January 1, 1970

By Gordon Rovins
Students with disabilities can face particular challenges in financing their

college education.

They may not be able to work part-time to help offset college costs. The financial aid process caninitially seem overwhelm- ing and finding information about scholarships can appear daunting.

The good news is there are a number of resources available to help students with disabili- ties andtheir families navigate the financial aid process and access scholarships. The website www.bestcolleges.com/finan- cial-aid/students-with-disabilities is one such resource. Governmentagencies, high schools, colleges and organizations that focus on people with disabilities can alsoprovide valuable guidance.

Brielle Cayer from Connecti- cut began attending Fordham University in the fall of 2018 with thehelp of a scholarship from Lighthouse Guild.

“I was made aware of the Lighthouse Guild Scholarship program through the Bureau of Educationand Services for the

Blind,” she said. “Receiving the scholarship made me feel I was able to contribute to financing mycollege education, and it made me feel a sense of inde- pendence.”

There are specific sources of financial aid for students with disabilities. Many of these are websiteclearinghouses that are specific to a particular dis- ability and others that are not disability specific.

The Disabled World website, www.disabled-world.com/disabili ty/finance, is a good start, alongwith www.disabilitysecrets.com/ resources/social-security-disability/ how-financial-aids-gifts-grant forthose students that are receiv- ing social security disability.

Petersons also offers infor- mation on college financial aid assistance for   students   with disabilitiesat www.petersons. com/blog/collegefinancialaidas sistance-for-students-with-disabil ities. Federalfinancial aid for students can be found through www.fedmoney.org.

The Department of Educa- tion‘s Federal TRIO Program provides education grants for students fromdisadvantaged

backgrounds, including stu- dents with disabilities. The publishing company, Reference Service Press(www.rspfunding. com), publishes directories on sources of financial aid for spe- cific groups such aspeople with disabilities.

In addition, there are a va- riety of free resources for stu- dents and families who need help withfinancial aid paper- work. College Goal Sunday is a national program that helps with completing theFree Ap- plication for Student Aid (FAF- SA), the form that must be completed by all students andtheir families before they can be considered for any federal financial aid.

As   an   example,   funding for students with visual im- pairments is available in the form offellowships, loans and grants. The majority of schol- arships require that the stu- dent must be legallyblind in both eyes. The government defines blindness as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or lessafter using corrective lenses, or having a visual field with 20 degrees of vision or

less, counting both eyes to gether.

Scholarships specifically for students who are blind are pro- vided by individual nonprofit agencies.Lighthouse Guild offers an annual scholarship program for college-bound high school and graduatestudents who are legally blind.

The program awards approx- imately 10 college-bound schol- arships of $10,000 each and one tothree graduate scholarships of up to $10,000. The applica- tion is online at www.lighthouse-guild.org/scholarships. For more information call 212 769-7801. The site also offers a compre-hensive chart listing the major- ity of other scholarships for the visually impaired across the nationunder help resources.

Education unlocks doors. How- ever, given the high cost of col lege, most students need somefinancial assistance. By research- ing and taking advantage of all resources available, students canhelp realize their dreams of at- tending the college of their choice.

Gordon Rovins is director of special programs at the Light- house Guild.

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Lighthouse Guild is dedicated to providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals.