College education is expensive and many undergraduate students are only able to afford their tuition through some form of financial assistance. This is also the case for people with disabilities. Financial aid for students with disabilities enables them to cover the costs they will incur when attending college, such as transportation and accommodation expenses.
Student abilities, barriers, and needs will differ greatly, as will financial needs. Whether you have limited mobility, legal blindness, or a learning disability, advocacy organizations offer a range of scholarships and grants for students with disabilities. These college funding options intend to improve accessibility to accredited university degrees for eligible applicants.
Does FAFSA Help Students With Disabilities?
Yes, FASFA helps students with disabilities. FAFSA offers funding for students with intellectual disabilities, among many others. You will be required to meet the basic eligibility requirements and demonstrate that you are meeting the academic performance requirements of your school during the application process.
How to Find Financial Aid for Students With Disabilities
- Federal Pell Grants. These are grant programs for federal financial aid. Pell grants are awarded to deserving students who have demonstrated financial need and have not pursued a degree program prior.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). This federal funding program grant is given to those with exceptional financial needs. Each postsecondary institution awards federal aid to students with the highest financial need.
- Federal Work-Study Program. Undergraduate and graduate students get to do community service work or work a job in their college program field. Not all institutions participate in federal work-study programs. Confirm this option with the financial aid office at the postsecondary institution or with your high school guidance counselor.
- Federal Loans. Unlike grants, federal student aid in the form of a loan will have to be repaid. The interest rate for the loan varies but tends to be very low and has a repayment plan that’s much better than with private loans.
- Scholarships. Scholarship programs are also available to students with disabilities to help them manage their educational expenses. Award funds tend to be categorical, for example, autism spectrum disorder scholarships and scholarships for deaf and visually impaired students.
Financial Aid: The Best Scholarships and Grants for Students With Disabilities
|Scholarship or Grant Name||Provider||Amount|
|AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship||American Association on Health and Disability||$1,000|
|AFB Scholarships||American Foundation for the Blind||$2,000-$7,500|
|Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship||National Center for Learning Disabilities||$5,000|
|Equity Through Education Scholarship||BMO Capital Markets Lime Connect||$10,000 (US), $5,000 (Canada)|
|FSD Scholarship||Foundation for Science and Disability||$1,000|
|Joseph James Morelli Scholarship||Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation||$500-$2,500|
|Microsoft Disability Scholarship||Microsoft||$5,000-$20,000|
|National Scholarship for College Students with Disabilities||disABLEDperson, Inc.||$2,000|
|NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship||American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)||$5,625|
|Scholarship in Help America Hear||Help America Hear||$2,000|
The Best Financial Aid Resources for Students With Disabilities
The best financial aid resources for students with disabilities will enable them to cover their educational expenses, as well as any other costs that may be associated with college or their disabilities. Grants and scholarships are also available to graduate students to assist with educational expenses, as well as any research work that requires funding.
AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship | American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD)
The AAHD awards this scholarship to students who are pursuing studies that are related to health or a disability-related field. These could be disabilities studies, rehabilitation engineering, disability policy, or special education, among others. They must be in their sophomore year of college studies or higher to be eligible. The scholarship award is for no more than $1,000.
AFB Scholarships | American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
This scholarship is a partner program between the AFB and the American Council of the Blind (ACB). It is available to blind students pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies. The scholarship aims to support tuition, room and board, and costs that are associated with adaptive technology. The scholarship amounts vary between $2,000 and $7,500.
Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship | National Center for Learning Disabilities
The National Center for Learning Disabilities has various scholarships for students. This particular scholarship is awarded to students applying to technical or vocational training programs. It is also available to students enrolling in a two-year community college. The scholarship is disbursed in two installments of $2,500 per year.
Equity Through Education | BMO Capital Markets and Lime Connect
This scholarship is offered to students pursuing undergraduate and graduate programs. Current undergraduates must be in a four-year university. The award is available to students in the US and in Canada. American students will receive an award of $10,000, while those in Canada will receive $5,000.
FSD Scholarship | Foundation for Science and Disability
This is a science graduate student grant fund under FSD. It offers scholarships worth $1,000 to fourth-year undergraduate students who have been accepted into graduate school or a professional school in the sciences. The grant supports the student’s research in medicine, technology, science, mathematics, or engineering.
