College Scholarships for Students With Disabilities

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Table of Contents: Scholarships for Students with Disabilities
1. Percentage of students with Disabilities
2. Scholarships by Disability
3. Federal Aid, Assistance and Advocacy Resources
4. Acquiring a Disability Post-Graduation

Disability Scholarships and Financial Aid Opportunities

Though the price of obtaining a postsecondary education can be steep, both traditional and online degrees should be accessible to everyone. To offset costs, many seek alternative sources of funding, including grants, loans and scholarships. Students with disabilities who are entering college will find that there are selective scholarship opportunities for which they may apply that can help pay for school. Below, discover scholarships, both narrowly- and broadly-focused, that can help students with intellectual disabilities pay for their educations, as well as additional resources for obtaining funding.

Percentage of students with disabilities who continue to postsecondary study:

    • Learning disability 47.3%
    • Speech disorder 54.6%
    • Deaf and hard of hearing 71.8%
    • Visual impairment 77.8%
    • Autism 57.5%
    • Orthopedic disability 53.7%

  • Distribution of Students with Disabilities:

    • of enrolled college students have limited mobility. 7%
    • Shave a chronic illness or other physical impairment. 11%
    • In 1990, 26% of youth with disabilities were enrolled in a postsecondary program. By 2005, that number had increased to 46%
    • New federal regulations in 2014 set a national goal for federal contractors to have 7% of each type of job filled by a person with a disability.

Scholarships by Disability

Scholarships are a great way to help finance a college education because they are essentially free money students can use to pay tuition, purchase books and supplies, and help with room and board. Below, we’ve included lists of scholarships specific to some disabilities, as well as a section for general scholarships. For more information on making it through school without taking on loans, see our Debt-Free College guide and our list of affordable online colleges with payment plans.

  • Attention Deficit Disorder

    Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship

    Amount: $2,000 plus one year of coaching ($4,400 value)

    Application Due Date: February 18

    The Michael Yasick Scholarship recognizes students diagnosed with ADHD who are accepted to or enrolled in a two- or four-year undergraduate program. The award includes a year of ADHD coaching services to help students with the challenges and opportunities they may encounter in life.

    Rise Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

    Amount: $2,500

    Application Deadline Date: February 15

    Five students diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and an additional learning disability receive this award annually, which assists students who learn differently from the traditional student. Applicants must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher to qualify.

  • Autism

    Autism Delaware

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: February 15

    This scholarship is designed specifically for adults on the autism spectrum who wish to pursue a postsecondary education. Applicants must complete a cover letter describing why they are pursuing a degree and their employment plans after graduation.

    Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: July 31

    Named for a 14-year-old boy with autism who wandered away from school and did not make it home alive, this scholarship is for high-achieving students diagnosed with autism or who have a close family member with autism. Applicants must be currently enrolled or accepted to an accredited university or college.

    Kelly Law Team Autism Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: June 30

    Open to anyone with autism, two scholarships are awarded annually to students pursuing a secondary education. Applicants submit an inspirational essay explaining how the scholarship will benefit them. Stories are placed on the Kelly Law Team website and winners are selected based on which story receives the most attention.

    KFM Making a Difference

    Amount: $500

    Application Due Date: April 30

    This scholarship was developed by Kerry Magro, a national motivational speaker who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. Kerry holds a master’s degree in strategic communications and management. He dreams of helping others with autism experience educational success.

    Organization for Autism Research

    Amount: $3,000

    Application Due Date: May 1

    Two nonrenewable scholarships for students on the autism spectrum are provided through the Organization for Autism Research. Eligible individuals are full-time students working toward certification or accreditation in a particular field.

  • General Disabilities

    1-800 Wheelchair Scholarship

    Amount: $500

    Application Due Date: September 15

    Two students receive this annual award, established in 2006 to raise awareness of mobility issues on college campuses. Applicants must complete a creative application, based on the current year’s requirements.

    AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability

    Amount: $1,000 and under

    Application Due Date: November 15

    Applicants for this scholarship are juniors in college with a diagnosed disability who are pursuing a degree related to health and disability including public health, health promotion, disability studies, disability research, rehabilitation engineering and audiology.

    American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation

    Amount: $5,000

    Application Due Date: May 22

    Graduate students with a disability who are or will be enrolled in communication sciences and disorders are eligible for this scholarship underwritten by the Leslie Londer Fund. Twenty general scholarships are given.

    Baer Reintegration Scholarship

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: January 31

    Designed for students diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, applicants must be currently receiving medical treatment for the disease and be actively involved in rehabilitative efforts. Awards are based on academic success, an essay, references and other requirements.

    Bella Soul Scholarships

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: Varies

    Bella Soul gives scholarships to college students with a chronic illness or physical disability. It also provides a community page on its website to support those students.

    BMO Capital Markets Lime Connect Equity Through Education Scholarship

    Amount: $2,500 (in Canada)

    Application Due Date: Coming Soon

    In an effort to foster a diverse workforce, this scholarship provides people with disabilities the opportunity to develop themselves through education. Applicants must submit a resume as well as an essay about their career goals and why they should receive the scholarship.

    Business Plan Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: December 4

    This scholarship requires applicants to write an essay about the process of writing a business plan. Essays are judged by the co-founders of Fit Small Business on originality, writing style and quality of ideas.

    Google Lime Scholarship for Students with Disabilities

    Amount: $10,000 (in U.S.) or $5,000 (in Canada)

    Application Due Date: Not yet posted

    Google designed this scholarship for students with disabilities that require long-term or recurring support that impacts one or more major activities considered to be daily functions. This is a one-time award for undergraduate, graduate and doctorate students.

    Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Program

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: Spring

    The Hydrocephalus Association has a number of scholarship opportunities for promising young adults who live with the disease. The organization adds scholarships as it grows.

    Incight Scholars

    Amount: $500 and $750

    Application Due Date: April 1

    Residents of Oregon, Washington and California are eligible for this renewable award for students with a documented disability. Applicants should demonstrate service to the community and the ability to overcome obstacles.

    Injury Lawyer News Annual Disability Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: December 31

    Pre-law and law students with a medically documented disability (either physical or learning) may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be accepted to or already attending an accredited university or law school in the U.S.

    Lorraine Nelson Herrick Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: March 1

    This scholarship from the University of Colorado, Boulder College of Arts and Sciences is designed for a student with a solid academic record who has a disability. Special consideration is given to Colorado residents with multiple sclerosis who are anthropology majors.

    Louise J. Snow Endowed Scholarship Fund for Disabled Students

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    Offered through the University of Utah, this scholarship is designed for students who have a documented disability and who demonstrate financial need. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 grade point average.

    Microsoft DisAbility Scholarship

    Amount: $5,000

    Application Due Date: March 15

    Awarded to promising high school students with financial need who plan to attend a vocational or academic college. This nonrenewable scholarship is designed for students declaring a major in engineering, computer science, computer information systems, law, business or a related field.

    Newcombe Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

    Amount: Varies (average of $1,623)

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation provides grants for students with disabilities who have documented financial need. These grants are paid directly to the students’ educational institutions.

    Ralph G. Norman Scholarship

    Amount: $500

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    Available to Arkansas residents only, this scholarship provides help to young adults with learning difficulties so they can experience educational success. Two scholarships are rewarded each year.

    Science Graduate Student Grant Fund

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date:

    The Foundation for Science and Disability aims to provide opportunities for graduate and professional students with disabilities pursuing degrees in science, engineering, mathematics, technology and pre-medical/dental areas.

  • Hearing Impairment

    AG Bell College Scholarship Program

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: Mid-March

    Full-time students with pre-lingual bilateral hearing loss that is moderately severe to profound who are pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree are eligible. This is a merit-based scholarship and is very competitive.

