The Best Disability Scholarships for Students with Special Needs in America and How to Apply

The Best Disability Scholarships for Students with Special Needs in America and How to Apply
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The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates educational institutions to cater to the requirements of their disabled student populace. This legislation, enacted in 1990, has removed many obstacles hindering students’ access to educational materials, thereby facilitating a broader spectrum of individuals to partake in the complete advantages of higher education. Institutions now actively engage in recruitment endeavors and offer financial assistance tailored to disabled students – Disability scholarships. 

Furthermore, various private entities extend scholarships to guarantee that individuals with disabilities can pursue their college aspirations, notwithstanding hurdles like learning impediments, environmental constraints, or health-related obstacles. Let’s take a look at the top 5 disability scholarships in 2024.

5 Best Disability Scholarships for Students with Special Needs in the US

  • First Responders Children’s Foundation Scholarship

The First Responders Children’s Foundation Scholarship is a valuable financial resource specifically designed to assist the children of those who dedicate their careers to serving and protecting our communities – police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and 911 dispatchers. 

These first responders selflessly put themselves in harm’s way, and the foundation recognizes the unique challenges their children may face in pursuing higher education.

  • Eligibility:
    • Biological, adopted, or stepchild of a qualifying first responder.
    • The deceased first responder must have been conceived before death or disability.
    • Adopted children must have begun the adoption process before applying.
    • Stepchildren must be listed as dependents on the first responder’s tax returns.
  • Award:
    • Multiple awards, with a maximum value of $6,250 each.
    • Renewable for up to four years based on availability of funds, academic performance, and financial need.
  • Criteria:
    • Financial need is a significant factor.
    • Academic merit is considered (minimum 2.7 GPA required).
    • The foundation also considers achievements such as leadership, excellence in arts/sports, and community service.
  • Selection: Priority may be given to families of first responders who died or were permanently disabled in the line of duty, but all eligible children are encouraged to apply.
  • Application Deadline: May 31, 2024 (be sure to check the website for any updates)
  • Additional Benefits:
    • Awardees become part of the Scholars Council, a network of peers and professionals that can offer guidance and support.
    • The foundation is aware of delays in FAFSA processing and won’t make scholarship decisions until after the application deadline.

Click here to see if you are eligible.

  • Kids’ Chance of Virginia Scholarship

Kids’ Chance of Virginia, a non-profit organization, offers disability scholarships to dependents of Virginia workers who face life-altering situations. These situations could be a parent’s death due to a work-related accident or a severe work-related injury or illness.

To be considered for this scholarship:

  • Be 26 years of age or younger at the time of application.
  • Demonstrate financial need through documents like the FAFSA.
  • Be a U.S. citizen pursuing higher education.
  • Gain acceptance or plan to attend a college, university, or technical school (full-time or part-time).

The application process involves submitting the following:

  • Your most recent academic transcript.
  • Provide proof of financial need, including your Student Aid Report (SAR) with the Student Aid Index (SAI) if you attend a 2-year or 4-year institution.
  • A concise statement outlining your educational and professional aspirations.
  • Verification of the parent’s work-related injury/illness. This could be a worker’s compensation determination letter claim number or a death certificate.
  • Basic employer information about your parent.
  • Application deadline – June 1, 2024
  • Click here to apply

Scholarships are awarded annually, and eligible students can reapply each year.

  • Richland County Foundation Mansfield Noon Lions Club Scholarship Fund

The Mansfield Noon Lions Club Scholarship Fund empowers individuals with visual impairments to pursue their educational goals. Scholarships are available for part-time or full-time students, with priority given to Mansfield City Schools’ visually impaired program graduates.

Who is eligible?

  • Students with visual impairments that significantly impact their education, even with corrective measures.
  • Upcoming junior or senior college students dedicated to working with the visually impaired, such as teachers or therapists.

Minimum GPAs:

  • New applicants: 2.5 GPA or higher
  • Renewing scholarship recipients: 2.0 GPA or higher

Award amounts: Scholarship amounts vary depending on available funds.

Deadline: April 1, 2024

Apply Here!

  • Christopher Mark Pitkin Memorial Scholarship

The Christopher Mark Pitkin Memorial Scholarship supports residents of Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Kern, Inyo, and Santa Barbara) who are pursuing their educational or vocational goals.

Eligibility: Individuals who:

  • Have a bleeding disorder themselves or have an immediate family member with one.
  • Are accepted into an accredited educational or vocational program (proof required).
  • Demonstrate a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to achieving their goals.

To Apply:

  1. Complete our online application form.
  2. Submit a resume or list of your current activities, clubs, achievements, awards, and volunteer experiences.
  3. Provide two letters of recommendation.
  4. Include your academic transcript.
  5. Document your acceptance or enrolment at your chosen institution.
  6. Amount: $1,000
  7. Deadline: June 5, 2024

Selection Process:

Scholarships are awarded based on the applicant’s written statements about their goals and aspirations and their involvement in their community through extracurricular activities.

  • Armando J. de Moya Scholarship

The Armando J. de Moya Scholarship is available for undergraduate students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Florida, Gainesville. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate financial need, have completed a minimum of 59 credit hours, and require financial assistance to continue their studies. Additionally, candidates must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 at the University of Florida (UF), be residents of Florida, and enroll full-time during both fall and spring semesters. Furthermore, they must exhibit financial need and major in civil engineering.

To apply for this disability scholarships, eligible students should submit their application through the designated portal the de Moya Foundation provides. Along with the application form, applicants must include documentation verifying their financial need and academic records, including transcripts reflecting their completed credit hours and GPA. Click here to see if you are eligible.

The de Moya Foundation, established in 2015 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is dedicated to positively impacting the lives of children and young adults with special needs. Our mission includes creating employment opportunities for young adults with unique abilities by fostering enduring partnerships with employers and offering ongoing employee support.

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: June 30, 2024.


The availability of disability scholarships underscores a crucial avenue for students with special needs to access higher education. The Americans with Disabilities Act’s mandate has paved the way for educational institutions to actively support disabled students actively, ensuring they can pursue their academic aspirations unhindered by financial constraints or other obstacles.

These scholarships provide financial assistance and recognize the unique challenges and talents of students with disabilities. From the First Responders Children’s Foundation Scholarship to the Armando J. de Moya Scholarship, each opportunity reflects a commitment to inclusivity and empowerment.

By offering financial aid, mentorship opportunities, and ongoing support, these scholarships facilitate academic success and contribute to the broader goal of creating a more equitable and inclusive society. As we continue to champion diversity and accessibility in education, these scholarships serve as beacons of hope for students with special needs, empowering them to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to their communities and beyond.

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