Student Loans for the Disabled
Whether you're still in high school and thinking about college next year, if you're interested in postsecondary education or training, or even if you've been out of school for a while.....and you happen to be disabled.....there are many loans available to help pay for higher education.
There are even some loans and financial options that you can qualify for if you're not disabled and your parents are disabled!
For more information, go to the financial aid section of Disability.gov and
look for links to resources and information on funding sources for
postsecondary education if that's what you're interested in pursuing. Or check out whatever else is available to you as a disabled person.
Go to Disability.gov here. There's a drop-down menu from which you can also access your individual state and find out what resources are available specific to your state.
Once you get to your state information, click on the Education section for information available selective to your state.
But let's take a look first at the kinds of student loans and financing available to people with disabilities.
What Student Loans and Monies are Available for People with Disabilities?
You'd be surprised how many ways there are to finance your education at any age if you're disabled.
Let's take a peek at the most notable ones.
FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID FOR DISABLED STUDENTS
Federal financial aid comes in the form of loans that usually have low interest rates attached to them and great repayment terms.....like not having to start paying back the loan until your schooling is complete. Federal loans can pay for things like books, supplies, tuition and fees, room and board and even transportation if you're disabled.
When looking into federal loan programs, don't discount federal, state or local government sources. Also look into campus financial aid programs which are specific to the schools you want to attend. Almost every learning institution has scholarships, grants and loans available, and most especially for disabled persons, you may qualify whereas other people won't.
APPLYING FOR LOANS AND ASSISTANCE
Most of the agencies that offer financial aid, even private institutions, require completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (the FAFSA). Their website can give you lots of information on applying and can also help students with such issues as budgeting, figuring out how they can get to and fro, etc.
FEDERAL WORK STUDY PROGRAMS FOR THE DISABLED STUDENT
The Federal Work Study program is a way to help students, disabled and not, earn money. The program provides part-time jobs to student and the jobs are usually located on campus. This program is usually based on financial need.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE DISABLED
You do not have to pay back scholarships! Ever!!! Hundreds of companies and institutions sponsor scholarships and their award extends to all educational realms such as athletics, arts or academics. You don't have to be a jock to get scholarships. There are scholarships for all different types or stages of education such as postgraduate or graduate education just to name a few.
There are many scholarships available for students with disabilities. Check out College Scholarships.org and check the disability scholarships page. You can find out about funding options and there are links to lots of scholarships.
Some of the scholarships for instance are for women with disabilities; some are from the National Federation of the Blind for students who are blind or visually impaired; others for students with learning disabilities. There are even scholarships for students who have disabled parents!
Find available scholarships from federal government agencies at the e-Scholar Website. Check out their scholarships link.
There is also another website listing by state that lists scholarship opportunities along with lists of grants and loans called the Career OneStop Website.
Don't forget your state's higher education agency either.....they can direct you to financial assistance possibilities including scholarships that match your eligibility.
Grants are a gift and just like scholarships, you do not have to pay them back.....Ever! They are also based on financial need but can also sometimes be based on merit. Check with colleges that you're interested in attending to see if they have grants available and what eligibility requirements are for each type of grant available.
Federal grants are also available at the e-Scholar Website. There are career-specific grants available in certain areas also such as teaching or public service, so if you were planning on pursuing these careers for instance, you could almost bet you'll get scholarships or grants. They can be as specific as someone wanting to teach in low-income areas or wanting to teach a certain subject. There are even grants available for unemployed persons as well.
Federal Student Loans are low interest loans for students that have financial
need. Go to the GovLoans Website and
look at the federal loans available for education. There are loans like Stafford loans, PLUS
loans, FFEL programs and Perkins loans. You just need to look at your own individual circumstances if you need a federal student loan to see which ones meet your needs best in terms of interest rates and repayment options.
Like grants, fellowships are monies that do not have to be paid back and are usually given to graduate students. These are usually grants in a certain field but many are available. Check these out on the e-Scholar website at the Fellowships link.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for the Disabled Student
Other Sources and Things to Consider
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION OFFICES
Each and every state has their own vocational rehab office. They have funds available
for residents to help cover the expenses of education. Check with your state office to see what's available for you.
