Paying for school is expensive, especially when you have additional costs such as specialized equipment or services. However, there is a lot of funding out there - from government loans and grants to scholarships and bursaries specifically for students with disabilities. Every post-secondary institution has its own set of awards, bursaries, and scholarships which can be found on the school’s website. Listed below are the financial assistance options offered by the federal and provincial governments as well as other scholarships and bursaries for students with disabilities.
Provincial and Federal
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
OSAP is a student loan program to assist students in paying for college and university. OSAP can fund schooling through loans (must be repaid), as well as grants (do not have to be repaid). Loan and grant amounts are based on educational costs, as well as personal and family financial circumstances. The amount of aid available to students can range from $1 up to grants that cover the full cost of tuition.
Students can access information about OSAP online, including: how and when to apply, a list of OSAP approved schools, OSAP aid estimator, and information specific to students with disabilities. Students can also find out more information about accessing student loans at their school's Financial Aid office.
Repayment Assistance Plan for Borrowers with Permanent Disabilities: Assistance is also available to students with permanent disabilities who are having difficulty repaying their student loans.
Bursary for Students with Disabilities (BSWD) and Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Persons with Permanent Disabilities (CSG-PDSE)
The BSWD and CSG-PDSE are available as grants (no repayment required) to students with permanent disabilities who have disability-related educational costs for services or equipment that are required for post-secondary participation. Students must qualify for student loans (e.g., OSAP) to be eligible.
Eligibility for the BSWD and CSG-PDSE will be automatically assessed if verification of permanent disability is included when applying for a student loan. Disability-related educational expenses must be approved by students' Accessibility Services office in order to qualify to be covered by the grants.
The Government of Canada's Student Financial Assistance website has information and links to federal and provincial financial resources.
Scholarships and Bursaries for Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities often have to work harder than their peers to pursue their educational goals. Students may have barriers to overcome, or additional expenses to pay for services, equipment, or treatment. For this reason, there are many scholarships (based on merit) and bursaries (based on need) for students with disabilities to help them in paying for college and university. Check out the websites below to see if you are eligible for the scholarships and bursaries, as well as to see how to apply:
- DisabilityAwards.ca: A list of scholarships and bursaries for students with disabilities studying at Canadian colleges and universities.
- Disabled World: A list of scholarships available to students with disabilities in Canada.
There are also scholarships and bursaries for students with specific disabilities: