Lavelle Fund for the Blind, Inc. Brother James Kearney Scholarship Program

Date Posted: 06/29/2015

The Brother James Kearney Scholarship Program for the Blind (formerly, the Lavelle Fund College Scholarship Program) aims to help make quality undergraduate and graduate education affordable for U.S. residents who are legally blind, financially needy, and attending any of 11 selected private colleges in New York State and Northeastern New Jersey. The program is currently authorized to admit new students through June 30, 2019.

Program eligibility To be eligible, a student must be:

  • A legal resident of the United States.
  • Either legally blind or so severely visually impaired that a Lavelle-sponsored vision assessment expert confirms that the student would need special support services to succeed in college. Examples of such supports include: adaptive technology, books in alternate formats, help from volunteer readers, and/or orientation and mobility training. As for non-legally blind students who nonetheless have significant vision impairments (those more ocular than cognitive in nature), are U.S. residents, and are determined by their college to be financially needy, these students should contact Rona Shaw, Ed.D., ( to schedule a free functional vision assessment.
  • Financially needy, as defined by the student's college. Colleges will use data from students' FAFSA form to make the financial need calculations outlined below.
  • Studying at one of 11 participating colleges and universities in the New York City area. These institutions are: Canisius College, Dominican College, Fordham University, Le Moyne College, Manhattanville College, Molloy College, Marist College, Marymount Manhattan College, St. John's University, St. Thomas Aquinas College, and Seton Hall University. At St. John's University, the program is open only to graduate students. At the other institutions, the program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Students must be studying full-time and in good standing (not suspended or on probation).

How to apply

After completing the federal FASFA form and their college's own financial aid application form, students should contact their colleges' financial aid offices for more information–including the Brother Kearney Scholarship Program's mandatory release form authorizing the release of certain student education and employment outcome data to the student's college and to the Lavelle Fund.

Scholarships are awarded on a last-dollar-of-need basis, at a rate of up to $15,000/student per academic year for up to four years.

In consultation with the Lavelle Fund, the participating colleges determine the appropriate Brother James Kearney Scholarship amount based on the following calculation:

TOTAL COLLEGE COST (defined to include tuition, fees, room and board, and books) minus two things:

(1) NON-LAVELLE FINANCIAL AID from all public and private sources PLUS (2) the FAMILY'S APPROPRIATE CONTRIBUTION – that is, what the college determines the family can afford to pay without borrowing.

Non-Lavelle resources available to financially needy students may include: (a) the college's own student aid funds, (b) federal Pell Grants, (c) in the case of New York State residents, NYS Tuition Assistance Program awards, and (d) aid from the students' home state commissions for the blind. In the case of the New York State Commission for the Blind, for example, maximum annual award amounts have been approximately the same as the cost of a year's tuition at a SUNY college – plus additional support for room and board, when applicable.

To be eligible for Brother James Kearney Scholarship support, students must first seek non-Lavelle support for which they may qualify. Since legally blind students who are registered with their home state commission for the blind usually qualify for some commission aid, the Fund does not honor scholarship vouchers that fail to indicate either: (1) how much the student's home state commission has awarded the student or (2) the reason the commission denied such aid.

Paying the scholarships. Each semester, the Fund will pay the needed scholarship dollars directly to the participating colleges. The colleges will then ensure that the funds are used exclusively for the agreed student support purposes.

Additional information. Should you have questions about the program, please contact:
Joan Dulitz, coordinator of the Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind ( Ms. Dulitz is usually available in the Lavelle Fund's office on Tuesdays. The office phone number is 212-668-9801.


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