, books, and living expenses to economically disadvantaged students completing their Master’s degree in occupational therapy at CSU. This initiative aims to increase the diversity and inclusivity of the profession of occupational therapy as well as train a diverse workforce to work in medically underserved communities.  The grant will fund up to 30 students per academic year.


Students accepted to the Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program may apply for the grant just prior to the start of the Fall semester. To be eligible for this SDS grant, the OT student applicants must:

  1. Be admitted and enrolled in the occupational therapy program at CSU on a full time basis (9 credit hour minimum), as a graduate student.
  1. Have submitted the FAFSA form (Federal Student Financial Aid)
  1. A student receiving support from grant funds must be a citizen or national of the United States, or a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or a foreign national having in his/her possession a visa permitting permanent residence in the United States, or a non-citizen national.Have a low income level (see chart below)
    1. You must come from a family with an annual income below a level established for low income thresholds according to family size, published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. (Family size includes parents and dependents listed on Federal income tax form). See chart below.
    2. If you are an independent student, age 24 or older, your eligibility as economically disadvantaged is determine by your income.  You must prove independent status which means you have not been listed on your parent’s income tax for 3 years.  Applicants must provide 3 years of their filed tax forms.

The following income figures from the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines 2021 determine what constitutes a low-income family for purposes of the SDS program for FY 2022/2023:

Size of family Includes parents and dependents listed on Federal income tax form Income Level
1 $25,760
2 $34,840
3 $43,920
4 $53,000

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $9,080 for each additional person.


SDS grant recipients may receive funds to support:

  1. Tuition
  2. Fees
  3. Books
  4. Reasonable living expenses

Award decisions will be determined each semester and will be based on the number of students eligible, the unmet needs of eligible students, the student’s year in the program, and the amount of funding available.  Priority for awards is given to students with the most unmet financial need and students in their final year of the OT program. Students’ unmet financial needs are determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid and based on the FAFSA. 


Yes. You have to be enrolled for at least 9 credit hours. You also must be registered for classes in order to be eligible.

No. You have to be a graduate student in order to apply. You may apply for it the following year after you have graduated and entered into the Master’s program/graduate school.

Yes. The amount of the award from the grant for eligible recipients is determined by the amount of unmet financial need. The OT Department works closely with the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine the unmet need based on the FAFSA.

The purpose of the grant is to reduce the financial burden of a graduate program for
students who are economically disadvantaged. This includes reducing the number and amount of student loans students take out. The amount you accept in student loans may also impact your financial unmet needs which helps determine the amount of grant money you may receive. We discourage you from accepting loans you do not need and accruing unnecessary student debt if you are eligible for the grant.

For questions regarding the FAFSA and financial aid, visit CSU’s financial aid website at Financial Aid website.

Yes. As long as you are enrolled full time and are a graduate student, you may apply each year you are in the program.

The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) grant is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the U.S. Department of Human Services.

The funder, HRSA, determined the eligibility criteria and the OT Department is required to provide evidence that the criteria was met by the recipient.

This will depend on your financial unmet needs. The grant proposes at least 50% the cost of the education goes to the recipients. Recipients may also receive funds for full tuition, fees, books, and reasonable living expenses depending on the unmet financial needs. This is will vary by student. If a student has a loan, the award can be used to reduce the students’ loan amount.

Providing they meet eligibility requirements, up to 30 students will receive funding per academic year. Priority for awards is given to students with the most unmet financial need and students in their final year of the program.

No. You must be accepted into the program in order to apply for the grant.

Please visit here for more information regarding admission to the OT program.

You may contact Dr. Stephanie Zuba-Bates, Project Director at or (773) 995-2366.

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)

Department of Occupational Therapy

3rd or 4th Wednesday of each month from 4:30-5:30 pm via Zoom

Email, or call (773) 995-2366 to RSVP and to receive the Zoom link.

Follow us on Facebook at ChicagoStateSOTA

Instagram #chicagostateot

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Stephanie Zuba-Bates

Projector Director

Department of Occupational Therapy, DH 132

OT Department Phone: (773) 995-2366