Students with disabilities can access discounts and financial support for different needs throughout their college education. While accommodations and adaptive technologies support students with disabilities on campus, financial barriers may limit access to these supportive measures. However, various programs help reduce out-of-pocket costs for students with disabilities.
Students are not required to share information regarding disabilities with any postsecondary school. However, they must provide their disability information and needs to the institution to receive accommodations, adjustments, and access to school discounts.
While colleges and universities must provide adjustments and accommodations to support disabilities, the schools are not required to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices of any kind, readers for personal use, or other individual services such as tutoring.
Discounts can help students pay for adaptive devices and support services not covered by a college or university, along with medical bills and transportation needs. Financial aid offerings such as scholarships, loans, grants, and fellowships offer students with disabilities resources to pay for tuition costs as well.
Data regarding students with disabilities attending college or university is limited. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 19% of undergraduate students report having a disability.
NCES qualifies students with disabilities as those reporting visual or hearing impairment; orthopedic or mobility impairment; speech or language impairment; learning, mental, emotional, or psychiatric condition; other health impairment or problem; or any combination of these.
Undergraduate students with a disability
How to Find Student Disability Discounts
All students can access federal grants and loans based on financial need through the FAFSA application. However, finding federal financial support designated for students with disabilities can prove an extensive process. The information provided on this page offers starting points and guidance along the way.
A few helpful resources include the U.S. Department of Education's state resources for higher education, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services' directory of programs and funding sources, and the National Center for College Students with Disabilities' resource library for higher education. Additionally, comprehensive transition and postsecondary (CPT) programs offer an excellent starting point for students with intellectual disabilities.
Discounts for students with disabilities offer financial support for various needs when pursuing a college degree. Some discounts depend on financial need, while others consider disability categorization or educational level.
The resources listed below offer financial assistance for students with disabilities based on specific criteria. Be sure to consider eligibility requirements for each organization and its discount offerings.
Eligibility for financial discounts varies depending on the type of assistance or program. Some discounts are offered to students with particular disabilities. Other discounts apply to students with intersecting identities, such as discounts for Black students with disabilities or students with disabilities of a specific income level.
Financial assistance based on degree level or course of study can reduce costs for students pursuing a counseling degree. The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy offer scholarships and fellowships for counseling students with disabilities and other minority groups.
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Discounts for Impairment
- Lions Clubs International Foundation: Lions Club grants include financial assistance opportunities for people with disabilities. Available grants include support for individuals with visual and auditory impairments in need of equipment and educational assistance.
- Friends of Disabled Adults and Children: FODAC offers medical equipment to individuals with disabilities at little or no cost. The nonprofit provides services to people of all ages, no matter their financial status.
- Getting Back Up: Getting Back Up provides funding for adaptive equipment in support of individuals with spinal cord injuries. Funding for exercise-based recovery programs supports those seeking participation in physical and occupational therapies.
- The Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program Association: TEDPA offers people with hearing impairments access to free phone services. State programs across the country support those in need of hearing assistance equipment.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: USDA provides grant and loan funding for individuals and families seeking assistance with home renovations or repairs. USDA offers financial support for people with disabilities, older adults, and low-income individuals.
- Volunteers of America: VOA provides housing assistance, in-home support, and specialized employment services to people with disabilities.
- Bookshare: Bookshare offers customized reading experiences for individuals with visual, perceptual, and physical impairments or disabilities that affect print reading. Bookshare provides audio, large text, and braille book collections in online formats.
- National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled: NLS supplies free braille and audio reading materials through online and postage-free programs. Through a national network, NLS provides books and magazines to people with temporary or permanent disabilities.
- Disability Scoop: Disability Scoop provides comprehensive daily news coverage relevant to the developmental disability community. Limited free access and paid subscription plans allow readers to customize their reading experience.
- Computers with Causes: Computers with Causes provides free computers to students with disabilities. Working with schools and individuals, the organization offers refurbished computers to those in need.
- College Success Program: Learning Ally's College Success Program provides tools to students with blindness or other visual impairments. CSP offers free access to an audiobook library and a mentorship program that supports students in gaining access to technology on campus.
- REquipment: REquipment provides free and low-cost refurbished medical equipment and assistive technology to Massachusetts residents seeking motorized assistance.
- accessibleGO: accessibleGO and its companion program, clubGO, offer travel deals for individuals with disabilities. Free access to accessibleGO's platform includes thousands of discounts for hotels, flights, cruises, attractions, rental cars, and informative travel resources.
- National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass: The lifetime Access Pass provides free access to federal recreation sites for individuals with disabilities and their traveling companions. In addition, Access Pass holders receive 50% discounts for some facility services.
- Amtrak: Amtrak offers discounted tickets to passengers with disabilities and their companions. Passengers with disabilities receive up to 50% off ticketed pricing. Companions receive 10% off tickets.
Disability Financial Aid
Tuition discounts offer students with disabilities lower costs for tuition, room and board, and other academic fees. Federal loans, work-study jobs, fellowships, scholarships, and grants provide students with opportunities to decrease college costs.
Financial aid options allocated specifically for students with disabilities provide additional tuition discounts beyond those available to all students. These resources often require students to share documentation of disabilities when applying.
Students can determine their federal loan eligibility by submitting a FAFSA application. While not specific to students with disabilities, federal loans can provide substantial funding for college education. Federal loans require repayment either after a student graduates or discontinues college courses.
Students who obtain a disability after graduation may be eligible for a total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge of federal funding. TPD removes the requirement to repay federal loans through a loan forgiveness program. Be sure to identify the specific requirements for TPD eligibility before applying.
Work-Study and Fellowships
Work-study jobs can provide financial support and learning opportunities for students. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 both secure against disability discrimination. These acts support access to work-study positions on campuses across the country for students with disabilities.
Fellowships also allow students to learn more about a chosen field of study, including counseling, while using the funds to pay for school. Fellowships typically align with a degree program or course of study, allowing counseling students to make connections within the field before graduation. Contact your chosen institution directly for more information regarding work-study and fellowship opportunities.
Scholarships offer students funding based on specific application criteria. Scholarships for students with disabilities provide a number of financial assistance levels for eligible students. The following link provides a comprehensive breakdown of scholarship application procedures and specific opportunities for students with disabilities.
Students may be eligible for federal grants by submitting the FAFSA application. For students with disabilities, additional funding options require connecting with specific resources. For example, the Social Security Administration offers financial assistance to individuals with disabilities and their families, with specific eligibility requirements.
Organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind and the National Center for Learning Disabilities offer grants, scholarships, and other awards to its members and eligible student recipients. Other organizations that provide funding for students with disabilities include:
Consider these other sources of financial aid
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of discounts exist for students with disabilities?
Students with disabilities can receive discounts for technology, health, travel, housing, and literature needs. Other discounts include scholarships, grants, and federal funding.
Is there financial aid for college students with disabilities?
Financial aid for college students with disabilities includes federal loan programs, scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and fellowship opportunities.
What kinds of free things for college students with disabilities are available?
College students with disabilities can receive free adaptive technology, e-reading programs, and audiobook access, along with laptops and transportation vouchers. Various programs provide access to these free resources across the country.
What particular impairments qualify students for discounts?
Impairments that qualify students for discounts include visual, hearing, orthopedic, speech, learning, and other health impairments. Programs offer discounts for students with different impairments and needs.
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