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Earning a college degree, whether an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, opens doors of opportunities in terms of personal and professional growth. But for students on the autism spectrum, the journey presents unique personal challenges, including financing their college education.
Fortunately, there are college scholarships that students with autism can apply for and, if approved, will benefit from the charitable organization’s financial assistance.
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Note that these college scholarships for students with autism are awarded on an annual basis. Be sure to check the official website – links are provided – for more information about the scholarship amount, application deadlines, and eligibility requirements, among others.
If you have difficulty complying with the requirements, you should work with your parents or guardians, teachers, and mentors to overcome these challenges.
We also want to point out that these scholarship programs have application deadlines from November 2023 onwards. You will then have ample time to collect the required documentation, write your essays, and communicate with the concerned organizations.
AIM Center for Independent Living Scholarship
Deadline: November 15, 2023
The AIM Center for Independent Living awards scholarships to adults living with a documented disability who are enrolled in either an associate’s degree program, a bachelor’s degree program, or a vocational/trade diploma program.
The schools that offer these degree or diploma programs must be accredited institutions. Up to four scholarships will be awarded every year – two scholarships each for the fall and spring semesters.
Applicants will only be considered if they are residents in the Kane, DuPage, and Kendall counties (i.e., service areas of AIM-CIL) in the State of Illinois. Potential candidates must submit a completed application form and a one-page essay about what independent living means to them and their academic goals.
Disqualified persons include individuals related to any AIM-CIL employees and members of the board of directors. Only one scholarship will be awarded to a single household.
The scholarship money can be used for the payment of school registration, application or laboratory fees, class tuition, and books. Note, however, that the funds are made directly to the awardees’ respective schools; reimbursements aren’t allowed.
Michael Lorenzen Foundation Scholarship
Amount: Up to $2,500
Deadline: January 31, 2024
The Michael Lorenzen Foundation offers college scholarships for students with autism and honors their commitment to higher education. For the 2024-2025 academic year, ten qualified students will receive scholarships of equal amounts; the specific amount will depend on the amount raised, but it’s usually up to $2,500 per student.
Students who qualify for the scholarship will be notified by mid-May 2024.
Applicants should meet the following criteria to be considered:
- U.S. citizen
- Diagnosed with autism
- Either accepted to (i.e., recent high school graduate) or enrolled in (i.e., current undergraduate student) an accredited college or university.
Candidates are evaluated based on their completion and submission of the application form on or before the deadline, the substance and form of their essay, and the unique personalities that contributed to their special experiences.
On top of the application form, applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from either their teacher or therapist, a confirmation letter with their diagnosis from either their doctor or therapist and their high school transcript.
The 600-word application essay must answer one of three essay prompts – “What does it mean for you to go to college?” “What was your biggest achievement in school?” or “What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?”
Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship
Amount: Varies depending on year level
Deadline: May 1, 2024 (Summer); September 1 for the fall round; February 1 for the spring round
The Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship program assists students with intellectual disabilities to complete up to four years of college studies in postsecondary accredited institutions. The award amount varies depending on the qualified students’ year level and type of institution, as follows:
- For four-year institutions, up to $2,250 for first- and second-year students enrolled on a full-time basis and up to $2.850 for junior and senior students; the award amount is applicable for a semester.
- For two-year institutions, up to 1,600 first- and second-year students enrolled on a full-time basis for the semester.
The eligibility requirements include Tennessee residence, completion of secondary education in a Tennessee high school, and admission and enrollment in an eligible college or university or program within 16 months after completion of high school education, among others. Both the applicant and their parents must complete and submit the scholarship application.
Students must also apply for the scholarship every academic year (i.e., renewable), as well as comply with the eligibility requirements to maintain their scholarships; otherwise, the scholarship cannot be regained once a student loses it for any reason.
Eligible institutions are Dyersburg State Community College, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Lipscomb University, Union University, and Vanderbilt University.
