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MDA College Scholarship

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) College Scholarship program has been created to provide students living with neuromuscular disease the opportunity to follow their academic dreams. As medical advances open new doors for these students, MDA is committed to supporting their path to success by making higher education more accessible.

The MDA College Scholarship program recognizes students who are making an impact in the neuromuscular community and demonstrate leadership qualities.

In 2024, MDA will grant 10 merit-based college scholarships at up to $5,000 each. The application period is February 26 through March 31, followed by a review process. Recipients will be notified in June. Announcement of recipients will be mid-August.

The application period for 2024 is now closed.

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Eligibility

Students living with a neuromuscular disease who are attending, or applying to attend, a qualified educational institution as an undergraduate, are eligible to apply.

All applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Diagnosed by a physician as having a neuromuscular disease covered under MDA’s program. Please reach out to the MDA Resource Center at ResourceCenter@mdausa.org or 800-572-1717 if you are unsure if you have a qualifying diagnosis.
  • US Citizen or a legal and permanent resident of the US
  • Will be attending an accredited educational institution that has a financial aid office
  • Will be an undergraduate student during the scholarship award year

All applicants must be a member of MDA to be considered in the MDA College Scholarship program. By completing this application, applicants will automatically join if they are not a member already. There is no fee associated with MDA membership. For more information, please visit mda.org/join-mda.

Review the FAQ below for more information.


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Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can I apply for a scholarship?

    The MDA College Scholarship program application period is announced annually and is generally open from February through March, with decisions shared with applicants by the end of June, and public announcement in mid-August. It is the responsibility of every applicant to ensure all parts of their application are completed and submitted before the application deadline.
  • What are the important deadlines?

    The 2024 MDA College Scholarship program will open on February 26, 2024. All applications must be submitted before the deadline, the end of the day on March 31, 2024. The review process will take place in April/May, and scholarship recipients will receive notification in June. The public announcement will be in mid-August.
  • What costs does an MDA Scholarship assist with?

    MDA College Scholarships are valued up to $5,000, and contribute towards offsetting the student’s cost of attendance. Of note: scholarship funds used toward tuition, fees, or other necessary educational expenses may be considered to not constitute income for tax purposes. Any portion of a scholarship not used to pay for these qualified items may be considered income. Please consult your school’s Financial Aid office, IRS or SSDI Office, tax professional, etc. for guidance on potential tax and disability benefit implications.
  • How and when will I know if I am selected to receive a scholarship?

    Review committees typically take about 8-10 weeks after the scholarship deadline before MDA finalizes scholarship winners. All applicants will be notified via email about award decisions by the end of June. The public announcement will be made in mid-August.
  • I was notified I was awarded a scholarship from MDA. What are the next steps?

    Congratulations! MDA will email you in late June with award paperwork to complete, following the review process. Please check your email spam/junk folder for possible notifications if you have not received the award paperwork notice. The deadline to accept a scholarship award is listed in the award paperwork, typically 2-3 weeks after the award letter is sent. Please do not announce publicly until MDA’s announcement goes live in mid-August.
  • How do I receive my scholarship funds?

    An awarded scholarship is paid directly to the financial aid office of your school – students are not involved in the coordination or transfer of funds.
  • Can my scholarship funds be sent directly to me?

    MDA College Scholarship Program funds cannot be sent directly to scholarship recipients. All scholarship funds must be sent to the student’s institution where the Financial Aid office can release funds into student accounts.
  • I see mention of “supplemental support” in addition to funding, what is that?

    MDA will ship scholarship awardees a package with useful and fun items that are intended to provide support at school. Additionally, MDA will cultivate a network of support and leadership development for students to pursue educational and career ambitions.
  • I may be in need of a deferral – how do I request one?

    A deferral is a request to postpone claiming scholarship funds. Deferral paperwork must be completed by September 1. Deferral is on a case-by-case basis and will need to be approved by the scholarship committee. The maximum time allotted to defer is one school year.
  • Do I have to complete a FAFSA to apply for the MDA Scholarship?

    You do not need to complete a FAFSA application for MDA Scholarship consideration – no income or financial need is considered for the MDA College Scholarship. However, many colleges base their financial aid decisions on FAFSA information, so it is recommended to talk to your college or institution to discuss financial aid criteria.
  • What financial information is required on the application?

    MDA does not require financial information for the application to be considered. Annual household income is required as part of the demographics section of the application to help MDA better understand the background characteristics of applicants, but this information is not shared with reviewers and will not be considered when assessing applications.
  • What constitutes a complete application?

    A complete application means that ALL information for each field/question is completed and submitted. This includes all sections of the application, as well as any uploads, referrals, etc., as applicable. Starting the application early to ensure sufficient time for completion is encouraged.
  • How do I navigate the online application?

    MDA utilizes WizeHive as our electronic scholarship management platform. The MDA application must be completed through this system, which can be accessed via the “Apply Now” buttons on this page or via https://mda-scholarship.portals.zenginehq.com/program/scholarships.
  • How do I know my application has been received?

    You will receive an email from the MDA College Scholarship program confirming your application has been received. Please check your email spam/junk folder for any possible MDA Scholarship system notifications.
  • If I do not get the MDA Scholarship this year, or if I have previously applied, can I apply again?

    Yes! The MDA College Scholarship is not renewable, but students may reapply to the program each year they meet eligibility requirements regardless of prior year award status. As of now, the lifetime limit to receive the scholarship is four times.
  • I am a donor who would like to set up a scholarship fund with MDA. Is that possible?

    Thank you for your interest in supporting MDA’s mission and this important program! Please contact David Sandler at dsandler@mdausa.org for more information.
  • I am a company or corporate partner who would like to support the scholarship fund with MDA, is that possible?

    Thank you for your interest in supporting MDA’s mission and this important program! Please contact Ruth Ann Dailey at rdailey@mdausa.org for more information.

For any additional questions, please reach out to MDA at ResourceCenter@mdausa.org


MDA Ambassador Justin Moy sitting in front of a college.