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A review of the literature indicated graduate education debt disproportionately impacts students who are black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), women, and of low socioeconomic status (SES). Required unpaid internships further negatively impact degree completion, quality of life, and perception of graduate program experience. This study focused on the impact of $10,000 stipends awarded to Master of Social Work students in their final year of practicum at integrated care settings as a result of a competitive application process through a grant-funded project. The primary Research Question was to explore differences between graduation rates over the last two years between stipend-funded recipients and non-stipend funded recipients. In addition, we elicited field instructor input at year-end and alumni feedback one-year after graduation. We used content analysis to look at alumni perceptions regarding quality of life and attitudes during their final year placement and field instructor perceptions regarding the impact of stipends on students. Results from both alumni and field instructors show the positive impact paid internships have on quality of life and financial stress. Implications offer insight into the impact of paid internships on all MSW students, including BIPOC, women, and students of low SES.

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Social Work Commons