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Accessing Education: Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Accessing Education: Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Power up your future with scholarships especially for students with disabilities. This guide offers 35 scholarships you can apply for now, as well as insights and resources to help you secure the financial support you need.

College is full of challenges. But those challenges can seem insurmountable if you’re a student who also has a disability. Fortunately, many organizations are dedicated to helping disabled students in making their college education dreams come true — including offering valuable scholarships exclusively for disabled students. Many of these scholarships focus on specific disability types. Others are open to anyone with any form of disability – physical, mental, or emotional.

We want to help you find these scholarships and opportunities. That’s why we’ve created this guide to scholarships for students with disabilities. Below you’ll find descriptions of scholarships designed specifically for disabled students. We’ve also included valuable information and tips on how you can maximize your chances of winning the scholarships you want most.

Ready to start? Then keep reading to learn how to find cash for college by landing one – or several – scholarships for students with disabilities.

Apply Now: Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

We’ve surveyed the field of scholarships and grants offered to current and prospective undergraduate students with disabilities and listed 35 of the best below. Take a look and see which one’s appeal to you the most. And remember, you’re not limited in the number you can apply to or win.

AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability

  • Amount: Varies (typically around $1,000)
  • Eligibility: Sponsored by the American Association on Health and Disability, this award is available to full-time students with a disability (as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act) who have completed at least one year of an undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. university. Must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Preference is given to applicants majoring in disability studies, health promotion, public health, or a field related to disability and health. Preference also is given to students who participate in volunteer activities and/or community service.
  • Deadline: March 1, 2024

AbbVie Immunology Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $15,000
  • Eligibility: Aimed to reduce the financial burden on college students living with any of a number of inflammatory diseases, including atopic dermatitis, Crohn’s disease, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and other conditions. Open to U.S. citizens at two- and four-year colleges and universities and trade/technical schools. Applications must include diagnosis verification, recommendations or references, and written essay.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

ABC Law Centers Cerebral Palsy Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Annual scholarship awarded to a student with cerebral palsy who is enrolled in an institute of higher learning in the United States. Application requirements include either a 750- to 1,000-word essay or a creative project (video, photo project, creative writing, performance piece, etc.) responding to the prompt, “What is your relationship with cerebral palsy?”
  • Deadline: July 31, 2024

Anne Ford Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000 ($2,500 per year over four years)
  • Eligibility: Sponsored by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, this award is granted annually to a graduating high school senior entering a full-time bachelor’s degree program. Eligibility requirements include documentation of a learning disability (specific learning disability or a math, reading, or writing disability). Application includes a detailed estimated family contribution, responses to three personal questions (answered in text, audio, or video formats), and at least one letter of recommendation.
  • Deadline: April 13, 2024

Anne Lowe Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Eligibility: Multiple awards are made annually. This scholarship provides funds to currently enrolled full-time undergraduate students who are legally blind, as defined by the American Foundation for the Blind. Additional application requirements include U.S. citizenship and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Submissions must include proof of legal blindness, a financial budget, three letters of recommendation, and an essay on the applicant’s background, achievements, and education and life goals.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Baer Reintegration Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Eligibility: Designed to help students with mental illness acquire educational and vocational skills to successfully “reintegrate into society, secure jobs, and regain their lives.” Eligibility requirements include a diagnosis of and current treatment for schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. Applicant must also be a U.S. citizen and actively involved in reintegration or rehabilitative efforts. 
  • Deadline: January 31, 2024

Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF) Academic Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Eligibility: The BEF Academic Scholarship program awards 20 scholarships annually to college students in the cystic fibrosis community who are attending colleges and universities in the United States. Eligibility is open to students with a diagnosis of CF, as well as to siblings of persons with CF and individuals with parents living with CF. Selections are made based on the applicant’s scholastic ability, leadership potential, character, community service, and financial need. Applicants completing an optional essay question are considered for additional financial assistance. 
  • Deadline: April 26, 2024

Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Disability Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Established to support students with injuries or disabilities who need financial assistance in attending college. The award is open to U.S. citizens who have completed at least one semester of classes at an accredited U.S. college or university. Applications must include documentation of disability or injury and a one-page typed essay describing how you overcame adversity resulting from your disability/injury.
  • Deadline: October 1, 2024

Christina Skoski, M.D., Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $1,000
  • Eligibility: This award provides funding support to high school seniors and undergraduates with limb loss or limb difference pursuing a full-time education program at a U.S. college or university. Applicant must be under 23 years of age, a U.S. citizen, possess a 3.5 or higher GPA, and demonstrate financial need. Submissions include two letters of recommendation and a one-page paper describing how the scholarship will help you in your educational journey.
  • Deadline: July 31, 2024

