How to Source Scholarships and Other Means of Paying For Tuition

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Special Education Teacher; M.S. SpEd

scholarships There are many different ways to find out about the different ways to cover the costs of tuition and other educational fees as you pursue your degree in Special Education. One easy way is to ask the financial aid office within your school. Other options include federal agencies, a high school counselor, your state grant agency, your employer, ethnicity-based organizations and various other organizations that are in your particular field of interest. Here is a list of the different types of scholarships, grants, loans, private sources, and other programs which help students meet the costs of college:

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships are a type of financial gift offered by private companies, schools, nonprofits, religious groups, social organizations, professional organizations, employers, individuals and more. These gifts are offered with the intent to help students get through the tuition blockade that stops many people from affording a run through university, and the best part is that they do not need to be repaid.

Some scholarships are offered based on merit, meaning you’ll need to meet some prerequisites as set by the entity offering the scholarship. Some might be rewarded based on how well you do in high school or a combination of this and other special interests. Others are offered to those with low income.

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There are actually many scholarships offered to particular types of people, such as women or seniors in high school. Some are offered due to your background or because of where your parents work, such as scholarships for military families.

Depending on the entity offering the scholarship, it might cover the entire cost of going to university, or it might just give you a few hundred dollars. In any case, it is definitely worth looking into as every dollar counts.

When you apply for a scholarship or grant ultimately depends on when the deadline is. Some may require an application a full year before the beginning of college, which means high school juniors should start to look into these before becoming seniors. If it’s too late, there are still plenty of grants that can be applied to later.

How you apply for the grant also depends on the specific requirements. The website should provide prerequisites that must be met as well as instructions on how to apply. Ensure that you read this thoroughly and meet the deadline provided to be considered for a scholarship.

Each scholarship will have different means of delivering the money, such as going directly to the college or sent to you via check. In either case, the provider should tell you what will happen with the money and when they will inform you of the award.

Scholarships affect your financial aid in a way because everything you receive for college cannot be more than what it costs to go to that college. This means you’ll need to inform the university whenever you are awarded with a grant or college so this amount can be subtracted from how much it will cost you to attend the university. The rest that remains can then be covered by other grants or loans.

There are many different scholarships to find, such as:
– Scholarship America
– Holocaust Essay Contest
– Coca-Cola Scholarship
– Association of Hispanic Certified Public Accountants
– Breakthrough to Nursing Scholarships for Ethnic People of Color
– Jackie Robinson Foundation
– Microsoft Minority Scholarship
– ROTC Scholarship
– Freeman Asia
– UIC Study Abroad Office

Student Loans

Scholarships and grants may not cover the entirely of tuition, however. This is where student loans can come in, which are another form of financial assistance that college students may get. There are many different kinds to get, and some even come with rather favorable terms of repayment and interest rates. These loans can be used for both tuition and housing expenses, as well as what it would cost to transport yourself and get computers, and so on. The general goal is to ensure that students have reasonable access to education, and the lender banks on the thought that graduates will have marketable skills to help repay the loan.

When attending a university, students can apply for financial aid, which provides access to scholarships, grants and loans offered on merit and needs. Students will be informed whether they quality for certain loans, and they can either accept or reject them at that point.

The government may administer some loans, and these usually have the best terms of repayment and interest rates. Some come with interest deferment programs, meaning the government pays the interest as long as the student is still in school; you will not need to pay anything until after graduation. Parents can also get these student loans; they need to pay them right away, but the terms are generally still favorable.

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Private companies also offer student loans, though this can come with a few disadvantages that you should keep in mind if you wish to go this route. For example, a loan offered through a private company will have a higher interest rate than what the government offers, and some may even require immediate payments without deferring the interest or the payments at all. It is also true that a private lender tends to be less forgiving when it comes to the terms of repayment.

It is very important to find a private company that offers a legitimate service as some companies have a history of being predatory when it comes to providing students with loans. You will want to discuss all options with a financial aid officer so that you can have someone who is experienced help with finding an appropriate lender.

The idea of going into such debt may turn off many students, causing them to avoid student loans. While it’s certainly admirable to see young students wanting to be prudent about their finances, you should not compromise the potential education you can receive with the sole reason of not going into debt, especially when there are many different avenues that are affordable.

Of course, it is best to go for scholarships and grants first since these do not need to be repaid, but if a loan is the only thing that stands in the way of attending college, then it is worth looking into getting a manageable loan.

How to Select the Best School to Meet Your Child’s Special Educational Needs

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Special Education Teacher; M.S. SpEd

helpA child in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) has as much potential as any other student. To maximize that potential, however, it’s important to choose the right school for him or her to attend. This educational environment should be supportive and nurturing, a place where he or she will not only learn but thrive.

In order to find that right school, you’ll first need to determine what sort of classes you want for your child. A school might offer classes comprised entirely of special-education students. On the other hand, students with special needs might take classes with all other classmates. Such heterogeneous classes typically provide extra help to students who need it, such as personalized instruction from a teaching aide. Or special-needs students might be allowed one-on-one time with educators at some point during every school day.

When deciding between those options, it’s important to consider your child’s social and emotional strengths. Will your child feel more comfortable being with other students with special needs all day — would he or she make friends more easily that way? Or do you believe that being around students without disabilities will help your son or daughter learn how to adapt in various social situations?

In addition, your child’s academics will likely improve if teachers employ a variety of teaching styles. That is, teachers ought to combine lectures with individual and small-group assignments, interactive lessons, and visual presentations. That way, if your child tends to lose focus when taking notes, he or she will still be able to grasp the material by virtue of those other teaching methods.

