Going to college is a rewarding experience. Often, the more rewarding an experience is, the more costly it is. The United States, though, is filled with opportunities. Scholarships and grants are available to make higher education more affordable and available to everyone, including those with disabilities. Scholarships and grants are allotments of money given out to help students pay for college and university. They do not need to be paid back, the way student loans do. Scholarships and grants are given out on the basis of a student’s achievements, background, interests, qualities, needs, etc. Individual states participate in particular scholarship programs, so these vary from state to state. You can get information about financial aid and other resources at your school’s financial aid office, or you can do research online if you are still deciding which school to attend. GPA (Grade Point Average) is a determining factor in who is awarded most scholarships and grants. If you are a hard worker, it will show and will be to your benefit when applying for things like scholarships. Being involved in your community is another positive thing that will be considered. Letters of recommendation are also taken into consideration in the processing of applications. Many people apply for scholarships, but there are only so many to be handed out. There are scholarship opportunities specifically available to students with disabilities. Such disabilities include: hearing loss and deafness; visual impairments; physical and mobility impairments; health impairments; learning disabilities; and mental health. Financial Aid is intended to help with school-related expenses. Often, the full cost of attending college is not covered and some student loans still need to be taken out. Hearing loss and deafness: If you have hearing loss, or are deaf, there are scholarships available particularly to people like you.

  • The AG Bell (Alexander Graham Bell) College Scholarship program awards $1,000- $10,000 to individuals who meet certain criteria. Pre-lingual and bilateral hearing loss are two of the requirements. This program is merit-based and quite competitive. Only about 12% of applicants are approved.
  • Sertoma International offers scholarships for deaf or hard of hearing students. The scholarships are worth $1,000 each and are intended to help with the cost of tuition, books, and school fees.
  • The Minnie Pearl Scholarship Program awards up to $1,000 per year, for four years, to deaf and hard of hearing students enrolled in a four-year undergraduate program.
  • The Louise Tumarkin Zazove Foundation Scholarship is available to citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. who have significant bilateral hearing loss. Provided that the student does well in school, and shows proof of this, the scholarship lasts throughout four years of schooling.

Visual impairments:

  • Every year, the American Council of the Blind offers 20 scholarships of $1,000 to $2,000. These are available to vocational students, freshmen, undergraduate, and graduate students.
  • The American Foundation for the Blind also offers financial help to people with vision loss who want to continue with their schooling after high-school. These $1,000 to $3,500 scholarships are given to students in specific areas of study, such as computer science, music or literature, or rehabilitation and education of the blind or visually impaired. You must apply to the specific scholarship which applies to you.
  • CCLVI –Council of Citizens with Low Vision International manages the Fred Schiegert Scholarship Program. This program provides three students with $3,000 scholarships. These students must meet low-vision and academic guidelines to participate in the program.
  • CRSB –Christian Record Services for the Blind offers scholarships to legally blind young people working towards a college degree, independence, and self-sufficiency. The amount of the scholarships changes from year to year according to available funds.
  • AER –Association for Education of the Blind and Visually Impaired gives out the William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship twice each year. These scholarships are specifically for legally blind students studying in a field related to services for the blind and visually impaired.
  • The Guild Scholar Award is offered by the Jewish Guild Healthcare. These scholarships are worth up to $15,000! You must have strong academic achievements, be legally blind, be a U.S. citizen, and provide letters of recommendation.
  • Lighthouse International offers seven $10,000 scholarships to students with vision loss to help them continue to overcome the obstacles they face and pursue their dreams of higher education. Students who are legally blind and are U.S. citizens can apply to this scholarship program. The scholarships are awarded based on personal achievement and academic success.
  • The National Federation of the Blind offers scholarships worth $3,000 to $12,000. There are 30 of these scholarships awarded. Legally blind students can fill out a single application for a chance to win one of the 30 scholarships.

Physical and mobility impairments:

  • 1-800 Wheelchair awards a $500 scholarship to help a student with school costs. Submit a poem for the chance to win. Applicants do not have to be physically impaired.
  • Ameriglide offers a scholarship to students who use either a wheelchair or mobility scooter. One student receives $2,500.
  • ChairScholars Foundation gives out scholarships and provides vocational training for students with physical impairments. There are three scholarships offered and they are for tuition or up to $20,000.
  • The National Multiple Sclerosis Society offers a scholarship to first-time college students. Students who have MS or have a parent with MS may apply. $1,000-$3,000 scholarships are awarded to hundreds of students. Over $1 million was given out in 2013!


Health impairments:

  • HFA-Hemophilia Federation of America gives out ten scholarships of $1,500 each. Seven are given out to students with bleeding disorders, one to a sibling of someone with a bleeding disorder, one to a parent of someone with a bleeding disorder, and one grant is awarded for artistic encouragement.
  • IDF-Immune Deficiency Foundation gives out scholarships to undergraduate students to help them complete their post-secondary education. These students must have an immunodeficiency disease.
  • The National Hemophilia Foundation supports one student each year through the Kevin Child Scholarship.
  • The Patient Advocate Foundation has a Scholarships for Survivors program which offers financial support to students with life-threatening diseases or chronic conditions who are, despite their condition, serving their community and pursuing higher education. The scholarship amount is $3,000.
  • The Ulman Cancer Fund for young adults awards $2,500. The recipients must do 40 hours of community service. The Fund also provides a 4K for Cancer Scholars program, which assists students who have been affected by cancer. They will either have had cancer themselves or have had a sibling or parent with cancer.

Learning Disabilities:

  • The National Centre for Learning Disabilities offers the Anne Ford Scholarship. This scholarship offers $2,500 for four years, a total of $10,000, to a high-school senior with a learning disability looking to continue their education. Also offered is the Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship. This is a one-time $2,500 scholarship.
  • The P. Buckley Moss Foundation has established three scholarships to help students with special learning needs attain academic success.
  • The Hydrocephalus Association offers nine scholarships. Each year, nine young adults who have hydrocephalus are each given $1,000 through this program.
  • U.S. high school students with learning disabilities can also apply for one of five $2,500 scholarships given out by the Rise Scholarship Foundation each year.

Mental Health:

  • The Center for Reintegration offers Lily Reintegration Scholarships to students with mental illness. These scholarships are given to help those with disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar, and major depressive disorder achieve their academic goals and earn certificates and degrees. The number of scholarships awarded correlates to the number of applications received. 70-100 scholarships are given out in amounts from $2,500- $5,000 each. Read more