Scholarships and Resources for Students with Disabilities

Find funding, advocacy organizations, networking opportunities, and other support that make paying for and getting through college easier.

Last Updated: 08/14/2020

Supporting students with disabilities, along with other student groups, as they work toward higher education is critically important, as is improving access to educational resources and funding. Doing so makes college and professions more diverse and representative, something we can all get behind.

If you’re a student with a disability and you’re looking for some extra help paying for college or want to take advantage of the many academic and career support programs available, you’ve come to the right place. This guide highlights 40 scholarships to help you reach your academic and career goals, including paths focused on public service such as teaching, law, nursing, and firefighting. Read on to find the funding sources that fit your individual goals and learn about professional resources, advocacy organizations, and opportunities for networking.

Scholarships & Grants for Students with Disabilities

Plenty of scholarships and grants are exclusively available to students with disabilities, and even those that aren’t are worth applying to. Whether you have visual or hearing loss, a speech impediment, a physical disability, or a different type of disability, here’s a look at 40 top scholarships to consider for public-service-related majors and other academic fields.

General Scholarships & Grants

Organization

Auger & Auger Attorneys at Law

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

7/31/20 and 11/30/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants with a demonstrated disability can apply for this award if they are a graduating high school senior or current undergraduate. They must possess a 2.8 or higher GPA.

How to Apply

Students should submit an unofficial copy of their high school and/or college transcripts and write an essay ranging from 500-1,000 words.

Organization

American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation

Amount

$5,000

Deadline

5/13/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Master’s and doctorate students pursuing degrees in accredited programs focused on communication sciences and disorders can apply to this award if they plan to help others once they graduate.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply university transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a letter of good standing, an essay, and a completed application.

Organization

Incight

Amount

Varies

Deadline

4/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants should have a disability recognized by the ADA, DSM-V, IDEA, or another qualified governing body. They must be enrolled at an accredited university, community college, or vocational school.

How to Apply

Applicants must live in California, Oregon, or Washington. Materials must be submitted online and all recipients must complete 30 hours of community service.

Organization

American Association of People with Disabilities

Amount

$5,625

Deadline

5/21/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students with a self-defined disability can apply for this award if they plan to work in communications, media, or entertainment – regardless of their chosen major.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply a completed online application, answers to three essay questions, a resume, unofficial transcripts, and a letter of recommendation.

Organization

Disability Care Center

Amount

$500

Deadline

8/1/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students with a documented debilitating condition or impairment can apply for this award. They must submit a physician’s statement of diagnosis.

How to Apply

In addition to a completed application, students must provide an essay on how they overcame an obstacle due to their disability.

Students with Visual Disabilities

Organization

American Foundation for the Blind

Amount

Up to $7,500

Deadline

2/14/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

The AFB provides several awards for undergraduate and graduate students with documented visual disabilities. Some focus on specific degrees while others are open to all majors.

How to Apply

Regardless of the award for which they apply, all students must be legally blind, possess a 3.0 GPA or higher, enroll on a full-time basis, and show evidence of being involved in their community.

Organization

Lighthouse Guild

Amount

$10,000

Deadline

3/31/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students can apply to several awards presented by the Lighthouse Guild, provided they provide legal blindness documentation given by a vision specialist.

How to Apply

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and provide school transcripts, ACT/SAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement of 500 words or less.

Organization

Learning Ally

Amount

$3,000

Deadline

11/30/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants must be visually impaired and currently pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies, regardless of subject area. They must also show evidence of academic promise, leadership, and community service.

How to Apply

Application materials include a personal narrative in writing and video, details of honors, explanation of activities, a letter of recommendation, and official transcripts.

Students with Hearing Loss

Organization

AG Bell

Amount

Varies

Deadline

3/15/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Academically strong students diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss prior to age four can apply to this award if attending full-time and using listening and spoken language as the primary communication mode.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply recent, unaided audiograph results, high school and/or college transcripts, a personal essay, and three letters of recommendation.

Organization

Cochlear

Amount

$2,000 per year

Deadline

3/31/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students who received a cochlear implant to address hearing loss/impairment can apply for this award if they possess at least a 3.0 GPA and reside in the U.S. or Canada.

