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When certain groups of students don't fare as well academically as others do, an achievement gap can occur. Low-income students, students with disabilities, and students from certain racial and ethnic backgrounds are among those who could be at risk of struggling academically. There are, however, college and university programs, as well as scholarships, that might help close the achievement gap. The federal government, for one, awards TRIO grants to colleges and universities throughout the country.

These institutions put the grant money to programs and services especially intended to help at-risk students successfully obtain college and university degrees. TRIO money can go toward projects and services such as tutoring, assistance with study skills and obtaining financial aid, such as scholarships. Many non-profit foundations also make scholarships available to students with disabilities, as well as those with chronic illnesses. From immune deficiencies and asthma to lupus and visual impairments, students with disabilities and chronic illnesses have a number of affliction-specific scholarships to help them pay for a college or university education. Scholarships for some of these afflictions include:

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Scholarships for Students with Autism: The Autism Society of America provides recognizes individuals through a CVS/All Kids Can Scholars program and Outstanding Individual with Autism of the Year awards; the Organization for Autism Research's Schwallie Family Scholarship Program provides ,000 for students with autism or Asperger Symdrome who are attending two- and four-year colleges, as well as vocational, or technical, schools.

Scholarships for Students with Cystic Fibrosis: The Cystic Fibrosis Scholarship Foundation provides undergraduate scholarships of about ,000 based on academic achievements, as well as financial needs and leadership abilities. The Elizabeth Nash Foundation provides scholarships of 0 to ,000 for students with cystic fibrosis in undergraduate and graduate school programs. In addiotion, the Abbott Pharmaceuticals' SolvayCARES scholarships of ,500 are also available to students with cystic fibrosis, who might also be eligible for an additional ,500 as part of a Thriving Student Achiever Contest.

Scholarships for Students with Hearing Impairments: The Alexander Graham Bell Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing offers financial assistance to students ages 21 and younger who are enrolled in a mainstream school program. This same organization offers George H. Nofer Scholarships for Law and Public Policy scholarships for students in full-time law school programs and those in full-time graduate school programs in public policy or administration.

Scholarships for Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD: The National Center for Learning Disabilities awards Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Scholarships of ,000 in four annual installments to high school seniors with learning disabilities who plan to work toward a bachelors degree. The Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic awards Marion Huber Learning Through Listening scholarships to high school senior members who have learning disabilities.

Scholarships for Students with Physical Disabilities: The ChairScholars Foundation awards national scholarships of as much as ,000 to low-income high school seniors and college and university freshmen who have severe physical disabilities. The foundation also has scholarship programs where awards are extended on a more regional basis, to Florida and metropolitan New York students.

Students With Disabilities Find Support With Education Scholarship Programs