The Center for Reintegration

Back to Work, Back to Life

 Baer Reintegration Scholarship Program Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Eligibility

  2. Course of Study

  3. Application Process

    1. General Questions

    2. Essay

    3. References and Recommendation Forms

    4. Transcripts

    5. Tuition Costs

    6. Advice and Tips

    7. After the Deadline

4. Misc. Questions




1. I have a mental illness that is not bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder. Do I qualify for this scholarship?


Unfortunately, unless you are diagnosed with one of those specific illnesses, we cannot accept your application. Should someone with a different diagnosis apply for our scholarship, we disqualify the application and the judges do not see it. 


2. I am from a country that is not the USA, can I apply for the scholarship?


Our scholarship is only available to US citizens or legal permanent residents who are attending school within the US or US territories. Therefore, this means if you are a citizen but attending a school in a different country, you also would not qualify for our scholarship. 


3. I am currently a child and going to be 18 after the time of the application process. Do I qualify?


As long as you will be 18 by the time the academic year you are applying for begins, you qualify for the scholarship. So if you are 17 until August 2020, you will qualify for this scholarship round. That being said, when we have applicants who are 17 at the time of turning in their application, we ask the applicant along with the applicant’s legal guardian to sign the last piece of the application, the personal consent and release form. 


4. I applied for the scholarship before and did not get it. Can I reapply?


Absolutely! Several of our scholars are individuals who applied a couple of times before they received the scholarship. 


5. I am the child of someone who has/had a mental illness and it has greatly impacted my life. Do I qualify for the scholarship?


Unfortunately, no. We only provide scholarships to the individuals who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder. 


6. Can I receive a scholarship for student debt? I have a mental illness and bills from a school I graduated from and could use assistance with them. 


Unfortunately, no. Our scholarship program runs on a yearly calendar. This means that we only cover scholarships from the 2019-2020 application cycle during the 2020-2021 academic year; and so on. All current scholars must reapply each year for a scholarship, and any funds they do not use in a given academic year are returned to the Center for Reintegration in the spring of that year. 


Course of Study


1.I am going to school part-time. Can I apply for your scholarship?


Yes! As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, we definitely accept part-time student applicants. If a finalist is going back to school after a long time away, we actually encourage them to attend part-time so that the life change isn’t so dramatic. 


2. Do you accept applications from students in graduate programs, or certificate programs, or anything other than a bachelors degree?


Absolutely. Our scholarship program is open to any obtaining a degree or certificate from any program. We have had scholars who are receiving masters degrees and PhD’s, and we have scholars in med school. We also have had scholars who’ve received pet grooming certificates, welding degrees, yoga teacher certifications, and peer mediator certificates. For some of our judges, The vocational and certificate programs are their favorite category of applicants!


3. Does this scholarship apply to online programs?


Yes, with some exceptions. Our judges decided in the spring of 2019 to allow applicants attending school online to apply. That being said, within the application the applicant must prove that he/she is immersed in their community in some way, and their reasoning for attending an online program is also taken into account. For instance, if someone works full-time or has childcare responsibilities that make it impossible for them to attend school in person, the Baer Reintegration judges would accept that application. However, the working applicant would need to have a reference from a coworker or boss; or provide proof of employment. The parent who is unable to attend school in person due to childcare issues must show some type of immersion in their community, be that a reference from a friend or proof of community involvement.


The other reason the judges would accept an online program is if the applicant’s course of study also included something in person. For instance, an online program that has an internship or apprenticeship attached to the curriculum; for instance someone who is student-teaching or a social work student-intern, would qualify for our judges. Again, this onus is on the applicant to prove this involvement through course of study documentation, etc. 


ONLY in these instances will the Baer Reintegration Scholarship program accept an application from a student attending school online. If a student is attending school online and does not provide BOTH a valid reasoning for attending classes online AND proof of their employment, internship, or community involvement, they will be disqualified. 


4. What criteria must I meet in terms of coursework to apply for the scholarship?


Your coursework must have a degree or certificate attached to it. This means non-matriculated courses are not covered under our scholarship. Classes for hobbies or pleasure are also not covered under our scholarship (for instance, cooking classes, a sewing workshop, guitar lessons, etc.).  Your course of study should lead to a qualification that you can use to further your career and allow you to reintegrate into society. 



Application Process


General Questions


1.When is the application due?


