Financing College

Many families wonder whether there are special scholarships available for students with dyslexia. While there are a few sources of funding, the vast majority of college grants and scholarships are either awarded to students solely on the basis of financial need, or else based on merit or an outstanding accomplishment, or talent in arts or sports.

Colleges generally use scholarship money to entice particularly strong candidates to attend, rather than to subsidize students who need extra help; thus your search for college funding should begin with a focus on your child's strengths. Your child may also be eligible for scholarships available through your employer, via local service groups, or special scholarships geared to students from a particular ethnic or religious group.

Financial assistance for college is also available to students who provide a year of public service through Americorps, or to students who enroll in the military reserves or college ROTC programs.

Funding for Students with Disabilities

There are a growing number of resources earmarked specifically for students with disabilities. Two scholarships specifically geared to students with learning disabilities are:

  1. Marion Huber Learning through Listening Awards, offered by Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic to high school seniors who have been RFB&D members for at least one year. Awards are for $6,000 or $2,000; there are six awards given annually.

  2. Anne Ford Scholarship, offered by the National Center for Learning Disabilities to a high school senior; the annual award is $10,000.

Financing to attend a trade school or a college program geared to qualifying for specific employment may also be available through the vocational rehabilitation system. Every state has a job training program for high school graduates who have difficulty obtaining or keeping employment because of a disability, including dyslexia. This can pay up to 100 percent of college costs, including tuition, books, living expenses, and transportation.

Need-Based Aid

Because of the high cost of college tuition and housing, students are often eligible for a significant amount of assistance based on financial need, even when their parents earn well over median income levels. To determine eligibility for federally subsidized financial aid, students must annually submit a form provided by the U.S. Department of Education called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Based on information provided about family income and assets with this form, an expected family contribution (EFC) is calculated. If the total amount of expected college costs exceed the EFC, your child will be eligible to receive federally subsidized loans and to participate in work-study to earn money on campus. Low-income families may qualify for additional loans and for a federally subsidized Pell Grant.

If the subsidized aid that your child receives is not enough to cover all costs, parents with a good credit history can qualify for a federally guaranteed PLUS loan, which will allow you to borrow amounts needed up to the total costs of college at preferred rates. Interest on both student and parent loans may also be tax-deductible; there are a number of other tax deductions and credits that are available to parents financing their child's higher education as well.

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