For many years, students with mental and physical disabilities were unable to attend college or university classes for a number of reasons. In some cases –students bound to wheelchairs or student with vision impairment could not physically access the buildings on campus. In other cases where the student was suffering from autism, had other learning disabilities, and/or vision or hearing impairment, the tools might have not been available to them to allow these students to participate with other students and professors.
While things are improving, students with mental, emotional, and/or physical disabilities still have a lot of trouble enrolling in programs that will help them achieve more fulfilling careers and better lives for themselves. Often, this is due to nothing more than a lack of funding.
For this reason, many governmental and private institutions, organizations, and individuals have stepped up to create grants and scholarships for students with learning and physical disabilities. If you are in any way disabled, you are a part of an often-ignored minority, but you have just as much right to a first-class education as anyone else. With college scholarships for students with disabilities, you can find the funding to enroll in a program designed just for you that will help you for the rest of your life, and without burdening you with unwieldy student loans.
Who Qualifies for Scholarships for Disabled Students?
Unlike a lot of scholarships for minorities, scholarships for disabled students are sometimes much more selective. For example, some are designed specifically as scholarships for students with learning disabilities. Others like the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) simply requires applicants to have a documented disability of some kind and to provide official documentation with their application.
If you’re searching database’s like the US Department of Labor’s Scholarship Search you can refine your search based on your disability/disabilities. You can, for example search simply for “disabilities”, or you can search for, “learning disabilities”, “autism”, “deaf”, “hearing impaired”, “blind”, or “vision impaired” to find scholarships for students with disabilities that you specifically qualify for.
Keep in mind, as you search, that scholarships and grants are, for the most part, very similar. They’re both funding opportunities that, unlike student loans, you’ll never have to pay back. There’s a key difference between grants and scholarships, though. Grants are, for the most part, need-based, and many grants are given by the government. The Pell grant, for example, is a need-based government grant that – if you qualify – you will never have to pay back.
Then you have scholarships, which are normally based on academic achievements and merit, rather than financial need. For both scholarships and grants you will most likely have to include a personal statement or essay to show why you should be chosen to receive this funding.
The Benefits of Scholarships for Disabled Students
Because students with disabilities often face greater financial, emotional, and physical difficulties in education, they are often unable to finish their degrees in the same time and manner as other students. To help students with learning disabilities get back to their education and to overcome these obstacles, foundations like the Learning Disability Association of Ontario (LDAO) provide scholarships of $1000 for students with learning disabilities who have not been enrolled in any educational program for a year or more.
Other programs are designed specifically for high school seniors entering their freshman year of college. UPS for Downs has a $2500 scholarship for students with Down Syndrome enrolling full-time or part-time in a college or vocational program to help them get the education they need to succeed on their own.
With so many different disabilities and so many different obstacles to education, it’s encouraging to see how many college scholarships are available for students with disabilities.
If you have always dreamed of a college education, but you believed that your disability and lack of funding were holding you back, then you can benefit greatly from a scholarship for disabled students. Whether you need a wheelchair for mobility or you have a learning disability, you can find funding to attend a program that will cater to your specific needs.
The Application Process
Most scholarships for minorities don’t require official documentation of race or family history, but in the case of scholarships for disabled students, disability documentation is required almost 100% of the time. When gathering the information and documentation you’ll need to apply for your chosen scholarships, keep in mind that, in addition to documentation of your disability, almost all of them will require:
- High school transcripts or your GED
- A letter of recommendation
- A personal statement or essay
They may also require some proof of financial need, as well, if there is a need-based component to the scholarship. Grants may also require a statement of personal history and/or goals, but your essay may not be weighted as heavily as your financial need in the case of a grant.
Whether you are applying for grants or scholarships, you know that you’ll have to show proof of your disability, documentation about your education, and you’ll most likely need at least one letter of recommendation. You can save a lot of time and effort by gathering all of this up first. This way you won’t have to do the same work and research over and over again. You can do it all once, and then tweak things as needed per each scholarship’s individual criteria.
You deserve the best education possible. Your disability has not held you back in life so far, and it shouldn’t hold you back from your education, either. With one of the disability scholarships listed here or one of the hundreds available on the searchable databases mentioned above, you can find funding to help you get your education without amassing massive debts. You may not qualify for all of them, but there’s at least one out there that’s just right for you.
Search and Apply for Scholarships on ScholarshipChart.com
ScholarshipChart.com helps students and parents search and apply for scholarships, grants, awards and other financial aid options to help pay for college. Whether you are a high school senior starting college or a single mom going back to school, you can find money for college through ScholarshipChart.com.