The biggest challenges students with a learning disability face include a lack of tailored courses, educational support, and extracurricular activities. Some schools are better at addressing these differences than others, and while students with a learning disability may need more support, with the right resources they can truly thrive in a higher education setting.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 19 percent of undergraduates said they had a learning disability in 2015-16. Learning disabilities include blindness, impaired vision or hearing, depression, ADD, and ADHD, among other mobility impairments or psychiatric conditions.
Colleges with adequate resources to address these learning disabilities in line with state regulations can make a huge difference to students who need the most. Considering college graduates have 57 percent more job opportunities than those without a degree, it’s important that more colleges are catering to students with a learning disability.
What To Check When Considering a College
To prepare for college, students with a learning disability should gather all their documentation and contact the disability resource office to start getting special accommodation sorted. The sooner students reach out to discuss their needs, the smoother the transition will be. It’s also a good idea to research both the courses and extracurriculars at the college to better understand all the options and what you’d most like to focus on.
Here are some more helpful resources to help students with a learning disability prepare for college:
- 8 Steps for Learning Disabled Students Who Want to Go to College
- Life with LD: Navigating the Transition to College
- Helping Your Student With Disabilities Prepare for the Future
- Academic Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities
- Getting into College with a Learning Disability/ADHD
- Resources & Support for College Students with Disabilities
- Learning Disabilities and The Law: After High School: An Overview for Students
Top 30 Best Colleges for Students With a Learning Disability
1. Beacon College, Leesburg, Florida
Beacon College is the top college for students with a learning disability, considering it was designed to specifically serve students with dyslexia and ADHD. The private college exclusively serves students with learning disabilities and has associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs for different learning styles.
Beacon is committed to affordable tuition and financial aid, with extensive curriculum support with dedicated learning specialists assigned to each student. In addition to one-on-one sessions to better understand student strengths and weakness for a tailored learning plan, students also have access to peer tutoring and academic support through the Beacon Center for Student Success.
Beacon follows Florida’s Department of Education Disability Support Services standards and is a great choice for students who want to go to school with peers who also have disabilities. Beacon has under 500 undergraduates and an average class size of 12 – 15 students, so it’s smaller and more tight-knit than huge public universities.
2. Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont
Middlebury College is a leading college for students with a learning disability as evidenced by the school’s mission focus on diversity and inclusion. In recent years one in six Middlebury College students identified as having some kind of disability, so students definitely aren’t alone at this school of about 2,500.
The Disability Resource Center serves as a a space for students to get support and connect with their school community. Confidential services include reading software, note takers, scribes, and psychological health services. In addition to auxiliary aids and services, Middlebury College also has a range of academic accommodations like time extensions for course work and help with registration.
Middlebury College aligns with Section 504 – Vermont Agency of Education which requires schools to provide appropriate accommodation and opportunities for students with disabilities.
3. Landmark College, Putney, Vermont
Landmark College is recognized for its comprehensive disability support services integrated into the curriculum so all students can thrive. The total undergraduate enrollment hovers just below 500, so it’s a small, close-knit school with a clear sense of community and support, designed to help those with learning disabilities reach their goals.
The private college welcomes students with attention disorders, autism, and other diagnosed learning disabilities, with tailored pathways in liberal arts and sciences so students can earn associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. It’s accredited by the New England Association of Schools and College and Landmark’s Academic Support Services include everything from counseling and educational technology to pet therapy.
4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina
For students with a learning disability who want a bigger school experience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an excellent choice. Considered a Public Ivy, this flagship of the UNC system offers a similar education to a prestigious Ivy League college at a public school price. Throughout the school’s admissions and aid for a total enrollment around 30,000 students, UNC Chapel Hill gives students with disabilities the support they need to grow and thrive.
The Accessibility Resources and Services office helps students with ADHD and other learning disabilities navigate their college experience to successfully graduate with a degree that prepares them for the future. From insightful videos and books to the annual Burnett Seminars at Carolina where disability accommodation in education is discussed, UNC celebrates neurodiversity.
