Scholarship Program Information - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Scholarship Program Information


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Enrollment for the 2016 scholarship program is closed. Applicants were notifed via email and mail on April 21. Please see below for frequently asked questions.

Scholarship Application

The 2016 application is closed. Check back in October for details about the 2017 program. Additional details may be found in the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Frequently asked scholarship program questions

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Is there an application fee?

No, we do not charge students to apply for this scholarship.

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How many scholarships will be given?

The application review and selection process is competitive, and not all applicants will be granted an award. The number of scholarships awarded depends on funding. Historically, we have awarded scholarships to approximately 40% of those that apply. Unfortunately, funding runs out long before we run out of good students.

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Who is eligible?

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Current high school seniors, high school graduates (including students who have earned their GED certificate), or current undergraduate students of any age who have MS or have a parent with MS and will be attending, or are already currently attending, an accredited postsecondary school working toward their first undergraduate degree. (Applicants who applied in a previous year and were not selected for an award are not eligible to reapply to the 2016 National Multiple Sclerosis Society Scholarship Program. Previous recipients from any year are eligible to reapply to the 2016 National Multiple Sclerosis Society Scholarship Program.)
  • United States citizen or legal resident living in the United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam or any other U.S. territory.
  • Plan to enroll in an undergraduate course of study at an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school located in the United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam or any other U.S. territory for the 2016-17 academic year. (Students who are planning a mission trip, GAP year, or other experience and do not plan to enroll in college for the 2016-17 academic year should not apply now. Instead, plan to apply in the year you plan to enroll in college.)
  • Enroll in at least 6 credit hours per semester in coursework leading to a first-time degree, license or certificate.
  • Students who have already completed an undergraduate degree are ineligible to apply.
(The National MS Society reserves the right to review the conditions and procedures of the scholarship program and make changes at any time. Visit this page again in October 2016 for up-to-date eligibility requirements.)
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Why are there limits on who can apply?

While we know that there are many qualified and worthy candidates who could benefit from financial support for educational endeavors, support for scholarships is only one part of the Society’s overall mission. In 2015, the Society expanded the eligibility criteria, but there are still funding limitations. There are costs associated with collecting and reviewing each application. A larger number of applications mean larger administrative costs for the program, and more potential students taking time to fill out applications who will be disappointed. A committee of National MS Society volunteers and staff determine the eligibility criteria. Please check back each year as eligibility criteria may change.

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I live outside the United States. Can I apply?

This scholarship is only for individuals who are United States citizens or legal residents living in the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam or any other U.S. territory. People who live outside the country who are or whose parents are in the U.S. military, government service or other U.S. corporate employees are eligible as long as they meet the basic eligibility requirements.
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Must I plan to be a full-time student?

We understand that full-time study is not possible for everyone due to health concerns or family care responsibilities. You must be enrolled for at least six credit hours per academic term to be eligible as a part-time student. The scholarship is intended for students who are pursuing a degree, license, or certificate and is not for those who want to take an occasional personal enrichment class.
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I want to go to a technical school and not to college. Can I apply?

Any postsecondary, undergraduate school is fine as long as it meets national, state, or professional accreditation standards. You must plan to attend school at least part-time – six credit hours per school term. You can verify a school's accreditation status by accessing the U.S. Dept of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs at  

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What’s the deadline?

For the 2016 program, your application must be submitted online by January 15, 2016, and your supporting documents received no later than January 31, 2016 to the address listed on the application instructions.

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I missed the deadline – can I still apply?

Late applications will not be accepted. Please plan to get your application in early to avoid unexpected delays. There will be no exceptions.

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Can I apply again next year?

If you received a National MS Society scholarship in any previous year, you may reapply for consideration of a subsequent award. You are welcome to reapply, but please understand that funds are limited and awards are never guaranteed. Unfortunately, non-recipients may not reapply. Please check back each October to see if our eligibility criteria has changed.

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Can I renew my scholarship?

Awards are for one year only. If you received a renewable scholarship in the past, please be advised that we have discontinued the renewal program and process. See previous question for eligibility to reapply.

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Will scholarships be given out every year?

Yes, this is an annual program. The Society has been awarding scholarships since 2003. The 2016 program opens October 1, 2015 and closes January 15, 2016. The National MS Society reserves the right to review the conditions and procedures of the scholarship program and make changes at any time including discontinuing the program. Visit this page each October for up-to-date eligibility requirements.

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How much money is given to individuals and overall?

In 2016, over $1 million was awarded to 815 scholars. Individual awards range from $1000–3000 with a limited number exceeding this amount. Nearly all scholarships are a one-time $1,000 award.

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Where does the money for scholarships come from?

There have been a wide variety of donors to this fund and include people with MS and other individuals affected by MS, corporate donors, foundations and staff and volunteers of the National MS Society.

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What are the criteria for selecting finalists?

All applicants must meet the basic eligibility criteria, fully complete the online application and mail supporting documents by the January 15, 2016 deadline. The program is competitive in nature, and not all applicants will be selected for an award. Scholarship finalists will be selected on the basis of demonstrated financial need, academic record, leadership and participation in school or community activities, work experience, an outside appraisal, goals and aspirations, special circumstances, and an essay (written by the applicant) regarding the impact of MS on their life. The selection process will not be influenced or affected by the actual or perceived race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, gender, age or sexual orientation of any applicant. In addition, donations to the Society or pre-existing relationships with the Society are not part of the evaluation of student merit.

