Funding Sources Comparison

College Living Experience recognizes that many individuals may need to access financial assistance in order to pay for CLE tuition and the associated costs. We are committed to helping families identify if there are sources of financial assistance that can help offset the financial commitment of attending CLE so that more students can benefit from this educational experience.

The chart below identifies the various funding opportunities and where the funds can be allocated. This is a quick way to reference the funding categories in this guide.

CLE Tuition & Fees College / Vocational Program Tuition Cost of Living
Tax Deductions *
529 Savings *
Federal & State Aid
GI Bill
Private Scholarships
Dept. of Voc Rehab

* May be available in consultation of an individual’s personal tax advisor.

Tax Exemptions / 529 Savings Plan

Consultation with a tax advisor may assist families in planning how to identify either tax exemptions or pre-tax dollars that can reduce the total cost of CLE programming. In addition, families who have elected to save through a 529-college savings account can possibly allocate those funds towards CLE.

Tax Deduction

Families should be aware of IRS regulations, which may allow you to make a deduction for CLE tuition. IRS Regulation Sec. 1.213-1(e) (1)(v)(a) cites that an individual may make a medical deduction for a “special school” that supports students with a physical or mental handicap. CLE tuition or related expenditures may meet these qualifications and should be discussed with a tax advisor to determine appropriateness of the deduction.

“in Letter Ruling 200729019, the IRS ruled that a school that provides nonacademic training and support services designed to help an individual be successful in another academic or vocational school may be deemed a “special school.” The school included a student population with IQs ranging from low average to gifted and with various learning disorders and ASDs.”

529 Savings Plan

529 savings plans allow for withdrawal of funds to use for the beneficiary’s qualified higher education expenses (QHEE). QHEE’s are defined as tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment, room and board required for the enrollment or attendance of a designated beneficiary at an eligible educational institution.

Please contact your legal or tax representative on how 529 funds can be used to pay for CLE tuition or how CLE tuition can be deductible as a medical expense for tax purposes.

Flexible Spending (FSA) and Dependent Care Accounts (DCAP)

A typical FSA allows a participant to elect coverage in a health FSA with an annual limit of $1,200 pre-tax dollars. A DCAP is a dependent care assistant program that allows an employee to use DCAP to be reimbursed for caring for a child / tax dependent. This allows for a limit of up to $5,000 of pre-tax salary to be allocated to DCAP.

Please contact your companies Human Resources Department and tax advisor to learn more about this as an option.

Federal and State Aid

Funding available through federal or state programs can fully or partially contribute toward the total cost of a student’s post-secondary education. Financial aid programs are independently accessed by families seeking admission to CLE.

Common forms of financial aid

Common forms of financial aid include grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships. Some are available specifically to students with disabilities. Many students use a combination of these financial aid resources. It is important to remember that financial aid results in a partnership of the student, parents, postsecondary educational institutions, state and federal governments, and/or private organizations.

A quick guide on funding after high school and video on the financial aid process to assist you in determining eligibility can be found at the Federal Student Aid website – This describes various federal student aid programs, who may be eligible and how to apply.

State Specific Information:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) & Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that pays monthly benefits to people with low incomes and limited assets who are sixty-five years of age or older, are blind, or have other disabilities. SSI funds are often enough to pay for the cost of living associated with attending CLE, including some school related expenses.

For more information and to apply visit the SSI website –

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation

Every state has a federally funded agency that administers vocational rehabilitation (VR), supported employment, and independent living services. State VR programs provide services that enable individuals with disabilities to pursue meaningful employment that corresponds with their abilities and interests. Currently families from Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas have accessed DVR funding for paying for a portion of CLE services and cost of living expenses.

VR counselors first assess a student’s eligibility for VR services. Once it is determined that a young person is eligible to receive VR services, a counselor is assigned to work with them. Together, students and their counselors will develop an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) that identifies needed VR services.

To begin this process of determining eligibility for VR Services contact your assigned VR Counselor or your state agency. A directory of your state’s office contact information can be found at the US Department of Education website –

Military GI Bill

For the first time in history, service members enrolled in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program will be able to transfer unused educational benefits to their spouses or children starting Aug. 1, 2009.

Eligible members of the Armed Forces may transfer the financial support they are entitled to on to their child so they may access education and career training. Funds may support tuition and fees for the school they are attending, housing, as well as books and supplies.

