What it is

The National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota will be awarding one scholarship for $1,000 and one scholarship for $1,500.

Candidates must be students who are legally blind and attending a postsecondary school in Minnesota. We reserve the right to request an official certification of legal blindness before awarding the scholarship.

In addition to the monetary award, one of the winners will attend the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind from July 3-8 in Orlando, Florida. At the convention, the scholarship winner will have the opportunity to meet other blind students and gain insights into succeeding as a blind person. Additionally, both winners will be required to attend the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota convention in Fall, 2018. The scholarships will be presented at the banquet of this convention.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I have to be an NFB member to be eligible for a scholarship? Do nonmembers ever win?
    You do not need to be an NFB member. Some of our winners had never heard of the National Federation of the Blind before they discovered the college scholarship program designed specifically to help blind and/or legally blind students.

  2. What is meant by "legally blind" and "blind?"
    The NFB considers these two words as interchangeable. Among legally blind persons only 20 percent are totally blind; the other 80 percent have some degree of vision. The United States Code's definition of blindness is the NFB's definition for our scholarship program. This federal definition is also required for most disability services and for special consideration from the IRS, Social Security, and other federal, state, and private organizations. The federal definition of "blindness" in the Supplemental Security Income program under Title XVI of the Social Security Act currently states:

    "An individual shall be considered to be blind for purposes of this title if he has central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for purposes of the first sentence of this subsection as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less."

    NFB Translation: If you wear your glasses or contacts (or both) and then are measured on an eye chart as seeing 20/200 or less, or if the width of vision for both of your eyes totals an arc of 20 degrees or less, then you are legally blind according to this federal definition.
    For example, some blind persons with central vision (“tunnel vision”) read ordinary print books without difficulty, but they cannot see someone walking toward them who is outside their narrow width of vision. For the NFB's practical philosophy concerning life and blindness, go to NFB "Speeches and Reports.";

  3. I am legally blind in one eye only. Am I eligible?
    You are not eligible.

  4. I am visually impaired because I can see some. Am I eligible?
    Eligibility requires you to be legally blind as defined above. We reserve the right to require a statement from a professional in eye care, a medical doctor, or a professional in the education or rehabilitation of blind persons that you are legally blind.

    Note: If you are not legally blind but you are running into some problems in college because of a visual impairment, we can often help you find workable solutions. Join the National Association of Blind Students (nabs-l) listserv at www.nfbnet.org to ask about their work-arounds as problems come up.

  5. Am I eligible if I live outside the USA? Do I need to be a US citizen?
    While you do not have to be a US citizen, our scholarships are restricted to blind persons who attend school in Minnesota and who intend to reside in the US after graduation.

  6. Am I eligible for these scholarships if I am participating in correspondence courses through an online university or working toward a certification?
    Is your online university accredited? Students must be attending a full-time, postsecondary course of study in a degree program at an accredited university or attending part-time while working full-time. A certification program for a profession or trade does not qualify as a university degree program. If in doubt, the chairperson’s decisions are final.

  7. How much of the state and national conventions do I have to attend? What if I have an internship that prevents me from coming the first day or staying on the last day? What if I am ill the week of convention?
    The NFB of Minnesota assists winners to attend the national and state conventions as one of the valuable gifts we give in addition to the monetary award. To be eligible for either of the two scholarships, you must attend the entire convention--no exceptions. If an internship or similar obligation comes up, we may be able to help you negotiate time off with your employer or your school. Past winners discovered that benefits they received from attending the largest conventions of the blind in America and in Minnesota lasted many years after they spent the money..

  8. Transcripts are required. How far back do you want them? May I send my transcripts to you myself? Should I send the original or a copy of my ACT and SAT scores, certificates of achievement, or any other proof of my awards and grades?
    We accept copies but reserve the right to request official transcripts before scholarships are awarded, and we will not return documents we receive. All students must supply a copy of any postsecondary transcripts for current and past colleges. If you have attended less than one year of higher education, provide your high school transcript as well. You or your school or an online transcript service may mail or email a transcript directly to our office, or you may upload a copy to your online application. Proof of college entrance exam scores, such as final ACT or SAT scores, is a requirement only for high school students entering their freshman year of college.

  9. Two letters of recommendation are required. May I send more than two? Who should write these letters? Who sends them in?
    Two letters of recommendation (LOR) are required; more letters are permitted. The best letters come from an authoritative source and provide verification of your excellence with examples of your level of scholarship, ability as a leader, community involvement, or fineness of character. The person writing the LOR may send the letter to us. If the author grants permission, students may upload a letter to their online application form, or attach it to an email, or send it in print by mail.

  10. What if I am selected but my state's agency for the blind (e.g., Minnesota State Services for the Blind) tries to count my merit-based NFB of Minnesota scholarship as income in order to reduce its funding of my education?
    Our "merit-based" scholarships may not legally be considered as income. The NFB obtained a ruling from the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) based on Title 29 of the United States Code, which defines labor in the United States. It specifies that any “merit-based scholarships” you win may not be considered as “comparable benefits” when state agencies are deciding how much college funding to give to you. Contact us immediately if your agency is unaware of this ruling, and we will provide documents to help you educate them. We can also provide an advocate if necessary.

  11. What other NFB services can benefit me, a blind student?

  12. How can I learn more about the NFB?
  13. Who do I contact if I have further questions about the NFB of Minnesota Scholarship Program?
    For further information, please contact Lori Anderson at Scholarships.nfbmn@gmail.com or 612-270-4381.

Information About Those We Work With:


Blindness: Learning In New Dimensions (BLIND, Inc.)

State Services for the Blind

Products That Help Blind People

More Resources