Estrela Consulting Blog

College Search Resources for Students with Down Syndrome

Alyson Campbell March 21, 2024

Down Syndrome

If you have a family member or friend with Down syndrome in your life, you know the unmatched joy and unique perspective they bring to this world. Our goal as educational consultants is to help guide all students of all abilities to find the right college fit. In honor of World Down Syndrome Day (March 21), we’re excited to share this great list of resources to help students with Down syndrome and their families, as they explore opportunities for postsecondary education.  

A great starting point for anyone just beginning their search is Think College, a site which provides technical assistance, resources, and training in regards to college options for students with intellectual disabilities. It also manages the only directory of collegiate programs for students with intellectual disabilities in the United States! Their searchable, state-by-state database, allows you to choose from both 2 and 4 year colleges, commuter and residential options, and by various intended outcomes (academic, job-skill attainment, life-skills and independent living). 

Another recommendation is to utilize an advocate with your local or county Board of Developmental Disabilities. They are generally well-versed in available resources and have direct connections to local college or post-high school/adult programs. The National Down Syndrome Congress has a robust list of local and national support networks so you can connect with the location nearest you.

We know that college finances are also a big piece of the process for families, including those with a child with Down syndrome. Many organizations and foundations offer scholarships specifically awarded to those with Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities. Here are three great sites to check out:

  • Ruby's Rainbow: This foundation was started by the family of Ruby, a smart, determined, capable, and driven young lady with Down syndrome. The mission of this group is to help students realize all they are destined to be and help them achieve their goals. Recipients of the Ruby’s Rainbow Scholarship - their “Rockin’ Recipients” - have gone on to attend programs such as University of Maryland TerpsEXCEED, The Ohio State University TOPS Program, University of Arkansas EMPOWER Program, Clemson University ClemsonLIFE, and Auburn University EAGLES Program. Check out the Ruby’s Rainbow site to hear some of their inspiring stories!

  • National Down Syndrome Society: THE NDDS site offers numerous named scholarships, grants, and opportunities for enrichment for students with Down syndrome. Scholarships are offered for students interested in pursuing everything from visual and performing arts to entrepreneurship, and range in value from $500 to $10,000! This page is certainly worth checking out and sharing with others.

  • UPS for DownS: With just one application, students with Down syndrome can apply for 4 different scholarships ranging from $1,000-$1,500. They even have an UPS for DownS Sibling Scholarship for a sibling of someone with Down syndrome!

If you are not sure if a college-based program is right for your student, you may want to check out adult programming available through a variety of organizations. Local support groups for children and families may provide or have connections to adult programming for those with Down syndrome. These groups provide many wonderful options for adults to help with independence, educational access, and even entrepreneurship. 

Students with Down syndrome have so much to offer the world and deserve equal opportunities to grow, learn and thrive. As we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day we are excited about the many inclusive options that exist for young people with Down syndrome interested in pursuing education beyond high school. We hope these resources provide a great starting point for you!

Request Your Free  College Planning Consultation

Tagged: Scholarships, college search, Alyson Campbell, down syndrome, disabilities

Subscribe to Our Blog



Recent Posts

Request Your Free  College Planning Consultation



Posts by Tag

see all