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Who selects the recipients?

Each chapter of the National MS Society carefully reviews its applicants and makes final award decisions. Review committees may consist of people living with MS, Society staff and volunteers including chapter board members and donors.

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How and when will I be notified if I receive a scholarship?

When you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation acknowledging receipt of your application. All applicants will receive an email in April to let them know if they have been selected as a recipient or not. Applicants agree to accept award decisions as final. Add to your contacts to ensure you receive your notice and check your junk folder if you don't see it in your inbox. Communications with all applicants is done by paper mail, email or both. Please be sure to check your email regularly. If you have any changes to your email or your postal address, please notify us at

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What will be required of me if I am selected to receive a scholarship?

You must complete and submit a signed Scholarship Acceptance Form before funds can be processed. You must notify your school about the award and deliver the scholarship checks to the school in a timely manner. You will be asked to email a current photograph and write a thank you note to at least one donor. You are required to notify Scholarship Management Services of any change in address, school enrollment or other relevant information and to send a complete transcript when requested.

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When will scholarship checks be mailed?

Scholarship Management Services will issue a check on behalf of the National MS Society in one installment on August 1, 2016. The check is mailed from Scholarship Management Services to each recipient's home address and is made payable to the college for the student's account.

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What if I don't know where I will attend school?

List the school that you plan to attend. If you are applying to more than one institution, indicate only your first choice. If chosen as a scholar, you will have the opportunity to change your school information on the scholarship acceptance form that you receive with your notification letter. If your school information changes after you have returned your acceptance form, it is your responsibility to notify Scholarship Management Services in a timely manner. Otherwise, you may expect delays in receiving your check. To update your account, email or call 507-931-1682.

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Why am I not able to send the application to my chapter?

All applications must be submitted online and cannot be sent to your chapter. The National MS Society has contracted with an outside vendor, Scholarship Management Services, to help manage the program and application process. All applications are submitted to the National MS Society for final review and final award decisions. Scholarship Management Services will handle the distribution of award checks and monitoring of student enrollment.
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I have some questions about how to fill out the form – whom do I ask?

Customer support service is available to assist you Monday–Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., central time, either by email to or calling 507-931-1682.

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Where can I get an application?

The application will be available on this site (see top of this page) on October 1st. It will remain posted until the January 15 closing date. Applications are accepted online only.

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If I don’t meet the criteria for the National MS Society Scholarship program, are there other resources available?

Yes there are. Although not an exhaustive list, below are resources that you may want to research.

Federal Assistance

    • The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs are the largest source of student aid in America.
    • Free application for federal student aid
  • Federal Student Aid Information Center
    • 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) 
    • This is a toll-free number.

Other Resources

  • - Scholarships specifically for high school seniors and college students who have parents with disabilities.
  • - Two special scholarships are available at Ohio State University specifically for students who have MS or have a parent with MS. They are: The Gail A. and John A. Simonetti Endowed Scholarship, and the Walter F. Gnezda Memorial Scholarship Fund. Search keyword "ms" or call the university for assistance.  
  • resources - Connecting the disability community with scholarship opportunities.
  • - American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) Scholarship Program provides scholarships for people with disabilities. (November 15, 2015 application deadline.)
  • - George Washington Heath Resource Center. Online clearinghouse and postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.
  • - Lists scholarships that are offered for students (or students with a family member) with specific medical conditions.
  • - Scholarships for students under the age of 25 who have been diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating and/or life-threatening disease within the past 5 years.
  • - The Mary J. Szczepanski "Never Give Up" MS Scholarship Foundation offers nine scholarships for high school seniors and one for a student in college.
  • - Free college search and information site, providing information on admissions, financial aid, tuition and more on over 6,000 colleges and universities nationwide.
  • - More than 1,500 scholarships on the Internet.
  • - SallieMae, the nation’s leading provider of student loans.
  • - High school seniors are eligible to apply. Applicants need not be related to a member of the Elks.
  • - Each day, more than 20,000 people access this free scholarship search database containing 400,000 scholarships.
  • - Search more than 7,000 scholarships, fellowships, loans, and other financial aid opportunities.
  • - Ron Brown Scholar Program (major scholarships).
  • - The Harry S. Truman scholarship site.
  • - The Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarships.
  • - Marine Corps scholarships.
  • - United Negro College Fund Merck Science Initiative.
  • - Free service... database of more than 2.7 millions scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion.
  • - Provides links to more than 50 free, online scholarship search sites listing thousands of scholarships and financial aid awards.
  • - Offers 10,000 scholarships for applying for college on-line.
  • - Searchable database of scholarships all around the world.
  • - Searchable database of scholarship all around the world.
  • - The College Board’s free scholarship search program.
  • - Very respected name in college search information.
  • - Resources to guide students on how to finance and succeed in college.
  • - The nation’s largest nonprofit, private sector scholarship and educational support organization.
  • - Searchable database with access to thousands of additional scholarships to help students pay for college.
  • - Online education resources including reviews of accredited online schools, how to transfer college credits, costs, financial aid resources and more.
  • - Useful for those considering graduate level studies including how to choose a program and ways to alleviate educational costs.


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