Special education scholarships are abundant nationwide to encourage talented aspiring teachers to meet the unique learning needs of students with a wide range of mental, emotional, intellectual, and physical disabilities.
Earning a degree in special education will help you learn the pedagogical skills and skill-building strategies needed to fulfill one of America's most in-demand classroom roles. As more than 2.8 million school-aged children are diagnosed with a disability across the United States, there's a need for licensed special education teachers who can utilize a variety of different teaching methods to help exceptional students learn. In fact, the demand for special educators is expected to grow at about 35 percent over the next decade.
If you're ready to devote your time and energy to helping disabled children thrive, below are 20 of the best scholarships special education majors.
1. AASEA Memorial Scholarships
Deadline: April 30th
Annually, the Arkansas Association of Special Education Administrators (AASEA) offers five Memorial Scholarships for $2,000 apiece to junior, senior, or graduate students who are pursuing a degree related to special education to deliver instructional services to children with special needs. Eligible candidates must be enrolled full-time in an accredited Arkansas institution with a major in intellectual disability, speech therapy, emotional disturbance, learning disability, hearing impaired, orthopedically impaired, visually impaired/blind, or special education administration. Students must submit a completed application with four letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and a recent photograph for publication.
2. Alexis Kate Special Education Teachers Scholarship
Deadline: April 30th
Established by Steve Nelson in honor of his niece who was diagnosed with autism at 17 months of age and subsequently received excellent early intervention services, the Alexis Kate Special Education Teachers Scholarship is granted annually for $500 through Eden Autism Services. Qualified applicants must be attending an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution, be earning an undergraduate major in special education, have sophomore or junior status, and be committed to a career improving the lives of children with autism. Applications must include unofficial transcripts, an employment history, two recommendations, and a personal essay.
3. ASL Honor Society Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 15th
Through the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA), the ASL Honor Society Scholarship Program is designed to distribute $1,250 awards annually to college students nationwide who are majoring or minoring in ASL, deaf studies, deaf education, special education, or interpreter preparation. Qualified candidates must attend a participating U.S. college, have membership to an active ASLHS, maintain academic excellence, and wish to build a career serving youth with hearing impairments. Applications must be accompanied by a biography, official college transcripts, an ASL video on a USB thumbnail drive, and two faculty letters of recommendation.
4. Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowships
Deadline: May 1st
Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowships are given for $2,000 to award $500 per semester to outstanding college students who are enrolling in a two-year master's degree program in special education. Eligible applicants must be sons or daughters of Knights of Columbus members in good standing, attend an accredited U.S. graduate school, maintain full-time enrollment status, and show an unwavering commitment to teaching people with intellectual disabilities. Interested students must complete a scholarship application order form with a valid membership number to apply.
Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowships
1 Columbus Plaza
New Haven, CT 06510
5. Carl J. Megel Special Education Scholarship
Deadline: March 2nd
Through the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), the Carl J. Megel Special Education Scholarship is presented annually for $1,000 to two deserving graduating high school seniors who are pursuing a special education degree for teaching students with disabilities. Applicants must be enrolling full-time in an accredited Illinois teacher program for students with autism, cognitive disabilities, deafness, emotional disturbances, hearing impairment, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, or visual impairment. Applications must be submitted with official transcripts, proof of enrollment, college entrance scores, an essay statement, and one recommendation.
6. CCLD Scholarship Program
Deadline: January 15th
Each year, the Colorado Council for Learning Disabilities (CCLD) hosts a scholarship program to deliver $1,500 awards to worthy students who are currently enrolled in an accredited teacher preparation program at a Colorado college or university for receiving a generalist license in special education. To qualify, candidates must have completed at least half of their program, carry a minimum GPA of 3.2 in special education courses, reside within Colorado, and show potential for teaching students with learning disabilities. Applicants must submit proof of residency, official sealed transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and an autobiography.
7. Dr. Marc Hull Special Education Leadership Scholarship
Deadline: March 8th
Through the Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators (VCSEA), the Dr. Marc Hull Special Education Leadership Scholarship is offered for $1,750 annually to honor the former commissioner who adamantly fought to create equal learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Eligible graduate students must attend an accredited college approved for federal Title IV funding, be seeking a certificate or license in special education administration, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, possess strong leadership capabilities, and reside within Vermont. Applications must be accompanied by a recommendation letter, documentation of academic achievement, and a personal essay.
8. Edward & Lorraine O'Neill Scholarship Fund
Deadline: April 16th
In remembrance of two devoted parents of a child with developmental disabilities, the Edward & Lorraine O'Neill Scholarship Fund was created by the ARC of Cape Cod to present $1,000 each year for graduating high school seniors or current college students who are planning to receive a degree in special education or a related therapy. Qualified individuals must reside in Barnstable County of Massachusetts, be committed to working with children with developmental disabilities, and provide three professional references. Selection will be based on applicants' financial need, academic achievement, involvement in extra-curricular activities, and volunteer experience with disabled youth.
Edward & Lorraine O'Neill Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 428
Hyannis, MA 02601
9. Florence Harvey Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: May 31st
In collaboration with the Delta Gamma Foundation, the Florence Harvey Memorial Scholarship is granted each year for $1,000 by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to one deserving undergraduate or graduate student specializing in the field of rehabilitation and/or special education. To qualify, applicants must be studying full-time at an accredited U.S. college, show sincere dedication to helping persons who are blind or visually impaired, and carry a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Candidates must submit an online application with official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a three-part personal essay.
10. Janice Jones Critical Need Scholarship
Deadline: January 15th
Administered by the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE), the Janice Jones Critical Need Scholarship is available annually for $800 for students who are currently enrolled in a teacher preparation program to receive certification in one of America's critical shortage areas, including all categories of special education. Qualified candidates must be enrolled full-time at an accredited university with AAEE membership, show potential to achieve excellence as a teacher, be actively involved in community service, and maintain good academic standing. Students wishing to teach bilingual/multicultural education, chemistry, Chinese, classics, Japanese, mathematics, and physics are also eligible.
Janice Jones Critical Need Scholarship
947 East Johnstown Road Suite 170
Gahanna, OH 43230
11. Janice Paige Hughes Special Education Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
As part of the Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County, the Janice Paige Hughes Special Education Scholarship is granted for $1,500 each year to full-time college students who are majoring in education with a specialization in the teaching of special education or handicapped students. Eligible candidates must reside in Delaware County, be enrolled at an accredited Indiana university, have attained at least junior-level standing, and have teaching aspirations specifically in special education. Completed applications must include a college transcript, evidence of high school class rank, a recent photograph, and a personal essay.
12. Joseph T. Weingold Scholarship
Deadline: December 5th
Established by the first President and Executive Director of NYSARC Inc. who spent 30 years pioneering legal changes to significantly reshape the national mental retardation policy, the Joseph T. Weingold Scholarship is presented for $3,000 annually to award $750 per semester. Qualified recipients must currently enrolled full-time in an accredited teacher preparation program leading to special education certification at an approved New York State college. Students must be nominated by a department chairperson based on their academic record and work/volunteer experiences with children with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
13. Judith Cary Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 31st
Since 1999, the Judith Cary Memorial Scholarship has been offered by the P. Buckley Moss Foundation to provide $1,000 to one outstanding college student who is presently pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree focused in special education. Eligible applicants must attend an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution full or part-time, be working towards certification for teaching children with special needs, and have completed a minimum of two years of college coursework. Applications must include a nomination letter from a Society member, proof of enrollment, two letters of recommendation, and a 500-word essay discussing their teaching philosophies.
14. Kansas Teacher Service Scholarships
Deadline: May 1st
As a merit-based service obligation program, the Kansas Teacher Service Scholarships are given for up to $5,500 each year by the Board of Regents to college students and currently licensed teachers who are pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree leading to certification in a hard-to-fill discipline, including special education. Qualified applicants must reside in Kansas, be attending an accredited in-state institution, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, have obtained at least junior-level standing, and exhibit financial need. Recipients must sign an agreement to attain their licensure and work full-time in an underserved Kansas public or private school.
