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Financial Aid & Scholarships for Cancer Survivors

College is an exciting time of life filled with new experiences, knowledge, and relationships. Although it is expensive, childhood cancer patients and survivors have several college scholarship and financial aid options.

Many organizations provide scholarships for cancer patients and survivors. In addition, there are financial aid opportunities available for people with certain disabilities.

Some scholarships are available for family members of cancer patients. Be sure to check the application criteria for all scholarships.

Laptop computer sitting on a table with Scholarship Application on the screen.

Tips for Successful Applications

  • Every scholarship is different. Read the application and the organization’s website carefully. Note the application deadline as well as contact information, application requirements, and ability to renew the scholarship each year. Don’t miss an opportunity because of a simple mistake.
  • In general, applicants must provide a letter from a doctor stating the original diagnosis and the age the patient began treatment. Allow the doctor plenty of time to write the letter.
  • Some applications may also request letters of reference from teachers, coaches, or employers. Ask these people in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Essay Tips

Many scholarship applications require an essay. Some will ask the same types of essay questions. You may be able to tweak an essay written for one scholarship to meet requirements for other applications.

Make sure to have someone knowledgeable about writing and grammar proofread your application and essay.

List of Scholarships for Cancer Patients and Survivors

The organizations that offer these scholarships are often funded by donations and endowments given in honor or in memory of other pediatric and young adult cancer patients.

  1. These scholarships are for childhood cancer survivors who have demonstrated the ability to overcome the difficult challenges of cancer with determination and motivation. Forty (40) $3,500 scholarships are awarded each academic year. The scholarship application period is from January – March of each calendar year.

    Applicants must be:

    • A childhood cancer survivor under the age of 25
    • Diagnosed before the age of 18 with cancer or a high-grade or anaplastic brain tumor
    • A citizen of the United States living within the country and attending school in the U.S.
    • Accepted into a post-secondary school

    Visit the website for an application:

    Beyond the Cure Ambassador Scholarship Program

  2. The website provides a number of different scholarship offers to different regions of the United States. Applications are open from October – January.

    Applicants must be:

    • A cancer patient or survivor who is a U.S. resident
    • Enrolled in an accredited university or community college
    • Certain scholarships listed are relevant only for particular states.

    Applicants need:

    • Their parents’ tax return(s)
    • Their own personal tax return or proof of any income if they do not file a tax return
    • A letter of good standing from the university attending
    • 2 years of academic transcripts, confirmation of diagnosis letter
    • 2 letters of recommendation from 2 people not in immediate family
    • Total cost of attendance

    Cancer for College Scholarship Application

  3. This fund provides scholarships for young adults diagnosed with cancer, receiving treatment for cancer, or in remission. Scholarships are awarded by a committee, based on personal hardships, assessing applicants’ financial and emotional needs as well as their academic qualifications. Application for fall semester begins in February.

    Applicants must:

    • Be enrolled in or accepted for enrollment in an accredited undergraduate school
    • Provide a copy of acceptance letter or letter of good standing from the college registrar
    • Provide 2 letters of recommendation from academic teachers
    • Provide a letter verifying cancer diagnosis

    Cancer Survivors' Fund Scholarship

  4. This organization provides services and support to young adults whose lives have been impacted by cancer and who have continued with their education throughout treatment or after their treatment. Each award is $1,000. Applications available in March. Deadline is May 15.

    Applicants must be:

    • A young adult cancer survivor or current patient between the ages of 18-35. Exceptions are made for age 17 if entering college in the fall following application.
    • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Attending or planning to attend an accredited college, university or vocational institution in pursuit of an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate or certificate as of the fall following application

    National Collegiate Cancer Foundation Scholarships

  5. The foundation was created to honor cancer survivor Evan Ortleib, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at age 16. Scholarships are awarded twice each year (spring and fall) and are valued at $1,000 each. The submission deadline for the spring semester is December 15, and the deadline for the fall semester is June 15.

    Eligibility requirements include:

    • Letter of cancer diagnosis and treatment of chemotherapy, radiation, or proton therapy from oncologist
    • Proof of enrollment in full-time study at a four-year college or university
    • Transcripts from high school or college
    • Standardized test scores (ACT or SAT)
    • 1040 tax documents from parents and self
    • 2 letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or employers
    • 250-word essay on academic and career goals

    Ortlieb Foundation Scholarship Application

  6. The network of U.S. chapters, along with the global office of RMHC, offers scholarships to students in financial need who have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership, and community involvement. Since 1985, more than $56 million in scholarships have been awarded.

    Scholarships are awarded by local RMHC chapters.

    Find Your Local RMHC Chapter

  7. Scholarships available to young adults affected by cancer through their own diagnosis or through the diagnosis of a parent or sibling. Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 39 during the time of diagnosis/treatment. Recipients will be awarded a total of $2,500 over two academic semesters, paid directly to the recipient’s school. The winner of a scholarship is obligated to organize and run a bone marrow registry drive. Deadline is March 1.

    Ulman Cancer Fund Scholarships

Scholarship Databases

  1. This scholarship listing includes duplicate listings of some scholarships but also includes scholarships for amputees, patients with immune deficiencies, and students with learning disabilities. General and regional cancer scholarships are noted as well as other scholarship search sites. This website also gives other lists of resources and information.

    Ped-Onc Resource Center College Scholarships

  2. This page contains information about scholarships for cancer patients, cancer survivors, children of a cancer patient or survivor, students who lost a parent to cancer, and students pursuing careers in cancer treatment.

    FinAid Scholarships

  3. Grants and scholarships provided by the Samfund cover a wide range of post-treatment financial needs, such as (but not limited to): rent and mortgage assistance; health insurance premiums; car payments, insurance, and repairs; continuing education and loans; gym memberships; and mental health expenses. This group is no longer accepting applications for undergraduate tuition, as they have in the past, but rather is focusing on other school-related expenses. Applications open in the spring.

    Applicants need to:

    • Be between the ages of 21 and 39
    • Either (1) finished active treatment with no evidence of disease, (2) completed one year of planned treatment and be in a stable condition, or (3) be receiving long-term hormonal or targeted therapy.

    Samfund Cancer Survivor Grants

Scholarship Resources for Students with Physical Disabilities

  1. This foundation has access to more than 100 scholarships. They are sorted by state. Additional requirements are provided for each scholarship. A separate application must be completed for each scholarship. Search through available states and apply through provided links. There is a $5 fee per application.

    ESA Foundation Schoarships and Grants

  2. This foundation has access to more than 100 scholarships. They are sorted by state. Additional requirements are provided for each scholarship. A separate application must be completed for each scholarship. Search through available states and apply through provided links. There is a $5 fee per application.

    HEATH Resource Center Financial Aid

  3. The Disability Programs and Resource Center at San Francisco State University has compiled a list of scholarships for students of various disabilities. A chart lists the organization offering the scholarship as well as general information and a link to each scholarship page.

    SFSU Disability Resource Center Scholarships

  4. The University of Washington has put together a page with tips on searching for funding for students with disabilities. In addition to links to sites offering scholarships, it also discusses other ways students might find information on funding, such as vocational rehab and other state programs. Scholarships are listed by type of disability.

    University of Washington Disability Resource Page

Vision-Impaired Students

  1. This organization offers scholarships to legally blind students.  This application must be completed online. Application deadline is February 15.

    American Council of the Blind Scholarships

  2. The AFB offers multiple scholarships to legally blind students. Application deadline is April 15.

    Descriptions of the scholarships, as well as the online application can be found at the above website.

    American Foundation for the Blind Scholarship

  3. This program awards 3 students an individual prize of $3,000 to full-time college students with low vision. Applicants must meet visual acuity and academic guidelines. Scholarship guidelines, application, and vision certification are offered on the website from January 1 to March 15 of each year. The scholarship application must be completed online. Selected finalists will be required to complete a phone interview with committee members. Chosen winners are expected to attend an annual meeting in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind National Convention (usually in July).

    CCLVI Scheigert Scholarship

  4. The NFB offers 30 scholarships to legally blind students each year, worth from $3,000 to $12,000. The winner must participate in the NFB national convention in July. Assistance is available for convention needs. Application due in March 31.

    Applicants must be:

    • Legally blind in both eyes
    • A resident of the United States or Puerto Rico
    • Planning to attend postsecondary study in the United States

    National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program

Hearing-Impaired Students

  1. This group offers scholarships to individuals with hearing impairments and communicative disorders. Scholarships are available in $1,000 amounts. Application deadline is May 1.

    Qualifications:

    • Must have a minimum 40dB bilateral hearing loss, as evidenced on audiogram by an SRT & PTA of 40dB or greater in both ears
    • Must be a citizen of the U.S.
    • Must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis at a college or university in the United States
    • Must have a minimum cumulative 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 unweighted scale
    • 2 letters of recommendation
    • High school and/or college transcript
    • Recent audiogram from a hearing health professional (must not be any older than two years)
    • Hearing loss on application must be verifiable from audiogram

    Sertoma Scholarships

Hydrocephalus

  1. Scholarship applicants must be between the ages of 17 and older with hydrocephalus. The scholarship funds must be used for an educational purpose, including, but not limited to, a 4-year or junior college, a high school post-graduate year to prepare for college, technical or trade school, an accredited employment-training program, or a post–graduate program. Scholarships are $1,000 each.

    Application opens in January and is due April 15.

    Hydrocephalus Association’s Scholarship Program

Learning-Disabled

  1. The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers multiple scholarships to graduating high school seniors with documented learning disabilities who are pursuing an undergraduate degree. A scholarship is also available for those who demonstrate a commitment to all students (including those with learning disabilities). Each scholarship has different listed criteria.

    National Center for Learning Disabilities Scholarships

General Scholarship Information

For general scholarships not specifically for cancer survivors, high school guidance counselors are excellent resources.

Make use of the experience of others. Family members and friends who have received scholarships can offer advice on where to find scholarships as well as advice on essay writing.

Good, free website for general scholarships:


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does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.


Reviewed: June 2018

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