We know this year has been financially difficult for college students with autism. To help ease the burden, we are very pleased to announce the ASD Ascend 2021 Autism College Scholarships.
This year, we are offering five one-thousand-dollar scholarships to entering freshmen, sophomores, and juniors enrolled in college who have autism and are pursuing either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. The scholarships may be used for tuition, autism programs, or other college support programs for the 2021 school year.
Winners will be selected by a scholarship committee in January of 2021 and will be notified by phone and email by early February of 2021. For more information on the ASD Ascend 2021 Autism College Scholarships and to apply, click here.
Larry Feltes, Co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of ASD Ascend
Larry Feltes, Co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of ASD Ascend, is intimately aware of the challenges faced by college students and their families. After helping his grandsons with autism through an exhaustive search for the best colleges for students with autism, he dedicated himself to streamlining the college selection process. With his wife, co-founder Ann Hartlage, he created ASD Ascend’s searchable database of U.S. college autism programs. This resource helps other families find the college or university that will allow their children with autism to thrive in college.
Larry, could you tell us a little about that experience of helping your grandsons find the right college?
LF: We didn’t know where to go. We were searching colleges and universities. We had some tips as to which ones were friendly to kids on the spectrum, but it was pretty much hit and miss. We traveled to fourteen or fifteen different colleges and universities. It was a lot of time and money and effort. It was a very inefficient way to find a good fit for autism students. Very inefficient. The searchable database, should simplify the process a great deal.
How do you hope the ASD Ascend Autism College Scholarships will benefit families?
Raising kids on the spectrum is oftentimes a more expensive proposition than raising kids who are not on the spectrum–not just financially expensive but emotionally and psychologically expensive. These scholarships are designed in part to help offset that additional cost, as well as recognize excellence and merit.
Why are you passionate about the mission of ASD Ascend?
LF: ASD Ascend’s mission is short and sweet: empowering students with autism for college and career. That’s our motto. That’s our mission. For so much in college, not just for kids with disabilities but in general, an overlooked key to success is finding a good fit.
You can pick a university that’s a little too social or not social enough or rigorous academically but not rigorous in other areas. They may not have extracurricular programs that you’re interested in. They may not have special programs for kids with special needs that you’re looking for. So narrowing that search down is one of the keys to success.
Some say, go to the best school that you can get in and can afford, but it’s not that simple. There’s this thing called ‘fit.’ Finding the best fit for your kids is a challenge and so important to success, I believe. You can’t just go anywhere and succeed in college. I mean, really succeed.
Update: Thirty-seven college students with autism applied. You can read our blog post highlighting two of our winners who are high achievers and going to college with autism. Another blog post highlights three of our scholarship winners who attend colleges with autism programs.