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Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Laken Brooks

Featuring expert advice from Laken Brooks

As a student with a disability, you face many challenges in achieving academic success, especially in higher education. Pursuing postsecondary education can be fraught with adversity—but financial burden doesn’t have to be part of it. We have compiled an extensive list of scholarships that provide funding relief for students with all types of disabilities.

We also talked to Laken Brooks, an education writer and student with disabilities who is studying at the Ph.D. level, who offers advice on how to think about financing your education and accessing disability resources in college.

We have general scholarships for any student with a disability. Looking for something more specific? Jump to your section:

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Lime Connect Pathways Scholarship for High School Students
General $1,000

Lime Connect acknowledges that the vast majority of disabilities found on campus are invisible. They offer their scholarship to anyone who has, or considers themselves to have, a long-term or recurring disability that impacts one or more major daily activities. Applicants must be high school seniors who are enrolled to attend a four-year college or university.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Lime

Application Deadline: May
Working Towards: Undergraduate degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

The Wells Fargo Scholarship for People with Disabilities was founded in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness. Administered by Scholarship America, the scholarship is open to high school students who enroll in full-time or half-time (at least six credits per term) undergraduate study at an accredited two-year or four-year college or university. In addition to academic achievement, the winning candidate needs to demonstrate leadership and participation in school and community activities.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Wells Fargo & Company (administered by Scholarship America)

Application Deadline: December
Working Towards: Undergraduate degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship is renewable.

The Bella Soul organization is devoted to empowering college students who face physical challenges through education and emotional support. The scholarship is available to students who are currently in college and have any type of physical disability or a chronic illness. The scholarship isn’t based on GPA, but it will be taken into account.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Bella Soul

Application Deadline: August
Working Towards: Undergraduate degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

This scholarship is intended for any college student with a documented physical or mental disability. The award is open to undergraduate or graduate students. Students must be enrolled at a U.S. institution and a legal resident of the United States. The essay is the main focus of the application and is used to determine the winner.

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Provided by Disability Care Center

Application Deadline: August
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 2.5

This scholarship is not renewable.

Microsoft’s scholarship is targeted toward high school seniors with a disability who are interested in entering the technology industry. Applicants must be accepted to an undergraduate degree program with plans to major in engineering, computer science, computer information systems, law, business, or a related field. One of the three essays asks students to share their ideas about how Microsoft could use innovation and technology to support those living with disabilities.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Microsoft

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Undergraduate degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship is renewable.

Google has partnered with Lime Connect to offer scholarships for students with disabilities who are pursuing a degree in computer science, computer engineering degree, or a closely related technical field. Students must currently be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program. In addition to the monetary award, selected students will be considered for software engineering internship opportunities with Google.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Google and Lime Connect

Application Deadline: December
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

Students who hope to win this award should be positive forces in their communities and demonstrate opportunities for others with learning disabilities. The scholarship is for graduating high school seniors with a documented learning disability or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who will be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program following graduation.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by National Center for Learning Disabilities

Application Deadline: Fall
Working Towards: Bachelor’s degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: No
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

This scholarship is for graduating high school seniors with a documented learning disability or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who will enroll in a two-year community college, vocational program, or specialized program for students with learning disabilities. Scholarship winners should be positive forces in their communities and demonstrate opportunities for others with learning disabilities.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by National Center for Learning Disabilities

Application Deadline: Fall
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: No
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

This scholarship is open to U.S. citizens diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder wishing to continue their education on a postsecondary level. Applicants do not have to be currently enrolled at an institution to apply. Once awarded, the grant is submitted as tuition directly to the recipient’s school of choice.

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Provided by Kelly Law Team

Application Deadline: February
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Optional
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

Kerry Magro, a motivational speaker diagnosed with autism, created this scholarship to support the education of those diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. Students must either be in high school and accepted to a postsecondary program or current college students. Each applicant’s essay is published on the sponsor’s website. The winner is chosen based partially upon how much online interest their essay generated.

