More than $500,000 in federal scholarship money is available for financially needy students pursuing health-related professions.

University of Central Florida officials believe about 150 students could benefit.

To qualify, students must meet federal poverty guidelines, be enrolled full-time in good standing and be studying one of four programs in UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs. They are a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders; sciences in health services administration or social work. Student’s seeking bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders also qualify.

For the third consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the college a grant, which can be used for tuition and living expenses. This year’s grant of $587,326 brings the college’s total award under this program close to $2 million.

Last year 102 students benefited from the federal grant.

For Abdul Sykes, who has received about $10,000 in scholarships in the past two years, the money has transformed his life. Sykes, a father of four including two in junior college, said the money has allowed him to pay for an education that he knows will help better his family in the future without hurting them now.

“These contributions took the edge off of the stress and allowed us to live with a little more dignity,” Sykes said.

Sykes served as a chaplain for 11 years in the North Carolina Department of Corrections and for eight years in the Federal Bureau of Prison. He’s earning his master’s degree in social work, which he hopes will help him land a job locally after he graduates in December.

For Adam Lloyd, who is pursuing a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders, the scholarship money means he can study, conduct research, volunteer and teach, which are all degree requirements. He received money last year and again this year.

“Although I earn some income, I make less money than I can physically live on,” Lloyd said.

For details visit: http://www.cohpa.ucf.edu/documents/SDS_Information_Sheet_2011.pdf . An application is available at http://www.cohpa.ucf.edu/documents/SDS_Application_2011.pdf.

Deadline for all those seeking scholarships for fall 2011 and spring 2012 is Aug. 31. For information call 407-823-4025 or email [email protected]