Kansas Teacher Service Scholarships
1000 SW Jackson Street Suite 520
Topeka, KS 66612
15. Lutheran Scholastic and Service Scholarships
Deadline: May 1st
Annually, Bethesda Lutheran Communities offers the Lutheran Scholastic and Service Scholarships for $3,000 to two college students who are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in any academic area related to supporting individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, such as special education. Eligible candidates must be active communicant members of a Lutheran congregation, attend an accredited U.S. college, have at least two years of studies remaining, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, submit four letters of recommendation, and write a 300-word essay describing their objectives in serving the unique needs of disabled people.
16. Lynn Wesley Grimm Memorial Scholarship
At Bloomington University of Pennsylvania, the Lynn Wesley Grimm Memorial Scholarship was founded by the College of Education to award up to $1,500 to currently enrolled junior or senior-level undergraduate students receiving a bachelor's degree with a major in special education. All applicants must reside within Pennsylvania, carry a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, be affiliated with professional associations, be actively involved in volunteer work with persons with handicaps, and complete a separate BU scholarship application. Recipients must agree to send a well-written letter of thanks to the donor explaining their special education goals.
17. Mary Cripps Special Education Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
Funded by the family and friends of a beloved Grand Forks special education teacher, the Mary Cripps Special Education Scholarship is awarded annually for at least $500 by the North Dakota United (NDU) Foundation. Qualified candidates must be enrolled full-time in an accredited in-state higher learning institution, be members or dependents of NDU members, reside in North Dakota, be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in special education, and carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Applications must be submitted with three reference letters, official academic transcripts, a budget plan, and a 500-word essay describing their qualifications.
18. Teachers-Teachers.com Aspiring Educator Scholarship
Deadline: November 1st
As a free educational resource and job search service for educators, Teachers-Teachers.com is proud to deliver the Aspiring Educator Scholarship annually for $1,000 to five outstanding junior or senior-level students who are pursuing a teaching-related career in serving children with disabilities. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. college to receive a state-approved program for special education, speech pathology/therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or school psychology. Applications won't be accepted without copies of college transcripts, a resume of work and/or extra-curricular experience, and a 500-word essay addressing students' academic ambitions.
19. The Annie Forts "Up" College Scholarship
Deadline: April 15th
Created by an accomplished goodwill ambassador born with Down syndrome who has served seven years as a member of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation and receive the first International Self Empowerment Award by the United Nations, the Annie Forts "Up" College Scholarship is awarded annually for $2,000. Eligible candidates must be undergraduate or graduate students in New Hampshire, attend an accredited university full-time, be pursuing a degree in special education, and wish to start a career serving youth with special needs, especially Down syndrome. Recipients are chosen based on their academic achievement, financial need, community involvement, and commitment to special education.
The Annie Forts "Up" College Scholarship
P.O. Box 383
Moultonborough, NH 03254
20. WGU Excellence in Special Education Scholarships
At Western Governors University (WGU), the Excellence in Special Education Scholarships are awarded for $2,500 apiece each year to students who are preparing for a career teaching students with mild to moderate disabilities by enrolling full-time in the online Bachelor of Arts in Special Education or Master of Science in Special Education programs. In order to receive financial assistance in obtaining the required credentials to build a rewarding career in special education, qualified candidates must submit a scholarship application, be officially admitted into the Teachers College, attach official transcripts, and pass an interview.
If you love helping those in need and have the patience to teach children who learn or behave differently, then you could be the perfect match for a career in special education. Unfortunately, at least four to six years of tuition costs in post-secondary schooling may stand in your way. Be sure to consider applying for some of these great special education scholarships to reduce the financial burden of receiving your degree and begin improving the lives of youth with exceptionalities.