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Can a Disabled Person Go to College for Free?

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Navigating the world of higher education can be challenging, especially for those living with disabilities. For many, the financial burden of college tuition adds an extra layer of difficulty. But what if there were opportunities for disabled individuals to attend college for free? Can a disabled person go to college for free?

This article explores the possibilities about how a disabled person can go to college for free. This aims to provide guidance on securing a free college education for those with disabilities, their parents, and advocates alike.

Understanding Disability

Disability is a broad term that encompasses various types of physical and mental conditions. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. These activities include seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working.

Different types of disabilities qualify for different types of assistance when it comes to education. But the question is, can a disabled person go to college for free? For example, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, and chronic illnesses can all qualify an individual for certain educational grants, scholarships, or tuition waivers. Many students attend school without adequate equipment or tools to meet their academic and daily needs. Regardless of how complicated things can be, one can contact the Social Security Administration for benefits and programs that meet their needs.

Available Free Tuition Programs

Can a disabled person go to college for free? Certainly yes. Various free tuition programs are available for undergraduate students with disabilities. State and federal governments frequently offer these programs, which can significantly lessen the cost of higher education. What’s more, disabled students are given incentives, like receiving disability benefits, to help with their daily expenses in school districts, colleges and universities. 

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For instance, the U.S. Department of Education offers the Federal Pell Grant as an educational grant offered to low-income undergraduate and certain postgraduate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Students may use their grants at any one of the approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Grants, on the other hand, offer financial assistance to individuals with disabilities. If you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may be eligible for these grants.

These grants can be used to cover the cost of tuition, books, and other education-related expenses. The amount of money you can receive from a Social Security Disability Grant will depend on your individual circumstances, including the type and severity of your disability.

Social Security Disability Insurance 

There are also programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that help people who meet the criteria for disability. 

The SSDI benefits qualified applicants and their dependents if the applicant worked for a long enough period of time and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings. Adults and their children, on the other hand, who meet the requirements for a qualifying disability and have limited income and resources are eligible for SSI benefits. 

Scholarships and Financial Aid

In addition to government-sponsored programs and grants, there are scholarships and financial aid options specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. These scholarships can cover partial or complete tuition fees. Oftentimes, they extend to cover other college-related expenses, such as books and accommodations.

Federal Student Aid

Federal Pell Grants

Students in their first year of college who have financial needs, usually because their family income is less than $50,000, can get Pell Grants. A Federal Pell Grant can be used for up to six years, or 12 semesters. This year, the most you can get from a Pell Grant is $7,395, but most people get much less than that. How much you get will depend on how much help you need.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant 

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs) are given to students identified with very high financial needs and go to schools that take part in the program. They are usually given to first-year college students who qualify for Pell Grants, but have even more financial need than most Pell Grant recipients. Most FSEOG grants are worth about $2,000 per year.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant

A TEACH grant could pay for a student’s education if he or she wants to become a teacher and is willing to work in a low-income school after graduation. The grant is worth up to $4,000 per year. To get it, however, the student must take certain classes. The graduate must then teach for four years within eight years of graduating or pay back the grant as a direct, unsubsidized loan.

Can a Disabled Person Go to College for Free Using Scholarships?

Here are some scholarship programs that offer great education packages for disabled students seeking to finish higher education: 

  • AAHD Frederick J Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability
  • Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) College Scholarship Program
  • Baer Reintegration Scholarship
  • Flora Marie Jenkins Memorial Disability Scholarship
  • Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) Educational Scholarships
  • Microsoft DisAbility Scholarship

These programs are also available to international students with special needs. 

Online Classes and Disability

Can a Disabled Person Go to College for Free

The advent of online classes has opened up new opportunities for those with disabilities. Therefore, the question “Can a disabled person go to college for free,?” allows many individuals on Social Security disability to take online classes. This flexible learning option allows students to work at their own pace and from the comfort of their own homes. The setup reduces the physical demands and stress associated with traditional campus learning.

It’s important to note that every person’s situation is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Always consult with a disability services counselor or advisor to determine the best path for your educational journey.

How to Apply for Free College

Applying for free college programs for disabled individuals involves several steps. It’s important to research thoroughly and understand the eligibility requirements of each program before you proceed.

  1. Determine your eligibility: Check the requirements for each grant, scholarship, or program you’re interested in. Some programs may require proof of disability or financial need.
  2. Gather the necessary documents: This may include medical records, proof of income, and academic transcripts.
  3. Fill out the application: Most applications can be completed online. Ensure you fill out all sections accurately and provide all required information.
  1. Submit your application: Be aware of application deadlines and submit your application ahead of time to avoid last-minute rushes.
  2. Follow up: After submitting your application, keep track of its status. Some organizations may require an interview or additional information.

So, how can a disabled person go to college for free? Remember, applying for scholarships for students with disabilities, whether through grants and free tuition programs, can be a lengthy process. Check with the college admissions office first to ensure that you have met all of their requirements. 


There are numerous programs, grants, and scholarships available that can make this a reality. However, it’s important to remember that every person’s situation is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s important to consult with a disability services counselor or advisor to determine the best path for your educational journey.

Don’t forget that having a disability should not deter you from pursuing higher education. With the right resources and determination, you can achieve your academic goals.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can a disabled student go to college for free?

Yes, various programs, grants, and scholarships can help disabled individuals attend college for free or at a significantly reduced cost.

How can I get financial aid while on disability?

You can get financial aid while on disability by applying for grants like the Federal Pell Grant or scholarships designed for individuals with disabilities.

What are Social Security disability scholarships?

Social Security disability scholarships are financial aid programs that provide funds for education to individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Can you get SSI for a learning disability?

Yes, individuals with learning disabilities may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, depending on the severity of their disability and their financial need.

Can a child still receive Social Security benefits in college?

No. There was a time when children received social benefits until they completed their college courses at the age of 22, which is the typical age for finishing college. Social benefits are currently only paid to students in grades 12 and below. 

How can a disabled person go to college for free or receive benefits for educational expenses?

They can apply for scholarships and grants that provide $2,000 to $10,000 a year, depending on their circumstances. 

Is there free college for IEP students?

Some states offer free or reduced tuition for students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). It’s best to check with your state’s Department of Education for specifics.

What types of disabilities qualify for free education?

Various types of disabilities, including physical, learning, visual, and hearing disabilities, and chronic illnesses, can qualify an individual for certain educational grants, scholarships, or tuition waivers. Learn more about this funding and be ready to answer anyone asking the question, “Can a disabled person go to college for free?”

Are there specific scholarships for disabled individuals?

Yes, there are numerous scholarships specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. These can cover partial or complete tuition fees and often extend to cover other college-related expenses.

Can disabled people receive Social Security student benefits?

Yes, disabled individuals can receive Social Security student benefits, depending on the type and severity of their disability and their financial need.

How do I secure government help for disabled students in college?

Disabled students can secure government help by applying for grants and programs like the Federal Pell Grant, checking their eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, and exploring state-specific programs that provide aid for disabled students.

So, to answer the question “Can a disabled person go to college for free,” a resounding yes is the answer. Take note that obtaining a free college education as a disabled individual is possible. It requires diligence, patience, and the right information. With the resources and opportunities available, you can overcome financial barriers and achieve your academic dreams!

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