Diverse Abilities Quarterly Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Sponsored by jobtest.org, this quarterly award is open to high school seniors and undergraduate and graduate students with a disability of any kind (physical, intellectual, etc.). Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. To apply, the applicant is asked to “Tell us about your dream job, what qualities matter to you in a job, and how these values will affect your career search.” 
  • Deadline: January 1, 2024 (check for quarterly deadline updates)

Gemm Learning Dyslexia/Auditory Processing Disorder Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: This award is offered to students with dyslexia and/or auditory processing disorder who are enrolled in an undergraduate program at a college or university in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants must submit proof of enrollment and a 500- to 650-word essay on “Living with Dyslexia” or “Living with Auditory Processing Disorder”. There is no formal application.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Google Lime Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000 to students studying in the U.S. and $5,000 to students studying in Canada
  • Eligibility: This tuition-based award is offered to undergraduate and graduate students with a disability who are pursuing degrees in computer engineering, computer science, or other closely related majors in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants must demonstrate a strong academic performance.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Guthrie-Koch Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Eligibility: Multiple awards are available each year to students withphenylketonuria (PKU) accepted to an accredited college or technical school. Open to residents of any country, selections are made based on demonstrated academic achievement, character, and engagement by the applicant with their PKU community. 
  • Deadline: March 15, 2024

Help America Hear Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $4,000 plus hearing aids
  • Eligibility: Open to high school seniors with hearing loss that requires the use of cochlear implants or hearing aids in everyday life. Awardees receive two state-of-the-art hearing aids and $4,000 to be used toward their college or vocational school education. Ten awards are made annually. Application requirements include proof of hearing impairment, two reference letters, and a 500- to 1,500-word essay highlighting the applicant’s creativity, academic achievements, and community service and life experiences.
  • Deadline: April 7, 2024

Hemophilia Federation of America Educational Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Eligibility: This scholarship is available to students with a bleeding disorder who are seeking a post-secondary education from a college, university, or trade school. Application requirements include proof of your bleeding disorder, two letters of reference, and submittal of a 750- to 1,500-word essay on a given topic.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: The Hydrocephalus Association awards several one-time scholarships annually to students living with “the ongoing challenges and complexities of hydrocephalus.” Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a verified hydrocephalus diagnosis. Funds may be used for any number of post-secondary educational purposes, including an undergraduate program at a two-year or four-year college. Applications include a letter of recommendation and essays on the subjects of how hydrocephalus has impacted your life, how you plan to help others, academic and career goals, and your involvement with the Hydrocephalus Association or community service programs. The organization granted 11 scholarships in 2023.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Jared Monroe Foundation Scholarship

  • Amount: $500 to $2,300
  • Eligibility: Open to graduating high school seniors and freshman and sophomore college students with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder who are currently in treatment. Applicant must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applications include a letter verifying treatment from the applicant’s current therapist and the answer to an essay question.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Joe Cleres and Don Sage Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Varies (pays tuition)
  • Eligibility: Designed to provide financial assistance to intellectually and physically challenged students attending school. Application requirements include a short essay describing the applicant’s academic and community service achievements, educational and career goals, and how they have met the challenge of their disability. Award is sponsored by New Outlook Pioneers.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Karman Mobility Disability Scholarships

  • Amount: $500
  • Eligibility: Two awards are made annually to students enrolled at a U.S. college or university who use a wheelchair or other mobility devices on a regular basis. Must be 16 years of age or older and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applications include proof of mobility disability and an essay.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Kevin Child Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: This one-time award is given to an exceptional college student diagnosed with either hemophilia A or B. Applicant must be either a current student attending a U.S. university, college, or vocational/technical school or a high school senior intending to pursue a post-secondary education. Applications include one letter of recommendation and a one-page essay describing the applicant’s career objectives and life goals.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Lighthouse Guild Scholarships

  • Amount: Varies
  • Eligibility: The Lighthouse Guild awards up to 20 scholarships annually to undergraduate students who are legally blind. Applications include proof of legal blindness, proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency, three letters of recommendation attesting to academic skills, and a brief (500 words or less) statement describing personal and educational goals.
  • Deadline: April 15, 2024

Lime Connect Pathways Scholarship for High School Seniors

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Thirteen awards made annually to high school seniors with disabilities (visible or invisible) intending to enroll full time in a degree program at a four-year U.S. college or university. The application includes an essay on the subject of living successfully with a disability.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Microsoft Disability Scholarship