All completed applications from the 2019-2020 scholarship application period (for scholarships given for the 2020-2021 academic year) are due on Friday January 17th, 2020. This means they need to be postmarked by this day if sending in by mail, or submitted online by 11:59 PM on Friday, January 17th. 


2. What is Early Application Advantage?


This is a new opportunity for our applicants. 


The 2019-2020 application cycle for the 2020-2021 academic year is offering an excited new opportunity for our Baer Reintegration Scholarship applicants. This fall, any applicant who turns their application in FULL by Monday, December 2nd 2019, will have the advantage of a pre-review of their application by the scholarship administrator. 


Each applicant who participates in the Early Application Advantage option will be notified via email by Monday, December 16th, if their application is missing any key pieces that would not allow for it to pass on to the next round of judging. For instance, if a psychiatric evaluation is not turned in, or filled out incorrectly, the scholarship administration will alert the applicant for this to be fixed with enough time before the January deadline. Another example; should the essay not be written in the proper format, the scholarship administration would alert the applicant of this error with enough time for them to revise their essay and then turn in the fixed application by the final deadline in January. 


This opportunity has been created to encourage applicants to turn in their materials early, and also to allow for some applicants to receive a bit of needed guidance that would allow the judges to be able to review a qualified application. The Early Application Advantage option will NOT provide specific advice to individual applicants regarding the improvement of an application, but will simply alert applicants if there is a missing and/or invalid piece of their application that is able to be included or remedied prior to the final January deadline. 


Consider turning in your application by December 2nd to take advantage of this great opportunity! 


3. Where do I send my application? 


All mailed in applications should be sent to: 


Baer Reintegration Scholarship Program

PO Box 35218 

Philadelphia, PA 19128


All online applications should be submitted through our website under the tab ‘scholarship program.’


4. Do you ensure applications are complete?


YES. All new applications MUST have:

  1. Intake/Facesheet Information

2.   An essay written in proper format

3.  Three recommendation forms, one of which being from the applicant’s psychiatrist or prescribing authority

4.   Unofficial transcripts

5.   Cost of tuition and fees from desired school(s)

6.   Personal consent and release 


Any application missing one or more of these will be disqualified and the judges will not review it. Returning scholars, please see application for renewal guidelines. 


5. Can I include extra pieces to my application?


Yes. If you would like to include a resume, a certificate, or a sample of your work (for some examples), that is fine. These extra pieces should be sent in as PDFs with your application, the scholarship administration will not visit a link to someone’s website or open up a zip file of artwork (for some examples). Your extra pieces should be easy to find and review. This is NOT REQUIRED and please limit any extra documents to your application to no more than five items. Anything over that amount may not be included with your completed application materials. 


6. I’m submitting my application online, can I attach items in a non-PDF format? Such as a Word Document or JPEG?


No. Any item sent that is not in PDF format will not be processed with your application. 


7. Should I submit my FAFSA with my application?


No, we do not need your FAFSA included with your application materials.. Should you be chosen as a finalist, we will ask for your FAFSA at that time. Some educational pursuits do not require a FAFSA, which will also be determined should you become a finalist. 


8. How much is this scholarship for? You don’t provide an amount anywhere on the website. 


Our scholarship amounts are needs-based and confidential. Should you become a finalist in the spring of 2020, we work with you and the financial aid office of your school of choice to determine an appropriate amount. Our scholarship awards range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Please note: we send scholarship checks directly to each scholar’s school. We do not send checks to any individuals. 




1.What should the essay look like?


Great question. The essay can easily be the one piece of an application that disqualifies a deserving student. Essays MUST be divided into six sections. This means that it is less of a three page essay and more a six-part question and answer. Your essay MUST include the six section headings provided within the application, along with thoughtful responses to each question. 


A three page essay discussing a topic you would rather elaborate on while ignoring the essay guidelines will be disqualified. Additionally, an essay that answers the six sections without dividing each response with the given header questions will ALSO be disqualified. The judges are only able to fairly evaluate essays if they are all in the same format. Make your essay very clear by including the questions as headers and then your responses. 


2. Can I write more than three pages double-spaced?


No. Essays that are too long are disqualified. This means essays that are not double-spaced, or have extremely small print, or are over three pages are not seen by the judges. 


3.Can I write less than three pages double-spaced?


