Timothy Peck 7 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, Scholarships

10 College Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 19% of undergraduates (roughly one in five) reported having a disability in the 2015-16 academic year. There is seemingly a scholarship for everything, so it only makes sense that there are numerous scholarships available to students with disabilities. 

 

No matter what challenge you’re facing—whether you’re in a wheelchair, blind, or have a learning disability—one thing is universal: college is expensive. One way to ease that expense is to earn scholarships. Below are 10 scholarships for students with disabilities that are worth looking into. 

 

1. The Schwallie Family Scholarship for Students with Autism

 

Amount: $3,000

Eligibility: 

  • Established autism diagnosis 
  • Enrolled in a two- or four-year university 

Application Requirements: 

  • Date of diagnosis 
  • Proof of enrollment 
  • Three short essay questions

 

Although available to students across the autism spectrum, the Schwallie Family Scholarship is an extremely popular program for college-bound students diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. This highly-competitive program receives about 500 applications annually for up to 40 scholarships. It has awarded more than one million dollars to 356 students across the country since 2008. 

 

2. Auger & Auger Disabled Scholar Award

 

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: November 30, 2020 

Eligibility: 

  • High school senior with an acceptance to an accredited school or an undergraduate at an accredited institution 
  • Minimum 2.8 GPA 

Application Requirements: 

  • An unofficial transcript 
  • A 500- to 1,000-word essay on one of two topics
    • Describe a time in your life when you have overcome your disability to do something extraordinary.
    • Describe what you have learned from living with your disability. How have those lessons prepared you for college and what you plan to do after you complete your education?

 

Awarded twice annually (once in the spring and once in the fall) to high-achieving disabled students, the Auger & Auger Disabled Scholar Award recognizes the unique challenges disabled people face, and the strength and perseverance needed to overcome them. This scholarship will help pay for tuition and expenses. 

 

3. BMO Capital Markets Lime Connect Equity Through Education Scholarship 

 

Amount: $10,000

Deadline: October 15, 2020

Eligibility: 

  • Current undergraduate or graduate student at a four-year university (graduate programs may be shorter than four years)
  • Full-time student with a minimum 40% course load 
  • Pursuing a degree in business/commerce, computer science, engineering, math, physics, statistics, or a related discipline
  • Preferred applicants will have an interest in a career in financial services with a focus on capital markets 
  • A person with a (visible or nonvisible) disability (defined as someone who has, or considers themselves to have, a long-term or recurring issue that impacts one or more major activities that others may consider to be a daily function)
  • Candidates with all disabilities are encouraged to apply

 

Application Requirements: 

  • Resume or CV
  • Current transcript 
  • Essay about career goals and why you believe you should be selected for this scholarship 
  • A letter of reference from a professor, advisor, supervisor, or someone of a similar position 

 

Helping develop the next generation of bankers and create a more diverse workforce, the 

BMO Capital Markets Lime Connect Equity Through Education Scholarship assists students with disabilities in achieving their dreams and growing through education. To date, they have helped over 3,000 students through scholarships, bursaries, and job search strategy forums. 

 

4. Google Lime Scholarship

 

Amount: $10,000

Eligibility: 

  • Open to undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students pursuing a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related technical field 
  • Strong academic history 
  • Exemplify leadership and a passion for computer science and technology
  • Have a visible or invisible disability (defined as someone who has, or considers themselves to have, a long-term or recurring issue that impacts one or more major activities that others may consider to be a daily function)

 

Application Requirements: 

  • Resume 
  • Transcript 
  • Four essays 
  • One letter of recommendation from a professor, advisor, or supervisor 

 

Helping to clear the path and ease the financial burden for future innovators with disabilities, the Google Lime Scholarship allows these talented individuals to maximize their gifts. In addition to a monetary award, winners are invited to networking and internship opportunities with Google. 

 

5. Cochlear Graeme Clark Scholarship

 

Amount: $2,000 per year for up to four years

Deadline: September 30 (every year)

Eligibility:

  • Baha or Nucleus recipient 
  • Citizen of the U.S. or Canada 
  • Graduating high school seniors or undergraduate and graduate students who have applied to or will be enrolled in an accredited college, university, or technical school 
  • 3.0 GPA 

 

Application Requirements: 

  • High school transcript 
  • Copy of acceptance letter or current college transcript 
  • List of high school achievements 
  • List of extracurricular activities 
  • Three letters of reference 
  • 1,000-word personal statement describing how your Cochlear technology has impacted your life along with your future aspirations and why you believe you should receive this award 

 

This scholarship is named for Professor Graeme Clark, whose pioneering work and commitment to finding a solution for the hearing impaired led to the development of Nucleus Implants. The Cochlear Graeme Clark Scholarship is awarded to students who are Baha or Nucleus recipients, who also have outstanding academics, extracurricular activities, and community involvement. 

