PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine has received a $1.5 million grant for student scholarships from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Designed to support student diversity and increase access for underrepresented minorities, the grant will allow Penn Dental Medicine to provide financial aid for four years to at least 26 new and current students at the school. The School is one of just three dental programs in the country to receive the HRSA award this year.
Penn Dental Medicine has received and distributed more than $1.9 million in HRSA scholarship grants in the past seven years. This year's award, however, is the first time HRSA has committed to funding multiple years of scholarships at one time, giving continuity and reassurance to the students who receive them.
"We're so fortunate to receive these scholarship funds in order to attract and retain talented students from across the country," said Joan Gluch, Penn Dental Medicine's associate dean for academic policies, director of community oral health and project director of the grant. "With these awards, we will be able to broaden access for students who would otherwise have been unable to attend Penn Dental Medicine."
Beginning this semester, Penn Dental Medicine will receive $330,000, which will be divided among eligible students for scholarships of $15,000 each; the School will then receive $390,000 each of the following three years, providing eligible students with $15,000 in aid every year.
"The students who can benefit from this award appreciate the challenges faced in underserved populations when it comes to health care and are motivated to improve these circumstances," said Beverley Crawford, Penn Dental Medicine's director of diversity affairs and co-investigator on the grant along with Susan Schwartz, the School's assistant dean for student affairs. "They are also more likely to choose to practice in an underserved area after graduation. The presence of these students at Penn Dental Medicine and the sharing of their experiences can only enhance the learning environment and provide their peers with a clearer understanding of our vulnerable populations."
This award is given as part of HRSA's Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program, which provides funding to accredited schools offering degrees in the health professions and nursing programs. Participating schools then, in turn, can offer scholarships to full-time students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds over their tenure in school.