    Anders Tjellstrom Scholarship

    Amount: $2,000 per year

    Application Due Date: October 1

    This award is open to Baha System recipients in the U.S. and Canada and was developed to help individuals further improve themselves by continuing their education. Applicants should be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student and must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to keep the scholarship.

    Graeme Clark Scholarship

    Amount: $2,000

    Application Due Date: October 1

    Individuals who have received a Nucleus Cochlear Implant are eligible for this renewable award. The scholarship was founded by Professor Graeme Clark, who was committed to finding solutions for the hearing impaired.

    Linda Cowden Memorial Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    Named in memory of Linda Cowden, an administrative assistant and liaison to area deaf clubs for 10 years, this scholarship is awarded to a student who is deaf or hard of hearing and who has been accepted into a postsecondary institution. Applicants must live in one of the 16 counties of Tennessee that Bridges serves.

    Sertoma Scholarship for the Hard of Hearing of Deaf

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: May 1

    This scholarship for students with a minimum 40dB bilateral hearing loss in both ears may be used to cover tuition, books and supplies. Applicants must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis at a college or university in the U.S.

  • Learning & Cognitive Disabilities

    Agee Memorial Dyslexia Scholarship Fund

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: June 1

    This scholarship for Eastern Kentucky University students is awarded to two recipients each year (one incoming freshman and one continuing student) who have a diagnosed reading disorder (dyslexia). Applicants write an essay explaining how they have worked to overcome the effects of a learning disability.

    Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship

    Amount: $2,500

    Application Due Date: December 31

    The Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship is a one-time award to a high school senior applying to a two-year community college to take a vocational tech program or specialized program for students who have learning disabilities. The recipient must demonstrate perseverance and be committed to achieving his or her academic goals.

    Allina Health Scholarship for People with Disabilities

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: May 31

    This scholarship assists people who have a sensory impairment or physical disability as they pursue educational goals or gain technical expertise beyond high school. Applicants must identify how the award would support their career goals.

    Anne Ford Scholarship

    Amount: $10,000 ($2,500 per year over four years)

    Application Due Date: December 31

    Successful candidates for the Anne Ford Scholarship must be a graduating senior in high school who will attend a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Recipients must demonstrate financial need and be involved in school and community activities.

    Bennett A. Brown Scholarship

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: April 17

    Provided by Georgia State University, this scholarship is for students with language-based learning disabilities who are registered at the Margaret A. Stanton Office of Disability Services at Georgia State. Successful candidates are incoming freshmen who demonstrate financial need.

    DREAM Institute’s Higher Education Assistance Program (HEAP)

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: April 1

    The HEAP Scholar Award Scholarship is for Oklahoma students with learning disabilities who are pursuing a higher education degree at an Oklahoma college or university. Recipients are eligible to receive academic tutoring, and scholarship funds may go to tuition, fees and books.

    Landmark College Scholarships

    Amount: $5,000 to $10,000

    Application Due Date: February 15

    Landmark College is one of only two colleges in the country specifically for students with learning disabilities. Multiple scholarships are available for students and are based on financial aid and merit.

    Learning Disabilities Association of Iowa

    Amount: $1,000

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    Three Iowa seniors with learning disabilities are awarded scholarships each year to assist them in pursuing a postsecondary education.

    Liff Family Foundation Scholarship

    Amount: $1,500

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    Full-time undergraduate students with learning disabilities enrolled at Indiana University, Bloomington may apply for this need-based award. Preference is given to residents of Davidson County.

    P. Buckley Moss Endowed Scholarship

    Amount: Up to $1,000

    Application Due Date: March 31

    Graduating high school seniors interested in a career in the visual arts are eligible for this need-based award. Applicants must show a certified language-related learning difference and an artistic talent.

