GRADUATE SCHOOL AND COLLEGE GUIDE FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

Despite the fact that the percentage of people with disabilities holding a college degree or higher has increased in recent years, it is still alarmingly low.

GRADUATE SCHOOL AND COLLEGE GUIDE FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

Despite the fact that the percentage of people with disabilities holding a college degree or higher has increased in recent years, it is still alarmingly low.

Starting graduate school is no easy decision to make. Students take into account the time it will take, the high cost of tuition, the salary that they will give up while they are in grad school, and the impact the degree will have on their future careers.

However, if you are one of those people who wants to further their education and professional achievement despite your disability, here we will provide a college and graduate school guide for students with disabilities. This includes qualifications of disabilities, relevant laws and regulations, applications for grad school, and possible scholarships you could apply for.

Besides all of these considerations, students with disabilities have to think about additional factors which influence their grad school experience. The enrollment of students with disabilities in grad school has increased in the past decades.

16%
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 16% of people with disabilities completed a Bachelor’s degree or higher in 2014.

DO YOU QUALIFY AS A PERSON WITH DISABILITIES?

In order to be eligible for scholarships aimed at students with disabilities or to ask for accommodation for graduate school, you must qualify as a person with disabilities based on the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA states that people with disabilities are those who:

  • Have an impairment which does not allow them to complete life activities
  • Have a record of having such an impairment
  • Are regarded as having such an impairment

So you must not be able to complete certain tasks to qualify as a person with disabilities. All these tasks fall under a certain category of disabilities such as:

seeingVision disabilities – Students with such disability could have limitations in navigation through the campus and many other locations. They are also unable to view classroom material, presentations and videos.

 

hearingHearing Disabilities – Hard of hearing students are unable to listen to lectures, presentations and videos. Unless there is a sign language interpreter in campus, these students may face difficulties grasping some of the material lectured.

 

mobilityMobility Disabilities – The biggest challenges that students with mobility impairments face are moving around classrooms, campus and other university facilities. However these students may be unable to take notes, write essays and take tests due to their mobility difficulties.

 

psychologicalPsychological Disabilities – During their studies, students may face many many conditions such as anxiety, panic and bipolar disorders, depression. These conditions fall in the category of psychological disabilities. In many cases these conditions have a negative effect on students as they begin to have difficulties in attending classes and completing the required work.

 

healthChronic Health Impairments – Students with this kind of disability have serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease, back problems, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. These students may have difficulties focusing and attending classes due to the problems that these conditions may cause.

 

bookLearning Disabilities – Having learning disabilities can cause limitations in memory, auditory or visual functions in students, therefore they may be unable to demonstrate their abilities in many areas of academics.

 

thinkingDevelopmental Disabilities – Students with developmental disabilities face issues with analysis, reasoning, critical thinking and other functions. These disabilities limit the developing of students’ intellectual or physical capacities.

seeingVision disabilities – Students with such disability could have limitations in navigation through the campus and many other locations. They are also unable to view classroom material, presentations and videos.

 

hearingHearing Disabilities – Hard of hearing students are unable to listen to lectures, presentations and videos. Unless there is a sign language interpreter in campus, these students may face difficulties grasping some of the material lectured.

 

mobilityMobility Disabilities – The biggest challenges that students with mobility impairments face are moving around classrooms, campus and other university facilities. However these students may be unable to take notes, write essays and take tests due to their mobility difficulties.

 

psychologicalPsychological Disabilities – During their studies, students may face many many conditions such as anxiety, panic and bipolar disorders, depression. These conditions fall in the category of psychological disabilities. In many cases these conditions have a negative effect on students as they begin to have difficulties in attending classes and completing the required work.

 

healthChronic Health Impairments – Students with this kind of disability have serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease, back problems, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. These students may have difficulties focusing and attending classes due to the problems that these conditions may cause.

 

bookLearning Disabilities – Having learning disabilities can cause limitations in memory, auditory or visual functions in students, therefore they may be unable to demonstrate their abilities in many areas of academics.

 

thinkingDevelopmental Disabilities – Students with developmental disabilities face issues with analysis, reasoning, critical thinking and other functions. These disabilities limit the developing of students’ intellectual or physical capacities.

If you cannot do a task which is related to these, such as for example walking, then you qualify as a person with disabilities. This gives you certain rights when it comes to attending higher education.

LAWS AND REGULATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

There are many laws and regulations for people with disabilities. There are laws for students of high school level and below, but two of them are the most important for students of higher education.

THE AMERICAN DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)

This Act was passed in 1990 to protect people from discrimination. Besides the prohibition to discriminate based on sex, religion, race, nationality, and others, it also prohibits discrimination based on disability. This means that academic institutions, whether they are private or public, cannot discriminate you just because you have a disability. This includes the application phase, enrollment, financial aid and so on.

