Grants and Scholarships for Fertility Treatment

What You Need to Know Before You Apply

Many hands reaching out for only a couple hands with cash, metaphor for IVF grants and scholoarships
An infertility grant may help you pay for IVF, adoption, or other family building expenses. Joos Mind / Getty Images

There are a limited number of grants and scholarships available for infertility. Before you get too excited, you should know that applying isn’t necessarily free or simple. Most require some sort of application fee (some up to $100!), and the paperwork can be long and tedious to complete.

Also, keep in mind: the grants rarely cover the entire fertility treatment bill. Many require their grant winners to agree to appear in public relations materials.

With all that said, if you’re willing to pay the application fees, and jump through the hoops, here’s what you need to know.

Nationally Available Grants

Here are some nationally available grants. A listing here is not an endorsement. As always, carefully consider whether the grant is right for you before applying.

Seeking Out Local Grants and Scholarships

The big name grants aren’t necessarily the best or only ones available.

Always talk to your fertility clinic first. They may offer grants or need-based scholarships themselves, but not advertise them.

Some locally based grants require you to be a resident of a particular state or city. Others allow traveling from other areas of the country.

If you’re considering applying for a grant that would require travel to accept, take those additional expenses into account.

 

Also, if you’re not local, make sure they accept applications from your area. You don't want to pay a nonrefundable application fee, only to find out you're not eligible!

As with the list of national grants, a grant's mention here is not an endorsement.

Before You Apply for a Grant

You must research the grant or scholarship you’re considering. Do this before you give over personal medical and financial information, or take out your credit card to pay for an application fee.

Not every grant is going to be good for you and your situation, and some “grants” may not even be real. If you apply to an inappropriate grant, at best, you may waste your time and money, and at worst, you may unknowingly fall for a scam.

Consider the following before applying to any grant program:

Is the grant legit? There are sadly people out there looking to take advantage of infertile couples. Before you share any information online, carefully vet the grant-giving institution.

You can ask your local RESOLVE contact, speak to the financial adviser at your fertility clinic, and check their record with the Better Business Bureau. Even if you just have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, walk away. Don’t apply.

Do you qualify? There may be age, marital, residence, or diagnosis restrictions. Some grants disqualify you if you have any kind of insurance coverage. Other grants are only for very specific fertility problems, or are only for cancer survivors.

Most grants can only be used for IVF, while others will allow you to use them for other fertility treatments as well.

Will you need to go through specific fertility testing before qualifying? Some clinics that offer scholarships require you to first pay for fertility testing and/or a consultation at their clinic. It’s part of your “application.” (This isn’t to be confused with testing and consultation after you win a grant, which is a different situation.)

The fees for these tests may be higher than normal, and you may need to do them even if you’ve already had them done recently at another clinic – all with no guarantees that you’ll win the grant in the end. Is this ok with you?

Do you think you have a chance to win? The grant committees want to use the winners for happy success stories. Therefore, they are unlikely to choose a couple that doesn’t have good odds.

If you already have children, whether or not they are yours “biologically,” this may disqualify you from even applying... but even if it doesn’t technically disqualify you, it may significantly lower your odds of winning.

With some grants, you may be at a disadvantage if your family is in any way “non-typical,” like if you’re a single woman or in a same-sex relationship.

What will be required of you, if you win? Many programs require you to participate in media appearances, a special dinner, or in public relation materials. Your story may be used as an endorsement for the grant or clinic, and aspects of your treatment may be photographed or videotaped.

Some grants require you to participate in fundraising, insisting that you ask your friends and family to help pay for some of the cost.

Some grants must be used within a certain time period.

Read the fine print, and be sure you’re comfortable with everything.   

What is covered? If you do win the grant, can you cover the rest of the expenses? (The grants rarely cover all treatment expenses.) Will you have to travel? If yes, do you have the cash (and vacation days) available to do so?

If clinic specific, would you have considered that clinic even if you hadn’t won a scholarship or grant? Fertility treatment can be risky, and you want to know you’ll be in good hands – with or without the financial discount.

Only apply if you can use a good fertility clinic.

Do you feel the application fee is worth it? I’ve seen applications fees as high as $100. Whether or not charging fees like this is ethical is questionable in my opinion. 

However, even if you don’t have an ethical problem with it, the expense still may not be worth it for you.

If your odds of winning are low, or you’d need to travel to redeem the scholarship, you may want to reconsider applying.

Filling Out the Paper Work

Take care to carefully fill out the paperwork. Incomplete paperwork may lead to your grant application being disqualified. You may also lose your application fee and may end up missing a deadline. So it’s worth taking your time to do a complete job.

Before you start filling out the application, read through all the rules and guidelines. Make sure you understand exactly what information you need to provide, and how you need to provide it.

Once you fill the paperwork out, go back and check for typos and accidently skipped questions or even missed pages. If a question doesn’t apply to you, don’t leave it blank. Mark it as “not applicable.” If you’re unsure about a question, contact the grant giving foundation and ask for clarification.

Be sure to remember to sign the application in every requested area.

Ask a close friend to read through your application and double check that everything’s in order.  

Also make sure you have included all the requested documentation along with the application. Some grant committees require a written recommendation from your doctor or tax documentation to verify your income.

If you’re submitting your paperwork through the mail, be sure to send clean, neat, organized papers. No spilled coffee stains! Be sure your handwriting is neat and easy to read. 

The personal statement is your chance to show the committee why they should choose you over someone else. Remember that everyone applying is dealing with infertility, lacks the funds necessary for treatment, and wants a baby desperately.

What makes your story unique? Is this your parents' only chance for a grandchild? Are there cultural reasons that having a baby is important for you? Do you or your partner give a lot to the community, either through your jobs or through volunteer work? Are you infertile because of cancer treatment? Share these kinds of details.

Committees want to see the potential for a healthy family life with financial stability (even if fertility treatment is out of reach financially). They also want couples whose odds for conception are good and who have media-friendly stories.

Keep your personal statement respectful and heartfelt. This isn’t a good place for begging or writing something that may come off as melodramatic. Also, be sure to stay within the word count! Writing something longer won’t win you points.

If you can, try to read about former grant winners. It’ll give you a better idea of what the committees are looking for.

Most importantly, be honest and try to be hopeful.

While you wait for a decision, keep looking for other ways to cover your infertility expenses. This way, if you don’t win, you won’t have lost precious time.

More on fertility treatment costs:

Sources:

Brubaker, Dawn, MSW. October 27, 2013. Phone interview.

Financial Assistance Application Guide. Fertility Within Reach. Accessed November 28, 2013. http://www.fertilitywithinreach.org/application-guidance/

From INCIID the Heart - The first and only national IVF scholarship program. International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID). Accessed November 28, 2013. http://www.inciid.org/faq.php?cat=infertility101&id=22

Johnston, Susan. Can You Afford Fertility Treatments? USNews: Money. Accessed November 28, 2013. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/08/20/can-you-afford-fertility-treatments?page=2

Ludden, Jennifer. Making Parenthood a Reality Through IVF Grants. NPR.org. Accessed November 28, 2013. http://www.npr.org/2011/05/11/135358223/making-parenthood-a-reality-through-ivf-grants

Infertility Treatment Grants and Scholarships. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. Accessed March 11, 2016. http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/insurance_coverage/infertility-treatment-grants-and-scholarships.html

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