knowledgeAt RiSE, we get many questions from students and parents looking for recommendations of ways to find financial aid for education, as well other questions regarding the college transition. On this blog, I will answer a few questions that seem to come up regularly…


Finding College Scholarships 

I am applying for college scholarships to offset my college tuition. I am overwhelmed. Can you give me some advice how to start? 

I completely understand that feeling. It is overwhelming when you see how many scholarships there. If possible, I would start in the junior year making a calendar of what is available for you and the dates that they are due. The first place I would start is at school by asking your college counselor for suitable recommendations based on your state and the schools you are applying and then take a look in the school library for the Kaplan’s Book of Scholarships, which is a great resource. The second place is to look online for sites that walk you through what may be the best options for you. Be careful never to pay for information and do not give your social security number to sites to find scholarships. Here are a few that are helpful:

There are also many scholarships that are based on the specific difficulties that you may have, from ADHD to vision issues.

Here are a few lists of those:

LDA (Learning Disabilities Association of America) post regarding scholarships by Julia Frost 

Tip Sheet by The Kennedy Center:

From the College of Charleston’s Disability office


I am wondering if, as a student 2 years out of high school, that I might be eligible to apply for a scholarship towards a two year degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)?  I have struggled my whole life with auditory processing disorder and have only in the past year been diagnosed by a speech pathologist.   Thank you also for the great help I see on your website.

Thank you for your interest and kind words about RiSE! Congratulations on your desire to become an OT.  The OT’s I have met all are amazingly caring and generous! At this time RiSE’s mission is scholarships for high school seniors; however, here are some suggestions of places to look for financial aid in your situation: This aid is able to be renewed on a yearly basis. This is a site for scholarships for OT Programs, specifically, nationwide. is a great site, as well.  

Funding for lower and middle school for students with LD

I’m a mom of a recently diagnosed 7 yr. old with multiple learning disorders. His diagnosis is dyslexia (phonological and orthographic), ADHD, executive functioning disorders (organizing and regulating), and fine motor issues (handwriting).  He’s also gifted with an extremely high IQ.    We want to enroll him in a special school in our city that has been very successful in teaching kids with this sort of profile. However, the school is very expensive.  We’re not eligible for any scholarships funded through the state and we probably wouldn’t qualify for financial aid.  Nonetheless, the tuition is meaningful in light of our financial situation. Although you are across the country and don’t specialize in this area, any insights you could offer as to where to begin a search would be most appreciated.  

There are many families like yours in need of financial help to fund their child’s education after being diagnosed with a learning disability. In Georgia, where RiSE is located, there is a financial program for special needs that possibly you could read and see if your state has a similar one: Essentially it is a school choice program that serves students that have an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or a 504 plan in place and established from a public school. Also, in GA. there is the GOAL Scholarship:

Recently I asked a colleague Matthew Wazenberg, PhD.  who is an IEP consultant in Illinois for his opinion regarding funding and he added the possibility of using a Flexible Spending Account (after consulting your accountant). The link for additional information is Additionally, there are Supplemental Educational Services that many can qualify for at

I hope these are helpful to you and always let us know if you find additional sources that other families would benefit from.

Question- Where do I start with college admissions?

I have Aspergers Syndrome. I am 18 years old, and am a senior in high school. I have recently come to terms with my condition and just want to fit in and try to live as normal of a life as I can. I would really like to learn something in the way of electronics. However, I know almost nothing about college. I have not taken my ACT’s, or SAT’s, and don’t want to go through the seemingly impossible process of signing up for them. I don’t know how, and no one is around to help me. Where do I start?

Many students ask how to get started with their college pursuit, so do not feel discouraged!  You are ahead of the game knowing what you are interested in and what you would like to study. Many schools do not require the ACT or SAT, especially if the cost is a deterrent since they often tend to be community colleges and trade schools. The first place to start is the college counselor at your school. If you feel uncomfortable or want to do this on your own and are interested in a Tech school, look up the ones that are near you and call the Admission Office. Ask them if they require a standardized test and if they have financial aid.

It is best to get ahead of the game and ask your school records department for your up to date transcript. Start to think who would be a good person to ask for a recommendation letter. This usually can be a teacher, counselor, or coach. Also start to think about what you have done during school that supports what you are interested in studying, such as being a member of the Physics club, a part time job that is related to your interest, or even a project you have made. Making a student resume and adding to it all year helps so not to forget community service or projects that you do over the year that the school would find interesting and helpful to get to know you.

Taking the SAT or ACT can seem scary, but there are many online courses to prep you for it and you can sign yourself up at: People often take it a couple of times and pick the highest score. If you decide that you want to apply to more than one school, the common application is a great way to go when applying as many schools can be reached using the same applications. The link is: Hope this is helpful and good luck to you!

The “And So On” Blog by Jena Young


Jena Young is an advocate for students who learn differently and the Co-Founder of RiSE Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

The advice in this blog is from her personally and not intended as professional advice from RiSE.