  • Physical Disabilities

    AmeriGlide Achiever Scholarship

    Amount: $2,500

    Application Due Date: May 31

    This scholarship is awarded to one full-time college student each year who uses a manual wheelchair, power wheelchair or mobility scooter. Successful candidates will have at least one year of college experience and maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

    Chair Scholars Foundation

    Amount: Up to $30,000

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    Students attending Edinboro University of Pennsylvania or University of Tampa are eligible for this award. Candidates must have a serious physical challenge, which may or may not require the use of a wheelchair for mobility.

    Craig H. Nielsen Scholarship Fund for Students with Disabilities

    Amount: $7,000

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    Established in 2008, this scholarship provides funds for tuition, books and fees for students with spinal cord injuries. Preference is given to students in a business-related major or those studying law.

    DREAM Institute’s Higher Education Assistance Program (HEAP)

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: April 1

    The HEAP Scholar Award Scholarship is for Oklahoma students with physical disabilities who are pursuing a higher education degree at an Oklahoma college or university. Awards are based on financial need and intended to fill in the gap where funding is lacking. Eligibility is renewed annually.

    Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation Scholarship

    Amount: $500 to $2,000

    Application Due Date: June 1

    This scholarship is available to female graduate students with physical disabilities who are enrolled in a U.S. college or university. The awards are awarded on an objective basis.

    Keaton K. Walker Scholarship Fund

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: Unknown

    The University of Utah provides this scholarship to graduate and undergraduate students with physical disabilities, with preference given to those with visual impairments. Students must make satisfactory scholastic progress and demonstrate a determination to overcome physical limitations.

    Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys

    Amount: $1,500

    Application Due Date: July 31

    Designed to both increase awareness of cerebral palsy and celebrate the achievements of those affected by it, this scholarship is awarded to students enrolled as graduate or undergraduate students with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must write an essay reflecting on how cerebral palsy affects their lives.

  • Speech Disorders

    American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation

    Amount: $5,000

    Application Due Date: May 22

    Underwritten by the Leslie Londer Fund, this scholarship is awarded to a graduate student with a disability. Recipients must not have received a prior award from the ASHFoundation.

    National Stuttering Association Scholarship

    Amount: Varies

    Application Due Date: June 1

    This award, given by the National Stuttering Association, goes to students with a speech disorder who can demonstrate financial need. Applicants must submit an essay explaining their particular situation and how much financial assistance they need.

  • Visual Disabilities

    Our guide to Visual Disabilities offers further resources and expert tips, as well as additional scholarships and grants for students with visual disabilities.

    American Foundation for the Blind

    Amount: $500 to $2,500

    Application Due Date: May 31

    The AFB administers multiple annual scholarships for students who are legally blind. Applicants must submit proof of their blindness, transcripts, an essay and two letters of recommendation. Some scholarships have additional requirements. Some are available only to either undergraduate or graduate students.

    Lighthouse Guild

    Amount: $10,000

    Application Due Date: March 31

    Up to 20 merit-based scholarships are awarded each year to high school students getting ready to attend college. An additional scholarship is given to a graduate student. Applicants must submit proof of legal blindness, two personal statements, three letters of recommendation and copies of transcripts and test scores.

    Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards

    Amount: $1,000 to $6,000

    Application Due Date: March 1

    This award is for a legally blind student who has been registered as a Learning Ally (formerly RFB&D) for at least a year and will be seeking a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited four-year college or university.

    National Federation of the Blind

    Amount: $3,000 to $12,000

    Application Due Date: March 31

    There are more than 30 merit-based, national scholarship opportunities available through the National Federation of the Blind. To be eligible, students must attend a postsecondary institution full time and attend the NFB national convention.

    United States Association of Blind Athletes

    Amount: $500

    Application Due Date: August 1

    Awarded to one legally blind male and female student each year, this scholarship is for students enrolled in a two- or four-year college, university or technical school who have a cumulative grade point average or 2.5 or better and are current members of USABA.

