College for disabled advice? grants etc?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by victoria, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. victoria

    victoria New Member

    So does anyone who is disabled here have experience, themselves or with a child, attempting college classes... SSD doesn't give much help, from what I can see it only allows the child to 'earn' more $$, but that's not a possibility.

    Major problem will be of course with financing ultimately, I found 2 places for grants/scholarships ... DePaul University in Chicago used to have a special thing for those with CFIDS/FM etc, but no longer see it on their website. I looked at Pell Grants, seemed like all the initial questions had to do with if one had been on their own as a minor and along that line.

    Any ideas &/or websites etc that have good advice? All that I've found so far are pretty old/pretty unpopulated.

  2. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    not sure about undergrad, but I know that for grad school I was not able to find any financial help, so I took out loans thinking that I was only going to be temporarily disabled (didn't know much about these darn illnesses back then & was not nearly this sick)......struggled through school, only to get substantially sicker, now am barely managing to take care of myself, not at all able to work and have a ton of debt hanging over my head from the loans (& they can garnish SSDI, even though it does not pay enough to live off of to start out with)

    am trying to get them discharged due to disability, but so far not having any luck and am seriously too sick to prove I am too sick - how completely messed up is that?!

    as important as education is, and as much as I want to work, and as proud of my degree as I am (considering how incredibly hard it was to get while sick, & the fact that I had a nearly perfect GPA anyway....would have been perfect but I had to miss one day of school and was marked down for that bc of the class format)....and even given the hope for a miracle some day, I would not have gone through grad school had I known I would wind up in this position

    seriously if there was ever anything could ever push me over the edge to suicide, it would be failing to get the loans discharged and having money taken out of my meager SSDI....I only mention this bc it is really tremendously stressful to be in this situation and if I have anything taken out of SSDI, I will not even be able to pay rent
  3. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    sorry that my post was so gloomy.....I was not indicating that i am suicidal, just in case it sounds that way (though it has certainly crossed my mind).....just want to be clear how incredibly rotten this situation is so that you really, really consider it as thoroughly as possible (not that you won't or aren't - just that I don't want you to get stuck the way I am)
  4. quanked

    quanked Member

    I found this--

    Colleges and Universities

    Colleges and universities know their campus environments are more fulfilling academically, intellectually and socially when they provide a diverse student body. As a means to those ends, colleges have not only ramped up grants and scholarships to underrepresented populations, but they solicit and invite disabled students to join their communities:
    • George Mason University - contact the Disability Resource Center
    • George Washington University - contact Disabilities Support Services, ask for their brochure, "Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities"
    • Western Michigan University - fellowships for disabled students pursuing degrees in rehabilitation sciences.
    • Gallaudet University is a college for the deaf or hearing impaired

    Not only are there grants for individual students, but the technological support that enables disabled students to participate matters as well. Grants also provide many institutions with the funds to cover the cost of cutting edge captioning equipment. There are even some universities that are implementing videoconferencing capabilities or virtual classroom to engage students with disabilities.

    1. Find a College Grant For The Disabled | OEDb
    Now that IDEA has made segregation of disabled students illegal, several colleges and universities are doing their part as well to help fund grants for ... › Financial Aid › College Grants - Cached - Similar

    I posted this on this board—

    Social Security PASS PROGRAM/PLAN? 04/07/10

    Has anyone on this board participated in this program or know of anyone who has? It is a program for those receiving SSI and SSDI who want to work (even part time) or a...

    Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS).

    I would like to know how well it has worked for people with these dd's.

    A relative of mine began a mobile dog (with the help of another family member) grooming business using PASS about ten years ago. Last I heard (many years ago)
    the business was doing well.

    NOT SURE if higher ed is an option—but would be worth looking into.

    1. Social Security Online -Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
    Skip to content. Social Security Online, Program Development & Research ... SSA sends PASS to SSA employees who are trained to work with PASS. ... - Cached

    Voc Rehab—it use to be that vocational rehab programs (state) would help individuals with higher ed costs. Not sure—I have been out of the business for over 10 years now.

    Good luck.
  5. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    When I talked to the U of TX admissions office for my grdau, they told me
    they would have to have a complete evaluation of her disabilities and what
    she would need to 'accommodate' them. That would involve not only her
    PCP's opinion, but the results of the neuropsych testing, which I don't
    think should be anyone's business.

    I heard might have some info...

  6. victoria

    victoria New Member

    Just started looking at the PASS program info as suggested. Wonder how reasonable it really is for a long term goal.... if one's ultimate goal is to be self-employed / higher ed, one 'must give a reasonable timeframe'.

    As we all know, THAT can be hard to predict with these DDs, as this person is starting from having to first take the SAT. Wonder how many stops & starts SS allows, that could get hairy.

    Online classes are the target also, as now one can do it ALL online except maybe for proctored exams. Thanks for the links also to the universities that have grants for disabled.

    And thanks for the reminder about Voc Rehab. I know someone who got multiple allergies to foods & chemicals a few years ago, had to retrain for a job which meant going back to school; he did get some money from the state's VR.