REHABILITATION ACT

The Rehabilitation Act was passed in 1973, but its part about people with disabilities, Section 504, took effect in 1977. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by all programs which get federal funding. In addition, it states specific rules about what universities can and cannot do regarding students with disabilities. Section 504 states that:

  • Universities cannot inquire whether an applicant has a disability.
  • They cannot make an admissions decision based on a disability (not accept based on disabilities, or limit the number of students with disabilities).
  • They cannot exclude students from courses due to disabilities.
  • They cannot limit career options just because of a disability.
  • If universities provide housing for all students, they must have appropriate accommodation for students with disabilities too.

Based on these laws and regulations, students with disabilities can attend college and graduate school without being discriminated against. If you are discriminated based on your disability, these laws allow you to seek legal action against the university which has discriminated you.

APPLYING FOR AND ATTENDING GRADUATE SCHOOL

Before you start applying for graduate schools, you need to take into account a multitude of factors. Besides length of program and cost, you also have a choice between formats. This includes on-campus programs where you move to the university you are accepted to and start your program full or part time.

The other option which many students are choosing nowadays is distance learning. This means that you complete your program by taking the courses and examinations online. The advantage to this is that you can continue working and not forgo your current salary for your graduate degree. For more on this, visit Distance Learning for Students with Disabilities.

When you start your applications, you must know that you are not obliged to disclose your disability. However, if you need special accommodations to complete the application and attend classes, it is best to let the university administration know. The reason for this is that they can make the necessary efforts to accommodate you, or they can inform you if they do not have the required equipment to assist you. In addition, they can organize tours for you to see the campus and see what they can provide to help with your particular disability.

ACCOMODATION

After you start attending grad school, the university must provide the accommodations which allow you to succeed in courses. When you enroll in classes, you should contact the professor to let them know of your disability and what kind of accommodation you need.

In general, the university must grant your requests for assistance; however, they cannot incur a high financial burden from this. This means that they can accommodate your needs as long as it does not interfere with their provision of academic services. General accommodations include the following:

  • Having the appropriate infrastructure for navigation, such as ramps, accessible toilets, seating, parking, housing, and so on.
  • Giving you more time to complete exams or modifying the structure for your disability (vision or hearing disabilities)
  • Provide you with assistance in class, such as computer software, note takers, or other assistive devices and programs
  • Provide you with appropriate course materials, such as text in Braille, or video lectures with captions, text to speech material, sign language interpreters, etc.

In addition, if you require other accommodate, you can send in the request for it or make sure that the university will provide it for you before you enroll.

FINANCING GRAD SCHOOL

Getting a master’s degree is quite expensive. Many students choose not to get this degree just because of the amount of loans they would have to take. Luckily, there are funding opportunities that can help you finance your grad school education.

Here we have outlined a list of scholarships you can apply to for covering your grad school tuition, if you are a student with disabilities. We have grouped them based on the types of disabilities.

If you cannot do a task which is related to these, such as for example walking, then you qualify as a person with disabilities. This gives you certain rights when it comes to attending higher education.

LAWS AND REGULATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

There are many laws and regulations for people with disabilities. There are laws for students of high school level and below, but two of them are the most important for students of higher education.

THE AMERICAN DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)

This Act was passed in 1990 to protect people from discrimination. Besides the prohibition to discriminate based on sex, religion, race, nationality, and others, it also prohibits discrimination based on disability. This means that academic institutions, whether they are private or public, cannot discriminate you just because you have a disability. This includes the application phase, enrollment, financial aid and so on.

REHABILITATION ACT

The Rehabilitation Act was passed in 1973, but its part about people with disabilities, Section 504, took effect in 1977. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by all programs which get federal funding. In addition, it states specific rules about what universities can and cannot do regarding students with disabilities. Section 504 states that:

  • Universities cannot inquire whether an applicant has a disability.
  • They cannot make an admissions decision based on a disability (not accept based on disabilities, or limit the number of students with disabilities).
  • They cannot exclude students from courses due to disabilities.
  • They cannot limit career options just because of a disability.
  • If universities provide housing for all students, they must have appropriate accommodation for students with disabilities too.

Based on these laws and regulations, students with disabilities can attend college and graduate school without being discriminated against. If you are discriminated based on your disability, these laws allow you to seek legal action against the university which has discriminated you.

APPLYING FOR AND ATTENDING GRADUATE SCHOOL

Before you start applying for graduate schools, you need to take into account a multitude of factors. Besides length of program and cost, you also have a choice between formats. This includes on-campus programs where you move to the university you are accepted to and start your program full or part time.

The other option which many students are choosing nowadays is distance learning. This means that you complete your program by taking the courses and examinations online. The advantage to this is that you can continue working and not forgo your current salary for your graduate degree. For more on this, visit Distance Learning for Students with Disabilities.

