College is already expensive for anyone who wants to continue their education after high school and it can be even more costly for students with disabilities. Money spent on classroom accommodations, medical bills and transportation to name a few, quickly add up making it impossible for some students with disabilities to even go to college.
Fortunately, there are several funding options to help such students find the needed resources to pay for their education.
Federal disability benefits
Scholarships are the most known way to find money to pay for college, but there are other options such as medical tax deductions, tuition assistance or loan forgiveness from the federal government. But let’s see what each one of these is about.
- Medical tax deductions
In some situations, students may be entitled to claim part of their education as a medical tax deduction, only if that education form includes elements specifically designed to assist students in overcoming their disabilities. For example, if a student diagnosed with ADHD receives private tutoring approved by a physician, he can potentially benefit from a tax time costs deduction. If the IRS considers the costs of attending school as a qualified education expense, at least part of the tuition or school fees can be eligible for deduction. If you think that you would qualify for this option you should first consult the college and a tax attorney to make sure that all requirements are met.
- Tuition assistance
The government offers special help to those who enter a CTP (Comprehensive Transition and Post-Secondary Program). The CTP was created in 2008 and it is a certificate, degree or non-degree program aimed at students with intellectual disabilities. To qualify for this program one has to meet all the necessary federal financial aid requirements, may participate in an internship, audit classes or prove their purpose to pursue regular enrollment. First please check if the college you want to attend offers such a program.
- Loan forgiveness
In rare situations, if a student becomes permanently disabled after college graduation, he might qualify for loan forgiveness or complete discharge or release from his TEACH Grant service obligations. The student needs to have a documented permanent disability, with documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, certification from a physician or social security disability benefits.
Why is financial aid crucial for students with disabilities?
Almost all students need federal financial help to cover their college costs, but things get even worse for students with disabilities and here is why.
Students with disabilities have to pay enormous medical costs which can leave a family with little or no disposable income for a college. That is why scholarships and grants that do not have to be repaid are vital for such students.
Also, many of them depend on assistive devices, such as a wheelchair, hearing aid, speaking program or prosthetic limb, to be able to do day-to-day activities. Usually, they have to pay for these devices out-of-pocket, with money that could have been directed toward school.
People with disabilities have to deal with high unemployment in the US. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2014 alone the unemployment rate among the disability community reached 12.4%, compared to 5.9% for those without a disability. A college education increases their chances to find a job.
Some students require learning devices or attendants in the classroom and colleges do not have to cover these costs.
Such financial aid options are vital for students with disabilities who want to go to college, but sometimes filling out the forms for such programs can be a complicated and lengthy process. There are many resources aimed at helping students and their families understand these forms and fill them out correctly. Besides the online tools offered by the government, people can also ask the help of disability organizations, admission or guidance counselors or even charitable groups.
|Sean M. Cleary, owner and President of The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, has an experience of more than 18 years in the legal field, establishing a reputation as a highly skilled, experienced personal injury lawyer.|