Renée Embry, 23, has a platelet disorder and is a full-time student at the University of Memphis. She’s double-majoring in art and in African and African-American studies, while finding ways to pay for school.
For almost three years, Embry worked at a technical support call center and at restaurants. Now unemployed, she boosts her income from unemployment benefits by helping other artists. She scours the Internet for scholarships to supplement her federal student loans and monetary gifts from relatives. Embry sells her art and enters contests that offer cash prizes.
Paying for college can be especially hard for students with bleeding disorders, says Don Molter, a career counselor at the Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center in Indianapolis. However, there are ample resources to help these students finance their education.
Molter offers these tips:
- Start early. Start looking for scholarships as early as seventh grade, says Molter. You can take advantage of more opportunities and plan ahead to meet scholarship requirements.
- Explore resources for students with bleeding disorders. The National Hemophilia Foundation’s (NHF’s) Web site lists more than two dozen scholarships for students with bleeding disorders. (See “Learn More.”) Many scholarships sponsored by manufacturers are for students who use their products. Baxter has a new scholarship, Education Advantage, for students with hemophilia A. Visit the manufacturer’s Web site for more information or ask your hemophilia treatment center (HTC) or NHF chapter about such scholarships. Your state’s vocational rehabilitation program is another resource. The program provides financial aid, tutoring and other services.
- Focus on money you don’t have to repay. It’s easy to rack up huge loan debts, Molter cautions. Instead, search for scholarships at fastweb.com and NHF’s Web site. Avoid paying for scholarship searches, says Molter. You can gather the information for free. Complete the online FAFSA form, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a national clearinghouse for financial aid. Weeks later, you’ll be notified for which federal grants, loans and other assistance you qualify. Contact the schools you want to attend to see what they can offer.
- Cut costs. Going to a local college not only keeps you close to your HTC, says Molter, it also saves money. In-state tuition and travel costs are typically lower.
What are your college financial tips?
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For Christopher Ingram, 24, a sophomore with severe hemophilia A, saving money means living at home with his parents, wife and one-year-old daughter while he attends DeVry University in Phoenix. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health services management. Ingram funded his education at community college with bowling scholarships. He then turned to low-interest federal loans.
To balance full-time work and studying, Ingram will take advantage of DeVry’s online educational offerings so he can do the coursework when it is convenient for him. “You can’t worry about the cost,” he says. “It’s an investment.”
[Steps for Living: Looking Beyond High School]