In order for these funds to be accessed it is important that the member assign at least one month of their post-9/11 GI Bill to a family member prior to retiring. These can be taken back or increased at any time after retirement but can only be assigned while still active duty.

Visit the official DOD website – – for more on the policies and application process.

General Scholarships and Awards

Scholarships and awards provide monetary gifts based on a student’s achievements, interests, background, or other criteria. A good first step in your scholarship search is to check with your parents’ employers, local organizations, your high school guidance counselor, your college or university’s financial aid office, the department chairman at your chosen school, and your college or the local library.

CLE has compiled a list of possible scholarship opportunities that you may be eligible for and categorized them by disability. Please note that deadlines and specific award amounts may vary and it is best to review the organization website for the most up to date information.

Scholarship Directories

Fast Web

College funding for students with disabilities, this guide to funding a college education includes a list of disability-related scholarships and awards.

Disabled World towards Tomorrow
Online listing of disability scholarships

Michigan State University
Compilation of national scholarships specifically for students with disabilities, attendance at MSU is not required

Sallie Mae Scholarship Search
Provides up to date information on scholarship, requirements and awards available

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities
Scholarships are offered by private companies, organizations, schools and more, and the funds do not have to be paid back. Here are some of the best scholarship options for students with disabilities.

National Organizations

Ameri-Corps – is a network of national service programs that engage more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps jobs are open to U.S. citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent residents aged seventeen or older. Members serve full- or part-time over a ten- to twelve-month period. Participants receive an education award to pay for college or graduate school, or to pay back student loans.

For more information, call 1-800-942-2677 (TTY 1-800-833-3722)

Centers for Independent Living:

Federal TRIO Programs

Upward Bound Programs

General Scholarships

Incight Go Getter Scholarship
Various general scholarships as well as some disability specific opportunities

Lime Scholarship
Google & Lime

Central Intelligence Agency
High school senior planning to enroll in a four-year program.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Organization for Autism Research
Award: Amount varies
Deadline: check website for details

Visual Impairments

American Council of the Blind

American Foundation for the Blind
Award: $1,000- $3,500
Deadline: Check website

CCLVI Scholarships
Council of Citizens with Low Vision International
For students with low vision, enrolled full time in college
Award: $3,000
Deadline: Check website – early spring

William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship
Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Award: $750
Deadline: Check website –early spring

Lighthouse International
Awards: Vary
Deadline: Check website- early Spring

Physical/Mobility Impairments

180 Medical Scholarships
For individuals with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, transverse myelitis and / or neurogenic bladder
Award: $1,000
Deadline: Check website -Summer
No requirement in terms of physical disability or ability
Award: $500

AmeriGlide Achiever Scholarship
Full time college student requiring wheelchair, power chair or mobility scooter
Award: $2,500
Deadline: Check website – early summer

Gabriel’s Foundation of Hope
Award: varies
Deadline: July for fall semester; November for spring semester

National Chair Scholars Scholarship Foundation
Student must have a physical challenge that affects activities of daily living and may or may not require a wheelchair and be attending a college or university
Award: 15-20 students are given $1,000-$5,000

National MS Society Scholarship Program
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Given to high school seniors who have MS or who has a parent with MS or someone with a diploma or GED that will be attending a post-secondary school for the first time
Award: Minimum $1,000 and Maximum $3,000
Deadline: Check website – winter

Health Needs

Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation
For pediatric cancer survivors
Award: $5,000
Deadline: Check website – winter

IDF Scholarship Program
Immune Deficiency Foundation

National Hemophilia Foundation
Award: Varies
Must be diagnosed with hemophilia and be attending any higher education institution
Deadline: Check website

Patient Advocate Foundation
Under 25 survivors of a life threatening disease within the last 5 years
Award: $3,000
Deadline: Check website –early spring

Solvay Cares Scholarship
Solvay Pharmaceuticals
Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
Applicant must have been 15 years or older during treatment or during treatment of parent or sibling
Award: $2,500

The Educational Foundation for Independence
The mission of Educational Foundation for Independence (EFFI) is to provide scholarships in the form of tuition assistance for students to attend a number of K-12 private schools and college support programs for alternative learners, and early intervention services for young children with Autism. Our scholarship philosophy is to strengthen and sustain individuals within unique educational environments in order to expand upon their core abilities and to assist them in reaching their fullest potential. As such, we develop thoughtful, long-term collaborations with individuals and educational institutions, and invest sufficient funds to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful and lasting results.