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Federal Aid, Assistance and Advocacy Resources

There are a number of resources that have been designed specifically for students with learning or physical disabilities. Generally, students with disabilities looking for federal aid must be enrolled in a comprehensive transition and postsecondary (CTP) program at a school that participates in a federal student aid program. These students must also meet the basic federal aid requirements and maintain satisfactory academic progress. CTP programs are not available in every state, so students should check the list of Federal Student Aid programs.

Students with disabilities fill out the same financial assistance forms as traditional students. However, they may need to supply proof of disability when applying for specialized aid. Federal student loans are quite common, and there are many accredited traditional and online colleges that accept FAFSA. To apply for a federal loan, whether you have a disability or not, you must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Your application will require you to provide information about your financial status, dependency and more. By law, you cannot be discriminated against for a disability in the awarding of a federal loan. The added costs of attendance due to a disability, however, will be considered in determining the loan amount. For example, colleges are not required under the law to provide students with disabilities with certain services, such as attendants, or devices, such as readers for personal use. The costs for these services and devices may be covered by student loans or grants.

This is a complete resource guide to everything students with disabilities might need when applying for financial assistance. From emergency preparedness to housing, technology to transportation, this guide covers the gamut of questions and challenges students might have at school.


This mailing list provides regular and timely information about the legal responsibilities of institutions under the Americans with Disabilities Act. To subscribe, email the service with “subscribe DSSHE-L” in the message body.

Federal Student Aid

While designed for all students, those with disabilities can also find information specific to them. Learn how to qualify for specific types of aid and find out which states have specialized programs for students with disabilities.


Have questions about enrollment status? This website can answer these questions and others so students are on top of regulations and informed of their rights.

Financial Aid for Persons with Disabilities and their Families

This book is a comprehensive guide to scholarships, fellowships, grants and other avenues of financing a college education.

HEATH Resource Center

Partnered with the George Washington University, HEATH is a clearinghouse and information exchange about educational resources for students with disabilities.

International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet

The ICDRI provides additional scholarship opportunities, job resources and compliance information. And it’s run by people who have disabilities, so they can empathize with students looking to further their education.

National Directory of Financial Assistance Programs for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities

Developed for Canadian students with disabilities, this website provides information about loans and grants as well as employment assistance.

U.S. Client Assistance Program

Funded by the federal government, this website provides a list of assistance, information and advocacy for people with disabilities who are receiving or applying for services under the Rehabilitation Act.

Acquiring a Disability Post-Graduation

If you obtain a disability after graduating college and still carry an outstanding student loan balance, you may be able to have your debt forgiven, depending largely on the specific lender. Federal student loans offer a total and permanent disability discharge procedure known as a TPD discharge. Specifically, a TPD discharge will relieve you from having to pay back a William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan, a Federal Family Education Loan, a Federal Perkins Loan, and/or a TEACH Grant service obligation. You must provide the Department of Education with information about your disability to have your debt discharged. Permanent disability can be proven in one of three ways:

  • Veterans can submit documentation from the VA showing that it has determined that the applicant is unemployable due to a service-related disability
  • If the applicant is receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, he or she can submit notice of the award of those benefits stating that the next scheduled benefit review is five to seven years from the date of the most recent determination
  • The applicant can submit certification from a physician of total and permanent disability

Details regarding a TPD discharge are available on the Federal Student Aid website. Additional information on TPD discharge and its application process can be found at

The procedures for private student loan forgiveness vary by lender. Several lenders, including Sallie Mae, Discover and Wells Fargo, follow a discharge procedure similar to that of the federal government. If you are carrying a private student loan, check with your lender to see how you may qualify for discharge.

If you receive a disability after graduation, you will likely want to apply for Social Security disability benefits. There are two programs available: Social Security Disability Insurance, which pays benefits to those individuals who have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes; and Supplemental Security Income, which pays based on financial need. You can find out more and apply for disability benefits by visiting the Social Security Disability Benefits website.

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