Yes! If you think you have sufficiently answered the essay questions and you have room leftover, that is completely acceptable. 



References and Recommendation Forms



1.Can I have more than three recommendations?


Yes. There are instances where someone would like an extra professional, colleague, or friend write a recommendation for them. That’s fine, but please limit it to no more than six recommendations total. Extra references are NOT required. 

2.Do my recommendations have to fill out the official form in the application?


You must have your psychiatric provider and two general references fill out the provided forms. If they would like to also include a written note about you, that’s great! If you have extra references beyond the three required, they can either fill out a form, or provide a written letter. However, you must have the three forms filled out. 


3. I am filling out my application online, but one of my references wants to fill out a form and mail it in. Is that ok?


Yes. although we strongly recommend that an application should either be completely by mail or completely online, we understand there are special circumstances. If you having some of your recommendation forms sent in a different format then the rest of your application, please include a brief note in your application so we know to expect them elsewhere. 


4. I am mailing in my entire application and don’t understand the instructions to mail in recommendation forms. Can they be sent separately? Can you elaborate?


If you are mailing in your entire application, please do not mail in many different pieces of your application. If a reference will only write a recommendation if they can mail it in themselves, please send us an email at so we know to look out for it. 


To include confidential recommendation forms in your mailed-in application: 

First, complete the applicant portion at the top of all three forms, including your signature. Then, give each of these forms to your references along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope so they can mail you back the completed form sealed in the envelope.

 If they are going to give you back the form in person, give them an envelope with just your name on it and ask them to sign their name over the sealed piece of the envelope to show that the envelope has remained closed. 

 Once you have all three (or more, if you have asked more than three people to write recommendations) unopened envelopes, whether stamped and mailed back or signed-on-seal and returned in person, include these unopened envelopes with the rest of your application materials, and mail them all together in one large envelope. 


5. My reference is running late with their form. Is it ok that they turn it in past the 1/17/20 deadline?


No. This is why we are strongly encouraging applicants submit their applications early. Anything turned in late will not count towards your application and it will be deemed incomplete and disqualified. We URGE you to ask you references early and be sure they submit well ahead of the deadline. 


6. I currently don’t see a psychiatrist or have a prescribing authority, but I have a qualifying mental illness. Can I apply?


In order for your application to be considered complete, you MUST have a psychiatrist or prescribing authority write your first recommendation form. Even if you no longer need or take medication, a qualified professional must sign off on your recommendation form for your application to be considered valid. 


7. I just switched psychiatrists and my old psychiatrist knows me much better than my new one. Can I have my old psychiatrist write my recommendation?


No. You MUST have your CURRENT psychiatrist or prescribing authority write your recommendation. Some applicants have both their current psychiatrist write a recommendation and a previous provider write a recommendation form, either as a general recommendation or as a second psychiatric recommendation. 


8. My therapist knows me much better than my psychiatrist, I only see my doctor once a month for 10 minutes at a time. Can my therapist write my psychiatric recommendation?


No. Your prescribing authority MUST fill our your psychiatric recommendation form. Some applicants have their therapists write a psychiatric recommendation form to accompany the one from their doctor, and then get other general references, or they have their therapist fill out a general recommendation form. We would love to hear from your therapist, but we also need to hear from your prescribing authority. If your therapist also happens to be your prescribing authority, then that is great!


9. I don’t want one of my two general references to know I have a mental illness. What should I do? If I give them the form or direct them to the website it will break my confidentiality.


In these cases, we recommend you find two people who you are comfortable knowing about your mental illness. If you would like your employer to write a recommendation for you without them learning of the illness you live with, that’s fine; have them write a general letter without giving them the form and include it as an extra reference. 


This is especially important if you are a student online and would like a letter from your employer. Since we require proof of employment/community involvement for anyone applying for funding to an online institution, we would need a letter of employment or a general recommendation from a supervisor or employer. 





1. My school is taking a very long time to send my transcript and I worry it will be late. Is that ok?


Remember, you do not need to submit an official transcript for your application. An unofficial transcript or grade report will suffice for your application, so therefore it should be on time. We do not accept late materials. If you do not have an unofficial transcript included in your application by the deadline, your application will be disqualified. 