Joseph James Morelli | Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation
This scholarship covers the educational costs and qualified disability expenses of disabled students. It can be applied toward tuition, books, tutoring, or assistive technology. The scholarship value ranges between $500 and $2,500 and is specifically for students pursuing a STEM degree.
Microsoft Disabilities Scholarship | Microsoft
This scholarship is awarded to high school students planning to attend either an academic college or vocational training program in the technology industry. The award is valued at $5,000 per student. If winners continue to meet the requirements for the award, they can receive the award for a period of up to four years.
National Scholarship for Students with Disabilities | disABLEDperson, Inc
This scholarship is awarded through an essay competition. Eligible students must be enrolled full-time in two or four-year college degree programs. If students are attending part-time, it must be due to their disability rather than financial need. The winner of the essay competition will be awarded $2,000 to support their studies and career goals.
NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship | American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
This award is given to qualified students in their final year of high school or educational institutions pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in communications, media, or the entertainment industry. For the Fall of 2021, each winner was awarded $5,625 to assist them in managing their educational expenses. The applications for 2022 will be opening soon.
Scholarship in Help America Hear | Help America Hear, Inc
This scholarship is for high school seniors with hearing loss and those who use hearing aids. The winner will be awarded $2,000 for their educational expenses. The funds will be sent to the academic institution of choice. Additionally, they will receive two hearing aids that are uniquely suited to their auditory needs.
Schools That Offer Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities
Landmark college is an exclusive college for students who have ADHD, autism, dyslexia, or executive function challenges. It offers a comprehensive and customized support system for both students and their parents. There is also financial aid to help them manage the tuition costs. It offers support to families to qualify for a medical tax deduction where applicable. They also have a vocational rehabilitation grant for students enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation program.
National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID)
This institute exists under the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Students enrolled in NTID have access to lower education expenses, which translates to lowered college expenses, overall. The institute receives special federal support that enables them to enroll undergraduate students at less than half of RIT’s regular tuition. Graduate students can also pursue their degrees at a reduced rate. Additionally, there are several merit-based scholarships available to students who meet the requirements.
University of California (UC) Berkeley
The Disabled Students’ Program (DSP) of UC Berkeley, together with the financial aid and scholarships office, provides extensive financial support for students with disabilities. You can protect or enhance your financial aid award if your medical expenses are not covered by your medical insurance. You can also get technology grants to help you obtain specialized equipment or assistive technology to improve your access to learning materials or help you become more physically independent.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois provides full support to students with various types of disabilities through its Disability Resources and Educational Services division. Financial aid programs are available in the form of federal grants, student loans, student employment, and college scholarships. These enable students with disabilities to cover their college costs, as well as manage any additional cost of attendance.
Wayne State University
Wayne State University’s Student Disability Service (SDS) works to ensure that there is inclusion in the university community. Apart from integrating universal design throughout the university, SDS provides additional resources and training in assistive technology to support disabled students. Need-based financial aid programs are also available under their scholarship portfolio.
Should You Apply for Disability Financial Aid?
Yes, you should apply for disability financial aid if you have a disability and want to pursue post-secondary education or training. There is a long list of scholarships available to offer financial resources to college-bound students in postsecondary education. Scholarships are available whether you are attending a vocational school or pursuing a degree program.
Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities FAQ
Yes, you do qualify for financial aid as a veteran enrolling in a vocational or college program. A reskilling program is one way you can get the most out of your military benefits. Reskilling will also assist you in integrating back into civilian life.
Yes, the Department of Veteran Affairs will often pay for veterans’ apprenticeships. You can explore apprenticeships for veterans and see which ones are suitable. If you would like further clarification you can email the VA office.
Yes, you can get financial aid for your master’s degree in special education. Graduate students with disabilities may be eligible to receive financial aid for their studies. Additionally, there are non-disability scholarships for graduate programs in special education.
You can become a psychometrist. It is a very rewarding field of study because you will assist students, their families, and educators to determine mental or neurological disorders that may affect learners. Your evaluations will enable families to explore the right post-secondary education program for the student.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.