Financial Aid for College Students with Learning Disabilities (LD)

Download/Print  Financial Aid for College Students with LD Info Sheet

Why Financial Aid is Important for College Students with LD

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  1. Many students with LD need smaller colleges or private colleges for the individual support they offer.
  2. Many students with LD require the support of fee-based programs.
  3. Some students with LD may not be able to effectively demonstrate their intelligence through GPAs and test scores so they may not qualify for academic scholarships

How to Prepare to Qualify for Scholarships

  • Begin in 9th grade!
  • Carefully choose classes to complete requirements for scholarships.
  • Insure that accommodations are being made in class, but not modifications.
  • Work to earn money and/or volunteer.
  • Take ACT or SAT prep classes.
  • Insure that accommodations are in place for high-stakes exams.
  • Take the ACT and SAT early and often to achieve the highest score possible.

Types of Financial Aid

Categories: Merit-Based and Need-Based

Sources: Federal, State, Institutional and Private

Gift aid is based on need or merit and includes grants and scholarships.

Self-help aid is based on need or non-need and includes loans and employment.

Definition of “Need”

To determine a student’s need, financial aid providers start with the cost of attending the college, then subtract the expected family contribution from that cost.

How to Apply for Federal Aid

A free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) is available at Some state financial aid requires a completed FAFSA as well. The FAFSA includes applications for:

  • Pell Grant
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Work Study
  • Student Loans

How to Apply for State Aid

Find out what scholarships the state offers. High school guidance counselors should have this information.

  • Determine the requirements to receive and keep these scholarships.
  • Be aware that state scholarships are often merit-based ONLY, and the requirements are NOT flexible.

How to Apply for Private Aid

  • Ask the high school counselor what is available.
  • Contact the parent’s employer for possible private aid.
  • Complete online scholarship searches.

How to Apply for Institutional Aid

Once the student has been accepted to a college or university, schedule an appointment with the financial aid department to discuss the following types of financial aid:

  • Academic
  • Achievement
  • Work Study
  • Loans

State Rehabilitation Services Agency (RSA)

Check with a local RSA counselor to determine eligibility requirements for financial assistance. RSA may pay for books and tuition. Tuition payment will not exceed the tuition at a state public school, and RSA does not usually pay for out-of-state schools.

Also, RSA’s contribution varies for each individual depending on need and severity of disability.

Additional Resources!

Download/Print Financial Aid for College Students with LD Info Sheet

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Feel free to leave a comment below regarding this article. If you have a specific question for LDA, please contact us directly.


  1. I need scholarships for medical school outside of the US. I have a cognitive learning disability.
    Is there any that I can apply for? I have a Master’s Degree already.

  2. Breeanna says

    Had a learning disability all my life. Managed to pass high school but my first year of college I struggled.. had to drop and retake classes, constantly feeling not good enough.. putting all my effort study and tutoring and barely passing (grade of C or less) about 80-90% of the time, my gap is average under a 3.0 even though I put in work. Haven’t been tested in 10 years I’m waiting for my school this summer. Meanwhile Trying to get in a trade school, but one problem. They require at least an 18/50 on the wonderlic test and I got a 15 )-: I can retake it two more times but I don’t know if I’ll make it… I hope. I feel like I’m being restored to I can’t do college and have to work, even though I want to go to school, I’m only 19 and been struggling since I was a kid, put in intermediate classes for extra support, 504 plan, tutoring sessions, group study sessions.. it’s hard to deal with. To anyone struggling, get tested!! I’ve done research there are scholarships for learning disabilities and grants!! Once I’m officially diagnosed and receive proper accommodations I intend on financial help through learning disability (I don’t receive it bc my parents make too much)

  3. Hey guys I need some help on were I can find scaholarships or something that can help me pay for college i was thier in college for a few months but had to drop out do to money wise I have a learning disabilities and I want to study criminal justice asking for help

    • Breeanna says

      There are scholarships and grants for learning disability!!! And accommodations.. Read my post below!!

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