    Unfortunately, like AuntTammie, he's ended up with still no job even so, due to the economy... and a ton of debt that he'll have to bankrupt against. No SSD, despite his difficulties and other problems that should actually qualify him.

    A-Tammie, so sorry that's the way things have ended up. I think that is INSANE that there could be a judgement against your SSD, A-Tammie, is this for a fed student loan? Have you tried writing to your fed sen. or congress rep?

    Too many are in your shoes right now even if well. I have friends/acquaintances that have worked hard to be certified &/or graduated in what were good areas, and some in more than one 'good' area, who still cannot find a job. The older one gets too, the harder it often is.

    Even new grads with Accounting or Law degrees are having a hard time finding jobs, even tho those are supposed to be 'good areas' as well. I don't think anybody's immune, even when they've been on the job for a long time.

    It is unfortunate that getting a college undergrad degree today is often a prerequisite to many jobs, and grad degrees do not guarantee anything either. I think the statistic of earning more money in one's lifetime with degrees will probably end up looking way different in another 20-30 years.

    Any other ideas/hints etc from anyone who's navigated this are very very welcome!

    Thanks- Victoria

  7. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    thanks for your message.....I have not been feeling strong at all lately, but I do think that in general we are all really strong to deal with this stuff daily, and it is nice to "hear" your opinion of me : )
  8. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    it is not possible to bankrupt against student loans, but even if it were even the cost of bankruptcy is really expensive

    as to writing to a rep, I may try that if things don't get resolved somehow, but I have not had the energy or mental clarity to even try to write a rep yet

    plus I have been wondering about writing to a rep re housing assist (they have not even been taking people on the waiting lists in my area for a very long time and 90% of my income is going to housing costs), have also thought about writing about the facts that things like food stamps, energy assist, etc all require going somewhere too far away and too early in the morning, thereby making it impossible to apply (things to help disabled people should be accessible - seems rather obvious to me, but apparently no one else seems to understand that very simple fact!)

    .......the thing is that I don't know if I should write and focus on one of those issues, or if I should explain my whole situation.....don't want to sound like I am just complaining or to hit someone with too many things at once, but also want to make the situation entirely clear

    sorry, I didn't mean to get off topic.....wish I knew how to help you better, but I also really wanted to make sure that you knew how bad things can get (while I would never advise anyone away from education as a general rule, in disability situations, it is really tricky if there is a chance things will get worse.....but at the same time, if one can get through school and work, it could obviously be really good)
  9. victoria

    victoria New Member

    We all have to be realistic about our medical situations and possibilities. It's my son actually that I'm talking about, early 20s, but trying to get general input from everyone in every situation, as it is impossible to predict his future. I'm just trying to help him lay the groundwork, figure that he's not the first here to try this.

    I am so sorry for your predicament; in your situation you would have to write as a phone call would not be enough. I know fed student loans cannot be bankrupted against, but wow!- if one is on SSD there should be an exception - it is pretty difficult to live on anywhere in the US. I know people who move to Mexico for that reason, actually. And the fact it costs so much to file bankruptcy is insane. Even more insane is that health costs will also follow one forever, cannot be bankrupted against. Considering how long it can take to get disabled, that is also unfair.

    Even before the economy crashed nationally, I know so many localities were really 'backed up' in helping those in need. Private charities I know have helped, but even they were swamped before this crash. The social workers that are supposed to 'help' are rarely of any help sadly, they seem to be more of an impediment actually in my experience. At least the ones that are employed to 'help' with any possible state benefits.

    I don't mean to offend anybody, as I've seen many social workers working for hospitals and other places that really do help people a lot. It's just that disabled people prior to receiving or even with disability seem to pretty much get ignored as it's become so overwhelming. If the whole system would work quicker than 3 years or more on average, maybe more people wouldn't be in quite as bad financial distress.

    And if college etc is really the 'ticket' to work, there should be more relief and aid. But it isn't, I know that; some of the best-off people have been those with practical trades that never went to school.

    all the best,
  10. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    Unless things have changed very recently, you can get medical costs discharged through fact, I read not too long ago that discharging medical bills is the number one reason that people go through bankruptcy
  11. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I remember something being passed years ago that prevented one from bankrupting against medical bills. Maybe around 2005.

    I remember it because I was really upset over it since I knew that over 50% of those who declare bankruptcy are doing so because of medical bills. So, I guess that's changed or something. Whatever, I am so glad to know that I was mistaken!

    I also read on a lawyers' site that if repaying gov. student loans present a hardship, they also can be forgiven or whatever (can't remember exact wording, or if you have to actually file for bankruptcy). So that may be your way out, Tammie.

    Learn something new every day, it seems - nice when it amounts to good news.


    ETA for Tammie: (seems like you would definitely qualify, and I really wonder if you talked to your reps or other free help (legal aid?) this couldn't be done since you are on SSD)

    Discharging Student Loans in Bankruptcy
    By Mark J. Markus, Attorney at Law

    Eliminating (discharging) student (educational) loans in bankruptcy is very difficult. For cases filed in the ninth circuit (which includes California), there is a three part test (know as the Brunner Test) which requires that the party seeking to discharge the student loans prove three things:

    First, that you cannot maintain, based on current income and expenses, a 'minimal' standard of living for yourself and your dependents if forced to repay the loans.

