Social Security disability will not pay for college. However, those receiving disability benefits may be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation benefits which can help pay for college and other types of training. There are also various disability-related scholarships and awards students can look into to supplement their educational expenses.
Will the SSA pay for college courses?
The SSA used to provide what was often referred to as “college student benefits,” but phased those out in 1981 when Congress passed the Reconciliation Act Repeal of Social Security. Currently, there is no specific education benefit offered with Social Security disability programs.
That being said, there are other state-funded programs that do help with tuition costs. It is important to note that these programs require applications.
What types of programs can help disabled persons with college tuition?
The first source to look into is the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, or OVR. The OVR provides services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment — one of those services is help paying for college. You will have to apply for benefits, but many people who are not working because of a disability qualify.
The next place you can contact to inquire about getting help paying for college is the U.S. Department of Education (DoED). The DoED offers various federal student aid programs, such as Federal Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. For more information, visit the Federal Student Aid Information Center or call them at 800-433-3243.
There are also a lot of opportunities specifically geared towards students with disabilities. Here are a few that you might want to research:
- College Scholarships
- Foundation for Science and Disability Science Student Grant Fund
- Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award
- Incight Go Getter Scholarship
- Google Lime Scholarship
- NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship
- CIA Undergraduate Scholarship Program
Other Resources for Locating Financial Aid for College
Another thing you can do is to Google educational scholarships for your specific type of disability, e.g., “college scholarships for people with MS.” There are numerous organizations and programs that offer assistance with college tuition for people with certain types of disabilities. For instance, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Spina Bifida Association of America, the American Council of the Blind, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities all offer scholarship programs to qualified students.
Other general resources to research include:
- Religious groups
- Your Chamber of Commerce
You can also go to your school’s Financial Aid Office and ask if it has any suggestions for alternate ways to pay for your schooling.
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At Berger and Green, we regularly post up-to-date and useful content about disability-related issues for our clients. For more helpful information about recovering benefits, check out our blog and follow us on Facebook.