2. Can I send a link for you to view my transcripts?


No, please do not send a link for your transcript to be accessed. It requires extra work for our scholarship administrators, and many times we are unable to access it without the creation of a login. Along with this, many times after we access it, we are unable to paste it in your completed application due to encryption codes. Therefore, your application is deemed incomplete. 


Our suggestion is you create a nonsecure PDF of an unofficial transcript to be sent as a PDF in your application. 


3. I have attended many different schools over the years and have several transcripts I could send. Should I send them all? 


This is up to you. We definitely recommend you send your most recent transcript. If you would like to include all of your past transcripts, that is fine. Some applicants include their most recent transcript and then any transcript that has to do with the degree they are applying to the scholarship for. As long as we have a window into your coursework, the judges are satisfied. If applying online… PDFs ONLY!


Tuition Costs


  1. Can I send a link to the website highlighting my school’s cost of education?


No. Please send us a PDF indicating your desired program’s costs. We sift through thousands of documents once all applications are submitted and will not have the ability to look up links to schools. A link will not suffice and your application will be considered incomplete. 


2. I won’t know what school I’ll be attending until later this spring. What should I do?


If you have a few different schools you might be attending later this spring, then please send PDFs of tuition costs for all the schools you might attend. 


3. Do I need to include the cost of books? I won’t know what books I’ll be buying next year. 


Don’t worry about the cost of books in your application materials. Should you become a finalist in the spring of 2020, we can figure out an amount for books with your school of choice then. 


Advice and Tips


  1. Do you have any advice for the new applicant?


Start early! References, the essay, etc., gathering your materials takes time. You don’t want to be disqualified because you didn’t complete your application in time. 


Also, be sure to complete your essay properly. Too many amazing applicants don’t follow the very detailed instructions regarding the essay and their application is disqualified. 


Believe in yourself! Completing the application is a big undertaking. Be proud of yourself for not only completing it, but also for your dream of going to school and pursuing your education. It is inspiring. 


2. Anything else?


If submitting a mailed-in application, don’t staple your items, use paper clips. And, if you can, don’t submit double-sided materials. When we scan in your documents, this can cause jams and also cause half of your materials to not be taken into account. 


3. Can I send in my application for you to take a look at and provide feedback before I send in my final application?


Yes and no. You MAY opt in to Early Application Advantage and properly submit your completed application by December 2nd for review of compliance. The administration will alert you within two weeks if anything is missing or outside of our guidelines. 


What you may NOT do is email a sample essay or anything else you want proofread/edited/revised to or Anything sent there for personalized review is automatically deleted, as it is unfair to all other applicants completing their application on their own. 


After the Deadline


  1. I submitted my application. What happens now? When do I hear back?


Congrats on submitting your application! For the rest of January and February of 2020, or scholarship administration team organizes and reviews all applications. Those that meet our qualifications and are complete are then sent to our judges in late February or early March. The judges then review the applications during the month of March and early April. 


In early to mid April the judges get together at our annual Judging Summit and decide on who will be our finalists, both returning scholars and also new scholars. Then, in mid to late April, the scholarship administration team sends out letters to our finalists and any applicants who will not be receiving a scholarship with us this round. 


2. It’s early May (or later) and I have not heard back. What is going on?


Send us an email at explaining the situation. In that email, include your address so we can double check that we sent it to the right place. We will resend a letter to you ASAP. 


3. I moved a few weeks after submitting my application. What should I do? 


No problem! Just send us your name and new address as soon as you have it.


4. I heard back from the Scholarship Committee and I did not get the scholarship. I am so disappointed, what did I do wrong?

 Thank you for applying for our scholarship and we congratulate you in submitting an application. Like we said in our letter, there are hundreds of impressive entries each year, and the judging process is very challenging. Because this program holds to a rigid privacy protocol, all judging panel deliberations and decisions are confidential and all materials reviewed are destroyed following the judging process. Therefore, we are not able to provide any insights with regard to the final decisions made by the judges. Rest assured we would welcome another application from you next year, should you still be interested. Thank you and we wish you every success in your academic endeavors. 

Miscellaneous Questions

  1. Are you affiliated with the Lilly Reintegration Scholarship?

No. The Lilly Reintegration Scholarship was disbanded in 2014 and the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation joined us to create the Baer Reintegration Scholarship Program in 2015. 


2. Can you please call me? What is your phone number?


We answer all questions and inquiries via email only, therefore we do not have a public phone number. Please send us an email at !