Tips for Helping Your Special Needs Child Choose a College

Tips for Helping Your Special Needs Child Choose a College
  • Opening Intro -

    College planning for your special needs child has both academic and financial concerns.

    As they get older, and their independence looms, worries about how your child will support themselves are a source of anxiety for all parents—but undoubtedly more so for parents of children with special needs.


As the parent, you must undertake several tasks as college approaches: help your child navigate the application process, find a school that fits their academic goals and needs, and organize finances. As daunting as that can seem, financial planning for your child’s college career and beyond doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Alleviate both financial and academic concerns by planning now. Here are a few tips for helping your special needs child choose a college.

Visit the School

After your son or daughter has narrowed down their choices for a college, plan a visit. Call ahead to speak with the administration about their support services for students with disabilities.

During this visit, you may need to:

  • Set a meeting with the Office of Disability Services to see if your child qualifies for additional support from their state vocational rehab services.
  • Speak with the dean of your child’s preferred field of study to learn how they support students with disabilities.
  • If your child is attending a community college, check to see if their IEP still applies.
  • For traditional colleges or universities, remind administrators that Section 504 guarantees your child has equal access to education.
  • If relevant, ask how the school handles behavioral problems and supports sensory needs for students.

Special Needs Trust

Creating a special needs trust will ensure that funds your child receives as gifts or inheritance will not disrupt financial assistance. If they have assets over $2,000, your child will be ineligible for federal benefits, including social security.

Setting up a trust is a crucial part of securing their financial future. Even if you have no discernible assets or funds for the trust currently, creating a trust now and making it the beneficiary of your life insurance is another way to protect your child later.

Name a Trustee and Guardian

Once you’ve created a trust, you’ll need to name a trustee. A trustee will be the person solely responsible for managing the trust after you pass. Instruct them to only spend the money on services for your child as supervising investments.

other related articles of interest:

You’ll also need to name a guardian to look after your child’s well-being. The trustee and guardian should always be two separate people to ensure the safety of your trust.


One of the essential tips for helping your special needs child choose a college is to teach your child self-advocacy. Talk to them about their strengths and weaknesses.

Encourage them to utilize their resources, and always reward them for speaking up. With these preparations, your child’s future will be secure.

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