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Provided by KFM Making a Difference

Application Deadline: April
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

The Organization for Autism Research offers two scholarships for autistic students who wish to pursue education beyond high school. The Schwallie Family Scholarship is for students attending two- or four-year universities; students with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome often apply for this program. The Lisa Higgins Hussman scholarship is for students attending two-year universities, life skills or postsecondary programs, trade or technical schools, or vocational programs. The scholarship program is highly competitive, receiving hundreds of applications each year.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Organization for Autism Research

Application Deadline: May
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 40
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

Avonte Oquendo was an autistic teenager who went missing in 2013; this scholarship was founded in his honor. Eligible recipients have been diagnosed with autism, including Asperger syndrome, or have a close family member who has. Applicants must be accepted or enrolled at an accredited university, college, or vocational school.

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Provided by The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C.

Application Deadline: July
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

In honor of Eric Steven Dostie, a five-year-old boy with hemophilia who was murdered in 1994, the Dostie Memorial College Scholarship was created for students with hemophilia or a similar bleeding disorder. Students who have a family member with a bleeding disorder are also eligible. Applicants should be enrolled in or planning to attend a college full time.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Nufactor

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 10
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 2.5

This scholarship is renewable.

Roughly 60% of students who have applied for this scholarship in the past received funding. It is offered to students diagnosed with cystic fibrosis who are enrolled in an undergraduate or vocational program. Awards can be used for tuition, housing, and books. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, financial need, and leadership skills.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Cystic Fibrosis Scholarship Foundation

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

This award is in honor of Beth Carew, who was one of the few women diagnosed with hemophilia. It is open to students pursuing an undergraduate degree who have hemophilia, von Willebrand disease, or a related inherited bleeding disorder. Applicants must have volunteered with causes directly benefiting the bleeding disorders community.

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Provided by Colburn-Keenan Foundation

Application Deadline: February
Working Towards: Undergraduate degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

This scholarship is for graduating high school seniors and current college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Individuals pursuing associate degrees, graduate degrees, or vocational training are not eligible. The program started in 1994 and is the leading scholarship for the deaf and hard of hearing. The funds may cover tuition, supplies, and books and can be used at any point during the awarded academic year.

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Provided by Sertoma and Oticon, Inc.

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Bachelor’s degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: No
GPA Required: 3.2

This scholarship is not renewable.

Professor Graeme Clark was a researcher whose work led to the development of the first “bionic ear” and the Nucleus Implant. This scholarship is awarded to students with a Cochlear Nucleus Implant who are pursuing higher education at a university, college, or technical school. Applicants can be graduating high school seniors or current college students. The award is paid out in $2,000 installments annually.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Cochlear

Application Deadline: September
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 5
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship is renewable.

This scholarship is awarded to Cochlear Baha Implant recipients who are high school students or currently attending a university, college, or technical school. The award is in honor of Dr. Anders Tjellström, who created the first bone conduction hearing implant in collaboration with Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark and engineer Bo Håkansson. The award is paid out in $2,000 installments annually.

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Provided by Cochlear

Application Deadline: September
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 3
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship is renewable.

Graduating high school seniors with hearing loss that requires the use of hearing aids can apply for this scholarship, which goes toward college or vocational school education. The award of $1,000 also includes two hearing aids. Cochlear users can apply for this scholarship but will only receive the $1,000 if awarded.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Help America Hear, Inc.

Application Deadline: April
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

When Louise Tumarkin Zazove and her husband discovered their four year old son was deaf, they went against the advice of his doctors, who recommended he go to a special school, and sent him to public schools. He wound up becoming one of the first deaf physicians in the U.S. This scholarship is for students with at least a 50 dB unaided hearing loss in both ears or who have a cochlear implant. They must be U.S. citizens pursuing undergraduate education at a college in the United States.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Louise Tumarkin Zazove Foundation

Application Deadline: May
Working Towards: Undergraduate degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

The Anne Ford Scholarship is awarded to high school seniors who are positive forces in their communities and who promote opportunities for others with learning disabilities. Applicants must have a documented learning disability or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program following graduation.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by National Center for Learning Disabilities

Application Deadline: November
Working Towards: Bachelor’s degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

This scholarship is for graduating high school seniors with a documented learning disability or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who plan to enroll in a two-year community college, vocational program, or specialized program for students with learning disabilities. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to making positive contributions to society and aiding others with disabilities.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by National Center for Learning Disabilities

Application Deadline: November
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