JSU Alabama Montgomery Scholarship
Deadline: February 1, 2024
The Jacksonville State University Foundation offers the annual Montgomery Scholarship to students with sensory impairments, such as students with autism. Created in honor of JSU’s President Emeritus, Dr. Theron E. Montgomery, the scholarship program is the result of the university’s partnerships with individuals and organizations that support its educational community.
Jake Jones Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: February 9, 2024
The Amarillo Area Foundation, a nonprofit community-based charitable organization, administers the Jake Jones Memorial Scholarship program for eligible students in 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle.
Applicants should be diagnosed with a learning disability and demonstrate their ability to thrive despite the challenges, as well as demonstrate good moral character and values, including faith and loyalty, integrity, and ambition.
Applicants must also have a 2.5 GPA minimum to be considered for the scholarship.
Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation Scholarship
Amount: Between $500 and $2,500
Deadline: February 24, 2024, 11:59 pm MT; awarded annually
While the Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation Scholarship was established to support the academic journey of students with dyslexia, students with autism who have been diagnosed with dyslexia are also welcome to apply.
Morelli, for whom the scholarship was established in honor, was diagnosed with severe dyslexia but was pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at Montana State University before his tragic death.
The scholarship program is among the most generous in terms of its selection rate – about 20% of its applicants receive scholarship funding in varying amounts! Students who qualify for the annual scholarship can apply the funds toward testing, tuition, books, tutoring, and the purchase of assistive technology and devices.
Applicants can either be a high school student or graduate, must be attending an accredited university, community college, or technical school in Fall 2023, and must be pursuing an undergraduate degree or program in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).
Applicants must have a personal email address, a documented learning disability, and a letter of recommendation.
Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship
Deadline: April 22, 2024, 11:59 pm EST (Applications open in December 2023)
The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) administers the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship program, a non-renewable scholarship offered on an annual basis for students with autism. The program is specifically aimed at students attending postsecondary programs in two-year colleges or vocational, trade, and technical schools.
The students attend their programs to build their job skills, job readiness, and other skills related to their transition into independent living as adults.
Eligible applicants must either be accepted for matriculation or already enrolled in their respective programs on a full-time basis (i.e., at least six credits for two-year associate’s degree programs) or working toward professional certification in a specific field.
Popular examples of certifications are chef, paralegal, and technician.
Applicants must submit a completed application program, as well as a proof of diagnosis, a written essay, and two letters of recommendation.
Schwallie Family Scholarship
Deadline: April 22, 2024, 11:59 pm EST (Applications open in December 2023)
The Schwallie Family Scholarship program is also administered by the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). But unlike the Hussman scholarship, eligible students must be attending either a two-year college or a four-year university.
Many applicants are enrolled in two-year colleges but plan on attending a four-year university upon completion of their studies (i.e., associate to bachelor’s degree path). Applicants must have a diagnosis of autism or Asperger syndrome.
The application process involves completing and submitting an application form, a written essay, and a letter of recommendation, as well as proof of diagnosis.
Synchrony Scholarship for Autistic Students of Color
Deadline: April 22, 2024, 11:59 pm EST (Applications open in December 2023)
Like the Schwallie Family and Hussman scholarship programs, the Organization for Autism Research awards the Synchrony Scholarship for Autistic Students of Color scholarship.
Applicants must be students of color, meaning they are part of an underrepresented ethnic or racial minority group. But students of color are welcome to apply to either the Schwallie Family, the Hussman Scholarship, or the Synchrony Scholarship for Autistic Students of Color scholarship program (i.e., choose one only).
Candidates will only be considered if they are pursuing postsecondary education on a full-time undergraduate enrolment in an accredited four-year university, a two-year college, a trade, vocational or technical school, or a cooperative life skills program.
Synchrony Tech Scholarship
Deadline: Applications are welcomed on a rolling basis, but priority dates are April 30 and September 30 every year
Yet another Organization for Autism Research program, the Synchrony Tech Scholarship program, is specifically designed for students with autism pursuing professional certifications in the field of technology.
