New funding is available for Ohioans with disabilities to access higher education this fall. 

Officials at the state’s Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities agency are in charge of making and distributing individual awards of up to $7,000, according to a recent news release

The money can go toward tuition and/or some educational expenses for both new and current college students. It’s on top of any other scholarships students may be receiving. 

The grant can be used at the undergraduate and graduate levels at private and public colleges as well as for approved trade school, apprenticeship, or credentialing offerings. Most students with disabilities, according to one national estimate, don’t tell their schools. 

Here’s what Ohio residents need to know about applying for the funding. 

How to apply

First, if you’re not already getting services through the OOD, you need to register with them. If approved, you will be connected with an assigned counselor who can help you navigate available opportunities, including applying for this funding.  

People with physical, hearing, vision, learning, mental health, and sensory disabilities are eligible to get assistance, according to a news release from the state.  

Here in Ohio, the department offers all kinds of types of help for college students in addition to helping with tuition, said Janice Mader, a program administrator with the OOD office. 

“We can assist with rehabilitation technology [as in specialized robots, virtual reality tools],” Mader told Signal Cleveland. “We can help with other kinds of technology, like computers. We also help with internship [placements] and help them with finding employment once they graduate.” 

If students are approved to receive that state support, officials will then work to figure out eligibility for this program as well as what potential awards could be for those approved.

Mader said they’ll be looking at “all kinds” of factors to make that determination, including the amount of other financial assistance students are getting along with costs such as tuition and books. 

Deadlines to note

These awards are earmarked for the fall semester. The loose deadline to apply for this grant, officials said, aligns with the deadline to add or drop classes at each individual institution.  

The last day to drop a class and get a full refund at Cleveland State University, for example, is Sept. 1. 

The money comes from part of the office’s allocation from the state’s annual budget, according to OOD officials. Plus, every dollar in state funding the OOD receives is matched by $3.69 of federal funding.

Officials hope this specific support for higher education will continue in the future. 

Amy Morona covers higher education for Signal Cleveland, in partnership with Open Campus.

Higher education reporter for Signal Cleveland in partnership with Open Campus.