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13 Scholarships for People With Disabilities You Can Apply For

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Enrolling in higher education can open a lot of doors. College gives you the opportunity to network with professionals, gain invaluable knowledge and become independent. However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 11 percent of people with disabilities attend an undergraduate program while, according to the Hechinger Report, less than 35 percent of disabled students will graduate university within eight years.

Being a disabled student in college can be challenging in many aspects. Mighty Contributor Ariana Aboulafia put it this way in her article, “My 5 Tips for Incoming College Students With Disabilities,” writing:

The transition from high school to college (or the transition back to college after a winter break back at home!) can be an overwhelming time for any student. But for students with disabilities, both visible and invisible, the transition can be particularly challenging since they are dealing with the academic and personal changes the able-bodied student deals with on top of managing their disabilities.

In addition to the daunting task of trying to integrate into a new environment, there’s also external obstacles and challenges because, let’s face it, paying for an education is a tall order. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, a class of 2017 graduate will leave university with an average of $28,650 in debt. Scholarships may be one way you can lessen this burden.

To help ease the mind of all those who want to further their education, The Mighty asked its community for recommendations on scholarships specifically for people with disabilities.

Here are a few scholarships the community recommended that are awarded to people with disabilities:

1. Ruby’s Rainbow Scholarship

Ruby’s Rainbow was named after founder Liz Plachta’s daughter, who has Down syndrome. Plachta believes adults with Down syndrome should be able to get an education, and she offers a scholarship to help them do just that. In order to apply, you must provide your transcript or high school diploma, two letters of recommendations, an essay and a photo of yourself. In addition, there are many optional supplemental materials, such as artwork and poetry, that can allow the scholarship committee to get to know you better.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: April 21

How to apply: Find all the application information online to apply.

2. The PreJax Foundation Scholarship

It’s difficult to manage both medical and educational expenses as PreJax Foundation founder Sylvia Longmire, who lives with multiple sclerosis (MS), knows. The PreJax Foundation is a nonprofit that primarily aims to alleviate the financial stress of paying for education through scholarships. In order to eligible to apply for one, you must be a high school senior, a high school graduate or undergraduate student with MS or have a parent with MS. Application materials include your transcript, a statement on how your or your parents’ MS has impacted your life, two reference letters and a letter from a medical doctor confirming that you or your parent were diagnosed with MS.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: April 30

How to apply: Fill out an application on the nonprofit’s website to apply.

3. Dr. E. Bruce Hendrick Scholarship

This scholarship comes from an organization called Hydrocephalus Canada, which provides community support, awareness and research for people living with spina bifida or hydrocephalus, a condition that causes an excess amount cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. In order to qualify for the scholarship, you must be a Canadian citizen from the province of Ontario with spina bifida or hydrocephalus. The scholarship helps fund education at an accredited university or technical and trade school. In order to apply, you must submit your transcript, a medical assessment form, two reference letters and a personal letter.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: April 30

How to apply: Download the application forms online and mail them back by the deadline.

4. Scholarship supplies wheelchairs, canes, scooters and other mobility assistance devices. In order to qualify for a scholarship, you must be enrolled in your last year of high school or an undergraduate or graduate program and have at least a 3.0 GPA. To submit your application, you must include a visual poem and a personal statement.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: May 1

How to applyVisit the company’s website to find out what you need to mail in.

5. Soozie Courter Hemophilia Scholarship Program

Pfizer is a biopharmaceutical company that offers scholarships annually. The Soozie Courter Scholarship Program is for applicants with hemophilia that are high school seniors, high school graduates or currently enrolled in a college program. In order to apply, you’ll need to craft a personal essay, sign a media release form, submit two letters of recommendation, have your healthcare provider fill out recommendation forms and submit your transcript.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: May 3

How to apply: Visit the scholarship website to download your application to apply.

6. Schwallie Family Scholarship

The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) funds research that can help autistic individuals develop social skills, independence and knowledge. The scholarship is for young adults who are autistic and will be attending a university in fall 2019 or spring 2020. You must submit answers to three essay prompts, a letter from your healthcare provider and two letters of recommendation. In addition, OAR compiles a list of scholarships from other autism organizations at the bottom of its scholarship information page.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: May 6

How to apply: Fill out the organization’s online application to apply.

7. Lime Connect Pathways Scholarship for High School Seniors

Lime Connect is a nonprofit that connects and supports adults and young adults with disabilities. In addition to its scholarship for high school seniors, the group also has a fellowship program, webinars and one-on-one career coaching for students with disabilities. In order to be eligible to apply for the scholarship, applicants must be a current high school student planning to enroll in a four-year university and have a disability, including invisible disabilities.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: May 27

How to apply: Fill out your application on Lime Connect’s website to apply.

8. Avonte Oquendo Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was created in honor of Avonte Oquendo, a nonverbal autistic boy who died at the age of 14. The scholarship is for young adults who are on the autism spectrum or who live with someone who is on the spectrum. In order to qualify, you must plan to attend university or already attend university. The application requires that you write an essay on one of three prompts provided and also submit your transcript.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: July 31

How to apply: Fill out the form and upload materials on the scholarship website to apply.

9. AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability

American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) is a nonprofit that advocates for better health and wellness for people with disabilities. Organization members include researchers, health care professionals, policy professionals, people with disabilities and disability groups. To be eligible for the scholarship, you must be an undergraduate or graduate student who has completed at least one year of university. You must submit a personal statement, two letters of recommendations, a transcript and documentation of your disability.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Nov. 15

How to apply: Fill out an application via the website to apply.

10. Wells Fargo Scholarship Program for People with Disabilities

In 2016, Wells Fargo committed $1 million to implement its disability scholarship program. Applicants must have a disability, a minimum 3.0 GPA and be a high school senior or graduate who plans to or is currently enrolled in a university. The scholarship is not currently open but you can sign up to receive updates as to when it will be available later this year.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: Nov. 28

How to apply: Sign up to receive updates for the next open scholarship on the website.

11. Rheumatoid Patient Foundation Scholarship Program

The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) is a nonprofit organization that educates and supports people with rheumatoid diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis. If you want to apply for the organization’s scholarship, you will need your healthcare provider to submit a form confirming your diagnosis and complete an essay prompt. The scholarship opens late spring.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: To be announced

How to apply: Keep an eye on the organization’s website for when the application opens.

12. Eric Dostie Memorial College Scholarship

The Eric Dostie Memorial Scholarship is dedicated to Eric Steven Dostie, a boy with hemophilia who died at the age of 5. Dostie had told his relatives when he grew up, he would find a cure for his condition. The scholarship in his honor is directed toward individuals with hemophilia or similar bleeding disorders. It requires applicants to write an essay describing how they will use their education to serve others. The application will reopen in November 2019.

The Details:

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: To be announced

How to apply: Check the scholarship website to see when it reopens.

13. AbbVie Immunology Scholarship

The AbbVie Scholarship supports students who live with inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. All applicants must submit an application form documenting their extracurricular activities and honors, an essay and one letter of recommendation. Applications open later in 2019.

The Details:

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: To be announced

How to apply: Keep an eye on the scholarship website for when it reopens.

Do you know any scholarships for people with disabilities to continue their education? Let us know in the comments below!

Header image via jacoblund/Getty Images

Originally published: April 10, 2019
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