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Pursuing a post-secondary education has helped individuals achieve goals such as financial stability, the chance to explore interests, and the opportunity to obtain the knowledge to succeed in their careers.  However, college does not only enhance your knowledge but also grows your network. I’m sure you heard the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” I added a twist to it because I believe, “Who you know gets you into the door and what you know keeps you there.”

There are people who live with a disability that have happy, healthy, and productive lives. Did you know that workers without a high school diploma earn an average salary of $24,000 per year and workers with high-school diplomas earn $30,500? Individuals with some college earned $31,900 per year, while individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $49,900 per year, and a master’s degree or higher earned $59,200 or more. It does not mean that you will not be successful without secondary education, but it may be challenging to excel in many careers.

Although the cost of furthering your education can feel overwhelming, there are many options for people who receive SSI or SSDI to aid in covering costs. As an SSI or SSDI beneficiary,  you may be eligible for tuition waivers at many local community colleges in Maryland, as well as to receive supports from the student disability services during your academic career. Please visit your college’s disability office for more information. PASS (Plan to Achieve Self Support) is a work incentive program which allows working beneficiaries to set aside income for a goal that will ultimately improve their financial situation. It can be used for purchases and investments such as covering school expenses. There are also scholarships for individuals with disabilities. To find out if you are eligible for scholarships and grants, please speak with a financial aid counselor at your school, or visit Affordable Colleges Online. If you are under the age of 22 and enrolled in school, the Student Earned Income Exclusion for SSI beneficiaries will allow you to keep more of your SSI while you work, which would allow you more income to cover school expenses.

If you have any questions about PASS, Student Earned Income Exclusion, please speak with a certified benefits counselor. If you do not have one, feel free to contact us online or call 1-855-384-2844.

For information on additional resources for education available to individuals living with a disability, check out this free resource.