Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Grant

UA Little Rock was awarded a U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) grant totaling $1.25 million to prepare educational interpreters to work with Deaf and hard of hearing students. The grant began October 1, 2021 and continues through September 30, 2026. The grant’s goal is to increase the number of qualified interpreters working within the educational settings with IDEA identified children of pre-K through 12th grade through interpreter education at the Baccalaureate Level.

Eligibility Requirements

The OSEP grant funding is competitive and includes payment of tuition, fees, benchmark exams and a stipend during each semester funded. Requirements include:

  • Junior or Senior standing as a full- or part-time student majoring in the B.A. in Interpretation: ASL/English
  • Signed agreement stating acknowledging a “2 to 1 payback” requirement (e.g., for each academic year funding is received, the recipient agrees to work 2 academic years in educational settings with IDEA identified children).
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Expected completion of the UA Little Rock bachelor’s degree in Interpretation: ASL/English prior to or by September 30, 2026.

Selection Criteria

Students will be selected to receive the OSEP grant based on the following criteria:

  • Assurance that all of the above requirements are met.
  • Financial Need
  • Prior experience and coursework in interpreting or deafness related fields
  • Potential for completing the program
  • Commitment to educational interpreting and the payback agreement
  • Diversity of applicant pool
  • Overall GPA
  • Letters of Recommendation

Selection Process

Scholarship applicants are interviewed by a team of 3-5 faculty (Project Coordinator plus faculty) for each Spring and/or Fall semester. Candidates selected to receive scholarships are notified in writing with confirmation of the approximate amount of the scholarship award for the forthcoming semester.

Continuing Eligibility Requirement

Students must maintain an overall academic GPA of 3.0 or better with at least a “B” in interpreting major courses and continue to make progress in the program to remain eligible for the scholarship. Scholars will not be required to work as a prerequisite to receiving a scholarship.

Post-Graduation Requirements

Upon graduation, funded students must sign an exit agreement indicating the total amount of funds received and the total number of years of service expected to complete the “2 for 1 payback” (for each one-year of grant funding received, two years of  work with IDEA identified students from ages 0-21 years of age.) Reporting and tracking are coordinated at the federal level.

For more information, contact:

Raphael James, PI/Project Director

Non-discrimination policy

UA Little Rock provides equal opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, and actively encourages grant applicants from traditionally underrepresented groups. The University follows the regulations of federal laws through its Affirmative Action Plan, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.


When are the deadlines for applying for the OSEP grant?

Applications are accepted for the Fall beginning July 1 through August 15. For the Spring semester applications are accepted beginning October 1 through January 15.

I live out of state; will this negatively affect my application for admission?

Application for the grant scholarship has nothing to do with your application for admittance to the institution. They are two separate processes.

I live out of state. Will I have to pay out of state tuition?

For students granted a scholarship as an out of state student, the out of state fees are included in the award if you are do not live in a contiguous state. If you live in a contiguous state, or are eligible through the Academic Common Market, instate tuition will apply.

Can I apply for funding in my freshman and sophomore years?

Grant scholarships are awarded to Junior and Senior students only, and the student must complete the degree program by September 30, 2026. This is a grant stipulation.

How long will I have to pay back the scholarship funds if I do not work with IDEA identified students?

Your pay back begins after your graduation. The amount of time is calculated one academic year per semester in addition to five years. Example: If you are funded for a Senior year only, that is two semesters, thus two years plus 5 years gives you a total of 7 years to satisfy your payback through employment. If you have not satisfied your payback time at the completion of 7 years the U.S. Department of Education will pursue the payback through finance including filing liens against your tax records if necessary.

What is IDEA?

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.”

Can I receive funding for summer classes?

Awarded scholars in need of taking Summer courses for the degree may be covered by the grant, depending upon allotment of funds for spring and fall.

If I take classes at other colleges or universities and transfer them to UA Little Rock to satisfy B.A. required classes, can the grant reimburse me the cost of tuition?

No. All awarded scholars at the Junior and Senior level who choose to take courses at another institution will not be reimbursed for their expenses.

Will the grant cover the cost of my textbooks?

Awarded scholars receive full funding for tuition and fees only. If a balance is available stipends are awarded which may be used for educational expenses that the scholar incurs.

If I’m turned down for the grant one semester, can I reapply the next semester?

Applications are kept on file and interest is verified the following semester, along with justifications of GPA requirements.

What happens if I don’t complete my degree by September 30, 2026?

Completion of the B.A. program by September 30, 2026 is a requirement to receiving funding. If life circumstances causes a scholar to have to withdraw prior to completion, their information is reported to the U.S. Department of Education for determination of how to complete payback requirements for funding.

When are OSEP Grant funds typically applied to the recipient’s account?

Funds are typically funded to the accounts beginning the week before classes resume and prior to the drop date due to lack of payment. However, if the entry of awards are delayed a list of scholars is reported to admissions and records to keep them enrolled in classes until the awards are posted.

How can the recipient locate employment opportunities which will fulfill the payback agreement?

Application to any institution providing education to Pre-K through age 21 and is identified as IDEA is an acceptable site for employment. Regularly check with public school special education job postings for interpreting services.