Don’t Let Hearing Impairment Disable Your College Education
Deaf students face many challenges in their quest for a college education. Hearing impairment can make it difficult to navigate through an educational system that is largely focused on the needs of the hearing population. However, there is one area where all students find common ground, and that is the need for scholarships and other financial aid programs to help pay for college.
Whether attending a public college, or a dedicated school for the deaf, hearing impaired students can find a variety of lucrative scholarships dedicated to helping them achieve their educational goals. Scholarships for the deaf and hearing impaired are supported by colleges and universities, charitable foundations, private endowments and professional associations. These scholarship programs help to remove one obstacle facing deaf and hearing impaired students on their path to a college education.
Restrictions on Scholarships for the Deaf
The wide variety of scholarship programs dedicated to the needs of deaf, and hearing impaired , students necessitates an equally wide variety of eligibility requirements. Every scholarship program will have its own list of criteria that student applicants will have to meet in order to be considered for an award. Some scholarships target students who have been deaf since birth, while others address the needs of those with severe hearing loss brought about by disease or accident. Many scholarship programs will require that applicants be totally deaf, while others may make provision for students that suffer from a partial hearing loss. Students should read all scholarship applications carefully in regard to definitions of hearing impairment, and requirements for eligibility.
National Scholarships for Deaf Students
Scholarship programs exist for students with every level of hearing loss, and are supported by a variety of national organizations and advocacy groups, as well as by colleges and universities across the country. As with all scholarships, requirements and award amounts will vary greatly according to program.
The following examples are just a few of the many scholarships available to deaf and hearing impaired college students.
- The Sertoma Scholarship for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing is one of the leading scholarships for the hearing impaired in the United States. The program provides financial assistance to college-bound students with clinically significant bilateral hearing loss. Applicants must be graduating high school seniors, or undergraduates pursuing a four year degree at an accredited college or university. Award amounts vary, and are determined by financial need, academic merit, and degree of hearing loss.
- The Alexander Graeham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing supports a wide range of educational programs for the hearing impaired, ranging from preschool funding to post-secondary education scholarships. The AG Bell College Scholarship is one of the largest scholarship programs targeting deaf and hard of hearing students. More than $100,000 in scholarship awards are given annually, with individual awards ranging from $1000 to $10,000. Applicants must meet stringent eligibility requirements, including having an un-weighted GPA of 3.25, current enrollment in an accredited mainstream college or university, and a demonstrably profound hearing loss that was diagnosed prior to the student’s fourth birthday. Listening and spoken language must also be the applicants primary mode of communication.
- Cochlear, makers of the Nucleus Cochlear Implant, sponsors the Graeme Clark Scholarship. The award is available to college-bound students with a Cochlear Implant. The scholarship provides financial assistance to undergraduate students enrolled in an accredited college or university. Award amounts vary, and are determined by academic achievement, and a demonstrated commitment to community to the Cochlear ideals of leadership and humanity.
- The Minnie Pearl Scholarship is a four year undergraduate scholarship open to deaf and hearing impaired students. Applicants must be a high school senior with a cumulative 3.0 GPA, and must be planning to enroll in an accredited college or university within the United States. The Minnie Pearl Scholarship pays up to $1000 per year, for a maximum of $4000.
Schools for the Deaf
There are colleges and universities that use the native language of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people, American Sign Language (ASL) with written English. These schools often sponsor their own financial aid programs, as well as administering the more common Federal and state-funded college grants and student loans. Students considering attending a dedicated school for the deaf will want to contact the school’s office of financial aid for details on available programs for which they may be eligible.
The following are examples of schools dedicated to the deaf community, and the financial aid programs that they offer.
- The Rochester Institute of Technology is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. NTID administers a wide range of scholarships for their attending students, including the Barlow Endowed Scholarship, the Alice Beardsley Memorial Scholarship for Interpreting Students, and the Lillian M. Cowin Memorial Scholarship. Award amounts and eligibility requirements vary greatly according to program, and interested students should contact the NTID’s Office of Financial Aid for details on specific scholarships.
- Gallaudet University is one of the premier colleges dedicated to serving the deaf and hearing impaired community. In addition to participating in the Federal government’s college grant and student loan programs, Gallaudet also offers scholarships of their own to attending students. Chief among Gallaudet’s programs is the President’s Honors Distinction Scholarship which provides full tuition, room and board to eligible students who have been accepted into the college’s Honors Program. Other Gallaudet scholarships include the Provost’s Honors Distinction Scholarship ($12,000), the Provost’s Excellence Scholarship ($8000) and the Dean’s Prestige Scholarship ($6000).
Other Sources of Scholarships
The scholarships we have highlighted here are only a few of the financial aid possibilities open to students with a hearing impairment. Deaf students, and students with a profound hearing loss, should also investigate our section on Scholarships for Students with Disabilities for information on general, non-specific, scholarships for students with disabilities.