Reviewed by Laura Angers, LPC
College costs are rising at an alarming rate. The price tag alone can make a college degree feel like a far-off fairy tale for many students getting ready to graduate high school or entering their senior year of high school with expectations weighing on their backs. It sometimes might feel like you have to go to college to have a shot at your high-paying dream career, but your finances might make college a daunting, or even seemingly impossible, task. When the average cost for a college education is over $11,000 a year, the need for a way to slash that price becomes even more important.
Luckily, many companies and nonprofits have stepped up to the plate and are doing their best to help students decrease the cost of their schooling experience through scholarships. Scholarships are essentially free money that students don’t have to pay back to the group they received it from. This is different from loans, which do need to be paid back.
Typically, students think of merit-based scholarships (scholarships based on academic achievement) or scholarships where they have to write the notorious 500-word essay. (Plus, you certainly can be eligible for those academic scholarships too, and those 500-word essays become easier each time you draft one!) However, what most students don’t realize is that there is a scholarship for everything and anything! What this means is there is probably at least one scholarship for everyone.
As said before, scholarships are for everyone and anything. There are even some scholarships specifically for left-handed people--that’s it! This also means that there are dozens of scholarships for ADHD, for which one of the qualifying characteristics is that the student has ADHD. Keep in mind, though, that just having ADHD isn’t always the only thing that will indicate your eligibility. Sometimes, the scholarship might require you to write an essay or provide your academic record just so they can see what kind of a student you are.
Scholarships for students with ADHD require that the student have a documented disability, meaning that it needs to be diagnosed, and they need to have it on their records. Scholarships will typically require that the student submit documentation of their disability. If you believe that you or your student might have ADHD, then taking this short quiz might provide some guidance. This quiz is not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool; it’s simply meant to be used to determine if speaking to a medical practitioner would be a wise next step.
Here are some examples of scholarships for students with ADHD. Not all of these scholarships are exclusive to students with ADHD, and students with other learning disabilities are also eligible to apply for them, so share them with your friends! If things go well, then one or more of these scholarships may take a sizable chunk off your college expenses.
- Disabled Person, Inc.hosts an essay scholarship annually for students with disabilities. Students are asked to write a 1000 word essay on an assigned topic. They host two separate contests throughout the year: one for the fall semester (information is posted in mid-August) and one for the spring semester (information is posted in mid-December).
- Incightoffers the Incight Scholarship, which is a $500 renewable scholarship. This means that every year, the student can apply to have the scholarship given to their university once again (Meaning a student might be able to get $2000 over the course of their college career!). This scholarship is open to any student with a learning disability.
- In addition to their scholarship for students in any major, Incight also sponsors the Scrubs Gallery Scholarship for students with a documented learning disability majoring in nursing.
- Supported by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Anne Ford Scholarship offersa $10,000 scholarship for any student with a documented learning disability. The award is given in $2,500 annual increments. This scholarship must be used by a student who is enrolled at a four-year college or university.
- Also supported by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship is similar to the Anne Ford Scholarship, but for two-year degrees. It offersa $5,000 scholarship for students attending a two-year vocational school or community college. It is given in $2,500 annual increments.
- Students with disabilities interested in pursuing a career in technology are encouraged to apply to Microsoft’sDisability Scholarship! It offers students $5,000 annually and is open to students attending a community college or a university. Promising high school seniors with a documented disability are encouraged to apply, and they could receive up to $20,000 over the course of their college career.
- The American Association on Health and Disability offersa scholarship for current undergraduate students with a documented learning disability. Preference is given to students majoring in public health, disability studies, health promotion, or a field related to disability and health. Students who have a history of community service and volunteering. Currently, the scholarship is postponed for the 2020-2021 school year due to current circumstances. However, the association hopes to have the scholarship up and running as soon as possible!
- Learning Ally offerssix current members a chance to win one of the Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Awards. The top three winners will be awarded $6,000 each, while the other winners will receive $2,000 each. This scholarship is open to all high school seniors who are members of Learning Ally and have a documented learning disability.
Listed above are eight fantastic scholarship opportunities for students with a disability, including ADHD. However, this list isn’t exhaustive. So, the first tip for students seeking scholarships is to use scholarship directories. FastWeb and Scholarships.com are two such databases that house thousands of scholarships available for thousands of different kinds of people. Using their engines to search for scholarships for students with ADHD could probably triple the amount listed above.
Another important tip is that you won’t win every scholarship, so it’s important not to get discouraged! If you don’t win one, that doesn’t mean you won’t win the next one you enter. It’s just like interviewing for a job: just because you aren’t the perfect fit for one company doesn’t mean every company won’t think you’re a good fit for them.
Connected to the idea of “not winning the next one,” there is one kind of scholarship that you will never win...the one you don’t enter! So, whenever you see a scholarship that you qualify for, enter it! The worst that can happen is you don’t win. The best thing that can happen is that you don’t have to pay for a few of your textbooks next year!
When you do win a scholarship, be sure to follow up on the paperwork that they’ll send you (if any). It’s boring, yes, but it’s also important. If you don’t turn in the paperwork they ask for when they ask for it, you could give up the money you just won! Don’t forget or procrastinate on these things. You worked hard to get that money, so be sure to make sure that it’s 100% yours.
Speaking of money, don’t turn your nose up at “small” $500 scholarships because they can really add up. Some scholarships only require that you put your name and contact information into a pool of other students, so the workload is light. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to enter. Which is better: One $1,000 scholarship or three $500 scholarships? Combine a few scholarships to get the best possible results.
However, most importantly, check to make sure that your scholarship is really a scholarship. As awful as it might sound, there are scams out there that are just trying to get your contact information. If something looks questionable, then it might be best to just skip it. Always do your research before entering your personal information.
General Financial Aid Tips
One type of “free money” isn’t listed here, and that’s grants. Grants are basically another name for scholarships, and they’re most commonly offered by the state and federal government. The most well-known source of financial aid that any student will probably be able to tell you about is the aid received from your FAFSA. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it’s need-based money that the government can give to you to help you with your education. Filing opens in October and closes in May. Current high school seniors should be sure to apply!
When filling out your FAFSA, be sure that you really are filling out your FAFSA since the internet is filled with fake websites claiming to be the FAFSA. You can find the proper website to fill out your FAFSA here. If you’re trying to fill out your FAFSA and the form asks you to pay to continue, then it’s not FAFSA.
You will need your tax information from two years ago to fill out your FAFSA for the current year. This means that 2021-2022 (This is your first FAFSA, high school seniors!) will use your 2019 tax information.
Your state also might offer some grants depending on which state you live in. Typically, once you’re done with your FAFSA for the year, the website will immediately ask if you would like to be redirected to your state’s office of aid, and you can usually just send your FAFSA application to your state’s office with no extra work.
College costs look scary, but there are countless ways to make that cost go down. Most universities will offer scholarships to you right off of the bat, and other organizations are out there that want to help lower your cost of attendance. As you’ve just seen, there are loads of scholarships just for students with learning disabilities, so don’t let money be the reason you don’t further your education. Be smart and be aware of college costs, but try not to let the sticker price deter you from even applying.