RSA Scholar Program


RSA Scholars

Some of our 33 RSA scholarship recipients gathered for an annual spring scholar event on February 26th, 2020.  Scholars (left to right): George Serrano-Martinez, Suresh Lama Tamang, Natalia Ortiz-Castro, Christopher Lee, Marilyn Johnson, Ashley Dunne, Magdhalini Thodhori, Marianne Abadir

RSA Scholar The USF Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (RMHC) graduate program has been awarded a second five-year (10/1/2020 - 9/30/2025) federal long-term training grant to increase the number of highly qualified rehabilitation counselors available to work within the vocational rehabilitation system.

Grant Overview

Funding has Ended for the Grant Cycle

At this time we are no longer accepting new applications for this grant. Funding has ended until a new award grant cycle becomes available.

This grant has provided scholarship opportunities for students since 2016. Scholars agree to work (for full pay and benefit) in the public, non-profit, or private vocational rehabilitation system after graduation for a designated period of time (typically 2-4 years) in exchange for tuition and other qualifying expenses. Scholarships are made available through a federal grant from Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), United States Department of Education.

In keeping with the priorities established by the RSA, the USF RMHC graduate program is designed to provide the student competencies in the rehabilitation of adults with complex physical, mental or emotional disabilities and to provide a special relevance to state vocational rehabilitation services and closely related cooperating private agencies and programs.


The major purpose of the RSA academic scholarship award is to increase the supply of rehabilitation personnel available for employment as rehabilitation counselors in public and private sector and in nonprofit agencies involved in the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities. The focus of the project is to integrate customized employment (CE) practices into the core curriculum in alignment with new legislation (WIOA) that requires public VR systems to add customized employment options to their menu of services.

Primary Aims

Aim 1: Recruit a minimum of 25 scholars (5 annually), with outreach to underserved groups*, to increase the number of competent rehabilitation professionals available to work in the VR system.
Aim 2: Provide quality training based on the recommendations of researchers and evidence-based practices in the field to promote competitive, integrated employment outcomes for VR consumers.
Aim 3: Provide targeted training on CE strategies designed to identify the interests and talents of job seekers and to negotiate career placements in competitive, integrated settings.
Aim 4: Enhance collaborative relationships with VR, community-based providers, employers, and other stakeholders to promote a more efficient, effective, and seamless system.

*The applicant understands that it is permissible to conduct outreach to increase eligible minority candidates, but not to admit or provide funding solely on the basis of race, ethnicity, or disability.

Rehabilitation counselors are the only professional counselors educated and trained at the graduate level specifically to serve individuals with disabilities. This includes an extensive knowledge of all aspects of disability as well as an in-depth understanding of critical considerations such as assistive technology and employment law. Unlike other counseling professionals, rehabilitation counselors are uniquely qualified to help individuals with disabilities acclimate into the workplace, and to help employers make a workplace more receptive to individuals with disabilities (CRCC, 2015).

Better Pay. Better Benefits

In 2014, the American Counseling Association (ACA) completed the first ever Counselor Compensation Study. Rehabilitation counselors came out on top (ACA, 2014).

Better Pay: Rehabilitation counselors are the most highly paid counseling specialty on average and earn over $13,000 more than Clinical Mental Health Counselors, Mental Health Counselors, or Community Counselors.
Better Benefits: Rehabilitation counselors receive better benefits than other professional counselors. These include employee retirement plans, medical coverage, dental, vision, and short-term and long-term disability.