Student Assistance Programs for Special Needs
Need special attention at school? There are programs to help.
All students face challenges when completing their degree programs, but for the college student with special needs, the additional financial strain and personal struggles can be especially difficult to bear.
If you have special needs that require modifications to your living environment or your class schedule, there are governmental programs and private foundations that can offer financial assistance.
Receiving financial aid, in the form of college grants, scholarships or college loans, can help alleviate some of the financial burden. These free grants are available for students with a variety of disabilities, and some are specifically designed for veterans and the military community.
Financial Aid for Students with Special Needs
A number of governmental assistance programs award financial aid for students with disabilities. This aid often comes in the form of federal grants and state grants. Students with special needs can also receive free grants, college scholarships and other awards toward their education from private foundations.
Disabilities Covered by Student Assistance Programs
A variety of special needs are covered by these federal grants and other college grants. They include: hearing loss or deafness, visual impairment, mental health issues, learning disabilities, physical or mobility impairments and health impairments and illnesses.
Types of Expenses Incurred by Students with Special Needs
The financial aid offered students with special needs is designed to help alleviate some of the additional costs associated with the student’s college education. These costs can include:
- Special equipment required for classes, studying or daily life, and the maintenance of this equipment
- Study-related services and attendants to assist with reading, taking notes, interpreting information or personal care
- Transportation to and from the college program, if adequate transportation is not already available by other means
- Medical expenses not covered by insurance that are directly related to the student’s special need
How to Receive Financial Aid
Students with special needs should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to be considered for student aid, and the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE form for non-federal aid, if the /colleges/schooltype/community-college/ community colleges], colleges and universities request these forms.
Additionally, students with special needs should seek out college scholarships from organizations and foundations for their specific disability, disease or impairment. The federal Disability.gov website provides additional information on these college scholarships. A variety of college scholarships are available for students with specific needs, as well as students whose parents have special needs.
Once you’ve decided the schools you’d like to attend, contact the admissions office and financial aid office for each school to discuss the college aid opportunities available to you at that school. In addition to the scholarships, grants and loans available, some schools will make additional accommodations for students with special needs, such as allowing them to take a smaller course load while still classifying them as full-time students.
College Student Assistance Programs Tips & Tactics
- The Disability.gov website provides a wealth of information on how to prepare for college.
- For more information on education issues for students with disabilities, consult the HEATH Resource Center of The George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
- If you’re relying on college loans to help pay for part of your college education, be sure to check your student loan's interest rate and repayment policy before you decide which to accept. Choosing one loan over another could translate into thousands of dollars in additional college money to pay back.
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