Finding Financial Aid
When you decide to make the big decision to go to college, your injury may give you access to more financial aid sources while pursuing your academic dreams. But don't think that, just because you have a spinal cord injury, you're going to get a full ride.
Before the recession, financial aid was a bit easier to come by. Now, you have to fight for every penny. That is ok though. We are here to help. There are plenty of places to search out financial assistance.
For starters, you'll want to meet with a financial aid counselor at your college to discuss all of the options available to you. Some colleges, especially smaller, private universities, will not have as much financial aid available. Taking out loans will likely be something you must do if you decide to go to a private college and do not have a scholarship or family assistance.
Perkins loans are some of the most popular Federal loans that students use. Otherwise, subsidized and un-subsidized loans from the government are also available. If, for whatever reason, these loans are not available to you (this could happen if you or your parents make too much money) you'll have to take out a SELF loan (definition: A loan you take out from a bank in your name) or something similar instead.
But what if taking out loans isn't something you want to do? The Department of Rehabilitation (DR) (definition: Federal government department that helps people with disabilities become employed), which is a very helpful branch of the government for PWD, will help people with disabilities with their college costs if it helps them get off public assistance.
Which state you live in and which college you end up going to will greatly affect how much you will receive from DR, but it is considered a grant and therefore you do not have to pay it back.
There are other grants available through the Federal government as well, such as Pell grants. After being accepted, colleges will send you a financial aid letter that explains all of your financial aid options, including any grants that are available to you. Scholarships are another possibility for students with spinal cord injuries (see below).
There are many nonprofits that are set up to provide tuition assistance to be able with disabilities. One of the best-known nonprofits that helps with financial aid for people with spinal cord injuries is the Byron Riesch Paralysis Foundation.
Otherwise, there are dozens of organizations, law firms and foundations that award assistance to students with spinal cord injuries. Many of these foundations will only offer $500 - $1,000 grants, so you may have to apply for several grants to cover all your bases. Here is a list of some of the finanial aid options available to you: