According to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, only 24% of persons in the U.S. who are deaf or hard of hearing are college graduates, compared to 39% of the hearing population. Put another way, deaf and hard of hearing students graduate college at a rate of only about 60% that of their non-hearing impaired counterparts. With the importance of a quality post-secondary education growing year over year, those figures are simply unacceptable.
Fortunately, there’s a wealth of excellent resources available to help college students with hearing loss succeed, many of which (like the scholarships listed below) can be applied to healthcare education. The purpose of this guide is to connect healthcare students with hearing impairments to some of the best scholarships and resources available.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for Students with Hearing Loss and Deaf Students
Attending college – any college – requires money. For example, according to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees for an in-state, public college for 2019-2020 was $10,116. This makes scholarships, grants, and other forms of aid incredibly important. Scholarships and grants are great because they’re essentially “free money”, meaning that, unlike loans, they don’t need to be paid back after graduation. Check out some of the top scholarships available for students with hearing loss.
Open to graduating high school seniors, and undergraduate and graduate students with a minimum 3.0 GPA who are Cochlear Nucleus or Baha recipients. Must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada.
How to Apply
Follow the application link and fill out the form.
Dean Ritter Foundation
Open to current Illinois resident high school seniors with moderate to profound hearing loss in one or both ears. Financial need is also required.
How to Apply
Follow the application link on the scholarship page. Required materials include family financial information, short essay, and letters of recommendation.
A range of scholarships available to hearing-impaired first-time freshman and transfer students awarded based on a combination of high school or college GPA and ACT/SAT test scores.
How to Apply
GU students are automatically considered for these scholarships upon admission.
Help America Hear, Inc.
$1,000, plus two hearing aids.
Open to high school seniors with hearing loss requiring hearing aid use in their daily lives.
How to Apply
Follow the site link for application form and submission information. Requirements include a 500 to 1,500 word essay, copy of hearing instruments evaluation, and two letters of reference.
Open to deaf or hard of hearing persons, or relatives living in their household, who use American Sign Language, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, and demonstrate financial need.
How to Apply
Click on the link on the scholarship webpage and follow the application instructions.
Medical and Health Scholarships
American Association of Health and Disability
Open to undergraduate (sophomore or greater) and graduate students with a disability pursuing studies related to health and disability.
How to Apply
See application requirements on the scholarship webpage. Requirements include documentation of disability, most recent college transcript, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation.
Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
$1,000 to $5,000 (varies by specific scholarship)
Open to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in the medical practice management field (such as healthcare administration, business administration, or public health) at a U.S.-located university. Applicants must also be student members of the MGMA.
How to Apply
Follow the online application link on the scholarship page.
American Occupational Therapy Foundation
Varies by specific scholarship
Applicants must be full-time students in an accredited or developing occupational therapy program, and have completed at least one year of OT specific coursework.
How to Apply
Follow instructions on the How to Apply link. Application requirements include a resume, 500-word essay, program director’s statement, and two references/recommendations.
Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP)
Open to students who have completed at least one term in a career entry-level allied health degree program at an ASAHP institutional member school.
How to Apply
Fill out the form accessible via the application link on the scholarship webpage. Application requirements include a completed nomination form, current resume or CV, and short essay describing the applicant’s allied health profession and how he/she will contribute to the community’s health.
Variety of scholarships for nursing students with a disability (such as deafness or hearing loss) who have applied or been admitted to a full-time nursing program.
How to Apply
See the scholarship webpage for access to the application form. Application requirements include verification of disability, official high school and/or college transcripts, a written essay, and three letters of recommendation.
5 Keys to Landing Your Scholarship
There are three basic categories of college scholarships: merit-based, need-based, and special interest-based. Merit-based scholarships are typically awarded based on the applicant’s academic achievement, but sometimes also consider factors like athletic or artistic achievement, or community service participation. Need-based scholarships are normally awarded based on an applicant’s documented financial difficulties. Special interest scholarships are awarded based on the applicant’s interests or participation in a specific activity or hobby, or membership in a particular minority group (disability, ethnic, religious, etc.) It is not uncommon, however, that a scholarship’s eligibility requirements combine one or more of these basic scholarship types.
One element practically all scholarships have in common is that they’re all competitive, meaning that you will need to distinguish yourself from other applicants to win the award. Here are a few important tips to help you increase your chances of landing the award you’re after:
- Key #1: Start early.
This is the best tip of all since, generally speaking, it applies to all of the other tips listed below. More specifically, finding the scholarships that best fit your needs and strengths – and that you have be best chances of winning – will take some time and effort. So, start looking now.
- Key #2: Think big and small.
Big, national-level scholarships are great because they’re the ones that usually pay out the largest amounts. Don’t ignore smaller, local-focused scholarships, though. The award amounts may be smaller, but you’ll likely have a better chance at winning them compared to the national-level ones.
- Key #3: Consider your career goals.
There are a lot of professional organizations out there looking for individuals interested in careers in their field. And these same organizations often sponsor scholarship programs to entice talented career-seekers into the profession. So, if you have a particular career in mind, seek out and apply to scholarships that cater to that career.
- Key #4: Put some serious effort into the stuff you’ll be submitting.
You’ll likely run into several scholarships that will require submission of an essay and letters of recommendation. Plan on putting some real time into writing, rewriting, and polishing your essays. And if you’re not a good writer, find someone who is to help you out. As for letters of recommendation, choose your letter writers carefully, based on their unique qualifications and noteworthy reputations.
- Key #5: Be complete and detail-oriented.
Carefully review the application requirements for each scholarship you’re applying for and be sure to meet all of them to the letter. Nothing will sabotage your efforts more quickly than flubbing an application requirement, except maybe missing a submission deadline. So don’t to that, either.
College Resources for Students with Hearing Loss and Deaf Students
So which resources are we talking about? There are a range of resource types, including academic (like on-campus and internet-based accommodations and learning tools, online study groups and forums, and mentoring programs), social (like religious, minority, and special interests groups) and, of course, financial (like scholarships and grants). Here’s a more detailed look at some critical resources for college students with hearing loss:
Academic & Career
- AAPD Summer Internship Programs
Operated by the American Association of People with Disabilities, the AAPD Summer Internship Programs place U.S. college students who self-identify as having a disability (including hearing impairment) with summer internships in federal agencies, Congressional offices, and for-profit and non-profit organizations in the Washington DC area.
- Entry Point!
A signature program of the AAAS Project on Science, Technology, and Disability, Entry Point! brings college students with disabilities majoring in STEM subjects (including the health sciences) together with university and company research partners for summer internships and co-ops.
- Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University is the oldest school in the U.S. established specifically to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. GU’s website provides information and resources that are helpful to GU and non-GU students alike.
- National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
The National Deaf Center, located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, is committed to closing the gap that exists in educational and employment opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing persons in the U.S. Its website features hundreds of useful resources for college- and career-minded hearing impaired students.
- Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
Managed jointly by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, the WRP is a recruitment and referral program that connects both private-sector and federal government employers with current college students and recent graduates for summer and permanent jobs.
Social & Networking
Alldeaf is an online forum site that connects deaf and hard of hearing persons throughout the world with specific forums covering topics such as current events, deaf/hoh technologies, parenting, dating, health and fitness, and more.
Excellent site packed with information, news, and other resources for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Included are a chat room, blog, online forum, and much, much more.
Clearinghouse site for several popular blogs and vlogs – including Deaf News Today, The Limping Chicken, and the Silent Grapevine – focused on issues concerning the deaf and hard of hearing community.
- HealthfulChat Hearing Impaired Chat Room
Chat room for deaf and hard of hearing persons sponsored by HealthfulChat, an organization that believes in peer support power in numbers. HealthfulChat offers a wide range of support forums for other health-related and non-health-related communities as well.
HearingLikeMe bills itself as a “news and lifestyle website for people whose lives are affected by hearing loss”. There’s loads of great information here on a wide range of subjects, including an education section with lots of excellent articles specifically for college students.
Advocacy & Diversity
- AG Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Major non-profit group focused on advocacy to improve the lives of hearing impaired individuals and their families. Website offers a range of information resources for students, including scholarships and financial aid programs, as well as professional resources that includes a career center where visitors can search for jobs.
- National Association for the Deaf (NAD)
The premier national non-profit organization dedicated to the advocacy of deaf and hard of hearing persons in the U.S. The website acts as a clearinghouse of useful information on a wide range of topics, including education rights for hearing impaired students and an Employment Resource Center providing job information for both employers and employees.
- National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA)
With more than 30 chapters throughout the nation, the NBDA advocates for equal rights and access to education, employment, and social services for the thousands of black deaf and hard of hearing persons in the U.S.
- National Cued Speech Association (NCSA)
The NCSA’s mission is to support effective literacy, communication, and language development for hearing impaired individuals and their families through the use of Cued Speech. Their website provides access to information on events, jobs and scholarship opportunities, and more.
- National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
The NDRN is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. and the only legally-based advocacy organization founded by Congress. Among its many areas of advocacy, the NDRN works to protect the rights of all students with disabilities for access to equitable and accessible education.
- AAPA Career Central
Education and career resources for students interested in becoming physician’s assistants from the American Academy of PAs. Topics covered include applying to and preparing for PA school, tackling clinical rotations, finding your first PA job, advancing your career, and much more.
- ADEA GoDental
Sponsored by the American Dental Education Association, the GoDental website offers a wealth of information and advice for students interested in careers as dentists or dental hygienists. Visitors will find guidance on applying and paying for school, degree curriculums, information on networking events, and more.
- American Nurses Association – Nursing Students
The ANA’s Nursing Students resource page provides useful information to pre-licensure students in undergraduate nursing programs. Access to most site content requires ANA Student Subscribers membership, but all visitors have access to the site’s career center job search engine.
- Association of American Medical Colleges – Students Portal
The students portal on the AAMC’s website provides comprehensive information on what it’s like to prepare for and attend medical school. Topics include choosing a medical career, applying for medical school, attending medical school, applying to residency, and residency and fellowship training.
- Health Information Translations
The purpose of this site is to provide plain language translations of health information for healthcare professionals and others (like health care students) in communities with limited English proficiency. But you can still access the very useful health care info here in English, and there’s lots of it.