    Second, that additional circumstances exist indicating that this state of financial affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans.

    Third, that you made a good faith effort to repay the loans.
    (rest of info at his website and other sites as well)

    [This Message was Edited on 06/30/2010]
  12. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    I just looked up more info on bankruptcy and the 2005 changes say nothing about medical discharge at all, so they are still dischargable

    as to the student loan thing, I just read that it is "extremely hard" to do and that of 72,000 cases of bankruptcy where the people had student loans, only 29 were able to discharge "all or part" of the loans (& private loans are easier than govt loans which I have) (that is .004 % - i think the lottery odds are better than that)

    .....given that the lawyers get paid before doing anything and they tend to want 2 - 3 times my monthly income, and given that my doctor was extremely reluctant to even sign the paperwork I had already filled out for him for the app for loan forgiveness (& he wasn't going to do it at all until he saw that i had already done it....even then he didn't want to say that my disability is for sure permanent, even though in the case of loan forgiveness permanent means 3 yrs and I have already been sick 6 yrs....for bankruptcy permanent means the amt of time it would take to repay the loan under normal payment plans (which can be longer than 10 yrs)....anyway, given all that it is very likely that I would wind up paying the lawyer money I don't have, expending energy I definitely don't have, and still getting nowhere....esp since people don't believe that ME/CFS/FM/MCS etc are even real illnesses

    ETA: It is kind of weird that they say that the loans might be able to be discharged thru bankruptcy if it would cause undue hardship....I thought that the whole point of filing for bankruptcy in the first place was undue hardship![This Message was Edited on 06/30/2010]
  13. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    I was able to get a temp forbearance on my loan today while I am applying for another deferment which they required while I am also applying for the forgiveness.....kinda crazy and might actually wind up hurting the forgiveness ap, but then so will not paying or doing this

    the conversation I had with the person today was also crazy....went something like this:

    me: I am disabled and in the process of applying for loan forgiveness, and I got something in the mail saying that I need to pay monthly income from ssdi is substantially less than the amt that I am being told to pay immediately, and 90% of that income goes to cover my housing costs, so I am left with X amt to try to buy food, etc with (X amt is roughly 1/6 of the amt that they want me to pay now)

    her: well can you pay the full amt today?

    me: ???????????????????????

    fortunately I did not respond with the thought that came to mind at that point bc I doubt that it would have helped my situation!
  14. kat211

    kat211 New Member

    Every school should have a disability services office. Call and make and appt with them. They have a ton of information and can be very helpful and supportive. Also go see the financial aide dept of the school you want to attend. I would schedule an appt with a fin aide advisor as they will know more and have more resources available to them than the people sitting behind the fin aide counter.

    I used disability services for my undergrad degrees b/c I had a brain injury and I never would have made it w/o their help and support. They can also advocate for you.

    good luck.
  15. quanked

    quanked Member

    The above is the link to the form that one's MD must complete and sign and return to the dept. of education (or some such institution). I was going to copy and paste it but it is a 4-page government document which may not make the copy/paste process well.

    This is the form for those wanting to discharge their student loans that are now totally disabled.
  16. victoria

    victoria New Member

    All good advice and discussions! I'll let you know what happens, tho that may not be for at least another 6-12 months...

  17. victoria

    victoria New Member


    Government grants are issued to eligible students for pursuing higher education. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships need not be repaid. There are different kinds of government grants available in the United States, such as


    Federal Pell Grant -- This grant is awarded to those undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's degree as yet. A student borrower can add financial aid from other federal and non federal sources to Pell grant. The grant amount depends on the financial need of the borrower as well as on the tuition fees, school fees and maintenance costs.

    Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) -- This grant is awarded to those undergraduates who have been identified to have exceptional financial needs and no financial support from family.

    The Academic Competitiveness Grant -- This grant has been started recently and is awarded to those first year college students who had graduated from high school after January 1, 2006, and for those second year college students who had graduated from high school after January 1, 2005. This grant is awarded to an eligible student in addition to the Federal Pell Grant.

    The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) -- This grant is awarded to the third and fourth year undergraduate students who are enrolled as full-time students majoring in any of the following subject areas - physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering or in any foreign language that is considered critical to the national security. The student must be a recipient of the Federal Pell Grant and must also have maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 during the entire coursework.

    Institutional Grants - This grant is awarded to those students who have excelled in academics or to those students whose families demonstrate genuine financial need. These grants are very useful to cover the money deficit between college costs and family contributions (including income, loans, savings, or even student earnings).

    Students can even apply for federal student loans such as Perkins Loan, Stafford loan, Family Education Loans, or Federal student consolidation loans if their educational expenses are not covered under the federal grants or if they are adjudged as ineligible for receiving federal grants. As in the case of any other loan, borrowers in this case need to repay the borrowed loan amount.

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