All college-bound students face challenges, but none more than those students struggling to overcome a life-threatening disease. A cancer diagnosis can have devastating effects on a student and their family. Beyond the physical stresses of fighting the disease, there is an accompanying emotional stress and depression that can derail a promising academic career.
Students fighting cancer can sometimes feel that there is little point in continuing their education. Moreover, the high costs of cancer treatment only serve to reinforce the idea that college is no longer a possibility, let alone a priority. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The emotional and psychological benefits of pursuing a personal ambition can have a profound effect on a patient’s recovery. As for funding, there are a wide range of organizations and advocacy groups dedicated to helping cancer patients, and cancer survivors, afford a college education. These organizations routinely sponsor scholarships designed to help cancer patients and their families find the funds they need to continue their college education.
Federal Sources of Cancer Scholarships
While there are no actual federally funded scholarships for cancer survivors, there are a number of general grants that are open to all students. These are need-based grants, and the financial burden placed on cancer patients and their families is likely to make them eligible for an award.
This program is open to undergraduate students who are pursuing their first associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Awards are determined according to financial need. The maximum annual award is $5,550.
The FSEOG is available to students who have qualified for a Pell grant, but are still left with considerable unmet need. The FSEOG program is administered through the financial aid offices of participating colleges and universities, and students should apply through their school of choice. Awards range from $100 to $4000.
Private Sources of Scholarships
The majority of scholarships for cancer patients and survivors are funded by the private sector. Professional associations and advocacy and support groups are the primary source of financial assistance for students who are pursuing their college education while battling or recovering from all types of cancer. Students looking for cancer related scholarships should begin their search by looking for organizations and support groups linked to their type of cancer. For example, a student who has been diagnosed with breast cancer will want to concentrate on organizations that support the needs of breast cancer survivors and their families.
Scholarships for cancer patients and survivors are dependent upon private and corporate donations. The availability of programs, and award amounts, are subject to change according to current funding. The following programs are examples of the types of scholarships available for college-bound students who are battling cancer.
Cancer for College was founded in 1993 by Craig Pollard. The organization offers a number of annual scholarships, ranging from $250 to $4000, for cancer patients and cancer survivors. The organization is based out of California and primary consideration is given to applicants from within the state. Cancer for College provides one-time and recurring scholarships to current and former cancer patients. Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen planning to enroll in an accredited four-year university, community college or graduate school. Awards vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The application period opens October 1st and closes January 31st. Awards are announced in July.
The Cancer Survivors Fund is a non-profit charitable foundation dedicated to helping cancer survivors find the money they need to complete a college education. The fund sponsors four annual scholarships for cancer survivors. To be eligible, applicants must be a cancer survivor, or currently diagnosed with cancer, and must be enrolled in an accredited college or university. Applicants must submit an essay describing their cancer experience, along with a complete medical history. Award amounts vary, and are determined on the basis of personal hardship and financial need.
The Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation is a leading charitable organization and support group in the New York Hudson Bay area. The foundation offers peer to peer counseling, outreach programs, and financial assistance for breast cancer patients and their families. The foundation also awards eight $1000 scholarships every year to students whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.
The Patient Advocate Foundation sponsors the PAF Scholarship for Survivors. The program is dedicated to providing scholarships to students who have suffered, or are suffering, a life threatening disease. Applicants must be under the age of 25, must submit two letters of recommendation, must provide a detailed medical history, and must be enrolled full time at an accredited college or university. Recipients of the scholarship must agree to complete 20 hours of community service for each year the scholarship is awarded. The annual award amount currently stands at $3000.
The American Cancer Society is one of the largest and must successful advocacy groups in the United States. ACS administers the Youth Cancer Survivor College Scholarship for students under the age of 25 who were diagnosed with cancer prior to their 21st birthday. The maximum annual award amounts is $1000.
Students Affected by Cancer
Families of cancer patients face their own challenges. Understandably, the concern for the child or sibling is paramount, and all attention is directed towards their battle with this life-threatening disease. But cancer can derail an entire family’s future, and the extended treatments can quickly deplete a family’s savings. Consequently, many family members may have to defer their college education indefinitely due to lack of financing.
Many charitable foundations and advocacy groups understand that a diagnosis of cancer affects more than just the patient, and have developed a number of scholarships designed to help the family members of cancer patients to continue their college education. These programs are designed to address the specific needs of the children and siblings of cancer patients by providing financial assistance to help them meet the costs of a college tuition.
The following programs are examples of the type of scholarships available for family members of cancer patients and survivors.
The Mary Ellen Locher Foundation provides scholarships to the children of breast cancer patients. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, and must be enrolled full-time at an accredited two-year of four-year college or university. Award amounts vary and are determined on the basis of academic achievement, community service and financial need.
The Ulman Cancer Fund sponsors an annual scholarship for college-bound students affected by cancer, either through their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of a family member. Applicants must have been 15 years of older when their parent or sibling was taking treatments for cancer. Recipients must agree to perform 40 hours of community service related to cancer awareness. The award is valued at $2500.
FinAid offers scholarships for patients, survivors, children of a cancer patients or survivor, students who lost a parent to cancer and students pursuing careers in cancer treatment.
Fastweb is the premier online resource when it comes to paying for and preparing for school. Lists scholarships for every type of student from the high school freshmen to the returning adult, including those with cancer.
Helping young adult cancer survivors with a successful transition into their post-treatment life by providing financial support through grants and scholarships. The Samfund no longer accepts requests for undergraduate tuition. We will, however, consider requests for graduate tuition, vocational training, continuing education and student loan repayment. Undergraduates may request help with other school-related expenses (i.e., computers, books and supplies) only if they are responsible for paying for these and are not currently receiving help from their parents, schools or other sources. If you are looking for assistance with undergrad tuition, please view our Undergraduate Tuition Assistance resources.
Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship Foundation
Offers post-secondary scholarships to current year high school graduates who are survivors of cancer who reside in Colorado and Montana.
The Jan Egerton and Don Smitley Mesothelioma Scholarship is available to college and university students throughout the United States. The goal is to help the educational efforts of students while raising awareness of mesothelioma, provide information about its prognosis and the dangers of being exposed to asbestos.