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Financial Concerns for College Students with Learning Disabilities

  • Published: 2009-09-13 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-13) : Joan Azarva.
  • Synopsis: The federal government is the largest source of financial aid for a student with learning disabilities.

Main Document

Quote: "FWS is a federal student financial aid program which promotes part-time employment for qualified students."

Most insurance companies only offer health insurance coverage to college students who attend on a full-time basis (12 credits). If you want your teen to carry a reduced course load because that's what he or she can adequately handle, you have to hope that you're dealing with an "LD-friendly" college.

Ask the director of disability services to write a letter for you to submit to your insurance company similar to this: "Please consider John Doe a full-time student with 9 credits for the Spring 2010 semester". Most companies will accept this and keep your teen on your policy. However, to be on the safe side, call your insurance company beforehand, anonymously, to see what their policy is for college students with disabilities.

The federal government is the largest source of financial aid for a student with learning disabilities.

Federal aid can come in the form of loans and Federal Work Study, or FWS.

FWS is a federal student financial aid program which promotes part-time employment for qualified students. Many offices on a college campus hire students throughout the school year. In some cases the work is awarded through FWS.

There are also various private sources of aid available to students with learning disabilities. Families are encouraged to pursue possible funding from local organizations, employers, foundations and corporations. Most financial aid programs are need-based. Parents of students with disabilities often have additional related expenses, such as durable medical equipment upkeep, personal care assistant and/or medical expenses, specialized tutoring, testing, or academic programs to remediate weaknesses, etc.

It is vital to keep a running list of the above expenses, as they may increase eligibility for aid in that they make your family "needier." They can also have an impact on your income tax deductions for medical expenses. Check with your tax preparer--you may find you've been overlooking legitimate tax savings!

There is a lot more to learn about achieving success in college with a learning disability. If you would like more information, please go to and sign up for a free copy of "Learning Disabilities: 10 Tips for High School Students with College Aspirations".

Joan M. Azarva, Ms.ED is an expert college Learning Specialist and most recently worked in this capacity at a local community college. She has nearly 35 years of experience working with students with LD/ADD. Joan currently teaches "Conquer College with LD/ADD" locally and online in webinar format.

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