Over one million babies have been born via IVF in the U.S.—and that's just as of 2015, according to a report by the CDC. Statistics compiled by CoFertility show that while 33 percent of people get pregnant during their first IVF cycle, a majority (54 to 77 percent) get pregnant by the eighth cycle. But while IVF gives many prospective parents the chance to have a child, the treatment is expensive: On average, IVF can cost $15,000 per cycle, according to Dr. Mark Leondires, medical director at RMA of Connecticut. That's not including the cost of medicine, which can range from $3,000 to $8,000.
"With approximately 85% of all patients being self-pay, having financial support prevents the need to take out loans or exhaust savings accounts to start a family," says David Bross, vice president of nonprofit fertility organization, Parental Hope.
Luckily, there are IVF grants that can help ease the financial burden of treatment for those who qualify. While the qualifications of each grant vary, Dr. Leondires says some of the general requirements are diagnosis of infertility, limited or no access to fertility insurance coverage, and financial need. The key is to research and find the ones that work for you, whether that's local grants in your area or ones that are available through national clinics and organizations.
"Those battling infertility should do their research and take a chance on applying for a grant," says Bross, who founded Parental Hope in 2016 with his wife after their own battle with infertility.
Here's what you need to know about IVF grants and organizations—and how they can financially support you in your IVF journey.
Types of IVF grants
Although there are many types of IVF grants with specific qualifications, there are three general categories to look for. There are diagnosis-specific grants (cancer diagnosis, BRCA gene carrier), state-specific grants to look for where you live, and clinic-specific grants.
For example, Nest Egg Foundation, co-founded by Dr. Leondires, offers a $10,000 Ryder Grant to patients using donor eggs (the deadline to apply is June 18, 2021, FYI). Parental Hope is partnered with the Institute of Reproductive Health in Ohio, which allows it to cover the full cost of treatment with its IVF grant (fall 2021 applications for this one will open in June). Parental Hope also offers a $5,000 grant for qualifying individuals doing embryo adoption or donation. North Carolina-based clinic REACH is partnered with the Bundle of Joy Fund—an organization that works to provide financial support to families who can't afford fertility treatments—and offers $20,000 to a certain number of qualifying patients at the clinic.
Research clinics and ask if they have in-house financial counseling or financing options; if they do, it would be a good opportunity to ask them whether the clinic offers any grants. You can also consult your clinic regarding local and state-specific grants you could qualify for. There are grants for LGBTQ+ parents, for teachers, and grants supporting Black families through infertility. The important thing to know is that there is help available; it's just a matter of finding the right information and resources based on your individual needs.
Qualifications and requirements
The qualifications for each grant will vary, but there are some basics to have in order before you apply. Fertility industry expert and co-founder of Fertility Space Claire O'Neill recommends having infertility testing completed before applying for grants. This is because applications often ask for you to have a diagnosis of infertility from your physician—or include test results to see if you meet the grant's requirements for FSH or AMH levels.
"This isn't ideal for women that have diminished ovarian reserve, as they often don't meet the AMH threshold, but not all grants have this requirement," says O'Neill.
Other documents you may need to submit with your IVF grant application include pay stubs and W2 forms, proof of residence or citizenship, health information, a personal statement, and details about any infertility insurance coverage you may have.
Award amounts are based on individual grants and can range anywhere between $1,000 and $16,000. And while they may not cover the entire cost of a cycle, grant awards can definitely make up a large portion of it. There do exist grants that cover the entire cost of one cycle of IVF, but O'Neill says to keep in mind that this likely will not include the price of medications, embryo transfers, or genetic testing.
Most grants are annual or biannual, but there are some that could offer more—such as CNY Fertility's Monthly IVF Grant. Keep in mind that there is a wait time to find out whether your grant application was approved; some grants let you know a month after the application deadline, and others might take 3 to 6 months. Many grants also require that you start treatment within a year of receiving your award.
Reliable sources to find IVF grants
Applying for IVF grants requires you to give a lot of financial and medical information—so you want to make sure that you are applying through trustworthy sources.
"It's necessary to keep track of requirements and deadlines for each, but what's even more important is to confirm the authenticity of the grant program," says O'Neill. She recommends looking at Resolve, The National Infertility Association. It has a whole list of verified IVF grants; each non-profit is required to submit proof of their 501(c) status and other information to ensure that they are safe. Go through clinics or their financial advisors for further vetting and information to be sure that you're applying to trustworthy organizations.