Money for Those Affected by MS
Multiple Sclerosis, more commonly referred to as MS, is a neurological disorder that affects the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. MS can lead to the loss of visual acuity, numbness in the extremities, muscle fatigue and muscle spasticity, and loss of bladder and bowel control. It is estimated that nearly half-a-million people in the United States are afflicted with MS, though that number could be significantly higher as MS is often misdiagnosed in its early stages.
Students with MS face many challenges, not the least of which is finding the money to pay for college. Treatments for MS can often be expensive, and families can find it difficult to set aside money for a college fund. Fortunately, there are a number of scholarship opportunities designed specifically for students affected by Multiple Sclerosis. These scholarship programs address the financial needs of students who have been diagnosed with MS, as well as students who have a parent or other family member who is struggling with the disease.
Scholarships for students affected by Multiple Sclerosis are typically supported by national charitable foundations and/or personal endowments. While there are a number of national scholarship programs devoted to people affected by MS, students should also look to regional MS support groups for financial aid opportunities that may be available closer to home. As with any scholarship or grant program dedicated to students with a disability, applicants should be prepared to provide medical documentation of their condition.
Students with a family member suffering from MS who are applying for a scholarship will also be required to submit their relative’s medical history in order to be considered for any award.
National scholarships for students affected by Multiple Sclerosis are most often sponsored by charitable foundations and associations who advocate for MS victims, or are involved in the research and treatment of the disorder. College-bound students with advanced MS should also consider the many general disability scholarships that are available for people with restricted mobility or visual impairment.
The following national scholarships are typical of what is available for students affected by Multiple Sclerosis:
- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society offers an annual scholarship for students affected by MS. Applicants must be a high school graduate with MS, or the dependent child of a parent with MS, who will be a freshman attending an accredited college or university in the United States. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credit hours in a degree granting program. More than 600 scholarships are awarded every year, ranging from $1000 to $3000. Interested students may apply through the society’s website.
- The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America sponsors eight annual scholarships for students with MS through their Project : Learn MS program. Six $1000 scholarships and two $5000 scholarships are awarded every year. The MSAA’a scholarship program is open to all high school seniors, and college undergraduates with MS who are enrolled at an accredited college or university. Award selection is based on an essay submission which addresses the following topics : What is Multiple Sclerosis? How does it affect the family? How can daily living be improved for people with disabilities? Students can request an application by contacting Project : Learn MS directly at 1-800-Learn MS.
- The Elaine Chapin Fund sponsors an annual scholarship for students impacted by Multiple Sclerosis, either directly or as a family member. Applicants must be full time students enrolled at an accredited two-year or four-year college, or at an approved technical or vocational school. Eight $1000 scholarships are awarded annually. Final awards are decided on the basis of financial need, academic achievement, and the degree with which MS has impacted the applicant’s life.
Many regional scholarships are also available for students affected by Multiple Sclerosis. These awards are typically supported by personal endowments, or by regional MS Societies. The majority of these regional scholarships will require that the applicant be a graduate of a specific high school, or be enrolled at a particular college or university. Students looking for locally funded scholarships should consult their high school counselors, or their college’s office of financial aid.
The following examples should give students affected by MS a better idea of what may be available at the local level.
- The Michmerhuizen Family Scholarship is offered to graduates of Holland Christian High School who have been accepted to Calvin College. Applicants must demonstrate a strong Christian character, and must be active in church and community service. An annual $1000 award is available to students with Multiple Sclerosis who meet this criteria.
- The Mary J. Szczepanski “Never Give Up” Scholarship Foundation awards two annual $500 scholarships to graduating seniors from Catholic Central, Kenowa Hills, Covenant Christian, and Comstock Park High Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Awards are given to students with MS who have raised the most money in local fund raising activities.
Students impacted by Multiple Sclerosis, either directly or through a family member, understand the challenges that MS patients face on a daily basis. While MS can be debilitating, and is often accompanied by stifling depression, it should not be a barrier to pursuing a college education and achieving one’s personal ambitions. Students affected by Multiple Sclerosis, who are struggling to find the money to pay for college, will find that there are a wide variety of scholarship programs designed to help them realize their educational and personal goals.