A man in a wheelchair.

Neilsen Foundation Scholarship for Students with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)

Established in 2002 as a private foundation, the Neilsen Foundation is dedicated to supporting both programs and research to improve the quality of life for those affected by and living with spinal cord injury (SCI). Mr. Neilsen earned an MBA and JD from the University of Utah. In 1985, he was involved in a serious car accident where he sustained a C-4 spinal cord injury. He founded Ameristar Casinos in 1993, grew the business, and took the company public. He was a forward-thinking visionary with a passion not only for his work, but for giving back to those who face challenges similar to his.

UNLV was selected to participate in the Neilsen Scholars program in 2018. We are grateful to the Neilsen Foundation for supporting student’s academic dreams. Applications for this program close at the end of February. Note that it is open to students who have a medically documented spinal cord injury.

Scholarship Eligibility

  • Open to UNLV-admitted students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, professional, or doctoral degrees*
  • 500-word essay about your personal, educational, and long-term goals
  • Letter of recommendation required
  • Documentation of disability required

*SCI is required for this scholarship only; it is not a criterion for admission to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

How to Apply

Email drcscholarships@unlv.edu to apply or if you have any questions.

Application Deadline: March 8, 2024

Minimum Criteria

  • 2.75 cumulative GPA
  • Open to UNLV-admitted students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, professional, or doctoral degrees
  • Complete the FAFSA or alternate aid form. Limited funds are available with a valid FAFSA: Award priority is provided to previous award recipients who completed the FAFSA by December 1 who have met the award parameters
  • Enroll in a minimum 9 credits per semester for undergrad level and be registered with DRC (excludes summer) with a degree plan in place.
  • Enroll in a minimum 6 credits per semester for graduate level and be registered with DRC (excludes summer) with a degree plan in place
  • Continuous enrollment (Must notify Scholarship Committee if there is a break in enrollment for any reason)
  • Must maintain the financial aid satisfactory academic progress policy.
  • Grades will be checked each semester, and awardees will be notified of additional responsibilities that include but are not limited to: DRC check-ins, academic planning, and thank you notes.


The Neilsen Foundation selects colleges and universities to participate in the Neilsen Scholarship Program. Awards are made annually to students. Each UNLV Neilsen Scholar is reviewed by the scholarship committee annually to ensure they remain in good standing. Students determined by the Scholarship Committee to not be in good standing may have their scholarship suspended or discontinued.

For undergraduate level: Up to 120 credit hours or 8 semesters (whichever comes first) of consecutive enrollment.

  • For Masters level:
    • 6 credits or more per semester for graduate level (excluding summer)
    • Up to 60 credit hours or 5 semesters (whichever comes first)