College Scholarships for Students With Disabilities


Students with disabilities often find the transition from high school to college a bit challenging. Unlike secondary school, where accommodations may have been easily accessible, college students must take the initiative to ask for assistance and locate resources. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, students have many protections, so they should take the time to familiarize themselves with these rights to ensure they receive the help that they need to succeed. One resource some disabled students often neglect to pursue is financial aid. Although they are eligible for merit-based and need-based aid, both federal and institutional, they may also be eligible for many private sources of scholarship aid. Here are just a few examples of scholarships that are currently open to students with learning or physical disabilities.

1. Diabetes Scholars Foundation

High school seniors with Type 1 diabetes have access to 12 scholarship programs provided by the Diabetes Scholars Foundation. The value of each award varies ($1,000 to $5,000), but students only need to complete one application to be considered for all awards. Deadline: May 15.

2. Jim Brady Scholarship

Duval County (Florida) high school seniors, who have been served by the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program for the disabled, may be eligible for this scholarship. Amounts vary, depending on available funding. Deadline: June 1.

3. Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Optimist International provides several $2,500 scholarships to students who have suffered a hearing loss of 40 decibels or more. Students must be in grades 12 or lower to apply. Deadline: June 15.

4. Tasha Dunham Memorial Scholarship

Maine undergraduate and graduate students, who have been diagnosed with a developmental disability, may be eligible for this award. One $500 scholarship will be provided. Deadline: July 1.

Scholarships for Blind Students5. GuildScholar Award

The Jewish Guild for the Blind offers several scholarships, valued up to $16,000 each. Students must be legally blind and high school seniors at the time of application. Deadline: September 15.

6. AAHD Scholarship Program

The American Association on Health and Disability provides several $1,000 scholarships to students with disabilities who are pursuing studies in public health, disability research and policy, as well as health promotion. Current undergraduate students are eligible to apply. Deadline: November 15.

7. SILVER CROSS Ability Achievement Scholarship

SILVER CROSS®, a supplier and distributor of home accessibility products, provides one $3,000 scholarship. Undergraduate or graduate students who use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, may apply. Deadline: December 31.

8. Gifts of Love Award

Disabled students, who are seeking formal training in a particular vocation, academic, athletic or artistic field, may be eligible for this award. The Italian Catholic Federation offers several scholarships, ranging between $200 and $500 each. Students do not have to be Catholic or Italian to apply. Deadline: Rolling. Students with disabilities should also check with organizations related to their specific learning or physical condition, as many offer grants and scholarships to those pursuing a post-secondary education; local charitable organizations and support groups are also a good place to locate additional funding. Students should also take advantage of the many free tools available to help them locate scholarship programs that may be offered outside their city or state.

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