VSP and AAOF Practice Excellence Scholarship


VSP Global® has partnered with the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) to provide scholarships for optometry students at every school and college of optometry in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The scholarships will be funded through the VSP Global companies Eyes of Hope® Global Charitable Fund and administered by the AAOF.

Over the last 10 years, VSP has provided more than $1 million dollars in scholarship support to hundreds of optometry students. Joining forces with the AAOF, scholarships will in 2016 be awarded to 42 students for a total of $174,000, including a travel grant to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). The travel grant will enable these outstanding students to attend a premier education opportunity in primary eye care, as well as attend a reception co-hosted by VSP Global and AOF to help foster networking opportunities and teach the importance of Academy Fellowship.


VSP, through the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF), will make two awards of $4,000 each to two students entering their fourth year (graduating class of 2017) at each of the institutions of optometry in the United States and Puerto Rico. Each scholarship carries $3,250 in scholarship money and a $750 travel grant to attend Academy 2016 Anaheim, November 9th - 12th, 2016.


Scholarship recipients must be a student member of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). Information on becoming a member can be found on the AAO website at:


Each institution's Awards and Scholarship committee is tasked with selecting a pool of 5 business minded students who meet the clinical and academic standards below and then& choose two scholarship recipients.

The AOF will not accept applications directly from students for this program. AOF will notify institutional contacts that the submission window is open for nominations.


Demonstrated excellence

  • Clinical Performance: Candidates must excel in delivering primary eye care services to clinical patients.
  • Academic Performance: Candidates must have a grade point average that ranks in the top half of the class.

Independent practice of optometry

  • Student should have a commitment to enter the independent practice of optometry.
  • Participation in the private practice or practice management club on campus recommended with special consideration given to students who have served a leadership role.
  • At the discretion of the selection committee, the selection process may include a written essay that encompasses the independent practice goals of the candidate.

Program Notes

The VSP/AOF Practice Excellence Scholarship Program will be based on the above performance criteria only. Recipients shall not be restricted from receiving this scholarship as a result of receiving other awards, scholarships or grants-in-aid.

Per policy of the AAO/AOF, the recipient of this scholarship will not be eligible to receive any additionally offered travel fellowship from the AAO or AOF in the same year.

VSP and the AOF follow the independent practice career choices of the scholarship recipients to determine the value of this substantial investment. Each institution is strongly encouraged to carefully follow the criteria and consider their selections to ensure this program continues in future years.

Selection Deadline

The application deadline is August 15, 2016.

Each institution is to provide the AOF with the name of the two student recipients and his/her contact email along with an institution contact name and the date of any planned institution internal awards ceremony by deadline.

Some VSP scholarships at previously determined institutions are named memorial scholarships. Those honors will continue to be attached to the scholarship and should be designated with the institution's submission.

An institution current IRS W-9 form must be submitted or be confirmed on file with the AOF prior to scholarship processing.

Please send program materials to AOF via: Jennifer Rubin - Foundation Coordinator Email: AOF@aaoptom.org / Fax: 407-893-9890

Recognition of Recipients

Once the AOF is notified of each institution’s selected recipients, scholarship checks in the amount of $3,250 will be mailed payable to the institution of the recipient. 

Each recipient travel grant check of $750 and an engraved plaque will be presented during a special planned reception to take place at Academy 2016 Anaheim (further details to follow). To receive those travel funds the student must also submit an IRS W-9 form or W-8BEN form if non-U.S. resident , no less than one month prior to attending the AAO annual meeting.

Each recipient of an AOF travel award is requested to volunteer a small portion their time at the AOF exhibit hall booth during Academy. Further details will be included in official congratulatory letters. 

Institutions are encouraged to also recognize the recipients at any planned award ceremonies that may be held prior to graduation.

Travel Exception

Students who have academic conflicts and cannot attend the Academy 2016 Anaheim may apply their travel grant to Academy 2017 Chicago. Travel grants cannot be carried forward into the calendar year beyond 2017.

Foundation Policies

Institution representative's typically receive a confirming email within 1-3 business days after receipt on program materials. An additional message is only sent if your institution's nominations are not received by deadline. If you do not receive a confirmation contact Jennifer Rubin, Foundation Coordinator, at: Jenniferr@aaoptom.org or call our office: 321-319-4872.

All scholarship recipients by acceptance of the program funds agree to allow the AOF and/or the sponsor of the program to publish their name, image, institution information, and any statement or quote provided by the recipient. These items may appear in a variety of media formats that will announce and promote the program including, but not limited to, the AOF and/or sponsor annual report, optometric media publications, website, social media, and annual meeting promotional materials.

For further information on this program or any other offered by the AOF contact:

Jennifer Rubin - Foundation Coordinator
American Optometric Foundation
2909 Fairgreen Street
Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Phone: 321-319-4872