Scholarships Help Cancer Survivors Fund College Dreams

Smiling cancer girl using laptop in bed

Cancer for College is one organization that offers scholarships to students who have overcome the disease. (KATARZYNABIALASIEWICZ/ GETTY IMAGES)

Students dealing with cancer – either battling the disease themselves or helping a family member cope with it – often face devastating financial consequences because of the significant expense of treatment. Couple that with the high cost of college, and higher education can become nearly unattainable.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. A number of organizations provide scholarships for students touched by cancer. Here are some college scholarship opportunities for students affected by the disease.

[Explore resources and tips on finding college scholarships.]

The Environmental Litigation Group PC awards three scholarships totaling $10,000 to students who have experienced a parent, sibling or other family member battle cancer. Since establishing the scholarship fund more than 50 years ago, the law firm has awarded more than 160 scholarships – to the tune of more than $2.5 million.

Applicants must be enrolled full time in an accredited two- or four-year university or community college or in a graduate degree program and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. They also must write a 500- to 1,500-word essay on what it takes to fight cancer. The gold winner receives a $5,000 scholarship; silver and bronze winners receive $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. The deadline for to enter this year has past, but check the website for updates on the 2018 cycle.

The National Children’s Cancer Society also is a lucrative source of help. Its Beyond the Cure Ambassador Scholarship Program annually awards 40 scholarships, at $3,500 each, to childhood cancer survivors, and each award is renewable for up to four years.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, younger than age 25, have been diagnosed with cancer or a high grade or anaplastic brain tumor before age 18 and have been accepted to a postsecondary school for the upcoming fall academic semester. Other application materials include an essay, a physician’s written documentation of their diagnosis, two letters of recommendation and a summary of their community service.

Award recipients must meet specific requirements during their academic year, including 15 hours of volunteer service as an ambassador of the NCCS. The 2017-18 application period has closed. The next scholarship round will open in January.

[Don’t let cancer stop you from earning a college education.]

Cancer for College, a charitable foundation, grants numerous scholarships each yearin amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. The nonprofit awarded 42 scholarships in 2017.

Applicants must be cancer survivors and U.S. residents enrolled at an accredited university or community college. California applicants and those attending Southern California colleges are given first consideration for renewable scholarships, and some awards have state residency requirements.

Applicants must submit federal tax information, academic transcripts, a letter of good standing from the student’s university, two letters of recommendation from nonfamily members and the total cost of attendance. Scholarship recipients must also maintain full-time enrollment. Applications for the 2018 awards will be available Nov. 1 and must be submitted by Jan. 31.

Since 2002, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation has been awarding $500 scholarships to students who have overcome brain cancer. Applicants must have been diagnosed with a brain tumor before age 19 and must now be high school seniors, high school graduates starting college or current undergraduates. They must also be planning to attend or currently enrolled at an accredited U.S. instituion.

In addition to the online application, students must submit a medical release form with their physician’s signature, school transcripts and a letter of recommendation. The next application period will open in January and close in May.

The Orange County Community Foundation awards the Michael A. Hunter Memorial Scholarship, ranging from $2,000 to $3,000, to students who have leukemia or lymphoma or had a parent who did not survive the disease.

[Learn about scholarships that help students who have lost a parent.]

The national scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors or students at community college or four-year universities. Applicants must include an essay on the effects of the disease, provide certification from a physician, have a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need.

The award period for this year has closed. Applications for next year will be due mid-March.

The Ulman Cancer Foundation awards a number of $2,500 scholarships – disbursed over two academic semesters – to young adults affected by either their own cancer diagnosis or that of a family member. The diagnosis must have occurred while the applicant was between 15 and 39 years old.

Applicants only need to submit one application to be considered for all scholarships for which they are eligible. Some of the scholarships also have residency requirements. Each winner is required to organize and run a bone marrow registry drive. Applications for 2017-18 have closed, but 2018-19 applications will be available in October.

A scholarship doesn’t wipe away the hurt and grief that cancer causes, but the financial impact of the disease shouldn’t destroy your college dreams. These and other scholarships can help you fund your education.


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