by Jean Dwyer
Eventually following a long course of recovery everyone comes face to face with the question; what now? For some, after much self evaluating and input from their rehabilitation team, further education may be the answer. Coming to this decision may be a lot easier than figuring out how to fund this project. Happily, for the resourceful and those who persevere there is help and money available to help people with disabilities to continue their education.
The best places to start with are the Disabilities Office and the Financial Aid Office of the school you wish to attend. Early on, you and your rehab team should prepare a list of special help you may need such as readers, or note takers, pca's etc. Once you have this, the magic word becomes DEADLINES. You must always file applications on time. Enlist the aid of the most organized person you know to help you. Some people will already be connected with their
state vocational office. They will be able of help with determining you particular needs and help find funding. In Massachusetts, this is the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Your health care provider can make the referral for you. Start early. Many colleges have federally funded programs for disabled students. For more information on these programs contact:
The Division of Student Services
1250 Maryland Avenue, SW, Portals Building, Suite600
Washington D.C. 20202-5249
These programs will provide help with counseling and will help negotiate financial assistance with post secondary institutions. Most people will most likely have to fill out the FAFSA, which the government uses to determine need and eligibility. This can be completed and submitted online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
A copy of this software on diskette can be obtained by calling 1-800-801-0576 or down loading from http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/Students/apply/express.html
Some libraries and schools will let you use their copy.
To find an extensive list of publications and web sites the very best choice would be to go to www.heath-resource-center.org who operates the national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for people with disabilities. To list all of the other sources of specialized scholarships and grants would go beyond the purpose of this article.
Good luck; the sheepskin may look easy after the
Revised: February 23, 2002