Scholarship Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Last updated: April 23, 2019

More than ever, colleges and universities around the United States not only welcome students with disabilities into their programs, but also cater to their needs through supportive staff, academic assistance programs, free shuttles and more.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 11 percent of undergraduate students in the U.S. reported having a disability—to put that into perspective, that’s over 2 million students. Although opportunities exist for students with a wide range of disabilities, the cost of college can still deter high school graduates from pursuing higher education. To help you finance your degree, check out the resources for prospective students and sort through the scholarships for disabled students below. 

Navigating college with a disability is possible by advocating for yourself. Clinical psychologist and college admissions consultant with Tourette Syndrome, Dr. Shirag Shemmassian, weighed in on how his resourcefulness played a role in his college career, “...at Cornell and UCLA, the Student Disability Services offices were incredibly helpful: they took the time to learn about the supports I needed and made every effort to provide effective accommodations.” He went on to say, “You have to believe that you can get into your top-choice schools, and also that you are just as capable as everyone else.”

“You have to believe that you can get into your top-choice schools, and also that you are just as capable as everyone else.”
Dr. Shirag Shemmassian

To learn more about how you can advocate for yourself and excel in your college courses, take advice from these governmental resources, organizations and advocacy groups.

Resources for Students with Disabilities

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

AAPD works to improve the lives of people with disabilities by acting as a convener, connector and catalyst for change.

Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring (DREAM)

DREAM is a national organization for and by college students with disabilities that advocates for disability culture, community and pride.

Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)

AHEAD is a professional association committed to full participation of persons with disabilities in postsecondary education.

National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD)

NCCSD is a federally-funded project under the U.S. Department of Education.

Mobility International USA (MIUSA)

MIUSA is a disability-led non-profit organization advancing disability rights and leadership globally.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

A national network with information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)

NCSET helps youth with disabilities achieve successful futures.

PACER Center

PACER provides assistance to help families make decisions about education and other services for their child or young adults with disabilities.

 
 

Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Instructions: If you’re a student living with a disability and want know how to finance your college degree, sort through the scholarships below and click “view scholarship” to apply directly on their website. If the scholarship deadline has passed, check the website to see when their next scholarship application is available—all scholarship opportunities are annual.

ASAN Autistic Scholars Fellowship Program

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: December 15, 2019

Scooters ’N Chairs offers a scholarship to manual or power wheelchair users who are in a 2-year or 4-year educational higher education program. Applicants will be judged based on their essay (no more than 2,000 words) detailing an experience over the past semester that required your use of strength and perseverance to overcome. 

Boomer Esiason Foundation Scholarships

Amount: Varies

Deadline: December 27, 2019

Students with cystic fibrosis are eligible for awards. High school, undergraduate and graduate students may apply.

Able Flight Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: December 31, 2019

Candidates with a physical disability may apply. Awards have been given to students who use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injury, wounded veterans, people with congenital birth defects and people who have lost limbs.

Academy of Special Dreams Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2020

Scholarships are awarded to students who submit a portfolio of creative work with their application. Candidates must be studying art or creative writing and have a documented disability.

Diabetes Scholars Foundation

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2020

Awards are given to high school seniors with type 1 diabetes who plan to attend an accredited higher education institution. A number of scholarships are awarded; see website for eligibility and deadline information.

IDF Academic Scholarship Programs

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2020

Awards are given to students with an applicable immune deficiency disorder. Students must attend classes at a U.S. university, college or technical school.

Turner Syndrome Society College Scholarships

Amount: $500

Deadline: January 1, 2020

Students with Turner syndrome are eligible for awards through the Turner Syndrome Society. Eligibility criteria and deadlines are updated on the website.

AbbVie Immunology Scholarship

Amount: $15,000

Deadline: January 9, 2020

Applicants will be evaluated based on community involvement, ability to serve as a positive role model in the immunology community and academic excellence.

Graeme Clark Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: March 31, 2020

High school seniors who plan to attend an accredited institution may apply. Candidates must have a Cochlear Nucleus Implant.

National Federation of the Blind Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: March 31, 2020

Applicants must be legally blind (PDF) in both eyes, and must participate in the entire NFB National Convention and in all of its scheduled scholarship program activities.

Ups for Downs Katie MacDonald Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: April 1, 2020

Down syndrome students pursuing educational or job training opportunities beyond high school are eligible. Some awards are also granted to those pursuing higher education in a disability related field.

Ups for Downs Eric Martinez Memorial Scholarships

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: April 1, 2020

Candidates must be U.S. citizens with personal or family involvement in the activities and programs of UPS for Down syndrome.

George H. Nofer Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: April 12, 2020

Applicants for this award must be diagnosed prior to their fourth birthday of pre-lingual hearing loss using spoken language as their primary mode of communication. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited law program in public policy or administration to qualify.

KFM Making a Difference for Autism Scholarship

Amount: $500

Deadline: April 27, 2020

Students with an autism diagnosis may apply. Candidates must be enrolled in a post-secondary education institution.

The Elaine Chapin Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: April 30, 2020

Post-secondary students impacted by multiple sclerosis (MS), either directly or as a family member, may apply. Students must be U.S. citizens who are enrolled or plan to enroll in a vocational, technical, two or four-year college institution.

Faith Hope and Love Jesus, Inc. College Scholarship

Amount: $500

Deadline: May 1, 2020

Students with a history of a blood disorder or cancer are eligible candidates. An essay on any topic is required.

Swim with Mike Scholarships

Amount: Varies

Deadline: May 1, 2020

Scholarships support athletes who participated in organized competitive youth, high school or collegiate athletics and subsequently sustained a life changing illness or accident (e.g. blindness, cancer, paralysis, amputation, head injuries).

Will2Walk Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: May 1, 2020

Awards are given to candidates who exemplify how those with spinal cord injuries can live a healthy, active and independent lifestyle.

1800wheelchair.com Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: May 30, 2020

Candidates will submit a visual poem about overcoming adversity. Students must be high school seniors or current undergraduate students.

Rehabmart Disability Scholarships

Amount: Varies

Deadline: May 31, 2020

Students will submit an essay on a provided topic. Candidates must have a disability, be a health science student or be entering the field of special needs education.

Herb Schlaughenhoupt, Jr. Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $500

Deadline: July 15, 2020

Scholarships are awarded to students with hemophilia or a similar bleeding disorder or students with an immediate family member with a bleeding disorder.

Disability Care Center Scholarships

Amount: $500

Deadline: August 1, 2020

Scholarships are awarded students who have a debilitating condition(s) while continuing their education at a college institution.

Disabled Student Scholarship

Amount: $500

Deadline: August 1, 2020

This scholarship is for students who have a medically diagnosed impairment (physical or mental) that interferes with everyday activities and quality of life while continuing their college education. The applicant will need to provide a physician’s statement of diagnosis for their impairment in addition to other documentation.

CHASA Scholarship for Childhood Stroke Survivors

Amount: $3,000

Deadline: August 31, 2021

Students pursuing post-secondary education may apply. Candidates must be affected by childhood hemiplegia or hemiparesis due to any cause or by pediatric stroke, or be currently diagnosed with hemiplegia or hemiparesis or pediatric stroke.

CHASA Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: August 31, 2021

Eligible students must have been diagnosed with hemiplegia or hemiparesis due to any cause, or a pediatric stroke.