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NEXT for AUTISM Fellows
Deadline to apply: June 12, 2023 3:00 pm CT

NEXT for AUTISM builds national programs that enhance the lives of autistic adults. NEXT celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023. As we look ahead to the next 20 years, NEXT is laser-focused on ensuring a bright future for autistic adults because we believe that everyone deserves to lead fulfilling and productive lives. Will you join us, and be part of what’s next for autism?

NEXT for AUTISM FELLOWS is a national scholarship program for students interested in working with neurodivergent adults. The goal of the scholarship is 1) to provide financial support for students pursuing an undergraduate education, whether just starting at a 2- or 4-year college program, or Direct Support Professionals going back to school, and 2) encourage future, and current, health and human service professionals to choose a rewarding career path working with autistic and neurodivergent adults.

5 key reasons to be a NEXT for AUTISM FELLOW:

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Learn more about NEXT for AUTISM here.

The program is administered by Scholarship America®, the nation’s largest designer and manager of scholarships and other education support programs for corporations, foundations, associations, and individuals. Eligibility for individual programs is determined at the sole discretion of the sponsor and eligible applications are reviewed by Scholarship America’s evaluation team.

Eligibilities for NEXT for AUTISM Fellows:

  • Candidates must be high school seniors/students who recently graduated high school, or with a GED equivalent or current college freshman/students who recently finished their first year of undergraduate study
  • Candidates may be currently employed as a direct service professional and seeking higher education opportunities during their employment
  • Plan to enroll in part-time or full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year public college or university the entire upcoming academic year
    • Approved majors include:
    • Education, Pre-Health Professionals (PT, OT, SLP), RN, Psychology, Social Work. Other majors could be considered subject to the approval by NEXT for AUTISM.
  • Pursuing a degree in the human services field with preference given to those committed to serving the autism population after graduation
  • Agree to work a total of 800 hours from September 1, 2023 through August 31, 2024 as a Direct Support Provider for an approved program (“Employer”) providing services to adults with autism and/or intellectual disability, with a minimum commitment of 12 hours per week except as provided for vacation and sick time by the Employer. If the recipient is unable to find suitable employment NEXT for AUTISM is willing to assist.


If selected as a recipient, the student will receive up to a $10,000 award. Up to 20 awards will be granted.

Awards are renewable up to three years or until a bachelor’s degree is earned, whichever occurs first, on the basis of maintaining a minimum 2.7 GPA on a 4.0 scale, enrollment in an eligible field, and proof of direct support work. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Program terms shall specify that NEXT is not obligated to continue the scholarship program in subsequent years, and shall have the right to terminate the Program at the end of any Program year.

Awards may be used for qualified education-related expenses only (tuition and school-related fees).

Awards can only be used for tuition and school-related fees.


All applicants will be notified in July.

Payment of Scholarships

Scholarship America processes scholarship payments on behalf of NEXT for AUTISM. Payment is made in early August.

Selection of Recipients

Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of:

  • Academic record
  • Demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities
  • Work experience
  • Unusual personal or family circumstances
  • Essay response*
  • Financial need (finalists/recipients must demonstrate need)

Awardees will be required to provide a copy of their tuition statement or bill for the upcoming academic year prior to receiving the scholarship award.

Selection of finalists is made by Scholarship America. NEXT for AUTISM will select recipients. All applicants agree to accept the decision as final.

*Essay Topic:
How do you anticipate working with adults with intellectual disabilities and autism as an undergraduate will help you achieve your long-term career goals?

As part of your application, you must upload the following:

  • A current, complete transcript of grades. Grade reports are not accepted. Transcripts must display student name, school name, grades and credit hours for each course and term in which each course was taken. NOTE: If you are providing SAT or ACT test scores, and those scores are not listed on your high school transcript, you will need to upload a copy of your test score report(s) separately. If you are uploading a college transcript, those scores are not required.
  • A copy of the first two pages of the most recently filed IRS Form 1040. If you are a dependent student, you will need to use your family’s returns and black out all social security numbers.

Your application is not complete unless all required materials are submitted electronically.

NEXT for AUTISM has partnered with Scholarship America. Selecting the button below will redirect you to the Scholarship America Student Hub!