Organization for Autism Research

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OAR SCholarship program


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Q: How do I access the application?

A: You can find a link to the online application (OAR does not accept hard copy submissions) on the Scholarship Program page of the OAR Web site. When you apply, you will be required to sign up with your e-mail address and create a password for your account. Please be sure to remember this password, as it is the only way to go back and make edits. Once you have signed up (or logged in if you are returning), the system will take you directly to the most updated version of your application.


Q: What will I need in order to complete the application?

A: Aside from basic personal and contact information, the application requires a few key documents in order to be considered complete:

  • An acceptance letter (or proof of continued enrollment for current students) to upload as an attachment. If you only have a hard-copy letter, use a scanner to create an electronic copy.
  • The date of your initial medical diagnosis. Please note that you do not need to supply proof of diagnosis in order to complete the application. Only those individuals who are selected as finalists will be required to produce documentation.
  • Responses to three essay questions that you write (or dictate, if necessary). Please refer to the application for details on each question.
  • Contact information for the person who will be writing a letter of recommendation on your behalf. For more detailed information about the letter of recommendation, read “How is the writer of my recommendation letter contacted?” below.
  • Those students applying for the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship must also include a letter of support from a parent or guardian that is uploaded to the application.


Q: Can I mail a hard copy of the application to OAR?

A: No. The only way to apply for an OAR scholarship is through our online application.


Q: How competitive is the OAR Scholarship Program?

A: The OAR Scholarship Program is very competitive. In 2014, we received close to 500 applications for 40 available scholarships. The number of applicants has steadily increased since each year since the scholarship was first offered, as more and more young people with autism pursue education beyond high school.


Q: Who is eligible to apply?

A: The scholarship program is intended for students with an autism spectrum diagnosis who will be pursuing undergraduate education at an accredited post-secondary institution. Qualifying students must be enrolled on a full-time basis during the 2015-2016 school year.

Any student with an autism spectrum diagnosis is invited to apply for the Schwallie Family Scholarship, so long as he or she is attending a four-year college or university; a two-year college; or a trade, technical, or vocational school.


Q: Which scholarships are available? Are there differences between them? 

A: Individuals with more severe autism diagnoses are eligible to apply for the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship. These students may be attending one of the types of institutions that fall under the Schwallie Family Scholarship criteria, as well as any of the growing number of college experience and cooperative life skills programs. Understanding that these applicants may need assistance in some form with the application and communicating their personal stories, OAR invites parents or guardians to include a letter of support as well.

Students may only apply for one of the two scholarships.


Q: What if I don’t know which college I will be attending?

A: The application deadline is May 1, 2015, which should provide most students with enough time to decide which school or program they will attend. OAR advises applicants to wait to upload an acceptance letter until they have made a final decision.


Q: My acceptance letter isn’t electronic. What do I do?

A: Use a scanner to scan the document to an acceptable electronic format, then upload the file to the online application.


Q: How is the writer of my letter of recommendation contacted?

A: OAR will send an e-mail to your recommender after the application has been submitted. The e-mail will be sent from the OAR Scholarship Program (, with “Letter of Recommendation Request” in the subject line.  The e-mail will include guidelines and directions for your recommender, but should follow up with him or her directly.


Q: For purposes of the scholarship program, what is the accepted documentation for an autism spectrum diagnosis?

A: Proof of diagnosis is based on the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, either the fourth (DSM-IV) or recently released fifth (DSM-V) edition. This must be from your original diagnosis.


Q: Where can I go to find answers to my specific questions?

A: If you are unable to find what you are searching for or have additional questions, please contact Wendy McKinnon, programs and outreach associate, at or 703-243-3466.