The scholarship program is intended for students with an autism spectrum diagnosis who are pursuing undergraduate education at an accredited post-secondary institution in the United States. Graduate and postgraduate students are not eligible for these scholarship opportunities.
Qualifying students must be enrolled on a full-time basis. Past Schwallie or Hussman recipients are ineligible to apply for another scholarship. Any student with an autism spectrum diagnosis is invited to apply, so long as they are attending a four-year college or university, a two-year college, a life skills program, or a trade, technical, or vocational school.
The Schwallie Family Scholarship is for students attending a two or four year university. Those applying for the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship attend two year universities, life skills or postsecondary programs, or vocational, technical, or trade schools.
Individuals who apply for the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship may be attending two-year universities, as well as any of the growing number of college experience and cooperative life skills programs. Understanding that these applicants may need assistance in some form with the application and communicating their personal stories, OAR requests that parents or guardians include a letter of support in addition to the required letter of recommendation from a non-relative.
Students may only apply for one of the two scholarships.
Both the Schwallie Family Scholarships and the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarships are worth $3,000 per awardee.
The OAR Scholarship Program is very competitive. In 2020, we received over 600 applications for 33 available scholarships. The number of applicants has steadily increased each year as more and more young people with autism pursue education beyond high school.
During the open application period, you can find a link to the online application on the Scholarship Program page. When you apply, you will be required to sign up with your e-mail address and create a password for your account. Please be sure to remember this password, as it is the only way to go back and make edits and submit your application. Once you have signed up (or logged in if you are returning), the system will take you directly to the most updated version of your application.
Aside from basic personal and contact information, the application requires a few key documents in order to be considered complete:
Proof of enrollment. Usually an acceptance letter or a class schedule to upload as an attachment. If you only have a hard-copy document, use a scanner to create an electronic copy.
The date of your initial medical diagnosis. Please note that you do not need to supply proof of diagnosis in order to complete the application. Only those individuals who are selected as finalists will be required to produce documentation.
Responses to three essay questions that you write (or dictate, if necessary). Please refer to the application for details on each question.
Those students applying for the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship must include a letter of recommendation from a non-relative and a letter of support from a parent or guardian. You will need the email addresses for the people who will be writing letters of recommendation on your behalf.
Applicants for the Schwallie Family Scholarship may submit one letter of recommendation if they choose. Please note that a letter of recommendation is of high value to the OAR Scholarship Review Committee. Please also note that Schwallie applicants may only submit one letter for consideration. If more than one letter is received, the additional letter will be deleted.
For more detailed information about the letter of recommendation, read “How do I submit my letter of recommendation?” below.
No. The only way to apply for an OAR scholarship is through our online application. No exceptions are made to this rule.
The application deadline is in early May each year, which should provide most students with enough time to decide which school or program they will attend. OAR advises applicants to wait to upload an acceptance letter until they have made a final decision.
OAR does not have access to user passwords. Please utilize the “Forgot Password” feature on the application portal.
Applicants do not upload letters of recommendation themselves. All letters must come directly from the recommender. However, applicants are responsible for initiating the process via our online scholarship management system.
1. Log into the application portal and click the “Request a Recommendation” task. If you are in the application already, this task can be found on the left-hand side of the application portal window.
2. Input your recommender’s contact information into the text boxes. Make sure that the email address you have is correct.
3. Click “Send Request.” Then, click “Mark as Complete” to mark the task as complete. The task must be marked complete in order for you to be able to submit your application, but you are not required to wait for the letter to be received before submitting. Note that even if you submit your entire application in advance, recommendation letters will still be accepted until the deadline.
4. The e-mail will be sent from the application system (our scholarship management system), with “Letter of Recommendation Request” in the subject line. The e-mail will include a link to the recommendation portal for your recommender, but you should follow up with them directly to ensure that email was received.
5. In the event your recommender does not see the email, you may send a reminder if you have not yet submitted your application. Please advise them to check their junk or spam folder if they do not see the email.
6. After your recommender uploads the letter, you will receive a confirmation email. You can also log back into the application and view your letter status on the “Request a Recommendation” page.
Under no circumstances may letters of recommendation be emailed to OAR staff, mailed to our offices, or faxed. All letters must be submitted through the process stated above.
Proof of diagnosis is based on the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, either the fourth (DSM-IV) or recently released fifth (DSM-V) edition. This must be from your original or an updated diagnosis.
Please refer to this checklist to ensure that your documentation contains all the information OAR needs.
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