Cybersecurity, web design and development, data analytics, machine learning, game and app development, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing are popular areas covered by the scholarship funding.
Students must be pursuing their technology-related certifications in programs offered by accredited colleges or universities or programs. Note that enrollment in two-year and four-year degree programs, as well as third-vendor certificate programs and MOOCs (e.g., Coursera), aren’t eligible for scholarship coverage.
Applicants should be at least 18 years of age with eligibility to work in the United States, a documented diagnosis of autism, and one-year program completion.
Note that applicants with active registration on the Hire Autism website will be given preference. They must submit a completed scholarship application form with answers to several essay questions and a letter of recommendation.
Jack Scura Fund Scholarship
Deadline: June 15, 2024
Named in honor of Jack Scura to honor his commitment to education, the Jack Scura Fund Scholarship program welcomes students with disabilities who are either incoming freshmen or enrolled undergraduates in a New Jersey postsecondary accredited institution.
Only one student will receive the scholarship fund, which will be awarded in two tranches of $5,000 each for the fall and spring semesters. The scholarship fund should be applied toward tuition.
Applicants will be considered if they have a demonstrated intellectual disability, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability, as well as at least a 3.2 GPA (on a 4.0 scale). The selection committee considers the achievements and qualities demonstrated in an applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae.
Proof of disability, a transcript of records, and two letters of recommendation, as well as an essay, are required for consideration.
Dan Archwamety Scholarship
Deadline: January 1, 2024
Administered by the Autism Society of Nebraska, the Dan Archwamety Scholarship program is open for students with autism or other identified disorders on the autism spectrum. By offering the scholarship, the Society wants to advocate for the autism community and support deserving students in pursuing their dreams of higher education.
The scholarship money must be applied for educational expenses while enrolled in an accredited postsecondary course.
Incight Educational Scholarships
Deadline: January 15, 2024
Incight, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with headquarters in Portland, Oregon, offers its Insight Educational Scholarships to students with documented disabilities, such as autism.
By granting the scholarship money, it seeks to aid students with disabilities in unlocking their potential for education, employment, and independence.
Applicants must be currently residing in Oregon, Washington or California, as well as attending higher education programs in accredited community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and vocational schools. Applicants will be required to provide proof of enrollment.
Kelly Law Team Autism Scholarship
Deadline: December 20, 2023
In 2015, the Kelly Law Team established its Autism Scholarship program for students on the autism spectrum. Applicants should meet the following eligibility requirements:
- A U.S. citizen
- With an autism diagnosis (Proof may be required)
- With a passion for pursuing postsecondary education
The scholarship program doesn’t require enrollment in an accredited postsecondary institution upon submission of the application form. But, once the scholarship fund is awarded, it should be used for the student’s tuition payment in an undergraduate or graduate program, a junior college, or a trade school.
Applicants must complete the application form, which includes a 100-word explanation of an applicant’s academic and career goals. A second statement detailing the ways in which an applicant’s autism has impacted their academic journey may also be submitted.
Varghese Summersett Autism Scholarship
Deadline: April 1, 2024
The annual Varghese Summersett Autism Scholarship program was established to promote the academic potential of students with autism. The scholarship fund can be used either for educational or recreational purposes, such as tutoring or camp, provided that it will foster the student’s progress and ability to enjoy a fulfilling life.
Candidates must be 15 years old or below, have a medical diagnosis of autism, and submit the application requirements on or before the deadline. The application requirements are a letter describing the need for financial assistance and a letter of recommendation; a video can be used in lieu of the demonstrated financial need letter and the recommendation letter.
There are specific criteria for both of these requirements, so be sure to check the official website. A photo of the applicant must also be submitted.
Anne Ford Scholarship
Deadline: Applications will open in Fall 2023.