How to Apply

Applicants must demonstrate academic commitment, community service, and involvement in extracurricular activities. They must also submit an online application.

Organization

Sertoma

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

3/30/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

U.S. citizens with minimum 40dB bilateral hearing loss can apply for this if they are working towards a bachelor’s degree and possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2.

How to Apply

Required materials include two letters of recommendation, high school and college transcripts, and a recent audiogram conducted by a hearing health professional.

Students with Speech/Language Impairment

Organization

Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Amount

Up to $12,000

Deadline

5/7/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students with speech/language, hearing, or physical impairments can apply for this award if they live in parts of Texas, Louisiana, or Mississippi.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply a recent transcript, ACT/SAT scores, proof of financial need, a letter of recommendation, and a personal essay.

Organization

American Cleft Palate Association

Amount

Up to $4,000

Deadline

2/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

College students with a cleft palate, cleft lip, or craniofacial difference an apply for this award if attending an accredited postsecondary institution.

How to Apply

Requirements for consideration include students with a craniofacial difference who can submit official transcripts demonstrating a 3.0 or higher GPA alongside their application.

Organization

Sertoma

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

3/20/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants must be pursuing a graduate degree in speech-language pathology or audiology at an accredited school. They must also hold a 3.5 GPA or higher.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply two letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and evidence of a high GPA.

Students with Learning, Cognitive, or Developmental Disabilities

Organization

National Center for Learning Disabilities

Amount

$5,000 over two years

Deadline

2/15/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

This award exists for high school seniors who plan to attend a community college, vocational school, or specialized program for students with learning disabilities.

How to Apply

Applicants must provide documentation of a learning disability, financial documentation, and evidence of participating in community and school activities.

Organization

National Center for Learning Disabilities

Amount

$10,000 over four years

Deadline

2/15/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Graduating high school seniors with a documented learning disability and/or ADHD can apply to this award if they intend to enroll in a bachelor’s program on a full-time basis.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit evidence of a 3.0 or higher GPA, demonstrate financial need, and provide documentation of an identified and current learning disability/ADHD.

Organization

Organization for Autism Research

Amount

$3,000

Deadline

5/4/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students with an autism diagnosis who plan to pursue a full-time degree at a four-year institution, community college, vocational school, or cooperative life skills program are eligible to apply.

How to Apply

The organization requires a completed online application and two letters of recommendation submitted by early May.

Students with Physical Disabilities

Organization

1-800 Wheelchair

Amount

$500

Deadline

5/30/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students with physical disabilities that require them to use a wheelchair or other mobility device can apply.

How to Apply

Students must submit a ‘visual poem’ focused on overcoming personal challenges. They must also supply evidence of enrollment and good standing alongside a 3.0 or higher GPA.

Organization

Bella Soul

Amount

$450

Deadline

8/30/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

This scholarship supports students with a physical disease and/or disability who are enrolled on a full- or part-time basis at an accredited institution.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit an essay on the triumphs/struggles of living with their disease. They must also show evidence of good standing and provide their current GPA.

Organization

The Dream Institute

Amount

Varies

Deadline

4/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Oklahoma-based students with physical disabilities can apply to this award if they are enrolled on a full-time basis at a public or private Oklahoma institution.

How to Apply

Applicants must show evidence of financial need. They must also provide a completed application, official college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Scholarships & Grants in Public Service

Organization

Virginia Emergency Management Association

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

2/14/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Virginia residents or those enrolled in a Virginia-based college can apply for this award if they’re seeking a bachelor’s in emergency management or related degree on a full-time basis.

How to Apply

Requirements include a completed online application, 500-word essay, two letters of recommendation, current resume, official transcripts, and proof of current enrollment.

Organization

The Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation

Amount

Varies

Deadline

Varies by institution

Eligibility

Students attending a participating campus must agree to spend at least 10 hours per week engaged in community service and 280 hours each summer. Students receive a scholarship and stipend.

How to Apply

Application materials and deadlines are set by individual campus partners, so students should check with the representative at their school.

