Disability Grants for College: Everything You Need to Know

Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has put a focus on making sure disabled students have an equal opportunity to attend a college or university in the United States. To support this effort, many private and public organizations offer disability grants for college.

The aim of these funding programs is to help disabled students achieve their education and career goals. Here’s everything you need to know about disability grants for college.

Availability of Disability Grants

Students who have cognitive, behavioral, or emotional impediments may find it difficult to pursue post-secondary education. Disability grants can help ease the financial burden, but they often come with strict requirements.

Some traditional grant programs require students to maintain a full-time status in school, which is difficult for people with certain disabilities. Other grants don’t cover the costs of special resources or support services disabled students may require to help them get around campus, pay for medical care, or adapt to classroom settings.

The good news is that there are financial awards available for students with general, physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities as well as chronic health issues, mental illness, and hearing or visual impairments.

Government agencies, disability advocacy groups, private entities, corporations, memorial foundations, and colleges and universities offer a variety of funding options for students with disabilities.

Eligibility Requirements

Depending on the student’s specific needs, you can likely apply for several financial aid programs. Many programs aim to support people facing specific challenges, while others are open to disabled students in general. Eligibility requirements vary from one grant to the next. In some cases, you may need to provide proof of disability or a signed form from your doctor.

Federal Grants

The federal government offers a number of financial aid programs for college students. The Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program. It provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students from all backgrounds, and students with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Students receive up to $4,000 per year based on their expected family contribution (EFC), costs to attend school, and enrollment status.

Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) include a number of financial aid programs designed to assist individuals from disadvantaged or at-risk backgrounds, including students with disabilities. TRIO runs in cooperation with a number of colleges and universities across the United States. To apply, students need to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

National Associations and Organizations

There are hundreds of financial aid programs offered by both private and public associations and organizations. In fact, they are some of the most important means of disability grants for college students.

You’ll find programs for nearly every type of mental and physical disability. For example, the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) offers 30 annual scholarships and grants to help the visually impaired achieve their educational goals.

Students with mental illness can also find funds, too. For example, students who are undergoing medical treatment for bipolar and schizophrenic disorders can apply for the Lilly Reintegration Scholarship.

Colleges and Universities

To help build more diverse campuses, colleges and universities offer a variety of grant programs to underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities.

The types of grants available vary widely from one school to another. It’s a good idea to check with your prospective college’s financial aid department to learn more about specific grants offered at that school.

College grant programs provide everything from tuition assistance to covering the costs of special equipment needed to participate in classes, such as braille books for students who are visually impaired or adaptable computer software for those with hearing impairments.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, Berkeley, and Wayne State University in Michigan offers some of the most notable grant programs for students with disabilities.

There are many disability grants for college. Simply search online or contact prospective schools and organizations for details.

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