There are two kinds of disabilities — physical disabilities and learning disabilities. The great news is that regardless of the type of disability you have, there is probably a scholarship or a grant program for it. The bad news is that you have to look around. You have to put in much effort and time to uncover exactly who is offering these scholarships and where you apply. There is also another piece of bad news. Depending on the disability or condition, you might be facing a lot of competition. The more common or widespread a particular learning or physical disability is, the higher the chance that there are more people applying for it. The basic rule of financial aid economics is that the higher the demand, the higher the competition, the lower the chance that you will get a financial aid award.
The stakes are high. There are way too many students graduating school with a heavy debt load. It is imperative given the tough job market that students graduate school with as little debt as possible. One key way to do this is to apply for financial aid that you do not have to pay back. This is where scholarships and grants come in. There are scholarships and grants for students with disabilities, but the best kinds are the ones that you have not heard of before. These are obscure scholarships and grants. What makes them great is since they are obscure and few people know about them, there is a higher chance that there are less people applying for them. If you are only one of a handful of people applying for a financial aid reward, your chances of being awarded free financial aid money is higher than if you were to compete with thousands of other people. How do you find less competitive disabilities-based financial aid programs?
1. Use the Internet
List down your disabilities and look for programs, foundations, institutions and even government entities that deal with that particular disability. Contact them by phone if possible to network with them to see if they themselves offer a scholarship program or a financial aid program or if they know other related organizations and establishments that offer such a program. The key here is to network and not get discouraged if the first tier of your research turns up nothing. They might just lead you to organizations and institutions that may be able to help you.
2. Research regional institutions
Contact your state government, local government and county government to see if there are any agencies or organizations that deal with the particular disability or disabilities that you have. Just like with tip #1 above, network with the people you come into contact with to see if they can refer you to programs or institutions that can help you.
3. Look at corporations
There are certain corporations that have historically given to certain foundations that specialize in a particular disability. Look for these corporations and see if they have any corporate scholarships or corporate social responsibility programs that involve helping disabled students.
The bottom line is if you put in enough effort and enough time and brain power into looking for free money, you will be able to find it. The key is to put in the time. Do not get discouraged by any initial dead ends because they can only lead to further contacts that might produce results.