People with disabilities entering college are burdened with the same steep costs as other students, plus a plethora of added ones. Medical bills, transportation, and class accommodations costs – all tend to be higher due to the special needs. They crop up and may limit the available options.
Designated scholarships for disabilities students are aimed to widen the opportunities for college-bound students who have their disability as a factor to consider when they choose a college to apply. Such scholarships make more choices accessible and partly account for the increase in numbers of disabled students attending college in the last decade.
So, can you get a scholarship for being disabled? Not exactly. Although many scholarships are targeting specifically students with disabilities, like any other kind of aid, they consider other aspects. For example, to be eligible, a student should have a certain GPA, intended major, involvement in a community, and an unmet financial need. There will also be a personal statement and an essay to write. Moreover, some disability scholarships are intended for children or relatives of disabled individuals.
What Types of Disability Scholarships Exist?
Some scholarships are intended for students with any kind of disability as defined by ADA, DSM-V, IDEA, or other government organizations, while others are offered to students with specific disabilities. These can be any physical disability (loss of hearing, sight impairment, limited mobility, speech impediment), learning disability (ADHD, autism, dyslexia, mental health issue), chronic or acute illness (like diabetes) – and any other that adversely affects everyday life and learning experience of a person.
Below you will find a selection of scholarships for college students with disabilities of different types. Note that most scholarships will require you to provide your Social Security number as a way of identifying you, however, some of them allow withholding that information. In case you withhold your SSN at the time of enrollment, but later choose to submit it for a student loan or a scholarship, there is a chance of clerical error that will disconnect your earlier records from the newer ones. Therefore, you will benefit from submitting your SSN to your university as early as possible.
Choose Your Scholarship for Special Needs Students
Before you’ll go through the list, you should start with your own school. There are many college scholarships for students with disabilities that aren’t given directly to individuals but are issued as grants to specific schools, making it their responsibility to review the applications and choose beneficiaries. For example, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation assists students with disabilities in that way. Grants for 2020-21 academic year are given to Brooklyn College, Cabrini University, Columbia University, Delaware Valley University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Gallaudet University, Penn State University, Penn State Harrisburg, Temple University, and Villanova University. And this is just one foundation among many!
Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability
Who awards: American Association on Health and Disability
Application deadline: November 15, 2020
Qualifications: US citizens or legal residents, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled part-time or full time in accredited US college, having a disability and majoring in a health-related field. Preference will be given to students with a history of volunteer activities or community service. To apply, submit an application form, two letters of recommendation, official transcript, a photo, and up to a three-page personal statement listing your personal history, career goals, motivations, and reasons why you deserve the award.
Anders Tjellström Scholarship
Who awards: Cochlear
Amount: $16,000 ($2,000x8)
Application deadline: September 30, 2020
Qualifications: US or Canadian citizens, graduating high school seniors, undergraduate or graduate students, applied/enrolled in an accredited college, university, or technical school, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Eight scholarships will be awarded based on academic achievement and commitment to Cochlear ideals of leadership and humanity. Extracurricular activities and community involvement will be considered. To apply, submit the application form, an official transcript, a personal statement, and an essay.
Who to contact: Anders Tjellström Scholarship
Who awards: Independent Life
Amount: $3,000 ($1,000x3)
Application deadline: December 31, 2020
Qualifications: Students currently enrolled in a Nevada college, having a disability, with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. To apply, send a short essay about your life and aspirations, and proof of your disability from your doctor or medical facility with your name (with any personal/sensitive information whited out).
Who to contact: Ryan Clearwater at firstname.lastname@example.org
Apply here: https://independentlife.com/scholarships/
Bressman Law Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship
Who awards: Bressman Law
Application deadline: June 15, 2021
Qualifications: US citizens or legal permanent residents, undergraduate or graduate students at the time of application, diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, having a GPA of 3.0 or higher. To apply, submit an application form, an essay, an official transcript, proof of residency, and diagnosis by a qualified medical professional.
Who to contact: David Bressman
Apply here: https://www.bressmanlaw.com/scholarship/
Cancer Awareness Scholarship
Who awards: Dallas Car Accident Lawyers
Application deadline: June 15, 2021
Qualifications: US citizens or legal permanent residents, undergraduate and graduate students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, who have battled or been affected by cancer. To apply, submit an application form, an unofficial transcript, a 500-to-1000-word essay, a brief one-paragraph personal statement describing how this award will assist you, and proof of your own or your loved one’s cancer diagnosis.
Who to contact: Caitlin Emslie
Ohio War Orphan & Severely Disabled Veterans’ Children Scholarship
Who awards: Ohio Board of Regents
Amount: $26,512 (up to $6,628 per individual)
Application deadline: May 15, 2021
Qualifications: US citizens, residents of Ohio, between 16 and 25 years of age, enrolled or planning to enroll full-time into a private or public postsecondary institution in Ohio, children of deceased or severely disabled veterans who served in armed forces during a war or conflict. To apply, submit an application form, war service record, disability rating, and official transcript.
Who to contact: Amber Brady
Apply here: https://www.ohiohighered.org/sgs
Didn’t Find Suitable Scholarship For Disabled Student Like Yourself?
Don’t worry. This is not an exhaustive list. Every semester, a new scholarship for students with disabilities is opened, some general, some exclusively for students with a specific type of disability. Moreover, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19, some scholarships have been temporarily suspended. Keep monitoring.
Alternatively, try other types of scholarships (we have quite a selection here). Every group you belong to can be a source of support – including financial aid. Merit-based, location-based, college-based, major-based, gender-based, scholarships for minority students or LGBTQ-community – the opportunities are numerous. Seize them!