5. Hofstra University, Nassau County, New York
Hofstra University is well-known in the disability education space for its comprehensive classroom accommodations and comfortable learning environment for those with learning disabilities. The school has under 7,000 students and pairs students with one-on-one learning specialists for weekly sessions to ensure they stay on track and have everything they need for a successful education.
Hofstra Student Access Services (SAS) walk students through the process of formally disclosing their disability to access SAS forms and full accommodation for classes and tests. This includes academic coaching and a dedicated testing lab with options for scribes, readers, alternate format exams, and assistive technology. There’s also the PALS Program to help students strengthen their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
6. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University is one of Boston’s best private universities, with a decorated history spanning 200 years and an extensive focus on research. There are just under 14,000 students enrolled at Northeastern, which describes itself as “a university like no other”. The Learning Disabilities Program is a prime example as it offers specialized support to students with ADHD and other learning disabilities.
Each student connects with a learning specialist twice a week for ongoing academic support and emotional wellbeing check-ins. The support staff help students navigate time management, organization, and test-taking with comfort and confidence. There are also several information sessions for prospective students and their loved ones to become more familiar with Northeastern’s Disability Resource Center before school starts.
7. Adelphi University, Garden City, New York
Adelphi University is making a difference in the lives of students with a learning disability who can make the most of a historic east coast school with ample opportunities for everyone. Students have easy access to educators, counselors, academic advisors, and tutors who can assess their needs and help ensure the most successful and supportive learning environment.
The Adelphi Student Access Office has a Learning Resource Program and Bridges to Adelphi Program specifically catered to students with autism. Priority registration, support groups, and alternative format textbooks are all designed to help students unlock their full potential and overcome challenges associated with their disability. Plus, there are fewer than 8,000 students at the school, so it’s a good mid-sized choice for students to get the most out of their experience.
8. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University is a nationally-renowned private university in the heart of Dallas with a reputation for global research and a strong liberal arts background. The undergraduate enrollment is around 6,500, so students with a learning disability have numerous opportunities to meet new people and get involved in activities without being completely overwhelmed by a huge school.
The Office of Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies helps students with ADHD and other learning disabilities through peer mentoring and tutoring. Personalized academic coaching keeps students progressing on the path to graduation, and there’s even a specific class that overs learning strategies for disabilities. Workshops and one-on-one support are available for students throughout their educational journey.
9. University of California Irvine, Irvine, California
UC Irvine is home to over 37,000 students and 222 degree programs, so the opportunities abound at this popular, sun-filled campus. Although it’s larger than many other colleges, UCI Irvine has extensive support services for students with disabilities, and staff cater to every student’s individual needs to ensure they are in the best environment for continued education and professional development.
UCI Disability Services Center – Irvine not only caters to students with learning disabilities, but also gives the broader student population the chance to become allies for those with learning differences through a 3-hour workshop. Alternative instructional materials, note-taking resources, campus groups, and wellness activities promote healthy and happy learning experiences for students with all styles of learning.
10. American University, Washington, D.C.
American University has about 7,500 students in a beautiful neighborhood of the nation’s capitol, offering students from all walks of life an inside look at rich American history and potential careers in politics, business, and so much more. Students with a learning disability have access to extensive accommodation with one-on-one weekly counselor meetings to make sure they have the right resources for a flourishing academic career.
Weekly writing tutoring and student mentor meetups are also offered in addition to individualized course advising as part of the Learning Services Program. The school aims to build strong relationships and support plans for students in their first year so they don’t miss out on any opportunities. The Academic Support and Access Center at American University has many options for testing accommodations and assistive technology too.
11. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
The University of Connecticut Storrs is a public land-grant university with roots in research since 1881. It sits on 4,400 acres about 30 minutes from Hartford, Connecticut, and 90 minutes outside of Boston, Massachusetts. This convenient location means students have access to numerous opportunities, and those with learning differences are well taken care of with special academic accommodations.