  • Amount: $5,000 annually (up to $20,000 over four years)
  • Eligibility: Eight awards are made to promising high school seniors with a disability (as defined by the World Health Organization) who are planning to attend an academic or vocational college in preparation for a career in a technology-related field. Applicants must possess a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher and demonstrate leadership, a passion for technology, and financial need.
  • Deadline: March 13, 2024

James Morelli Legacy Foundation Scholarships

  • Amount: $500 to $2,500
  • Eligibility: Available to students with a demonstrated learning challenge of dyslexia or similar language and/or reading disability who are or will be attending an accredited U.S. undergraduate school, technical school, or community college. Submittals include documentation of the learning challenge and a letter of recommendation from a reading specialist, teacher, counselor, or other school official. On average 15% to 20% of applicants are awarded a scholarship.
  • Deadline: February 25, 2024

National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $8,000
  • Eligibility: Every year the NFB awards 30 merit-based scholarships to blind students pursuing or planning to pursue full-time studies at U.S. colleges and universities. Applicants must be legally blind in both eyes and reside in the U.S., District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico. Applications include one letter of recommendation, an interview with the local NFB affiliate president, and a brief essay (700 words or less) on who you are, your outstanding qualities, and how you handle your blindness.
  • Deadline: March 31, 2024

NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

  • Amount: $5,625
  • Eligibility: NBCUniversal makes eight awards annually to high school seniors, undergraduates, and graduates with disabilities pursuing careers in the communications, entertainment, and media industries. Students in all majors are welcome to apply. Applications include three 300-word essays (subjects provided) and a letter of recommendation from an academic advisor, mentor, or professor.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

OAR Scholarships for Autistic Students

  • Amount: $3,000
  • Eligibility: Three different scholarships are available annually to students with an established autism diagnosis who are or will be attending a full-time post-secondary education at a two-year or four-year undergraduate college or university, technical school, trade school, vocational school, or cooperative life skills program. Selections are made based on the applicant’s essay responses.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

180 Medical Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Seven scholarships are awarded annually to full-time undergraduate and graduate students with a specific physical disability, such as a spinal cord injury, spina bifida, neurogenic bladder, transverse myelitis, or ostomy (colostomy, ileostomy, or urostomy).
  • Deadline: June 1, 2024

Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) National Undergraduate Scholarship

  • Amount: $12,000 ($3,000 per year for four consecutive years)
  • Eligibility: Provides support to students pursuing undergraduate studies who have been diagnosed with or treated for cancer or a chronic disease. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and enrolled in an associate or higher degree program. Submittals include a financial statement, two letters of recommendation, and an essay (500 to 1,500 words) on how their diagnosis has impacted their lives and future goals. 
  • Deadline: March 8, 2024

Quell Foundation Fighter Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Eligibility: This merit- and need-based scholarship is available to matriculated full-time undergraduate and graduate students with a diagnosed mental health condition, as evidenced by a healthcare professional. Applicants must possess a GPA of 3.2 or higher. Applications include two letters of recommendation and a personal statement (approximately 500 words) describing the student’s reason for pursuing their degree. 
  • Deadline: March 15, 2024

Ruby’s Rainbow Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000 to $10,000
  • Eligibility: This scholarship provides funding support to students with Down syndrome who are pursuing a college education program or class that enhances their employment skills, independent living or life skills, or interests in any other area. Applicants must submit proof of a high school diploma or equivalent, high school transcripts, and acceptance or current enrollment in a post-secondary program.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Sertoma Scholarship for Students Who Are Hard of Hearing or Deaf

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Available to bachelor’s degree students at a U.S. college or university who are deaf or hard of hearing. Requirements include U.S. citizenship, evidence of minimum 40db bilateral hearing loss, and a minimum 3.2 GPA. Applications include two letters of recommendation.
  • Deadline: April 1, 2024

Smile Train College Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Eligibility: Four awards are made annually to college-bound students born with a cleft lip and/or palate. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen and provide proof of full-time study at a U.S. four-year university, college, or vocational school. Selections are made based on the applicant’s academic achievements and extracurricular activities and how being cleft-affected has impacted their life. 
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

The Vertex Foundation Scholarships

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Eligibility: The Vertex Foundation offers several one-time scholarships annually to full-time undergraduate and graduate students diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, as well as to their immediate family members (children, siblings, and caregivers). Applicant must be a legal resident of the U.S. or Canada.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

Wells Fargo Scholarship Program for People with Disabilities

  • Amount: Up to $2,500 (full-time students); up to $1,250 (half-time students)
  • Eligibility: This renewable award is open to high school seniors and college undergraduates with an identified disability. Other requirements include a 3.0 or higher GPA and financial need. Selections are based on academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, work experience, outside appraisal, and a brief statement describing educational and career goals.
  • Deadline: TBD 2024

How to Find and Apply for Scholarships and Funding

Our list above offers just a sample of the wide range of scholarships available to undergrads with disabilities. Now it’s up to you to find others that are a great fit for your goals, both academic and beyond. Below are several useful tips for finding, applying to, and maximizing your chances of winning one or more valuable scholarships.

