More than 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. An even greater number of parents of college-age children die of cancer. Cancer is a source of stress on a family, both financial and non-financial. Cancer drains family resources that otherwise could help send their children to college. Cancer scholarships can help alleviate some of that stress.
Impact of Childhood Cancer
Less than 1% of all cancer diagnoses are childhood cancers, but still a significant number of children are diagnosed with cancer each year. The cancer incidence rates are 19.2 per 100,000 children under age 20. Even though the incidence rates have been increasing, survival rates have also increased significantly, from 63% in the 1970s to more than 88% today. Even so, the CDC reports that more than half of the children who die each year die of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common types of childhood cancers include Leukemia, Brain and Central Nervous System (CNS) Cancer, Neuroblastoma, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Wilms Tumor, Bone Cancer (including Osteosarcoma and Ewing Sarcoma), Hodgkin Disease, Rhabdomyosarcoma, Thyroid Carcinoma, Germ Cell Tumors, Retinoblastoma and Melanoma.
Scholarships for Cancer Patients and Survivors
Cancer is expensive. Often, families are forced to spend college savings and other family resources to fight the cancer, leaving the family financially devastated. More children are surviving and dealing with long-term side effects of the disease and treatment. When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, it can affect their ability to support their family. Loss of a parent to cancer can be overwhelming.
Some of these scholarships are available not just to cancer patients and survivors, but also to students whose family member was diagnosed with cancer or died of cancer. This may include students whose spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling or child has or had cancer.
Some of the scholarships have age restrictions, some based on the current age of the student and others based on the age at diagnosis. For example, the Ulman Cancer Fund requires applicants to have been 15 years old or older when they were or their parent was diagnosed with cancer.
In addition, there is a cancer deferment for federal student loan borrowers who are undergoing active cancer treatment.
Scholarships for Any Type of Cancer
- Aaron Bonner Scholars Program
- Cameron Siemers Foundation for Hope
- Cancer for College
- Cancer Survivors’ Fund
- Chalik & Chalik Annual Survivors Scholarship
- Expect Miracles Foundation Scholarship
- Hawkins Spizman Kilgo LLC Childhood Cancer Awareness Scholarship
- Kids 4 Kids with Cancer Scholarship
- Lep Foundation for Youth Education Cancer Support Scholarship
- LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program (loss of parent to cancer)
- Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship (any type of cancer, not just mesothelioma)
- My Hometown Heroes Scholarship Fund for Young Adult Cancer Survivors
- National Children’s Cancer Society – Beyond the Cure Ambassador Scholarship Program
- National Collegiate Cancer Foundation
- National GRACE Foundation
- Nicki Leach Foundation
- Patient Advocate Foundation Scholarships for Survivors
- SAM Fund Grants
- Simon Cancer Foundation Scholarships
- Southern California Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses (SCAPHON) Scholarships
- Special Love for Children with Cancer
- Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
The American Cancer Society (ACS) offers several cancer scholarships, many with geographic restrictions. Call 1-800-227-2345 for more information and other assistance.
Scholarships for Brain Cancer and Spinal Cord Tumors
- Making Headway Foundation Scholarships (Scott J. Reisser Memorial Scholarship Fund)
- Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
Scholarships for Breast Cancer
- Pink Rose Foundation (parent died of breast cancer)
See also the Miles of Hope and MaryEllen Locher Foundation scholarships below, which have geographic restrictions.
Scholarships for Esophageal Cancer and Stomach Cancer
- Deana’s Wish Memorial Scholarship (student or family member affected by gastro-esophageal cancer)
Scholarships for Leukemia and Lymphoma
- Jackie Spellman Scholarship Foundation
- John Foy & Associates Strong Arm Leukemia Scholarship
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Law School Scholarship
- Michael A. Hunter Memorial Scholarship
Cancer Scholarships with Geographic Restrictions
- Childhood Cancer Canada Scholarship (Canada)
- Children’s Cancer Center Scholarships (Florida)
- Friends of Scott Foundation Scott Delgadillo Scholarship (California)
- Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation (Hawaii)
- Jeff Apodaca Celebration of Life Scholarship (New Mexico)
- MaryEllen Locher Foundation Children of Breast Cancer Scholarships (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
- Miles of Hope Scholarship (New York)
- Mothers and Daughters Against Cancer Scholarships (Atlanta)
- Orion Fund for College Students in Health Crisis (California)
- Pink Ribbon Scholarship (El Dorado County, California)
- Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship Foundation (Colorado, Montana)
- Stephen’s Soldiers Cancer Scholarship (Michigan)
- Susan Fund (Fairfield County, Connecticut)
A good place to start