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Once you know precisely what you’re looking for, you can begin the process of choosing the right school. The first step is to compile a list of every school near your home. You can check with a services coordinator or with a nonprofit organization that specializes in a certain disability to ensure that you have a full list. Further, you should look at private as well as public options. Obviously, private school tuition can be a financial strain for many families. But if a certain private school in your area offers exceptional services, you might consider those tuition payments to be worthy investments in your child’s future. Moreover, a disabilities organization could help you find out if you’re eligible for government tuition assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which Congress passed in 1975.

Visits are key to determining which school represents the best option. On a visit, you can meet with teachers and administrators to discuss how the school would meet your child’s needs. When you visit a school, you also get a sense of the teaching styles, the class sizes — roughly speaking, the smaller the class size the better — the nutritional value of the lunches, and all sorts of other particulars. Further, meeting with teachers and principals is a way to initiate relationships with those professionals. Whenever you have a concern about your child’s progress, it’s easier and often more productive to contact an educator you know personally. Finally, if you visit a school and discover that staff members are brusque or unwilling to discuss your questions, you should definitely think twice about sending your child there.

Once you have found a great school, you can start working with its staff on formulating your child’s IEP. This IEP will list the specific academic goals that your child should meet by the end of the school year as well as the services your child will receive. Bear in mind that you have the right to disagree with what the school wants to include in the IEP. It can be difficult for parents to contradict experts, but always remember that you know your child best. Therefore, if you believe that he or she requires more personalized attention than the IEP allows for or if you feel the plan’s academic benchmarks are too challenging or not challenging enough, politely refuse those parameters. At the same time, carefully mull over the IEP team’s arguments. Perhaps they’ll raise an issue that you hadn’t considered before.

When disagreements arise, IEP meetings continue; you and the school’s team will negotiate until acceptable compromises are reached. If you find that you’re at an impasse, you can reject in writing the entire IEP. At that point, you may request a due process hearing, at which a hearing officer will listen to both points of view and arbitrate. Note that it’s helpful to employ an attorney for such a hearing.

Of course, if you find a school that accommodates the educational vision you have for your son or daughter, such IEP conflicts shouldn’t come up in the first place. That’s just one more reason why finding the ideal school is so vital.

Overview: Special Education Degree Options

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Special Education Teacher; M.S. SpEd


For the individual who wants to join the ranks and engage special needs children as an instructor, there are many options available. A multitude of degrees will gain you access to different levels of the special education system, and a few of them include:

• Associate’s degree in Special Education

• Bachelor’s degree in Special Education

• Master’s degree in Special Education

• Doctorate (PhD) degree in Special Education

An Associate’s degree in Special Education is geared toward acclimating attending students to the particulars of the special education field. Many, if not the majority, of these degrees are stepping stones to other more advanced degrees. The Associate of Arts in Special Education degree is often part of a transfer program where once the core curriculum has been mastered, the student then continues on to their Bachelor’s degree. An advantageous aspect to completing a degree at this level is that it affords a period of experimentation to would-be participants. A student gain the experience of examining all of the facets of Special Education and make an educated decision as to whether or not the field is right for them.

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A Bachelor’s degree in Special Education is a continuation of theories and methodologies gleaned from one’s Associate’s degree, but the work is more sophisticated, detailed and in-depth. The final four years of college, which is what a Bachelor’s degree covers, is the final push in a Special Education professional’s undergraduate academic career. Once a person has earned their Bachelor’s degree, they will have then mastered all of the requisite, basic and moderately-technical aspects of the field and be afforded the privileges that come with it. Plus graduates gain the hands on experiences necessary to either forward their education or find employment.

Special Education undergraduates who wish to further their education advance to a Master’s degree. Graduate school, by all accounts, is considered a post-graduate degree. It is often thought to be an advanced degree where old theories and methods are reinforced, but also where new theories and concepts can be explored. The admission process for a great many graduate school is strict. They often cost more to attend then their undergraduate counterparts, and their entrance requirements are such that grade point averages must often be no lower than a 3.5 during one’s undergraduate studies. If a person qualifies and gains admission, they can expect a very rigorous and engrossing experience, academically speaking. Internships, residencies, and a thesis near the end of the Master’s program are standard operating procedures for most graduate schools. The benefits of attending graduate school cannot be under estimated, particularly if considering the areas of access in Special Education it will grant an individual. Necessarily, the more educated a person is, the more they will be considered for important, responsible and upper-echelon jobs. A master’s degree might qualify an individual to be a teaching administrator; planning the day-to-day operations of a classroom or school.

Earning a PhD in Special Education is no small feat, but it is well worth the effort if someone is passionate enough to invest the time and energy into it. The PhD in this field generally revolves around teaching, research and administration and many supervisory tasks—stats and research weigh heavily into the PhD process, so this is something a person needs to consider while deciding if a Doctorate degree fits their wants and needs. All of the Doctoral coursework will center on advanced theories and methodology, but it all culminates in a student’s dissertation; an extensive compilation of qualitative and quantitative research topics undertaken to further a concept or expand upon pre-existing research.

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Being a PhD level professional does not mean the same thing to everyone, but most can agree that it opens up practically every door one could wish to walk through in the realm of Special Education. A PhD professional qualifies to work with disabled children or working with gifted students; those students who are not only void of any learning disabilities, but who show the ability to master complicated subject matter on a level far in advance of children of the same age. If the economics behind earning a PhD in Special Education is a concern, PhD degree holders earnings’ are $25,000 to $30,000 more when compared to their Bachelor degree counterparts. Plus these graduates are the trailblazers of the field – they lead in all of the research, development, implementation, and policy making of special education.