Organization

Council on Social Work Education

Amount

$500

Deadline

7/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants must be in their final year of study for a bachelor’s or master’s degree accredited by the CSWE. They must also possess a 3.0 or higher GPA and be enrolled on a full-time basis.

How to Apply

Students must supply a completed application, official college transcripts, an academic resume, statement of purpose, and a demonstrated commitment to championing social justice and equity.

Organization

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Amount

$25,000-$34,000 per year

Deadline

Varies by institution

Eligibility

U.S. citizens working towards bachelor’s or master’s degrees in programs focused on cybersecurity can apply so long as they can obtain security clearance and qualify for Federal employment.

How to Apply

Students must apply directly to their college, provided it is a participating institution. The school then provides application instructions.

Organization

Boren Awards

Amount

Up to $20,000

Deadline

2/3/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

These awards support students interested in pursuing a degree focused on geography, language, or other fields of study deemed important to national security. Applicants must attend an accredited institute and agree to work in a government position after graduating.

How to Apply

Applicants should speak to a campus representative prior to filling out an application. They should demonstrate a serious commitment to language study and provide official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Organization

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet

Amount

Covers in-state tuition, room, board, books, and other fees

Deadline

2/15/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Kentucky residents enrolled full-time in an undergraduate program at a public Kentucky institution can apply for this award if studying topics related to energy or the environment.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply a completed application, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and information about their current GPA. They should also provide an academic/volunteer resume and a 500-word essay on career goals.

Organization

Equitable

Amount

Up to $25,000

Deadline

8/1/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants must show a dedication to reaching their goals, specifically as they relate to lessening health, safety, and environmental risks for others. They must also be graduating high school seniors planning to attend a two- or four-year college.

How to Apply

Students submit an online application alongside information on volunteer and leadership involvement, high school transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.

Organization

NYC Police Foundation

Amount

Four-year scholarship to a CUNY school

Deadline

7/31/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students who plan to pursue a degree in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field at a City University of New York (CUNY) school are eligible to receive this award.

How to Apply

Requirements include a completed application, statement of career and personal goals, letters of recommendation, academic/volunteer resume, and high school transcripts.

Organization

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute

Amount

Up to $40,000

Deadline

1/3/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

High school seniors who can demonstrate a commitment to citizenship, integrity, leadership, and drive can apply to this award if they plan to enroll full-time in a bachelor’s degree the following year.

How to Apply

Applicants must provide evidence of college acceptance, a recommendation letter from a community leader, and documentation demonstrating both financial need and academic performance.

Organization

The Arc New York

Amount

$3,000

Deadline

1/13/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students must be enrolled full-time in a program focused on intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. They must also live in New York.

How to Apply

Applicants should submit a completed application, one letter of recommendation, and a signed application from their Arc Department Chairperson.

Organization

Disabled American Veterans

Amount

Up to $20,000

Deadline

2/28/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students age 21 or younger who have demonstrated a commitment to public service by volunteering at least 100 hours at a DAV or DAV Auxiliary location can apply for this award.

How to Apply

Students must submit an application, evidence of completed volunteer hours signed by a supervisor, academic transcripts, and a statement of purpose.

Organization

Railway Tie Association

Amount

$2,000

Deadline

6/30/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Students working toward an associate or bachelor’s degree in forestry can apply to this award if they demonstrate leadership qualities and/or financial need.

How to Apply

Materials required include a basic application, personal narrative, reference from your department head or forestry professor, optional additional references, and the most recent academic transcript available.

Organization

Pepperdine University

Amount

Varies

Deadline

Due with application

Eligibility

Students accepted to Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Law receive consideration for this award if they demonstrate an interest in using their law degree in public service to others.

How to Apply

Students receive consideration for the John Merrick Scholarship by submitting their general admissions application. They should discuss their passion for public service in required personal statement/essay.

Organization

Microsoft

Amount

Up to $20,000 per year

Deadline

3/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

High school seniors living with a recognized and confirmed disability can apply for this award if they plan to study law, business, computer science, or a related field.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply a resume, unofficial transcripts, three essays, and two letters of recommendation. They must possess a 3.0 GPA or higher and demonstrate leadership potential.