The Center for Students with Disabilities has an umbrella program called Beyond Access that helps students work smarter, not harder. Students are paired with a personal strategy instructor for 1-3 hour meetings each week. During these sessions, students get an individualized plan that reflects their distinct learning requirements and helps with time management and life skills.
12. University of the Ozarks, Clarksville, Arkansas
As a private liberal arts college, University of the Ozarks has around 900 students, many of whom benefit from disability accommodations through the Student Success Center. The school understands that not all students learn the same way, which is why the Jones Learning Center offers customized learning plans to help students with ADHD and autism, among other learning disabilities.
The disability support staff give students resources to help them both in and out of the classroom, such as sessions on independent living skills and self-confidence. There are regular group consultations and support coach sessions, as well as a safe and secure living environment. Residential life staff serve as friendly neighbors to offer extra support for students with a learning disability throughout their entire college experience.
13. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
University of Arizona was founded in 1885 and is one of the most popular and prestigious universities in the American Southwest, thanks to its excellent reputation for research and student support. The U of A Disability Resource Center is committed to comprehensive intervention for college students with learning disabilities, using cutting-edge learning tools and technology apps to help students progress toward their professional goals.
The Salt Center (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques) provides academic support for students who need extra support in the classroom. Specialists are available to help students set goals and improve their academic performance, and there’s also regular tutoring, workshops, and psychological services. It’s all part of the school’s commitment to include rather than isolate students with learning differences.
14. University of Denver, Denver, Colorado
The University of Denver is home to around 6,000 students and a dedicated Disability Services Program. The private research university was founded in 1864 and is the oldest independent private school in the Rocky Mountains, with a reputation for high research activity. While it’s an excellent doctoral university, undergraduates with a learning disability also have access to extensive opportunities and support.
The Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP) has been around since 1982 and accommodates up to 300 students every year. It’s led by students for students, with instructional support and professional counselors available as well. This unique program is meant to motivate and encourage students to lead the way when it comes to supporting their peers and ensuring everyone has a fair chance. There’s also an accountability element as students are guided to commit to time management and attendance, helping set them up for future success in the workplace.
15. Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio
Ursuline College has around 600 students. It’s a private Roman Catholic college with a focus on liberal arts, which is reflected in the school’s disability services to make sure students have what they need to build their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. The college is committed to helping students transition into college and take advantage of their learning opportunities.
The FOCUS Program sone key reason why Ursuline ranks as a good college for students with a learning disability. The program pairs students with an on-campus disability specialist who helps them make a personal plan for growth and development. Ursuline staff are available to set students up with disability accommodation to make their college experience easier and more beneficial overall.
16. University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont
The Center for Academic Success at the University of Vermont in Burlington has comprehensive disability services that help students through learning differences and mental health challenges. The school is particularly focused on ensuring faculty, students, and the overall campus community work together to create a safe space for people with disabilities. Assistive technology to help students with coursework and tests is a big part of the school’s disability accommodation.
Not only can students use special software to help them pass courses with a learning disability, but there’s also a testing center with minimal distractions to make it easier for those with ADHD to focus. Students with a learning disability can also expect alternative formats, note-taking support, and sign language interpretation, with these support services coming at no additional cost to students.
17. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
The DePaul Center for Students with Disabilities provides interventions for students with learning differences to help them fully participate in their college experience with less stigma and greater support. Every department is geared toward helping students be successful, although there is an overarching disability support hub to ensure students have everything they need to succeed.
Students can work with a learning specialist to come up with a suitable plan for their college goals, or take advantage of free adaptive technology and in-classroom support. The university prides itself on being a safe space for students with learning disabilities to ask for help and learn from one another.
18. West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, West Virginia
As a well-known private liberal arts college, West Virginia Wesleyan College has around 1,200 students and an Office of Disability Support where students can go to get the support they need for the best college experience. This support includes structured plans for personalized learning, made possible by one-on-one sessions with an advisor who has a graduate degree in either education or psychology.
