Aid for Students With Disabilities
financial aid can be a complex process. Laws and policies
regulating the disbursement of financial aid change frequenly.
It is important to keep informed about changes in the financial
is Financial Aid?
receive financial aid to meet their educational expenses when
their own financial resources are insufficient. A standardized
formula determines financial need that takes into account
the family's ability to contribute to educational expenses.
The family includes the student, the student's parents (for
dependent students), and the student's spouse (if any). There
are three types of financial aid: grants, loans, and employment.
Grants include gifts and scholarships that do not have to
be repaid. Loans are money borrowed to cover school costs
that one repays over time (usually 10 years). Employment programs
enable a student to earn a portion of school costs by working
while enrolled in school.
should apply for financial aid through the financial aid office
of the college or university they plan to attend. Taking care
to be early and accurate in applying for aid is the most important
step in the financial aid process. All students applying for
financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal
Student Aid (FAFSA). Forms for non-federal assistance are
available in the financial aid offices of the schools you
are interested in attending. Deadlines may vary from school
to school. Students must reapply each year.
Are Disability-Related Expenses?
should be sure to inform the financial aid administrator of
disability-related expenses that the family used to pay. Often
leaving home necessitates the purchase of new or additional
equipment that will allow the student to be independent at
school. Costs related to a student's particular personal circumstances
might be included in financial aid requests if the student
incurs them because of attending school. Students with disabilities
who believe their costs are higher than the standard estimated
by the college should ask to speak with the school's financial
Additional expenses incurred by students with disabilities
equipment (related to the disability) and its maintenance
for services for personal use or study, such as readers,
interpreters, note takers, or personal-care attendants
necessary to pursue an academic program, if regular
transportation is not accessible
expenses relating directly to the individual's disability
that are not covered by insurance
Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS)
The state vocational rehabilitation agency often assists
qualified students with disabilities. The local DRS agency
has counselors who can help a person with a disability determine
eligibility for assistance. Students served by DRS apply
for student financial aid under the guidelines of the Vocational
Rehabilitation Financial Aid Cooperative Agreements.
Social Security Administration
Many students with disabilities are receiving Supplemental
Security Income (SSI). Social Security makes funds available
to people with disabilities who have minimal income and
are not working full time. Take care when making financial
aid decisions to assure that your SSI is not compromised
by financial aid provided through the institution. Sometimes
work-study programs can pose problems for students on SSI.
You can get more information about Social Security matters
24 hours a day by calling Social Security's toll-free number,
1-800-772-1213. You can call for an appointment or to speak
to a service representative between the hours of 7 a.m.
and 7 p.m. on business days. The lines are busiest early
in the week and early in the month so, if your business
can wait, it is best to call at other times. Whenever you
call, have your Social Security number handy. Recorded information
and services are available 24 hours a day, including weekends
and holidays. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may
call the toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7
a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days.
The Social Security Administration provides a program called
Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS) available at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-545.html.
Anyone who has a certified disability, is 16 or older, and
has a gross family income of less than $57,000 a year is
eligible for PASS dollars. The program assists people with
disabilities acquire services or items needed for education
and employment. It provides money for educational training
programs/tuition, transportation, medical necessities, and
other needs. Benefits, such as workers' compensation, unemployment
insurance, SSI, alimony, disabled veteran's benefits, or
wages earned do not affect PASS funding. It is important
to realize that PASS is restrictive. There are time limits
on the amount and time an individual can receive PASS dollars.
on financial aid and scholarships