The Anne Ford Scholarship, administered by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, is among the most generous scholarship programs aimed specifically at students with autism. Applicants must be graduating seniors in high school enrolling as full-time first-year students in a bachelor’s degree program in an accredited college or university in the fall term.
Candidates must be U.S. citizens, provide proof of learning disability, have at least a 3.0 GPA, and demonstrate financial need.
The qualified student will receive $2,500 for every academic year over four years. Scholars are expected to provide mentorship services to incoming scholars as well as be advocates and role models for persons with learning disabilities.
Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship
Deadline: Applications will open in Fall 2023
Also offered by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship awards a qualified student with a $5,000 fund released in two tranches of $2,500 each. Candidates should meet these requirements for the one-time yet generous scholarship:
- A graduating senior in high school with plans of matriculating in an eligible postsecondary program in the fall term
- Must have a documented learning disability
- Can be enrolled in a two-year college, a specialized program for students with learning disabilities, or a vocational/technical training program.
- Must demonstrate financial need
- Have the ability to demonstrate their learning disability and promote self-advocacy
- Must be committed to postsecondary education
AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability
Deadline: March 1, 2024
The American Association on Health & Disability (AAHD) promotes the health and wellness of people with disabilities at the local, state, and federal levels. The organization also contributes to the body of knowledge related to effective intervention strategies for people with disabilities through research, education, and advocacy.
In line with its mission, it offers the Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability scholarship program to students with disabilities engaged in the study of disability and health.
Students with disabilities pursuing degrees in disability studies, special education, public health, and health promotion, among other related fields, are welcome to apply.
College students must be pursuing an undergraduate degree but must be a full-time sophomore or higher as of Fall 2024. Graduate students enrolled either full-time or part-time can also apply. High school students can apply but must have college sophomore status due to their accumulated Advanced Placement credits.
Eligibility requirements include U.S. citizenship or legal resident status and proof of disability. A personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a transcript of records are also required.
NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship
Amount: $5,625 for every recipient
Deadline: Applications will open in Spring 2024
The NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship awards up to eight scholarships to eligible students with disabilities who have demonstrated their passion for disability awareness, advocacy, and presentation in the entertainment, media, and communications industry.
High school seniors, college students pursuing undergraduate degrees, and graduate students with disabilities are welcome to apply but must either have plans of pursuing or are pursuing careers in the entertainment, media, and communications industry. Note that even non-U.S. citizens are eligible to apply.
Application requirements include a resume, unofficial transcript of records, three 300-word essays based on essay prompts, and a letter of recommendation. Candidates may also send their portfolio of creative works if they believe it will help in their application success.
The Zach Paulsen Memorial Scholarship For Students With Autism Disorders
Amount: Minimum of $500
Deadline: March 15, 2024
The Zach Paulsen Memorial Scholarship For Students With Autism Disorders scholarship program is specifically intended for students with autism who want to study a skilled trade, including but not limited to the following:
- Automotive Technology
- Ag Power Technology
- Civil and Construction Engineering Technology
- CNC Machinery and Tool Making
- Collision Refinishing
- Diesel Truck Technology
- HVAC or Plumbing and Heating
- Heating and Air Conditioning
- Landscape and Turf Management
- Industrial Automation Technology
- Marine Technology
- Welding Technology
- Motorcycle Technology
This is offered by the Autism Society of Iowa Chapter.
John Lepping Memorial Scholarship
Amount: Up to $5,000
Deadline: May 1, 2024
The John Lepping Memorial Scholarship program provides financial assistance to students with disabilities in defraying the cost of attendance in their college education. Recipients will be required to provide proof of disability, including a letter of confirmation issued by a licensed physician.
Each applicant should be a resident of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York to be considered. Their academic achievement is a major factor in the selection of scholars. The scholarship amount is paid directly to the school for cost of attendance payments.
Are you interested in working with Autistic students through an ABA-related career? If so, see our valuable information regarding a Master’s in ABA, Master’s in Occupational Therapy, as well as a career in Special Education, or Counseling.