Transitioning from high school to college can be overwhelming for any student, but a student with a learning disability may find it even more difficult. In high school, a student may have received an Individualized Education Program (IEP), but college presents a new set of challenges. First, the student must decide whether to disclose his/her learning disability. Although some students may find it helpful to include this information in their college admission essay (explaining why some grades or test scores may not be up to par), others may choose to keep the matter private. If the student finds he/she may need some assistance on campus, such as a tutor or special accommodations in the classroom, the college may require documentation to support the student’s disability claim before providing the requested services. This may be anything from a physician’s letter to a formal psychiatric evaluation. It is also a good idea for students to review the Americans with Disabilities Act to know what rights they have to services and accommodations under the law. In addition, the National Center for Learning Disabilities provides many resources to help students and their parents navigate the transition from high school to college.
Paying for college can also provide different challenges, as students with disabilities may need to purchase special equipment or hire private tutors to help with academics. They may also require counseling or other services not provided by the college. Although students with learning disabilities do not receive any special financial aid consideration from the federal government, there are many private sources of student aid available, such as scholarships, which may help students pay for college. Here is a sample of available scholarships specifically for students with learning disabilities.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) offers one graduating high school senior the opportunity to win $10,000 (spread over four years) for college. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, demonstrate financial need and be willing to mentor other students with learning disabilities. Deadline: December 31, 2012.
This award, also provided by the NCLD, is only available to graduating seniors who participate in school and community activities. Students must have a documented learning disability. One $2,500 scholarship will be awarded. Deadline: December 31, 2012.
The P. Buckley Moss Society offers one $1,500 scholarship to a high school senior with a certified language-related learning disability pursuing a post-secondary education. Students must be nominated by a Society member and submit an essay addressing the questions listed on the website. The application for the 2013 award is now available. Deadline: March 31, 2013.
Additional scholarship opportunities that will be available later this year include:
Each year, Incight provides up to 100 scholarships, valued between $500 and $2,500, to students with learning disabilities. To be eligible, students must demonstrate outstanding merit in giving back to their community and overcoming obstacles. Applications will be available beginning in September.
Beginning in October, high school seniors and college students may apply for one of the 70 available scholarships offered through Eli Lilly and Company. To be eligible, students must be diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizophreniform, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. Scholarship amounts vary, based on available funding. Deadline: January 31, 2013.
The National Federation of the Blind annually offers blind college students in the United States and Puerto Rico the opportunity to win one of thirty national scholarships valued between $3,000 and $12,000. Students must be legally blind in both eyes and must be currently pursuing (or planning to enroll in 2013) an undergraduate degree. Applications will be available online beginning November 1, 2012.
Students should consider placing important scholarship deadlines and application availability dates on a calendar, so they don’t miss any opportunities to earn free money for college. They should also check with their college financial aid department and local organizations for additional financial aid programs that may be available to students with learning disabilities. Using a free online scholarship search service, such as ScholarshipExperts.com can also assist in locating other available scholarship opportunities.
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