According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your access to vocational rehabilitation and educational opportunities is guaranteed. So, in addition to federal school funding programs which most everyone can apply for, you may be able to obtain additional resources or college financial aid to assist with your educational needs.
The spirit of ADA laws is to ensure that you are not only protected from discrimination in the workplace, but also that you have access to resources which will assist you in finding and keeping gainful employment through training and education. Depending on what resources are available in your state, this may even include tuition assistance for college or vocational school.
College financial aid programs vary
The types of programs available vary from state to state, but the primary source of funding comes largely from the Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration, through grants provided to individual states. The vocational rehabilitation agencies of each state receive matching federal funds to assist people with disabilities whose impairments create barriers to employment. In many states, these services include evaluations, vocational training, special devices required for employment, job placement, and follow-up services.
However, in some states, funding may provide additional services or cover any unique needs you have. Many states offer scholarships, grants, loans, and work programs for disabled students, in addition to training and rehabilitation services. If you're eligible, you may be able to obtain aid for tuition, fees, books, and supplies, or even maintenance and transportation funding as part of your financial aid package.
Begin your search ASAP
It's important to begin making inquiries as early as possible because it will greatly increase your chances of receiving any available aid. (State and federal monies for the disabled are in high demand, but are often limited and subject to budgetary cuts from year to year.) Make sure you meet state requirements and coordinate with your financial aid counselor so you don't duplicate any benefits you get.
Also, read the fine print attached to your financial aid award letter since some aid requires you to remain at an in-state school. However, if you need specific training or education that is only available out-of-state, it's possible that exceptions could be made.
Again, the earlier you get started, the better!
How to get started
Contact your state agency as well as the financial aid office at the school you hope to attend to find out more about what programs or resources are available to you. You may also obtain further information regarding aid and access for the disabled from the HEATH Resource Center. HEATH's contact information is:
2134 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20052-0001
(202) 973-0904 or (800) 544-3284 (toll-free)