So, you (and your doctor) have made the big decision about your fertility future. It’s time to try IVF. Now comes the question of the hour: How are you going to pay for it all?
It might be time to apply for a grant. Yup, IVF grants are out there, and they’re not that different from the funds your local fire department gets to outfit their firefighters or the grant a city snags to provide extra programs for the local kids.
Could you qualify for an IVF grant or is this all too good to be true? Let’s take a look.
Where are IVF grants hiding?
Ok, so you know the basics about grants. The money comes from the government or a non-profit with beaucoup bucks to fund something worthwhile. But where is this magic money for IVF?
- Local grants: You may not have to look too far to find the money you need. Several IVF grants are limited to folks living in very specific geographic regions. At the Starfish Fertility Foundation, for example, one grant is awarded only to uninsured folks living within a 50 miles of Nashville, TN. Others are offered through specific clinics.
- State grants: Time to cast your net a little wider? There are grants out there that cover entire states. In New York, for example, the state’s Department of Health funds grants that are open to residents across the Empire State (provided they use an approved clinic). Other grants come via non-profits that cover care in specific states, and sometimes, you don’t even need to actually be a resident of that state—just willing to travel there for treatment.
- National grants: These grants come from non-profits located throughout the country. The good news? You don’t have to travel far from home to find fertility help, as the funds can often be used at clinics across the US. The bad news? The competition for national grants is fierce. You’re no longer up against just the folks in your town or state. You’re competing against applicants from everywhere.
The key to finding these grants? Check with your local clinic or our Find a Grant tool.
Do IVF grants cover it all?
You’ve already cut out your daily Starbucks, you’re brown bagging lunch every day, and you haven’t had a mani/pedi in months to save all your cash. Do you need to keep saving or will a grant be your golden ticket?
The answer is a little bit of both, says Dr. Camille Hammond, M.D., CEO of the Tinina Q Cade Foundation, a Maryland non-profit that funds fertility treatment grants. Some grants have funding limitations to keep in mind:
- Parent match: Grants can take some of the burden off, but many grant funding sources expect a parent or parents to kick in some of the cost of treatment. This shows the teams who comb through grant applications that you have the financial means to provide for a baby after they’re born. It also shows your level of commitment to the process. “If you’re telling me this is the most important thing in your life right now, I’m not sure how important it is to you if you’re not willing to contribute at all,” Hammond says.
- Number of rounds: You never know just how many rounds of IVF you’ll need. Sometimes it just takes one; sometimes you’ll need more. Be aware your grant may have a specific number that are covered, warns Amanda Garcia, practice administrator at New York fertility clinic CCRM NY.
- Just the meds: Sometimes insurance will cover your procedure, but the medication cost is dragging you down. Good news: some grants are tailored to pay for just the meds!
- A flat number: Many of the grants out there provide a flat dollar amount to folks, regardless of what their treatment plan looks like. So you might be able to get as much as $5,000 or $10,000, but it will be up to you to allocate it wisely, balancing out any insurance coverage or help from the clinic that you might have wrangled.
Sounds good, sign me up!
Hold up, not so fast. Aside from location stipulations for local and state grants, most of the funding out there comes with eligibility guidelines you need to meet right out of the starting gate, including:
- Age limits
- Income limits
- Insurance coverage: Some grants will only cover treatments if you have 0 insurance coverage; others require you’ve exhausted all fertility coverages.
- Marital status: Some grants are allocated specifically for married couples; others will help single parents.
- Diagnosis: Some grants require a diagnosis of infertility, but some will make exceptions for same sex couples or single parents.
Where’s the catch?
You can accept the limits for a little free cash to help make this fertility treatment journey easier. But what else happens when you say yes to someone else’s money?
- Application fees: Just about every grant out there comes with a fee to apply. This isn’t to be greedy, Hammond says. It’s to keep the lights on! Application fees help support the administrative costs of sorting through all those grant applications to find just the right parents-to-be to help.
- Press and public relations requirements: Charities that dole out funds depend on awareness of their mission to keep donors donating. That’s why many will require grant awardees be willing to do occasional interviews with press about their fertility journey, says Pamela Hirsch, co-founder of BabyQuest, a California non-profit that funds fertility grants. And it’s not just moms-to-be who have to be willing to be open. If there’s a dad in the picture, he may also be called on to speak openly about his part of the process.
How to apply
Checked all the boxes on the guidelines, and you’re a match? Congratulations. Now it’s homework time! Most grants require you fill out an application, and that’s going to come with a fair amount of paperwork.
- Proof of income: This might include last year’s taxes, paystubs, and other means to prove how much you make a year.
- Medical records: Your doctor’s office can provide these, and they may also need to write a letter to describe your treatment plan and why you’re a worthy candidate.
- Your personal story: Why should they pick you as a grant recipient? You (and your partner if you have one) are going to have to share your fertility journey and your hopes and dreams for a family.
Nailing that application
So what’s the secret recipe? Unfortunately, applying for an IVF grant isn’t like making chicken at KFC. With thousands of applicants and only so much money to go around, there’s no one secret to nailing that application. Still, there are a few things you can do:
- Follow the instructions: No. Really. Do everything exactly the way the grant application directs you to do it. “A lot of people want to make up their own instructions,” Hammond says. All that does is make it harder for the reviewers—and more likely you won’t be chosen.
- Double check everything: Doctors are well-meaning but they’re also juggling myriad patients. Hirsch advises re-reading everything they’ve sent over to support your application, just to make sure they haven’t missed a crucial piece of the puzzle that could sway things over to your side.
- Be honest: It may sound obvious, but Hammond says people are often surprised that her team really does look at those tax documents and other supporting paperwork. The numbers need to match!
- Be sincere: One major red flag for Hammond’s team? When a couple applies, and they’ve copied and pasted their answers so they’re an exact match. “We really want to hear from everyone who has a stake in this,” she says.
The bottom line
IVF grants are just one way to fund a fertility journey, but if you fit the eligibility guidelines, applying may be worth it. Hey, you never know!