If your child is headed off to college soon, scholarships are probably on the top of your mind. If you're disabled, you may not realize that there are many scholarship and grant options available for children of disabled parents. With so many government grants based on need or income, it is crucial to look for scholarships that are offered by businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals.
Federal Grants and Benefits
The first step to applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.fafsa.ed.gov. There are other websites that charge for this application, but you can fill it out on that site for free. The foundation of federal and nonfederal student financial aid is the Pell Grant. The maximum award for the 2018-19 year is $6,095. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for $100 to $4,000 per year and is available for Pell Grant recipients with extraordinary financial needs and will be awarded first to students with the lowest expected family contributions (EFC). Many children of disabled parents should qualify for this program. Children of Social Security Title 2 (SSDI) benefits may be eligible for auxiliary benefits. These provide up to 50 percent of the parent's disability benefit per child. Children of disabled veterans may be eligible for Survivors and Dependents Assistance (DEA) through the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. Eligibility requirements can be found on the VA's website.
National Organizations for the Disabled
Many organizations, such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and American Cancer Society, offer scholarships for children of parents with that specific disability. The key is to inquire at not only the national organization, but at the local and regional levels also.
State and Local Scholarships
Each state offers scholarships and grants. The website Funding Education Beyond High School lists the state agencies responsible for administering state financial aid programs. State education contact information is also listed at the U.S. Department of Education website. Many local companies, communities, and civic organizations offer scholarships for students graduating from high school. The Lions Club, Rotary Club, local churches and businesses may sponsor scholarships. Check with your high school counselors and student financial aid office at your college or university for more information.
A useful scholarship resource is fastweb. One article, "25+ Crazy-Weird Scholarships," gives examples of unique scholarship opportunities available. One example is the Tall Clubs International Scholarship, which awards money to freshmen who are above average height. Another is the Clowns of America International Scholarship, which is available to students enrolled in family entertainment educational programs. Another good source is Scholarships.com, which offers a free search after registration and profile development.