For students living with disabilities and chronic illnesses, life can become challenging and expensive.
If you’re a student who’d love to go to uni but you just aren’t sure how you’ll manage, there is plenty of help available.
One of the ways that many universities and other organisations help out is by offering scholarships.
What are scholarships?
If you apply for a scholarship and are successful, you’ll receive a sum of money from the provider. Which unlike a loan, you won’t have to pay back.
There may be some terms and conditions to agree to, such as mentoring, maintaining a certain grade, being involved with specific activities, or writing a thank you letter.
The provider might also have some say as to what you can spend the money on as well. For example, one scholarship might be designed to cover tuition fees, another may be for accommodation, or textbooks etc.
Our blogs Why you should explore scholarships and 5 Reasons to Apply for Scholarships could provide you with more information about scholarships. Or you could download a copy of the Scholarships Guide 2020 which will even walk you through all the steps. An updated version of the Guide will be out later in the school year.
Speak to the universities
Lots of universities are well aware of the additional financial challenges facing students with disabilities. Affording tertiary education fees on top of healthcare and mobility expenses amongst other costs could be tough and universities may have a few options to consider.
One of the first things to do would be to ask the universities you’re interested in studying with about what financial support they can offer. The Future Student Teams are a great starting point and are usually more than happy to put you in touch with whoever you need to speak to. You’ll be able to find out about specific programs you could be eligible for.
If they have any scholarships that you might be eligible to apply for, they’ll point you in the right direction and may even help you get your application in (once you’ve applied to one of their courses).
You could also look at the links and information in our University Disability Services blog.
Start your search
If the universities are unable to help, or your scholarship application isn’t accepted, don’t lose heart. There are still plenty more possibilities available and literally thousands of scholarships that you could be eligible for.
You could start your search on the Study Work Grow database. Simply enter your state and under the support types enter “disability” to narrow down the options and see what scholarships you could be eligible for.
Note: It’s also worth searching under other categories as you could be eligible for others too.
It’s also a good idea to speak to you state and local disability services. They may have more advice about opportunities that are accessible to you or be able to recommend other places to search.
Sign up for newsletters or emails, so you’ll be notified when new scholarships come up or existing ones open for applications.
See what Government Financial Assistance is available
Don’t forget, the Government offer plenty of funding options for students too. It’s worth finding out what you could be eligible for, you could be surprised at how many of your costs may be covered.
If you’re not already receiving them, you may be able to apply for:
- The Youth Disability Supplement
- Disability Support Pension
- Mobility Allowance
- Pensioner Education Supplement
- Education Entry Payment
HELP Loans are available to help you cover your tuition fees. They include:
- HECS-HELP to cover student contribution fees
- FEE-HELP towards tuition fees
- SA-HELP could pay for student services and amenities fees
- OS-HELP for costs incurred with overseas study
VET Student Loans could help you to pay for vocational training courses.
Centrelink also offer a variety of other payments and loans that you could be eligible to receive if you’re in full time study.
- Student Start-Up Loan
- Youth Allowance
Are just some of the options.
You can find out more about University finance options here.
Remember that before you sign anything, any loan means that you’ll be required to repay it at some point. Please make sure you read all the small print and understand exactly what you’re taking on.