Organization

Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association

Amount

$5,000

Deadline

6/1/20

Eligibility

Full-time students enrolled in a fire protection or fire administration degree at the bachelor’s or master’s level can apply if they attend an accredited U.S. or Canada-based college.

How to Apply

Application requirements include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, cumulative GPA, statement of purpose, and supporting documentation.

Organization

Samuel Huntington Award

Amount

$15,000

Deadline

1/17/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Graduating college seniors receive this award to pursue one year of public service in any global location of their choosing. They must plan on beginning graduate school or a career upon their return.

How to Apply

Applicants must develop a proposal for how they will spend their time – and the award – to further the public good. They must include a budget, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a resume.

Organization

Foundation for Science and Disability

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

12/1/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Graduate students with disabilities who are enrolled in areas of medicine, science, or other STEM topics can apply to this award and use funds to support their research project.

How to Apply

Applicants must supply a completed form, official transcripts, a support letter from a research/academic advisor, letter of recommendation, and proof of U.S. citizenship.

Organization

Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association

Amount

$2,500

Deadline

5/31/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Teachers working towards a graduate degree or license to teach STEM in a U.S. school at the K-12 level can apply if currently attending an accredited institution.

How to Apply

Applicants should include a personal statement outlining career goals, a statement on teaching philosophy, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a current resume.

Organization

National Institutes of Health

Amount

Up to $20,000 per year

Deadline

3/18/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants must be U.S. residents enrolled in an accredited, health-related degree. They must maintain a 3.3 or higher GPA and be from a disadvantaged population. They must also demonstrate exceptional financial need.

How to Apply

Application requirements include providing a certification of exceptional financial need, agreeing to a service obligation, and supplying all supporting documentation.

Organization

Society for Public Health Education

Amount

$2,500

Deadline

8/30/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicants must be SOPHE members who are currently enrolled in a full-time undergraduate or graduate degree focused on public health education.

How to Apply

Students must have completed at least one-third of their materials when applying. They must include official transcripts, a letter of recommendation, list of service activities, resume, demonstrated financial need, and a personal statement.

Student and Career Resources for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities have many resources at their disposal to help support their academic and professional goals. We highlight a few in this section, with emphasis on financial aid tools, professional development opportunities, advocacy services, and educational services.

Financial Aid

30 Top Scholarships for Public Service StudentsLooking for even more funding opportunities for your public service career goals? Use this comprehensive resource to find a variety of scholarships, grants, and fellowships.

Getting Financial Aid for Your Public Service DegreeUse this guide as a starting point for understanding all of your college financial aid options, how to fill out the FAFSA, and more.

Reducing Your Student Loans Through Acts of Public ServiceDid you know that qualifying students can have some or all of their federal loans forgiven by working in underserved areas, for a nonprofit, or through other options? Learn more about the variety of programs available.

Professional Development and Networking

ADA National NetworkThis comprehensive resource provides information, guidance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act – including resources for jobseekers.

Lime ConnectThis global nonprofit connects university students with disabilities and hiring companies to help them find professional opportunities after college.

Networking Tips for Workers with DisabilitiesMonster offers several actionable ideas for making the most of networking opportunities with a disability.

Advocacy Groups

Association on Higher Education and DisabilityAHEAD has worked to advocate for the rights of students and education professionals with disabilities since 1977. The group provides many resources and professional development opportunities.

Disability Rights Education & Defense FundDREDF serves students with disabilities by providing legal advocacy, public policy initiatives, and promotion of civil rights laws for individuals in all walks of life.

DREAMDREAM focuses on providing disability rights, education, activism, and mentoring for college students across the U.S. with disabilities of all types.

Public Service Education

Disabled Teachers NetworkDTN provides information on training resources for teachers with disabilities, a teachers with disabilities taskforce, and other programming that supports these educators.

Law School Disability Programs DirectoryThe American Bar Association offers this resource for law students with disabilities as well as lawyers and others in the legal community who advocate for this population. Students can learn about which law schools offer programs related to disabilities.

National Association of Social WorkersThe NASW provides a section of its website devoted to resources for students considering a career in social work. Students can find information on tools for job seekers, financial resources, and continuing education opportunities.