US Students Affected by ALS Can Apply for Scholarships Until May 24

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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The ALS Association is now accepting applications for the Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund, aimed at supporting U.S. students whose lives are affected financially as well as personally by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Going on its third year, the fund helps to cover costs for young people wanting or pursuing an accredited university or two-year college undergraduate degree (with a minimum of six credits each semester), or enrolled in a full-year vocational certificate program. Individuals with a loss of income due to an ALS diagnosis — either theirs or of a family member or guardian — are eligible to apply.

“It’s important that all students, no matter what profession they want to go into, have the ability to seek out these awards to help them pursue their life dreams,” said Mark Calmes, member of The ALS Association’s National Board of Trustees, said in a press release.

Scholarship applications for the upcoming 2021–22 school year are being accepted through May 24 at 3 p.m. CT.

Each winner may receive up to $5,000 for a year of study ($2,500 per semester). Awards do not automatically renew for subsequent years, but winners may reapply each year they are eligible.

This year, at least 20 scholarships will be awarded. To apply or learn more about the application process, go here.

Awards will be based on a student’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, work experience, an online recommendation, and a statement of goals and of financial need. Applicants will be notified of their status in July, and those potentially favored for a scholarship will be asked to give appropriate documentation showing their connection to the disease.

A diagnosis of ALS within a family brings not only a physical and emotional toll, but also financial strain due to treatment demands and costs, and other expenses. These can prevent patients or close family members from pursuing college or vocational school.

“The financial burden of ALS is devastating to families, and kids are all too often collateral damage. The disease forces many students to delay their education so they can pitch in as caregivers, while others lose the financial ability to attend school altogether,” said Mark Calmes, member of The ALS Association’s National Board of Trustees.

“I’m very pleased the fund is able to help some of these students get back on the education path that was disrupted by ALS,” he added.

To date, 103 students across the U.S. have benefited from the fund, totaling an investment of $695,000 since its inception.

“This scholarship will help me so much,” said Mattea McGee, a recipient of the 2020 award round, whose father battled ALS for most of her live.

“I will be able to attain an education that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do because of financial struggles. I’ll also be able to go to a university and start the beginning of my independent life without burdening my parents. This scholarship means the world to me and I can’t thank you all enough,” McGee added.

Administered by Scholarship America, the fund was established by Calmes in honor of his wife, Jane, who fought ALS for eight years before dying in August 2017.

Early in her ALS journey, Jane and her family formed a Walk to Defeat ALS team named Jane’s Angels, which continues today.

“Jane was a quiet, gentle, yet tenacious warrior, and I promised her I would continue the fight as long as I could. She also put such a high value on education, so this scholarship fund seemed like a great way to honor her,” Calmes said.

Those wishing to donate to the fund can do so here. Donations may be in the honor or memory of someone, and all proceeds will go to the scholarships.