Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

As the academic year winds down, students begin to look ahead to next year. For early educators returning to school, this means it’s time to apply for the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship program, which since 2005 has awarded more than 5,000 scholarships to early educators working on their AA or BA degrees. Applications are due June 1.

The program is part of the Massachusetts State Scholarship Program administered by the Department of Higher Education. The fiscal year 2012 state budget recently approved by the House of Representatives preserves the FY10 funding level of $86.5 million. The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship has been funded at $3.2 million for the past two fiscal years.

Research finds that young children perform best in classrooms led by early educators with BA degrees and specialized training in early childhood. In a field characterized by low salaries, the scholarships have provided critical resources for early educators interested in advancing their credentials. Out-of-school-time educators are also eligible for the scholarship. Check out the video “Back to School” to hear how one early educator benefited from the scholarship.

Here is a copy of a recent letter from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care:

Dear Early Childhood and Out of School Time Educators,

The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) are pleased to announce that the Early Childhood Educators (ECE) Scholarship application for the 2011-2012 academic year is now available at

The scholarship is designed to provide financial assistance for currently employed early childhood and out of school time educators and providers who enroll in an associate or bachelor degree program in Early Childhood Education or a related field.  The ECE Scholarship is awarded on a first come, first served basis; educators who have received the scholarship in the past must still complete the new online application for the 2011-2012 academic year. Educators interested in the ECE Scholarship must also complete the 2011-2012 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (

All required application forms must be submitted by the June 1, 2011 priority deadline to be considered.  Applications received after the June 1, 2010 priority date will be considered based on the availability of funds. For more information please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions posted on the application website or contact the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance at 617-727-9420.