College can be difficult to get through at the best of times, with difficult coursework expected to be done at breakneck speed. The challenge is multiplied if the student is already coping with a learning disability.
An increasing number of students have to deal with learning disabilities. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 11% of undergraduate students have a learning disability. So, if more than 20 million students enter college in a given semester, more than 200,000 are coping with learning disabilities.
Common learning disabilities include:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Characterized by poor concentration or hyperactivity
- Auditory processing disorder (APD): Characterized by the struggle to understand what is heard due to a disconnect between the ears and brain
- Dyscalculia: Trouble making math calculations
- Dysgraphia: Inability to write coherently because of brain disease or damage
- Dyslexia: Makes it difficult in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols
- Visual processing disorder (VPD): Trouble processing visual information
Unfortunately, while students often get help for learning disorders in high school, they are more reluctant to disclose their conditions in college or university. While 94% of high school students with learning disabilities get some kind of help, only 17% of learning-disabled college students do.
Once in college, students with learning disabilities are far more likely to drop out than students without. Only 34% will complete a four-year degree within eight years of finishing high school, compared to 56% of all students nationally.
Learning disabilities also pose a financial burden on top of the high cost of going to college. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the average annual health care cost for someone with a disability (mental, emotional, or physical) is $11,637.
To help with school costs, a variety of scholarships are available to students with different learning disabilities.
Scholarships for Students With Learning Disabilities
Up to 15 scholarships of $5,000 each are awarded to students who are undergraduate seniors accepted into a master’s program or currently pursuing master’s or doctoral (research or clinical) degrees. Students with disabilities are one of the awards categories.
Applicants must be accepted for or enrolled in a graduate study in a communication sciences and disorders program in the United States.
Offered by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, this is a $10,000 scholarship ($2,500 is paid each year over four years) granted to a graduating high school senior who will be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program.
Students must have a documented learning disability. Scholarship applicants should also “demonstrate their ability to contribute positively to society and present opportunities for other students with learning disabilities.”
The law firm of personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers awards a scholarship of $2,500 annually to recent high school graduates with documented physical or learning disabilities.
The intent is to “to reduce barriers to education for students with physical or learning disabilities by providing additional financial security as they pursue their studies in college.”
Awards based on available resources are bestowed on students with physical and/or learning disabilities who are going onto higher education and meet the application and performance criteria. Funds can be provided for tuition, dorm fees, books, and fees.
Each year, Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities recognizes students with learning challenges from across the country who have achieved great success. The Fred J. Epstein Youth Achievement Awards celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of young people with learning disabilities and ADHD who “have done amazing things, making a lasting impact on their schools and communities.”
For eight consecutive years, Gemm Learning has made an undergraduate scholarship available to students with dyslexia and/or auditory processing disorder who will be attending college or university in the U.S. or Canada.
To apply, send an educational or inspirational essay on “Living With Dyslexia” or “Living With Auditory Processing Disorder.” Winners receive $1,000 and are published on the organization’s blog.
Google has partnered with Lime Connect, a nonprofit organization that supports students with disabilities as they pursue education and promising careers, including helping university students with disabilities work toward their academic goals in the field of computer science.
Selected students will receive $10,000 and be invited to attend the Google Scholars’ Retreat.
Washington, Oregon, and California residents with a disability, including learning disabilities, are eligible for these scholarships. They must be students who “demonstrate outstanding service to their community and overcome personal obstacles” and are enrolled in a community college, university, vocational school, or graduate program.
Financial need is not taken into consideration for selection.
Scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,500 are awarded to high school students or post-high school students attending an accredited undergraduate school or technical school in the United States. They must be pursuing a degree in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field.
They must also have a demonstrated learning disability of dyslexia, dysgraphia, and/or dyscalculia.
The nonprofit charity Dyslexic Advantage provides $500 awards to two- and four-year students in U.S. colleges, vocational, or technical schools. No minimum GPA is required.
Applicants must be at least freshmen in college (successfully completing at least one quarter or semester before the scholarship is awarded). High school students or graduate students are not eligible.
These awards are bestowed on Learning Ally high school senior members with learning disabilities who plan to continue their education after graduation. The awards recognize academic achievement, outstanding leadership, and service to others.
The top winners receive $6,000 each, and special honors winners $2,000 each. Award winners must be willing to publicly share their personal stories and “represent Learning Ally as a spokesperson and advocate at various local, virtual, and national events.” Costs associated with these events will be covered.
This scholarship is awarded to promising high school seniors with disabilities who plan to attend a vocational or academic college and pursue a career in the technology industry.
The scholarship is renewable. Each recipient who continues to meet the criteria can receive an annual award of $5,000 for up to four consecutive years, totaling $20,000.
This scholarship is named after the renowned artist who struggled with dyslexia during her
school years. Up to $1,000 is given as a financial reward annually to one high school senior with a financial need, a verified language-related learning difference, visual arts talent, acceptance to an accredited four-year college or university or two-year community college, and who intends to pursue a career in a visual arts field.
Art classes must be taken each semester for award renewal.
The private family foundation awards multi-year scholarships to students with documented learning disabilities across California who want to attend community college. Up to six rewards are given annually to students who show academic promise.
Named for a former U.S. representative from California and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this scholarship is aimed at students who self-identify as an individual with a disability, are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at a U.S. university, and are interested in a career in the communications, media, or entertainment industry.
Extend Your Learning Ability
The best type of education overcomes learning obstacles and opens the way to a bright career and future. To help ensure that students with different kinds of abilities receive the kind of higher education that will make a difference in their lives, CollegeFinance.com provides the resources that students and their families need to plan and pay for school. We will help you get the most out of your college investment.