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Scholarships for students with disabilities

by Mary Mazzoni on January 7, 2012

Planning for college is more like a marathon than a sprint. There’s a lot to think about.

Your teen’s rights and responsibilities will be very different in college. Knowing what to expect is key. The Going to College website can help you and your teen ask important questions and make informed decisions.

But what about paying for college?

Scholarships are available. The trick is knowing where and how to look for them. These resources will help.

Top 1o tips

The Scholarship Coach feature at USNews.com recently published a top 10 tip list that can’t be beat. I couldn’t say it better myself. Check it out here and refer to it often.

Financial assistance for college students with disabilities

Disaboom.com maintains a database of scholarships specifically for students with disabilities. Access it here.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies don’t provide scholarships per se. But, applying to your state’s VR agency can help your teen tap into a wealth of resources.

VR can provide an evaluation report to document your teen’s need for accommodations in college. A VR counselor will help your teen develop an individualized career plan. This plan could potentially include VR funding for assistive technology needed in college or even tuition assistance. Click here for links to state VR agencies.

Be sure to pursue these resources, but don’t limit your search to funding that’s specific to students with disabilities.

Search close to home

Local and regional scholarships aren’t necessarily included in the big search engines.

Meet with your teen’s high school guidance counselor in the sophomore or junior year to get the inside scoop on when and how to pursue local scholarships.

Also, click here to search for your local Dollars for Scholars chapter, a source of local scholarship information.

Later, when your teen has a short list of potential schools, contact the financial aid office of each to find out about scholarship opportunities.

Comparing the search engines

The Scholarship Coach warns against paying for a scholarship search. But how do you choose among the many free DIY scholarship search engines?

Some sites have distinct disadvantages. Like selling your contact information to mailing lists – resulting in tons of spam and junk mail. Others have unique features you’ll want to know about.

The Scholarship Coach compares features of popular scholarship search engines here.

Pace yourself

Help your teen map out a plan over several months.

  • Which resources will you check into and when?
  • Where will you store the information you learn?
  • What follow up steps will you take for each resource and when?

This sort of action planning is essential for success in life. So helping your teen plan for college in this way helps her build important self determination skills.

This is an exciting time as your teen learns to work toward personal goals more independently. Planning for college and finding financial assistance takes effort and can be frustrating. There will be some dead ends. But persistent planning pays off.  In more than dollars and cents.

Your turn

Have you used any of the resources mentioned in this post? Would you like to recommend others?  Please leave a comment.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with others. Thanks!

Image Credit – Photo of Sgt. Jerrod Fields, by Tim Hipps at Flickr

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