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6. Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation

 

Amount: $500 to $2,500 

Eligibility:

  • High school or post-high school student attending undergraduate or technical school 
  • Pursuing a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) 
  • Demonstrated one of the following learning disabilities: dyslexia, dysgraphia, and/or dyscalculia

 

Application Requirements:

  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher, counselor, or other school personnel 
  • Documentation of your learning challenge, such as 504, IEP, or one-page letter from a teacher or counselor
  • Recent transcript 

 

This scholarship honors the memory of Joseph James Morelli, a 20-year-old student with dyslexia who was studying mechanical engineering at Montana State University. Carrying on Joseph’s legacy, this scholarship helps young adults with learning challenges get the recognition, support, and financial support they need to achieve their dreams. 

 

7. ABC Law Centers Cerebral Palsy Annual Scholarship

 

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: July 31, 2021 

Eligibility: 

  • Have cerebral palsy
  • High school seniors who have been admitted to a college or undergraduate and graduate students in the process of completing their education 
  • 3.0 GPA 

 

Application Requirements:

  • Transcript 
  • One of the following projects: 
    • An essay describing how you’ve been affected by cerebral palsy no longer than two typed, single-spaced pages
    • A creative project—for example, photo, video, or performance piece—on how cerebral palsy has affected you
  • A short explanation of what you plan to use the scholarship funds for 

 

This annual award provides financial assistance to one deserving student while also creating awareness about cerebral palsy and celebrating the achievements of those with the disorder.  

 

8. National Federation of the Blind Scholarship

 

Amount: $3,000-$12,000

Eligibility:

  • Legally blind in both eyes
  • A resident of the U.S., District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico 
  • Pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time degree program 

 

Application Requirements:

  • Proof of legal blindness 
  • Transcript 
  • 700-word (maximum) essay explaining who you are—What are your outstanding qualities? How do you handle your blindness? What makes you unique and qualifies you for this scholarship?
  • At least one letter of recommendation
  • An interview with their NFB affiliate president or their designee 

 

The National Federation of the Blind Scholarship awards more than 20 merit-based scholarships to blind students annually, ranging between $3,000 and $12,000. Scholarship winners are chosen on factors such as academic excellence, community service, and leadership. Recipients have gone on to lead successful careers in everything from computer science to civil rights law. 

 

9. Microsoft Disability Scholarship

 

Amount: $5,000 for up to four consecutive years for a potential $20,000 total 

Deadline: March 1, 2021

Eligibility:

  • High school seniors living with a disability (as defined by WHO), whether that be visual, hearing, mobility, cognitive, speech, or other disability
  • Planning to attend an undergraduate program at a two- or four-year university, college, or technical school 
  • Declare a major in engineering, computer science, computer information systems, law, business, or a related field 
  • Have a passion for technology 
  • Demonstrated leadership at school and/or in the community 
  • 3.0 GPA or higher 
  • Require financial assistance to attend college 

 

Application Requirements:

  • Resume
  • Transcript 
  • Two letters of recommendation 
  • Three essays 
    • 500 words (or less) on how you will engage with technology in your career
    • 500 words (or less) on your vision for how Microsoft can innovate its devices and services to support those living with disabilities 
    • 250 words (or less) on your financial need for this scholarship 

 

Promising high school students with an interest in technology will want to take a hard look at this scholarship offered by tech giant Microsoft. Through this scholarship, Microsoft aims to deliver on the mission of its cross-disability resource group to empower and enable people with disabilities. 

 

10. 1800wheelchair.com Scholarship

 

Amount: $500

Eligibility:

  • Enrolled at an accredited high school, college, or university 
  • Age 16 years or older
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

 

Application Requirements:

  • A “visual poem” on the theme of overcoming a personal challenge 
  • A short personal statement 

 

To win this award, students are challenged artistically to create a “visual poem” on the theme of overcoming a personal challenge along with a corresponding personal statement showing how your poem relates to the challenge you’ve faced. Looking for inspiration? Check out 2019 winner Morgan Stubblefield’s submission

 

Tips for Applying to Scholarships

 

Apply for Smaller Awards

 

While large awards like the Google Lime Scholarship attract an enormous amount of applicants, your odds are higher of winning a smaller, less-competitive award that receives fewer applications. For example, the 1800wheelchair.com Scholarship (a smaller award) receives somewhere between 100 and 200 applicants annually. 

 

More Work Equals Less Competition 

 

Generally, the easier a scholarship is to apply for, the more applications it receives. Scholarships like the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship, which requires an essay and an interview, thin competition and increase your odds of winning. 

 

Investigate Past Winners

 

Understanding what the people awarding the scholarship are looking for is a great way to stack the odds of winning in your favor. Many groups are excited to show off past winners—for example, check out the ABC Law Centers Cerebral Palsy Annual Scholarship winner’s essay on their website—which provides insight into what they’re looking for. 

 

Craft Carefully

 

Nothing sinks your chance at winning an award faster than silly mistakes. Proofread essays and personal statements carefully, make sure to stay within word limits, and ensure all requirements are met before sending in your application. 

 

Apply for as Many Scholarships as Possible

 

The more awards you apply for, the greater your chances are of winning one. Treat applying for scholarships like a part-time job and set a few hours aside weekly or monthly to research awards and apply for them.  

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.