Renowned artist P. Buckley Moss, who struggled with dyslexia, is the inspiration for this award offered to students who plan to pursue a career in visual arts. Eligible candidates must have verified financial need, have a language-related learning difference, and be nominated by a P. Buckley Moss Society member. In addition to an essay, applicants are asked to submit a portfolio with four to six photos of visual art projects. Award winners are required to take art classes each semester to continue the award renewal.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by P. Buckley Moss Foundation

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Undergraduate degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

Approximately 70 colleges and universities participate in this scholarship program. Applicants must have a documented mobility disability and use a wheelchair or other mobility devices and have a genuine interest in disability awareness in the United States. The award is offered to high school students who plan on attending any of the participating schools.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Karman Healthcare

Application Deadline: September
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 2
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 2.0

This scholarship is not renewable.

William Joseph Cashman was one of the passengers who lost his life when United Flight 93 was highjacked by Islamic terrorists on September 11. This scholarship was created in his honor. It is available to full-time college students who have a major limb amputation. The award amount is determined by the number of applicants.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by National Amputation Foundation

Application Deadline: August
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship NA renewable.

The Neilsen scholarship is offered by invitation only to students at select colleges and universities across the United States. Eligible students must have a spinal cord injury. Funds cover the cost of tuition for undergraduate and graduate studies and may include additional financial support such as funding for books or assistive technology.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: No
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship NA renewable.

This scholarship is offered to one student with cerebral palsy each year. Students must be preparing, currently attending, or have finished an undergraduate or graduate education at a university or college in the United States. Winners may use the funds for tuition or non-tuition purposes such as internships, research opportunities, or charity projects.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by ABC Law Centers

Application Deadline: July
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship is not renewable.

AmeriGlide, a leading supplier and distributor of home accessibility products, offers this scholarship to students who use a manual wheelchair, power wheelchair, or mobility scooter. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year school as undergraduate or graduate students.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by AmeriGlide

Application Deadline: May
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship NA renewable.

Although its name might imply that this scholarship is for medical school students, it is actually for students who have been accepted into a two-year, four-year, or graduate school program. Eligible students must be under a doctor’s care for a spinal cord injury, spina bifida, transverse myelitis, neurogenic bladder, or an ostomy (ileostomy, colostomy, or urostomy).

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by 180 Medical

Application Deadline: June
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: 7
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

The 1800 Wheelchair Scholarship is not limited to those in wheelchairs—it is for high school or college students who have any kind of physical disability. The required student essay asks students to explore mobility issues on campus, overcoming personal challenges, and much more.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by 1-800 Wheelchair

Application Deadline: May
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: 1–2
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship is not renewable.

The Center for Reintegration focuses on helping people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder live full lives through the process of reintegration–finding meaningful work and education, fostering relationships, and living independently. The scholarship is available to students who have been diagnosed with one of these conditions and who are attending high school or college. Applicants must be at least 18 at the time the academic year begins.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by The Center for Reintegration

Application Deadline: January
Working Towards: Any degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

The Prochnow Foundation offers this annual scholarship to a high-achieving student with a diagnosed mental illness. Students must be accepted to a four-year college or full-length trade school. In the required essay, applicants focus on how they achieve at a high level with a mental illness.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Prochnow Foundation for Mental Health

Application Deadline: Spring
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 1
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.5

This scholarship is renewable.

Community involvement is a central part of this scholarship, which is awarded to legally blind students pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies or attending a technical college. The scholarship provides funding for education related to tuition, housing, fees, and costs associated with adaptive technology.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by American Foundation for the Blind and American Council of the Blind

Application Deadline: February
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: Varies
Essay Required: No
GPA Required: 3.0

This scholarship is not renewable.

This scholarship is for legally blind students currently attending a college or university. All finalists are required to attend the National Federation of the Blind National Convention, where the winners are then selected.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by National Federation of the Blind

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 30
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is renewable.

This scholarship is awarded to three individuals each year with documented low vision. Applicants must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at a college, university, or vocational school. Applicants may have to participate in a phone interview as part of the application process. Winners are expected to attend the American Council of the Blind National Convention in July.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Council of Citizens with Low Vision International

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Postsecondary degree
Awards Available: 3
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: 3.2

This scholarship is not renewable.

