During the 2011-2012 academic year, the average cost per year of a public college education was $14,292, and the price tag was even higher -- $33,047 -- for a private school. Add in the medical costs that a kidney disease patient faces, and finances may become a road block to higher education. If you have a diagnosed kidney disease and can't afford the growing college costs, the National Kidney Foundation offers a variety of scholarship options.

Kidney Criteria

Unlike a general academic scholarship, a National Kidney Foundation scholarship isn't for everyone. Aside from your grades, you'll need to meet the foundation's diagnosis requirements. The various scholarships that this organization offers require applicants to have a verifiable kidney disease. For example, the Joseph DiMartino Patient Scholarship requires that all applicants submit a letter from either the doctor or medical facility that is treating them. This type of letter must verify that the applicant has a chronic kidney condition, is on dialysis or has had a transplant.

Regional Options

Many of the National Kidney Foundation's scholarships are offered through regional offices or chapters. For example, the Culpepper Exum Scholarship is a financial aid award for students in Kansas or Missouri. Likewise, the Larry Smock Scholarship is a state-specific award, as applicants for this scholarship must live in the state of Indiana. If you're looking for a regional scholarship, your state or region's National Kidney Foundation office can provide information.

Basics Behind the Awards

Even though some chronic kidney conditions may seem like they would prohibit a patient from going to school, the National Kidney Foundation notes that attending school is necessary to fully develop mental and social skills. Kidney disease patients typically have extra costs that a healthy individual wouldn't. Having to pay hospitals, doctors and dialysis clinics often puts a financial dent in the kidney patent's financial life. A scholarship allows someone with kidney disease to return to or start school while still having the money to pay medical bills.

Non-College Scholarships

Even though the various regional Kidney Foundation offices offer scholarships that are specifically for attending college or graduate school, many have funds available for younger students. This includes scholarships for Dialysis Camp. These regional camps provide children with the chance to socialize with other chronic kidney patients and engage in activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, horseback riding and drama, to name a few. If you have a child who has kidney disease or has undergone a transplant, the camp scholarship programs can make paying for camp a real option.