When you start your applications, you must know that you are not obliged to disclose your disability. However, if you need special accommodations to complete the application and attend classes, it is best to let the university administration know. The reason for this is that they can make the necessary efforts to accommodate you, or they can inform you if they do not have the required equipment to assist you. In addition, they can organize tours for you to see the campus and see what they can provide to help with your particular disability.

ACCOMODATION

After you start attending grad school, the university must provide the accommodations which allow you to succeed in courses. When you enroll in classes, you should contact the professor to let them know of your disability and what kind of accommodation you need.

In general, the university must grant your requests for assistance; however, they cannot incur a high financial burden from this. This means that they can accommodate your needs as long as it does not interfere with their provision of academic services. General accommodations include the following:

  • Having the appropriate infrastructure for navigation, such as ramps, accessible toilets, seating, parking, housing, and so on.
  • Giving you more time to complete exams or modifying the structure for your disability (vision or hearing disabilities)
  • Provide you with assistance in class, such as computer software, note takers, or other assistive devices and programs
  • Provide you with appropriate course materials, such as text in Braille, or video lectures with captions, text to speech material, sign language interpreters, etc.

In addition, if you require other accommodate, you can send in the request for it or make sure that the university will provide it for you before you enroll.

FINANCING GRAD SCHOOL

Getting a master’s degree is quite expensive. Many students choose not to get this degree just because of the amount of loans they would have to take. Luckily, there are funding opportunities that can help you finance your grad school education.

Here we have outlined a list of scholarships you can apply to for covering your grad school tuition, if you are a student with disabilities. We have grouped them based on the types of disabilities.

FOR ALL DISABILITIES

American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD)

This scholarship is awarded by AAHD for undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities.

Scholarships are up to $1,000, and students must be studying a field related to health and disability. This can include disability studies and research, audiology, special education, health promotion, etc.

Eligibility criteria vary, but the requirement is that students who apply must have a disability which falls under the ADA categories.

For more, visit: www.aahd.us/initiatives/scholarship-program/

The Incight Scholarship

Incight is committed to helping students with disabilities achieve their educational goals. They support students who are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as vocational schools.

Students must have a documented disability to qualify for the scholarships between $500 and $1,500.

For more, visit: incight.org/education/scholarship

Google Lime Scholarship

Google finances a scholarship for grad school students with disabilities who are studying computer science. The scholarship is for $10,000 for students from the U.S, and $5,000 for students from Canada.

For more, visit: www.limeconnect.com/opportunities/page/google-lime-scholarship-program

US Department of Agriculture – Foundation for Science and Disability

The US Department of Agriculture supports students with disabilities in completing their graduate research projects in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. Students must have a documented disability and have an offer for a graduate program in STEM or pre-medical fields. The scholarships support their project with $1,000.

For more, visit: www.stemd.org

Google Lime Scholarship

Google finances a scholarship for grad school students with disabilities who are studying computer science. The scholarship is for $10,000 for students from the U.S, and $5,000 for students from Canada.

For more, visit: www.limeconnect.com/opportunities/page/google-lime-scholarship-program

US Department of Agriculture – Foundation for Science and Disability

The US Department of Agriculture supports students with disabilities in completing their graduate research projects in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. Students must have a documented disability and have an offer for a graduate program in STEM or pre-medical fields. The scholarships support their project with $1,000.

For more, visit: www.stemd.org

PHYSICAL/MOBILITY SCHOLARSHIPS

Pfizer Hemophilia Village

Pfizer awards a $4,000 scholarship each year to students with Hemophilia A, Hemophilia B, or carriers. Students must either have an acceptance offer or be enrolled in their degrees to qualify for the scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to undergraduate, graduate, or vocational school students.

For more, visit: www.hemophiliavillage.com/hemophilia-scholarship-program

The Elizabeth Nash Foundation

The Elizabeth Nash Foundation supports people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The scholarship is awarded to students who have been accepted or are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program. The amount of the scholarship varies from $1,000 to $2,500, and they are only available to students who are U.S citizens.

For more, visit: www.elizabethnashfoundation.org/scholarships.html

Homeschool Buyers Co-op – Ethel Louise Armstrong (ELA) Foundation Scholarship

This foundation awards scholarships between $500 to $2,000 to women who have various physical disabilities. Applicants must have a documented disability and be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the U.S.

For more, visit: www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ethel-louise-armstrong-ela-foundation-scholarship-for-women-graduate-students-.html

180 Medical

180 Medical is an organization which assists people with spinal cord injuries, transverse myelitis, spina bifida, neurogenic bladder, or ostomy. Eligible students must have a documented disability and be enrolled in a graduate program. In addition, applicants must be U.S citizens to qualify for the $1,000 scholarships.