This learning center support is especially important to first-year students with a learning disability who can benefit from the appropriate accommodations and help with time management. Both peer and professional tutoring gives students extensive study support, and there’s also the Linda-Mood Bell program, which is a fee-based program catering to different learning styles and abilities.
19. Muskingum University, New Concord, Ohio
Muskingum University is a private liberal arts college with around 1,500 students, so it’s a popular choice for students with learning disabilities that prefer small class sizes and a tight-knit environment. Students can take advantage of ample academic support to make sure they capitalize on their opportunities at the liberal arts university, even if they struggle with a learning disability.
The Muskingum Disability Education Office caters to students through the PLUS Program, which has been around since 1983. Rather than rescuing students, the school aims to empower them with different levels of fee-based support. Students with a learning disability could get up to 5 hours of professional personalized tutoring, and they can enjoy mentorship and progress tracking to make sure they are on the best career path for their interests and passions.
20. Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia
Marshall University assists students through the Higher Education for Learning Problems Center (H.E.L.P.). With 35 years of experience, this academic support program staff use modern resources and technology to help students with ADHD and other learning disabilities. Students are paired with a learning coach to help them improve time management and self-awareness.
The Office of Disability Services guides students through the process of registering their learning or physical disability and accessing free services to help them during class and beyond. The office communicates directly with instructors to make sure everyone is on the same page about the disability accommodation required, taking pressure and anxiety off students.
21. Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois
Disability Services at Roosevelt University are quite extensive and connected to the general Academic Success Center to ensure students have all the resources they need to thrive in college. The well-known private university was founded in 1945 and is committed to removing personal learning barriers for those with disabilities.
Students work with advisors to develop an academic plan that works for their individual goals and factors in the accommodations necessary for student success. Part of Roosevelt University’s approach to disability support services is making sure students aren’t isolated just because they have a disability, so the school’s impressive inclusion efforts allow for a well-rounded college experience.
22. Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, Louisiana
Nicholls State University has over 100 study programs with nursing, business, and biology specialties. The Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders is located here, serving not just the students but also children and other community members. The comprehensive academic support caters to students with dyslexia.
At the NSU Student Access Center, students are assigned a coordinator to help with their transition to college, building a built-in support network so they can fully integrate into the college environment. Academic planning and tutoring support are part of the school’s disability support services, as the staff is committed to making sure no students fall behind, especially those with learning disabilities.
23. Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio
Ashland University is a private school with renowned programs in arts, sciences, business, education, and nursing. It offers a safe space for students with a learning disability through the Center for Academic Support. Both personal and academic support are always on offer, focused on the school’s values of learning, innovation, empowerment, dedication, and integrity.
The Ashland Student Accessibility Center helps freshmen make the most of their first year and navigate any challenges with the transition. Students with learning differences can take advantage of emotional support and tutoring, as well as accessibility accommodations to ensure they are always comfortable. Extended test time, distraction-reduced testing rooms, and assistive technology make a difference to students with a learning disability.
24. Limestone University, Gaffney, South Carolina
Limestone University has been around since 1845 and it has a long history of providing students of all learning abilities the chance to earn a liberal arts degree. The school helps with Financial Aid for Disabled Students and has a special LEAP Program (Learning Enrichment and Achievement) for students with disabilities.
This program gives students the opportunity for dedicated one-on-one support with a learning specialist and organizational coach. Support services range from supervised study halls to secondary academic advisement and individual tutoring sessions. LEAP students have at least 10 hours of support a week and regular progress reports to ensure they keep moving forward with their educational goals.
25. Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky University provides a range of disability resources at the Center for Student Accessibility. With an undergraduate enrollment of just over 12,000, the popular public university is known for its ambitious in-person and online class offerings. Once students disclose their learning, physical, and/or mental disability, they will have access to on-campus support, with testing options also available for students who suspect they may have a learning disability.
The university helps students with tutoring and emotional support animal applications, as well as counseling and academic guidance. There are videophones located across the campus and the EKU Psychology Clinic offers intellectual and academic assessments as part of the school’s commitment to psychological testing and comprehensive student support.
