Helping Your Special Needs Student Gain Financial Assistance for College

Financial aid for college.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a tool for parents of college-bound students to use when applying for federal and state loans, grants or work study programs. Parents with high school students will want to complete this application to find out if their student is entitled to any funding.  Here are five reasons to complete the FAFSA.

For many parents, it is no secret that completing the FAFSA application will take days, maybe even weeks to complete! Yes, I said that, “weeks.” While this application can be completed online, it is very lengthy, tedious and detailed. Parents might want to get comfy and pull up a chair next to your kidlet and take it one line at a time.

High school counselors and administrators will provide some positive advice and might say, “Let your children fill out the application, they can do it.” Parents are required to disclose tax information, social security numbers, past addresses for the past 10 years, employment and other pertinent information. This is not information that is readily available to our student. Most likely, he or she will need assistance.

Most parents understand they will need to complete one or more applications while applying for colleges. How can we help our students with a disability gain financial support? The FAFSA strictly provides financial aid; however, there are other monetary options for students with a disability to attend college. 

Parents should also check with their child’s high school. Many times, the counselors can assist with information about current scholarships.  Some scholarships are offered through the PTA or PTSO but have specific deadlines. Often, students do not apply for them because they might think there is no chance they will earn one. I say, "take advantage of these attitudes and apply." Students with a disability often have a very good chance of securing some free money this way. Go for it!

Websites such as College Board and FinAid provide assistance for parents seeking resources. Both have detailed information about grants and scholarships. Parents are encouraged to search the Internet for ways to pay for the tuition. There is plenty of money out there for exceptional students to attend college; the trick is to find it.

Your student is going to college! Applying to college and completing the applications is the easy part. College applications, deadlines and support are all part of process. It is such a hectic time, but one that you and your student will look back on.


C.C. Malloy is a disability advocate and steadfast supporter of special needs children. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal's Exceptional Blooms.

Categories: A ‘Special’ World, College Planning, Special Needs