Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may qualify for financial assistance from their state's Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency.
What is VR?
VR is a federally funded state program designed to help state residents who meet specific requirements and have disabilities get the training and education necessary to secure employment. Many deaf and hard of hearing Gallaudet students receive funding from their state VR agencies. This includes help with tuition, books, technological aids and other items.
How do I apply?
Contact your state VR agency to request assistance. A VR counselor will be assigned to you to determine if you are eligible for services. If you are eligible, he or she will work with you to help you plan and finance a college education related to your career goals.
When should I apply?
Ideally, you should contact VR during your junior year of high school or earlier. You must allow enough time to meet with your VR counselor and establish your career goals and Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) before entering college.
What if my VR counselor says VR will only pay for community college?
If your local community college does not provide the necessary courses or support services for you to achieve your career goal, you may request that VR pay for Gallaudet. Contact us for facts that may help in your request. If you do not agree with the decision, you have the right to request a review from your VR agency.
Can my parents attend meetings with my VR counselor?
Yes. It is important to have them participate in the VR process with you in the beginning, especially if you are under age 18.
Do I still need to apply for financial aid if I am receiving VR?
Yes. Vocational Rehabilitation requires that students complete the financial aid process in addition to the VR process. VR often covers only a portion of your college expenses, not all of them.
How do I work with my VR counselor throughout high school and college?
Here are some tips for establishing a strong relationship with your VR counselor.
- Discuss your expectations and goals. Decide how and when you will communicate with each other. Make sure to get a copy of your Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
- Get a copy of your VR authorizations, if possible. These are your evidence that your VR agency has agreed to support your education at Gallaudet and will help you with your financial planning.
- Keep a personal file for all your VR paperwork. This includes agreements, copies of authorizations, financial aid awards (grants, scholarships and loans) and personal budget plans. Plan in advance and refer to your file periodically to ensure your expenses are always covered.
- Keep your VR counselor up-to-date. Show that you are following your IPE. Send copies of your class schedules, grades and university bills to VR as soon as you get them. Meet in person at least once a year.
What must I do to keep my VR services?
The Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) that you and your VR counselor develop will include steps for reviewing your progress toward your career goals each semester. VR needs to see that you have a college academic plan that is clearly connected to your career goals, and that you are maintaining good academic standing. You must work with your Gallaudet academic advisor to ensure you stay on track to graduate. And you and your academic advisor must work with the Career Center to ensure you are seeking internships and other practical experiences that will prepare you to find a job in your field after graduation.
What situations require that I contact my VR counselor?
Contact your VR counselor before you drop a class, withdraw from a class, change your major or make other important decisions that affect your educational program.