Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities

Despite the rising costs of both tuition and health care, millions of America’s most affected—students with disabilities—are able to fulfill their dreams of a quality education without breaking the bank or foregoing vital treatment. Here’s how.

General Awards and Scholarships

Every college-bound student should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The results outline your eligibility for federal funding and tell you how much you should expect to contribute independently.

Once you’ve determined your overall financial need, start exploring funding sources in your back yard—those offered through employers, local businesses, your graduating high school/prospective college, religious organizations, volunteer groups, etc. Another great move is to research trusted scholarship sites such as As you exhaust every resource, keep your grades up and take advantage of valuable test preparation tools and advice to help you maximize entrance exam scores for increased awards.

Scholarships for Disabled Students

Now you can begin to look at scholarship opportunities that cater to students with disabilities. A simple Web search can yield overwhelming results—and awards vary significantly in dollar amount and eligibility requirements—but you can start with a few examples of the awards that are out there:

Google Lime Scholarship

  • “Awarded based on the strength of candidates’ academic background, leadership, and passion for computer science…”
  • Good for $10,000 ($5,000CAD for those studying in Canada) per year

The Foundation for Science and Disability, Student Award Program

  • Extended to people with disabilities involved with science, math, technology, engineering, pre-medical/dental, and graduate/professional studies
  • Includes awards of $1,000 each for fourth-year undergraduate and graduate science students with disabilities

Sertoma Scholarship for Students who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf

  • Awards $1,000 toward tuition, books, and supplies
  • Applications due by May 1

The Jewish Guild Healthcare, GuildScholar Award

  • 12 to 15 scholarships of up to $15,000 extended to legally blind college-bound students Scholarship

  • U.S. students 16 years or older can submit a 400 to 600 word essay on the prescribed topic for one of two $500 awards

Cystic Fibrosis Scholarship Foundation

  • Offers awards “based on educational achievement, leadership, and financial need…”
  • Consists of single- and multi-year awards of $1,000 each year

Other Targeted Resources

While grants and scholarships are often the most desirable of college funds, they are certainly not the only option. Here are some government-supported programs that have helped millions of Americans with disabilities better themselves through education:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS)

State Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR)

  • Provides job training, assessment, counseling, and a variety of other support services for people with mental and physical disabilities
  • Based on medical records and/or disability evaluations

Grants and Loans

Grant money and loan assistance are also available for students with disabilities. Talk to a college financial aid representative or high school counselor, or find the appropriate higher education agency for your area by clicking here.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.


  1. Kristen Perrott

    I’m writing to see if you might be aware of any scholarships or funding for young adults on SSI. My daughter who is on SSI will be 23 this December and is finally ready to procure an education. She plans to attend Cosmotology Scool this fall.

    We currently live in Connecticut, but are moving to Tennessee in August. She wii continue to need her SSI benefits while she lives at home and attends college, but once she has the skills to support herself she plans to go off of SSI.

    If you have any information about any programs that might help fund her education I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you so much in advance for your time and consideration with this matter.

    Best wishes,

    Kristen Perrott

  2. Christos

    I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction. I am a 53 year old retired autoworker who became disabled and found myself unable to perform the trade that I was trained to do. I am receiving SSDI benefits but would like to attend college. I am on a fixed income and can’t afford the high costs of tuition. FAFSA offers me very little help. Where do I turn to now ? What resources are available to help me that won’t adversely effect my SSDI benefits and that I won’t have to pay back. Maybe my body isn’t what it once was but I still have a brain that works and I would love to get a college degree and do something to bring value to the human equation .
    Please advise
    Thank you

  3. shanda johnson

    I’m thinking about going to school to better myself but I want to know if there programs that can help me without affecting my income. I tried to apply for financial aid
    and I don’t understand some of the things on the forms. Can someone help me.

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