26. Curry College, Milton, Massachusetts
Disability Services at Curry College include specialized services for students with ADHD. The Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) helps students become leaders in their chosen fields, as they receive a wide range of support tools including an iPad to help with in-class learning.
Sessions with academic advisors and life coaches also make a difference to Curry College students who have a learning disability but still want to make their college dreams a reality. The close-knit educational environment with just under 5,000 students certainly caters to those with learning differences who may need extra time or support in the classroom, but don’t want to miss out on extracurricular activities.
27. Daemen College, Amherst, New York
Daemen College is a private college with under 2,000 students and 36 degree majors ranging from business to healthcare. It’s open to both undergraduate and graduate students who can make the most of all the resources available through the Disability Services Department, including peer life skills coaching with experienced guides. The school accommodates alternative test procedures and service animals to ensure students are always comfortable.
Another bright spot in Daemen College’s disability resources is the College Autism Transition Support (CATS) program. Participants meet with a coach once a week to go over personal goals and work through stress management, self-monitoring, problem-solving, and decision-making, among many other skills that will help students navigate their educational and social journey through college.
28. Mitchell College, New London, Connecticut
As a private liberal arts school, Mitchell College has a total enrollment below 600, so it’s ideal for students with a learning disability who want a high level of one-on-one support. Accessibility Services at Mitchell College are extensive, especially with the Bentsen Learning Center that empowers students to overcome the challenges of their learning disability. This includes research, writing, and test prep among many other study skills.
Students at Mitchell College have professional and peer support to improve their time management and professional development, and there are multiple tiers to the learning center program so students can keep growing and developing their skills. In addition to assistive technology and classroom resources, the school is committed to ensuring the campus is safe and welcoming for all with engaging community events and safe housing.
29. Mount Saint Joseph University, Cincinnati, Ohio
Mount Saint Joseph University is a small private Catholic College with just over 1,000 students, making it a close-knit place to pursue higher education with adequate support, particularly for those with diagnosed learning disabilities. One of the biggest perks of the Disability Services department is Project EXCEL, an academic support program that has been helping students since 1982.
The school’s disability accommodations have improved over the years based on modern medicine and research, with one-on-one support available to help students develop custom learning plans. Professional tutoring and executive functioning support are also offered to assist students with their overall college experience. Freshmen have weekly consultations and technology support instruction to help with the transition from high school to college as well.
30. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee
East Tennessee State University is home to just under 11,000 students, many of whom are supported by extensive disability accommodation. The Learning Support Program was designed to help students through the transition into college as they work toward their career goals, with additional academic guidance for students who could benefit from the extra support.
Disability Services through the Division of Student Life and Enrollment ensure an accessible environment for all students regardless of any disability. From disability parking to tutoring opportunities, ENSU aims to make students with a learning disability feel right at home. There are ample tutoring opportunities and psychological counseling to help students stay on the right track to success throughout their degree program.
How To Choose a College When You Have a Learning Disability
It’s important to make the most out of your college experience, as it can prepare you for a bright future in your chosen field. Deciding on the right college is difficult enough with thousands to choose from, let alone if you have a learning disability that requires special accommodation. Luckily, many schools have improved their disability resource offerings in recent years, so you have more to choose from whether you want to stay close to home or move across the country.
While location plays a key role in deciding on a college, there are a few other things to keep in mind to help you make the right decision, such as the price range and any available financial aid. If you can get grants to help you pay for school, and find a college with extensive technological assistance catered toward those with disabilities, then you should have a better chance of success in the long run. Also, make sure your school has people to help both during college hours and outside of them for the highest level of disability support to help you thrive in a new learning environment.
Financial Aid for Students With a Learning Disability
Students with a learning disability may have additional financial aid options to help cover the costs of a college education. Below are links to valuable resources that can help you find financial support to make your college dreams a reality, regardless of a learning disability.
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- Federal Work-Study
- Learning Disabilities Association of America
- Eligibility for Students With Intellectual Disabilities
- Learning Disability Scholarships