Lighthouse Guild, the sponsor of this scholarship, is the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization in the U.S. The scholarship is for legally blind undergraduate or graduate students. The award can be used for any purpose, such as tuition, transportation, books, and housing. Scholarships are awarded to up to 18 college-bound students and one graduate student.

Apply for this scholarship
Provided by Lighthouse Guild

Application Deadline: March
Working Towards: Undergraduate or Graduate degree
Awards Available: Up to 18
Essay Required: Yes
GPA Required: N/A

This scholarship is not renewable.

Expert Q&A with Laken Brooks

Laken Brooks

Laken Brooks has a Master’s degree in English with a focus on disability and multimodal book design. She is a current Ph.D. student at the University of Florida, where she teaches English and collaborates with the Disability Resource Center, OUTGrad program for LGBTQ+ students, and the Center for Teaching Excellence. Her graduate research focuses primarily on accessibility and how to use various technologies and adaptations to make classrooms dynamic for people of various mental and physical abilities. Laken is a freelance writer passionate about education, and she has bylines in Inside Higher Ed, Lambda Literary, CNN, and Good Housekeeping.

What kinds of financial resources are there for students with disabilities who want to go to college?

As a disabled student myself, I didn’t know where to turn to find financial aid. I searched mostly for scholarships from national organizations specifically for people with disabilities. These scholarships can be incredibly beneficial, and I recommend that any student apply. However, students should also not feel limited to applying exclusively to those opportunities. The disability community is not a monolith, and students with disabilities may also consider finding financial aid related to their personal and academic interests. For example, students with disabilities may find success when applying to any number of scholarships: women in tech, underrepresented voices in the business industry, etc.

What are some of the financial challenges unique to disabled students?

Being disabled in college can be expensive because students may need to consider taking fewer classes a semester, which might extend their overall time in college. Students in this position might consider talking with their advisors or their admissions counselors to consider living off-campus, doing a hybrid model of learning, or being part-time—all options that may help students bring down the ultimate cost of their education.

Some students may need to pay for a single dorm room, which often is more expensive than living with roommates. Their college housing office may have emergency funds set aside for this specific purpose that can help bring down the extra cost of dorm life. Disabled students with food allergies or sensitivities are sometimes forced to pay for an on-campus dining plan that they don’t feel comfortable using, which makes their grocery shopping and overall cost of living more expensive. While not all schools are receptive to waiving these student fees, students with disabilities should consider asking if they can opt-out of those services, especially if those services are inaccessible to them.

One avenue for help can be in their college’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion or Disability Resource Center. Some colleges set aside funding to help students with disabilities pay for accommodation letters, food, or other necessities.

Students with difficulty traveling to professional development opportunities like student conferences may be surprised to know that they can often save money and energy by asking to present remotely.

What advice might you give to a student with disabilities who was concerned about paying for college?

I think some instructors and admissions counselors, unfortunately, may place students with disabilities into a single box. For example, when students ask for scholarship advice or clubs to join, some of their mentors may only recommend opportunities directly about disability. These opportunities are great and important—but students concerned about paying for college should recognize that their financial aid opportunities are just as multi-faceted as they are.

I recommend that students make a list of the following topics: What am I good at, professionally? What am I good at, personally or recreationally? What do I want to accomplish? What challenges do I need help overcoming? When students have answers to these questions, they can pursue local, state, regional, or national scholarships that fit those qualifications, abilities, and passions. Each of these questions can point students toward different financial aid opportunities or emergency funding.

Additionally, students who are trying to make the difficult decision about which college to choose should research which scholarships or grants their department and university might offer. Sometimes, these financial aid opportunities are not widely advertised to new students—like a research grant that helped me travel to Iceland—but can be life-changing for students.

Are there some colleges that support students with specific types of disabilities more than others?

Yes. In my experience, larger universities or colleges with strong wellness programs may have better-resourced student health centers and money allocated to a disability resource center on campus. However, the size of the college doesn’t always indicate its overall accessibility.

In general, public awareness is on the rise about student mental health issues like depression and anxiety. I notice that many colleges and universities have at least some programming, from group therapy sessions to midterm self-care events, to combat these mental health issues. However, mental health stigma still exists and makes it difficult for students to address the root causes of their disorder.