VOLUNTEER SERVICE PROGRAMS
Volunteer service programs are programs where individuals receive a loan for their education but then in effect "pay back" some of the balance by volunteer service. The Peace Corps is the most famous program that people know about. Students sign up for it and then volunteer in foreign countries. Most always, it is done post graduation. A 15% cancellation of balances on loans is the common payback rate for each year of Peace Corps service. Again, because it is overseas, it is usually an after graduation program.
There is a stateside program that is similar called AmeriCorps. This program gives students money in exchange for
community service. The opportunities for
volunteering usually are full or part-time and over a 10-12 month period either
before or after college. Since it is stateside instead of overseas, many people in the program opt to devote some time during their college career rather than waiting until after graduation.
Don't forget the tax benefits of education! Look into the tax benefits you can expect when thinking of pursuing higher education. Parents and students can quality for educational tax benefits such as tax credits or tax deductions. It's one of the few tax breaks we have left so make sure you find out all the ins and outs.
MEMBERS OF THE ARMED SERVICES/VETERANS
Members of the armed services, veterans and even their families can be eligible for veteran or military-type scholarships. There are also other financial aid programs from government agencies such as the Veterans Administration and some from private organizations.
Check out the National Resource Directory for information on programs and training for student veterans or service members strictly for educational benefits.
Veterans can receive up to 36 months of education through the GI Bill. The Department of Veterans Affairs website also has more info on veterans educational benefits.
Scholarships and grants are available to veterans with disabilities and you can find that information on the Department of Defense website.
There is also the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Plan which gives educational benefits to survivors or dependents of someone with service-connected disability or who meet other criteria. This plan offers 45 months of educational benefits.
Student Loans and Financial Aid for the Disabled Student
You can also use the monies in some cases for training programs to help start a career or help you find a different career.
Look into some of the websites and see what's available. Then see how you can qualify for some of these great programs.
The myth is that scholarships only go to first-time college students but the truth is that there are thousands of dollars available to people of all walks of life or people with life challenges such as disability or age that go unclaimed every year.
Wishing you great success in your search for loans, grants or other financial resources to make your educational dreams come true!
If you or anyone you know can add more to enhance the information on this hub, please feel free to leave your knowledge with us in the Comments section of this hub!
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Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on August 10, 2011:
This is good information. I am on disability. Thank you.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 08, 2011:
Thanks, Hanna - and they do!
Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 08, 2011:
That is absolute excellent help. Disabled people deserve this help.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 06, 2011:
Thanks for commenting oceansnsunsets - I hope so!!
Paula from The Midwest, USA on January 06, 2011:
Great hub, thank you for sharing this valuable information. This is really going to help someone.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 06, 2011:
Hilarious, lovely Patrick - and don't forget your helmet and your goggles! Or was that googles?
lovely cycloptak on January 06, 2011:
Thanks for the great info, and the macho reference. Now I have to go ride a motorcycle in driving wind and swirling snow to regain my masculinity.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 06, 2011:
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on January 06, 2011:
These are all wonderful options for disabled potential students to consider - thanks so much for putting the information together and sharing it in such a neat, organized manner!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 05, 2011:
Pamela - Me, too - I was actually researching it for my son who is legally blind so this was a 'working vacation' - ha ha - It really is a super important issue so I wanted to make sure I covered this one!
BJ - Totally true - isn't that neat that Patrick can get even more help since his mother at least is disabled? ha ha Not funny!
This hub is going directly to my lovely Patrick and if he doesn't get something out of it, I may have to revert to the shock collar. Only kidding folks! (and 'lovely' Patrick didn't sound quite right - sorry son!
drbj and sherry from south Florida on January 05, 2011:
I knew, Audrea, that there was financial assistance available for students of all ages but was not aware of the aid that is provided for those who are disabled, or whose parents are disabled.
This hub is welcome information for such students. Thanks for making it so easy for folks to find the programs they need.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 05, 2011:
Audry, This is an excellent hub and I am glad to know the disabled can get this help to better their lives. Rated up.