MORGANTOWN , W.Va.A West Virginia University program that trains rehabilitation counselors to help people with disabilities is attracting applicants from as far away as Alaska, thanks in part to a $937,000 boost in federal funding.

The U.S. Department of Educations Rehabilitation Services Administration awarded WVU s Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program one of six Comprehensive System for Personnel Development Long-term Training grants, which take effect Aug. 1.

The five-year grant will provide 15 scholarships annually to rehabilitation counselors employed by state federal vocational rehabilitation agencies. Federal standards initiated during the last decade require employed counselors to meet the standard for qualified rehabilitation counselor, and a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling is required.

WVU s Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program is partnering with state vocational rehabilitation agencies serving frontier and Appalachian rural counties, including the West Virginia Department of Rehabilitation Services, Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services, North Dakota Vocational Rehabilitation Division and Alaska Vocational Rehabilitation.

Each scholarship will cover tuition at an in-state rate and stipends to help cover the cost of admission, books and travel expenses. The grant proposal also included a host of project services: a diversity initiative, internship seminar, social networking sites for job announcements and other recruitment efforts, and training for internship supervisors.

Participants will appreciate the convenience of WVU eCampus distance-learning technology and flexibility of a two-year, full-time or three-year, part-time program of study, said Margaret Glenn, associate professor and chair of the Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling and Counseling Psychology .

It allows us to reach areas with a high need for qualified rehabilitation counselors, rural and frontier regions of our country,she said.We are going to enjoy the benefits inherent in having counselors from different states in one classroom, sharing and learning from each other.

Those benefits and the departments reputation for producing highly qualified rehabilitation professionals are drawing applicants from many stateseven Alaska, said Glenn, who is also coordinator of the Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program.

For over 50 years, West Virginia University has trained rehabilitation professionals, who help people living with disabilities, from physical disabilities to mental health or substance abuse problems,she said.Rehabilitation counselors are uniquely qualified to provide specialized personal and vocational counseling and arrange for medical care, vocational training and job placement.

The University is key to recruiting and educating rehabilitation counselors in West Virginia and beyond, and people are taking notice, said Dee Hopkins, dean of the College of Human Resources and Education .

Hopkins pointed to GetEducated.coms Best Buy list, which ranked WVU No. 1 for its distance masters degree program in rehabilitation counseling. is a consumer watchdog and advocacy group that rates the cost and quality of online colleges and universities.

This latest funding is the result of hard work on the part of Dr. Glenn, who submitted the proposal through a competitive grant process,Hopkins said,and it speaks to the quality and reputation of our rehabilitation counseling program.

To learn more about WVU s Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling and Counseling Psychology, go to . You can hear directly from rehabilitation counseling eCampus alumni and their employers by visiting .

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