Researching Scholarships & Funding Options

Start early and check as many sources as possible: There are plenty of scholarship programs out there for you to take advantage of, but finding them takes time and effort. Once you’ve found a few good matches, completing your applications and gathering the additional documentation you’ll need to submit takes additional hours. Start your scholarship search as early as possible to allow sufficient time.

Look for university funding: Colleges and universities themselves often earmark scholarship funds specifically for disabled students. At the beginning of your scholarship search, make sure to contact the financial aid offices at each of the schools you’re considering to see what’s available.

Use online databases: Online scholarship databases are great. Among the most popular are College Board, Fastweb, Peterson’s, and Scholarships.com. The information on these sites is generally pretty accurate, but always double-check application deadlines and other crucial info on each scholarship program’s website.

Seek scholarships in your degree field or specialty: Don’t limit yourself to searching only for scholarships for disabled students. Look for awards designated for all students in your field of study, as well. Most likely you’ll also find scholarships that are designated for students who are both disabled and pursuing a degree in your specific major. 

Preparing Your Applications

Follow the scholarship guidelines carefully: Aside from a missed deadline, nothing will blow your chances of winning a scholarship award faster than an application that doesn’t provide what was asked for. That’s why your first order of business in the scholarship process is to carefully read and be sure you understand application requirements.

Meet all of the application requirements: You can’t just read and understand the requirements, you have to meet them all as well. It’s possible that, upon close inspection, you’ll discover that you don’t actually meet them. That happens and it can be disappointing. But your disappointment will multiply several times if you make the discovery after putting in a lot of time and effort in preparing your application.

Customize your applications to fit the individual scholarship submission: You can’t just come up with one general essay response or set of letters of recommendation and expect to use them for all of your scholarship applications. Selection committees can spot canned, boilerplate submittals a mile off, and they don’t like them. Take the extra time and make the extra effort to customize your responses for each individual scholarship program. It’s essential.

Focus on your achievements, skills, and experience: Now is not the time to be shy. Selection committees want to know what makes you special – that is, what sets you apart from all of the other applicants. Let them know by spelling out your unique talents and accomplishments fully and clearly. 

Letters of recommendation: Almost all scholarship programs require one or more letters of recommendation. There are a few keys to scoring letters that will help you stand out. First, pick your letter writers carefully. Make sure that your writers know you well and match precisely what the scholarship program is asking for. Next, give your writers plenty of time to get their letters done before the deadline. Finally, be sure each writer understands exactly what the scholarship program wants to hear about you in their recommendation.

Maximize Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship

Apply for as many as possible: As we mentioned earlier, you’re not limited in the number of scholarships you can win. And of course, you can’t expect to win every one you apply to. So, be sure to apply to all of the scholarships you can, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

Be detail oriented and focus on quality: Quantity can be a good thing, but not at the expense of quality. Selection committees don’t care about the number of scholarships you apply to, just what’s in the application you submit for their scholarship. So, when it comes to the details you put into your application content and supplemental documentation, don’t cut corners.

Show your passion for your work: This may be the single most important piece of advice we can give you. Selection committees want to award their scholarships to students with a genuine passion for, and dedication to, their academic field. Be sure you demonstrate that in no uncertain terms in the content of your application essays and personal statements.

Build professional relationships with others in your field: Never underestimate the value of networking. You probably already know that, but what you might not realize is that solid relationships with others in your academic/career field can often help you in landing a scholarship or two. This is especially true when it comes to college faculty members and leaders in the professional associations that offer scholarships.

Seek help from mentors and advisors: In terms of scholarship applications, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Plenty of people have gone through and succeeded in the scholarship process before you, either directly or by helping others. They include fellow students, instructors, school counselors, and financial aid officers. You may even be able to contact previous scholarship recipients to get their advice. The bottom line is: Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’ve got nothing to lose — and everything to gain.