For more, visit: www.180medical.com/scholarships

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

People between 15 and 39 years old who have been affected by cancer or have had a loved one with cancer (parent or sibling) qualify for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. This award is given for $2,500 for two academic semesters and goes towards paying the tuition. The advantage is that when you submit an application to this fund, you are automatically considered for any other scholarship which they offer.

For more, visit: ulmanfund.org/scholarships/

Fit Small Business

The Fit Small Business organization awards $1,000 for students with disabilities who have a business plan. The business plan can be for a course project or for starting your own business. Students do not need to submit the business plan, but apply through writing a 500 to 1000 word essay to let the organization know what they learned while writing this business plan.

For more, visit: fitsmallbusiness.com/learn-how-to-write-a-business-plan/

180 Medical

180 Medical is an organization which assists people with spinal cord injuries, transverse myelitis, spina bifida, neurogenic bladder, or ostomy. Eligible students must have a documented disability and be enrolled in a graduate program. In addition, applicants must be U.S citizens to qualify for the $1,000 scholarships.

For more, visit: www.180medical.com/scholarships

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

People between 15 and 39 years old who have been affected by cancer or have had a loved one with cancer (parent or sibling) qualify for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. This award is given for $2,500 for two academic semesters and goes towards paying the tuition. The advantage is that when you submit an application to this fund, you are automatically considered for any other scholarship which they offer.

For more, visit: ulmanfund.org/scholarships/

Fit Small Business

The Fit Small Business organization awards $1,000 for students with disabilities who have a business plan. The business plan can be for a course project or for starting your own business. Students do not need to submit the business plan, but apply through writing a 500 to 1000 word essay to let the organization know what they learned while writing this business plan.

For more, visit: fitsmallbusiness.com/learn-how-to-write-a-business-plan/

VISUAL DISABILITIES

American Foundation For the Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind awards various scholarships in different fields from $1,000 to $3,500. The scholarships are for graduate students who have visual disabilities. To qualify, students must fill an application form, send transcripts and two letters of recommendation, and medical proof of their disability.

For more, visit: www.afb.org/info/afb-2017-scholarship-application/5

Blinded Veterans Association

Veterans with visual impairments, and their spouses, dependent children, or grandchildren are eligible to receive scholarships of up to $2,000. The scholarships support their completion of undergraduate or graduate degrees.

For more, visit: www.bva.org/BVA/Programs/Scholarships_Awards/BVA/Programs/Scholarships_and_Awards/Scholarships_Awards.aspx

The Lighthouse Guild

This organization supports students who are legally blind to complete their undergraduate or graduate degree. They have two scholarships of up to $10,000 for both types of students. Students must be currently enrolled in a program and are not required to file financial need proof.

For more, visit: www.lighthouseguild.org/programs-services/scholarships/

American Council of the Blind

The ACB gives scholarships from $1,000 to $4,000 to students who have visual disabilities. Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or vocational school to qualify. In addition, they must have a 3.3 GPA and be active in their community.

For more, visit: www.acb.org/scholarship

The Lighthouse Guild

This organization supports students who are legally blind to complete their undergraduate or graduate degree. They have two scholarships of up to $10,000 for both types of students. Students must be currently enrolled in a program and are not required to file financial need proof.

For more, visit: www.lighthouseguild.org/programs-services/scholarships/

American Council of the Blind

The ACB gives scholarships from $1,000 to $4,000 to students who have visual disabilities. Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or vocational school to qualify. In addition, they must have a 3.3 GPA and be active in their community.

For more, visit: www.acb.org/scholarship

LEARNING DISABILITIES

Learning Ally

Learning Ally awards scholarships to those who have learning or print disabilities. The three best students who apply, get $6,000 in scholarship awards each.

For more, visit: www.learningally.org

HEARING DISABILITIES

American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation

The foundation which supports those with hearing disabilities, offers scholarships up to $5,000 for students who are undergraduate seniors, or those enrolled in a graduate or PhD program. They must be students studying communication sciences and disorders, and they are offered to outstanding students, including internationals and minorities.

For more, visit: www.ashfoundation.org/grants/Graduate-Student-Scholarship/

Cochlear Baha Scholarship

The Cochlear Baha Scholarship is awarded to students from the U.S and Canada. Applicants must have a Baha device, be either undergraduate or graduate students, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Winners get $2,000 in scholarships with a possibility to maintain it for 4 years based on merit.

For more, visit: www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/us/recipients/baha-4/baha-4-support-and-community/scholarships/scholarship-details

Cochlear Baha Scholarship

The Cochlear Baha Scholarship is awarded to students from the U.S and Canada. Applicants must have a Baha device, be either undergraduate or graduate students, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Winners get $2,000 in scholarships with a possibility to maintain it for 4 years based on merit.

For more, visit: www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/us/recipients/baha-4/baha-4-support-and-community/scholarships/scholarship-details

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