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10 best scholarships for students with disabilities

We considered funding amounts and the number of awards given out each year to narrow down our list.

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Scholarships and grants can reduce the high costs of attending college, and a wide range are exclusively available to students with disabilities.

We narrowed down these scholarships by considering factors like award amounts and the number of scholarships given out each year. We also looked at which scholarships covered the broadest range of disabilities. Some scholarships are based on merit, while others are need-based.

180 Medical College Scholarship Program

The 180 Medical College Scholarship Program awards seven $1,000 scholarships each year to students under a doctor’s care for spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, transverse myelitis, neurogenic bladder or ostomy. 

You can apply online through the 180 Medical website. Applicants in medical school aren't eligible for this scholarship. 

National Scholarship for College Students with Disabilities

The organization disABLEDperson awards the annual National Scholarship for College Students with Disabilities to the sole winner of its essay contest. It's open to current college students with any provable disability.

To be eligible, you must first register on the disABLEDperson website, provide your contact and school information and answer the essay prompt in less than 1,000 words. High school applicants aren't eligible for this scholarship.

American Council of the Blind Scholarship

The American Council of the Blind Scholarship program is a partnership between the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and American Foundation for the Blind, which provides several scholarships to students around the US who are legally blind. Awarded funds can go towards any financial needs associated with postsecondary education, including adaptive technology. 

You'll first need to register with the ACB before filling out a scholarship application. 

Google Lime Scholarship

Google awards scholarships to the innovators of the future who make the most of their talents in the area of computer science. Previous Google Lime Scholars or high school students will not be considered. 

The Anne Ford Scholarship

The Anne Ford Scholarship awards $10,000 — $2,500 a year for four years — to students with an identified learning disability or ADHD. Ideal applicants are outlined as those who participate in school and community activities, have demonstrated academic achievements and are self advocates.

Applicants must show financial need and have current documentation of an identified learning disability or ADHD. 

INCIGHT Scholarship

Students who have overcome personal obstacles and demonstrate outstanding service to their community are awarded scholarships from INCIGHT. You must be attending a college, university, community college or vocational school by the time the scholarship is disbursed to qualify. Recipients of the scholarship must also volunteer at one INCIGHT event or complete 30 hours of community service.

Graduating high school students and adult students are both eligible to apply.

The Jill M. Balboni Memorial Scholarship

The Jill M. Balboni Memorial Scholarship, presented by the Cystic Fibrosis Scholarship Foundation (CFSF) and sponsored by LiveLearnBreathe, is dedicated to the memory of Jill Marie Balboni who lost her life-long battle with cystic fibrosis in July 2013. Every year it provides a college scholarship to a young adult with cystic fibrosis.

The Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship

The Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship awards scholarships for students with learning disabilities or ADHD. It's a $5,000 scholarship awarded over two years. Ideal applicants are outlined as those who are self advocates, committed to pursuing secondary education and participate in community and school activities.

You'll need to provide current financial information and documentation of your learning disability or ADHD to qualify. 

1-800wheelchair.com Scholarship

The 1-800wheelchair.com Scholarship provides one or two $500 awards each year. Students are asked to explore personal challenges in the form of visual poetry. Words, images or a combination of the two can be used.

A personal statement must be included with your application. And the statement and poem together should be around 500 to 1,000 words. 

Microsoft disAbility Scholarship

The Microsoft disAbility Scholarship is for high school seniors living with a disability who plan to pursue higher education and can demonstrate financial need. The scholarship awards $5,000 a year and can be renewed on a yearly basis for a total of $20,000.

A resume, transcript, three essays, two letters of recommendation and an application form are required to apply.

3 other resources for paying for college

Here are a few more ways to offset the high cost of earning a college degree:

  • Financial aid programs. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) and CSS Profile can help ensure you receive all of the financial aid you’re eligible for, including low-cost federal student loans and free grant money, scholarships offered through your state and university, and funding through private grant and scholarship programs. 
  • Paid internships. Many scholarship programs offer internships — many of which are paid — to help you cover extra expenses while you’re in school. 
  • Private student loans. When you’ve exhausted all of your free and low-cost funding options, you can apply for private student loans to pick up the slack. Just keep in mind you typically need good credit and income or a creditworthy cosigner to qualify.

Didn’t qualify for enough free aid? Compare private student loans

Data indicated here is updated regularly

Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
Ascent private student loans
540
$200,000
2.71% to 12.99%
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
675
$200,000
4.07% to 9%
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
LendKey Private Student Loans
Varies by lender
4.99% to 11.06%
This connection service partners with Sallie Mae and WSFS Bank to offer competitive rates.
 Advantage Education Loan Refinance Loan
670
Starting at 3.74%
Refinance to a more flexible repayment plan with this nonprofit lender.
Alliant Credit Union Traditional Student Loan
680
$60,000
Starting at 4.56%
All-purpose personal loans from @pl_product_min_loan_amount@ to @pl_product_max_loan_amount@ with rates that stop at @pl_product_var_rate@.
ChangEd student loan payment app
Securely connect all of your student loans and bank accounts to one place for a painless repayment experience.
Chicago student loans
None
Cost of attendance, up to $50,000
7.53% to 8.85%
No cosigner needed for this fixed-rate financing option.
Citizens Bank Private Student Loans
700
$295,000
1.25% to 10.57%
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

While these scholarships might not be enough to fund your full cost of attendance on their own, they can add up if you qualify for three or four awards. To find even more scholarships to apply to, check out our A-to-Z list of scholarship programs. And when you’ve exhausted all of your free funding options, our guide to student loans can walk you through how to borrow for college.

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