Arthritis Champions Scholarships

Arthritis Champions Scholarship application process is now closed. The 2025 -2026 application process will open in early January 2025.

The Arthritis Champions Scholarship is awarded annually to deserving students with arthritis or a related rheumatic disease who:

  • Impact the arthritis community, serving as positive role models and leaders.
  • Live their best life, while empowering others to do the same.

The recipient who receives the highest score for their written prompt on Arthritis Foundation/arthritis community involvement and impact will receive the Ann Palmer Award, a designation in honor of the Arthritis Foundation’s president and CEO from 2013 - 2022.

The 2024-2025 program is generously funded by the Dr. and Mrs. Walter J. Winterhoff Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Dr. Smriti Bardhan Scholarship Fund. 

Here are answers to your most frequently asked questions about the Arthritis Champions Scholarship program.

General Info

What is the award amount?

The award amount is $5,000 per academic year. Eligible scholarship recipients may apply for up to 4 years total; funds to be used towards tuition, books and supplies only, does not cover room and board. Payment is sent directly to academic institutions.

There are no guarantees that this scholarship program will be available in subsequent academic years, or that a given recipient will receive the award in subsequent academic years.  

When does the application process open?

The application process is open from early January to March 1 at 5 pm ET. 

What is the application process?

All eligible applicants complete an online application, including written prompts covering impact of rheumatic disease, educational and future goals, and Arthritis Foundation and community involvement and impact. An unofficial or online transcript and an involvement reference must be submitted. Your reference will submit verification of your Arthritis Foundation or Arthritis Community involvement. A link to the application will be accessible on in early January 2025. 

Will all applicants receive a scholarship?

There are many more deserving, qualified applicants than scholarship awards that can be granted, due to limited funding. We receive many more applications than we can award, therefore it is a very competitive process. 
We encourage previous eligible applicants to apply in following years.  

What are the eligibility criteria?

  • A US citizen or a legal and permanent resident of the US,
  • Have doctor-diagnosed arthritis or related rheumatic disease, 
    • Physician’s Certifying Statement required for scholarship recipients ONLY. Statement must be completed by the applicant’s Rheumatologist, DO, or Nurse Practitioner. Form will be provided by Arthritis Foundation. 
  • Classified as an undergraduate, graduate, or medical student at an accredited technical school, college or university in the United States for the entire academic year,
  • Enrolled full-time each semester and have completed the full-time units to reapply for the next academic year. The scholarship is only available for fall and spring semesters (not summer sessions). If applying to a master’s or doctoral program, must be full-time study. 
  • Have and maintain a 2.5 or higher GPA,
  • Engaged Arthritis Foundation advocate, fundraiser, participant, volunteer and/or supporter and/or other service to benefit the arthritis community.  

Are you only eligible to receive the award one time?

No, eligible recipients may reapply annually (up to 4 years total) to be considered for the upcoming academic year. Return awardees must annually reapply and must maintain eligibility to be considered for multiple awards. 
Application Process

How do I access the application?

A link to the application will be accessible on once the scholarship application process opens in January. 

Will my information be saved so I can return to complete application?

Yes, you will set up an account in the application portal.  You will be able to save your information and return to complete, prior to submission deadline.  

What if I need to update my application after submission?

You will be able to access your account in the application portal and make any updates, as needed until the application closes.

Do I need to submit a transcript with my application?

Yes, you must submit an unofficial transcript along with your application by uploading it into the portal. If you do not provide all required documentation and information by the deadline, your application will not be considered.

How will I know if my application has been received?

You will receive an email confirmation from the Arthritis Foundation verifying receipt of your application. Please contact [email protected] if you do not receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of submitting your application. Your application may be incomplete in the system. 

What is the review process? 

Applications are anonymously reviewed based on written prompt responses – impact of rheumatic disease, educational and future goals, Arthritis Foundation and arthritis community involvement and impact.       
The Arthritis Champions Scholarship program is administered by the Arthritis Foundation. Applications are anonymously reviewed by  volunteers serving on the Arthritis Foundation Scholarship committee and additional volunteers across the country.      

Awards are granted without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or national origin.   

Are there limitations on course of study?

There are no limitations placed on course of study selected by an eligible applicant.  

Is financial need taken into consideration?

Financial need is not considered.  
Reference Information

Do I need a reference to be considered for this scholarship?

This application requires verification from a current Arthritis Foundation staff member, leadership volunteer or arthritis community involvement contact to complete an involvement reference form. During the application process, you will access the link to share with your reference to complete in order for  application to be considered by the March 1, 5 p.m. ET deadline.  

What is the deadline for submitting application?

Applications and all required documents must be submitted by March 1, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. ET to be considered. All late application or material submission will not be accepted, even in the event of technical difficulties.

When will notification of awards be sent?

Notifications will be sent to the email address provided in the application, to all   applicants whether or not they were selected, by the beginning of June.

Applicants who do not receive notification by June 7 should contact [email protected] regarding application status.  

What is required of me if I am selected?

Award recipients will have 30 days to return completed Award Letter and Physician Certifying Statement to confirm scholarship award. If awarded, must be involved publicly with the Arthritis Champions Scholarship and remain active in events and/or programs with the Arthritis Foundation/Arthritis Community. 

What if someone doesn’t accept their award?

In the event an initial award recipient can no longer accept their award or fails to submit the required documentation, alternate recipients will be notified. 

Our Funders 

Dr. and Mrs. Walter J. Winterhoff 
In 2007, Walter J. and Kathryn M. Winterhoff Endowed Scholarship Fund was created to provide an educational scholarship program for students with rheumatic diseases. Walter and Kay Winterhoff were Tucson residents and had passion for the work of the Arthritis Foundation. This passion evolved because Kay had arthritis and refused to let it get in the way of her love for tennis and golf. This scholarship commenced in fall 2010 at three public universities in Arizona: Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. In 2017, the Winterhoff Arthritis Scholarship evolved into a nationwide college scholarship opportunity.

Dr. Smriti Bardhan 
In 2018, Dr. Smriti Bardhan College Scholarship Fund was created to help the next generation with arthritis achieve their goals. Dr. Bardhan lived with boundless energy and a zest for life. She did not let her rheumatoid arthritis curb her independence, drive and positive energy. Those that knew her best were inspired by her perseverance through the debilitating state of her arthritis. She was dedicated to her community and as a scientist she committed to cracking the genetic code to revolutionize treatments for future generations. Dr. Bardhan, like millions of others living with arthritis strived each day to live her best life.