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Scholarships for a special needs sibling?

jozukojozuko Posts: 414Registered User Member
Are there scholarships available for the sibling of a special needs child? My niece is a junior in High School and I will be assisting her in her college search next year. While I have experience with the college search process (DS1 just graduated college and DS2 will be starting college in the fall), I am not familiar with the financial aide aspect of the process. My niece is the second of 4 children. The oldest is 19 and is profoundly handicapped. She has Rett Syndrome, a severe neurological disorder which impacts her physical and mental abilities. The cost of her care is quite high. She is in an adaptive chair, wears adult diapers (surprisingly costly), has a lot of medical needs etc. The family income is modest and to top it off, my sis and brother in law are in the midst of a divorce.
My college bound niece will need a lot of financial assistance for schooling. Her grades are pretty good, but not outstanding B+/A-. Does anyone know of specific assistance for siblings of the disabled? Thanks...........
Post edited by jozuko on

Replies to: Scholarships for a special needs sibling?

  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,623Registered User Senior Member
    Maybe someone here knows of something.

    However, her best aid will likely come from the colleges that she applies to. If her parents are splitting, then FAFSA will only use the income of the custodial parent. If she lives in a state that gives state aid, then there's that, too.

    If she scores well on the ACT or SAT, then that can help her get accepted to the schools that give the best aid.

    Are you saying that she's an A/B student?
  • DarthpwnerDarthpwner Posts: 998Registered User Member
    My sister is 22 and has the exact same disorder. I'm curious about this too.
  • jozukojozuko Posts: 414Registered User Member
    mom2collegekids. thanks for your quick reply. as i said, i really don't know anything about the world of financial aid (we did not qualify). if FAFSA only uses the income from the custodial parent, then that could be substantial (sis in law works, but doesn't earn much). do they factor in the fact that there is a handicapped child (even though she is over 18 and gets SSI?). And yes, an A/B student.

    Darthpwner- your sister has Retts? I tried to do some research about specific scholarships for siblings of Retts but I did not come up with anything. If I do, I will PM you.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 32,817Registered User Senior Member
    Some private schools may take into account special need siblings and their added expenses, but they may not.
    private schools may also consider additional financial information to determine ( in their opinion) what the family can pay.
    Public schools generally will only take into account the custodial parents assets & income wheras a private school may want both.
    Since they are still going through the divorce, you might mention that expenses can be spelled out as to who will cover what, inc college.
  • DarthpwnerDarthpwner Posts: 998Registered User Member
    Yeah, my family used to go to the IRSA fundraisers at Long Beach every year during October but we stopped going recently. I wish your niece and you well, but I think she should email each of the schools requesting a fee waiver for the application fee and contact them on ways to work around financial barriers. I emailed all of the schools I am applying to about my family situation so hopefully I don't have to pay for application fees.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,623Registered User Senior Member
    mom2collegekids. thanks for your quick reply. as i said, i really don't know anything about the world of financial aid (we did not qualify). if FAFSA only uses the income from the custodial parent, then that could be substantial (sis in law works, but doesn't earn much). do they factor in the fact that there is a handicapped child (even though she is over 18 and gets SSI?). And yes, an A/B student.


    FAFSA is for federal aid, which isn't much. If your SIL ends up with a 0 EFC, then your niece would get a $5,550 federal grant. Not enough to pay for college. However, if they live in a state that gives state aid, that can help.

    Most schools do NOT meet need, so she needs to be very careful as to where she applies. Much will depend on her test scores and her GPA.

    As for the sister's medical bills....If Kelsmom sees this thread, she might be able to comment on how those are handled since the sister is rec'g SSI for her disability.

    That said, if the family's EFC is 0, then the sister's bills aren't going to matter. You can't get an EFC of less than 0.
  • jozukojozuko Posts: 414Registered User Member
    Darthpwner: fee waivers for apps, great advice thanks.
    mom2: wow, I had no idea how complicated this stuff is. we are going to have to do a lot of research. how would you find out if your state gives state aid? thanks again for your input
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 32,817Registered User Senior Member
    If your family qualifies for FRL then the student will probably qualify for app fee waivers as well as other programs.
  • jozukojozuko Posts: 414Registered User Member
    sorry...I'm sure it's something obvious, but what is FRL?
  • tjmomtjmom Posts: 452Registered User Member
    Free or reduced lunch. At public schools only I think. Gives the kids the caf food at a reduced price or free depending on income. Some other programs use this guideline since it saves them the hassle of deciding how to qualify students as being in need
  • jozukojozuko Posts: 414Registered User Member
    thanks. I knew it would be obvious. I don't know about that status. Can you just email each school, explain your situation and ask for a fee waiver? How does this usually work?
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,623Registered User Senior Member
    ^^^
    Since your niece is only a junior and the divorce will likely mean that the mom's income will be low, have them look into qualifying NOW or SOON for RFL.

    Public schools aren't the only ones that have RFL. At my kids' Catholic schools there were kids on RFL.
  • jozukojozuko Posts: 414Registered User Member
    Thanks mom2. I will suggest it. The dad is still in the house, but the papers have been served. And he is not exactly generous, so this would probably help. I will suggest that she contact the guidance counselor.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,623Registered User Senior Member
    Others here can chime in about qualifying for free lunch. I think it's based on income and family size, but I don't know if child support payments are included as "income". Since it sounds like the family's income is modest, the niece may still qualify if the mom doesn't earn much and child support is modest.

    Hopefully, the courts will order temporary child support until permanent child support is determined.

    Encourage your niece to get the best grades and test scores possible. Those are often the ticket to getting the best aid from schools.

    While there may be a scholarship source for siblings of the disabled, the award amount wouldn't likely be high and might only be for one year.
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