FAQs: AG Bell Financial Aid Programs

These are the most commonly asked questions about the Financial Aid Programs in general.

Is membership required to apply?
No, membership in the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is not required. However, preference may be given to AG Bell members.

What does membership in AG Bell provide?
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education, research and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and thrive in mainstream society. 

How do I become a member of AG Bell?
You can join online or you can contact AG Bell for more information at 202-337-5220 (voice) or by email.

If my child has conductive hearing loss, can I apply?
As long as the applicant meets all of the stated eligibility criteria – including the PTA in the better-hearing-ear criterion – you may apply.

If my child has normal hearing in one ear, does he or she qualify?
No, individuals with unilateral hearing loss do not meet the eligibility criteria.

Is it necessary to submit an audiogram or cochlear implant programming report with the application?
Yes; these provide documentation that your child has been diagnosed with a moderate to profound hearing loss. An application that does not include one of these documents is considered to be incomplete and will not be considered for an award.

My child’s audiogram is several years old, is that okay?
Applicants using hearing aids must provide an audiogram performed within the past 12 months. Audiograms older than that are not acceptable. Cochlear Implant users must submit a programming report performed within the past 12 months.

If my child uses a cochlear implant and a hearing aid, do I need to send both a CI programming report and an audiogram?
Cochlear implant users only need to include the CI programming report.

How do I interpret my child’s audiogram to determine eligibility?
The audiogram is a graph showing the results of the pure-tone-hearing tests performed by an audiologist. Once the audiogram is completed, the audiologist may compute the pure tone average (PTA) for the better ear and include it on your report. You can calculate the PTA by determining the average of the hearing thresholds at 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hz, which are considered to be the four major frequencies for speech. The PTA must be included in your application.

Formula for calculating the PTA:
On the unaided audiogram, look at the results for the better hearing ear at 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hz and add those four numbers together, then divide that total by four. The result is the 4-frequency Pure Tone Average.

How do I get an application?
When the program is open, application packets are available as a PDF document on each program’s webpage on the AG Bell website. It’s easy to download or print the application packet.

Can we apply for any of these programs any time during the year?
No, applications are only available during specific times of the year beginning in February. It’s best to check the AG Bell website periodically for the most updated information. If you become a member of AG Bell and provide an email address, you will receive weekly updates that will notify you when any financial aid or scholarship programs open.

Can we apply if we do not know an AG Bell member?

Yes, if you do not know an AG Bell member, you may provide a recommendation from a therapeutic or educational professional.

If we apply this year, can we apply again in the future?
Yes, as long as the applicant meets all of the eligibility requirements each year, you may apply again in subsequent years.

What if my child does not meet ALL of the eligibility requirements?
You should not apply if your child doesn’t meet all of the eligibility criteria. Applications that do not meet all of the criteria are not considered for an award.

Are the financial aid programs open to international applicants?

The financial aid programs are open to residents of the United States (including US territories) and Canada who meet all of the eligibility criteria.

How much are the awards?

Each program is different and it varies from year to year within each program, as it depends on the funds available and the number of applications received. Over the past four years, financial aid program awards have ranged from $200 to $2,000 USD.

Do AG Bell’s programs support funding for organizations?
No, support is available only to individuals, not organizations.

What does it mean to demonstrate financial need?

While the financial aid programs are designed to serve those who are “most in need,” AG Bell does not have a set scale for income. Need varies and depends on individual or family circumstances and is impacted by geographic location, proximity of available services, number of dependents, number of working parents, etc.

Can I fax my child’s application?
No, faxed applications will not be accepted under any circumstances.

Should I photocopy my child’s application forms?
Yes, we encourage you to retain a copy of the completed application forms for your records. Your application will not be returned to you under any circumstances.

How will I know that my child’s application has been received?
We do not confirm receipt of applications. Due to the volume of applications, we are not able to confirm status over the telephone or via email. If you wish to confirm delivery of your application, you may choose to send your application using a service that can confirm delivery (U.S. Postal Service certified or express mail, Federal Express, DHL, UPS, etc.). Please do not require a signature as this may delay delivery. AG Bell does not accept responsibility or make exceptions due to delays in delivery.

What if our application packet (including supporting materials) arrives after the deadline, even if we made every effort to mail it on time?

We encourage you to apply well in advance of the deadline. Applications and supporting materials that arrive after the established deadline are not considered for an award. AG Bell cannot accept responsibility for delivery or mail delays or problems or failures on the part of delivery services. Please do not contact AG Bell seeking an exception to this policy. 

What happens once you receive my child’s application?
Shortly after the application deadline, all received applications are reviewed to ensure they have arrived by the deadline, are complete and meet the eligibility requirements. Applications that arrive complete, on time and meet all eligibility criteria are then forwarded to the award selection committee for review. Those that arrive late, are incomplete or do not meet all of eligibility criteria are removed from the review process.

Who has access to the information that I provide in my application?

AG Bell program staff and the review committee have access to your information. This information remains confidential and is used only for the review and award selection process. Once the awards have been made for the year, all applications are destroyed.

How will I know if my child is selected for an award?
Following the selection process, all applicants will be informed by email to the address provided in the application as to whether or not they have been selected for an award. If your application has been selected, you will receive a check by regular mail within 30 days following the day we send the email notification to you.

How are the decisions for the awards made?
Committees composed of AG Bell members with experience related to the award categories evaluate the application materials and make the award decisions. All committee decisions are final.

If my child is selected to receive an award, how can I use the funds?
Financial aid awards are intended to be used according to the specifications of the particular award that was granted. We do ask for a written report summarizing how the funds were used and sharing with us the benefits that your child has experienced and/or progress he/she has made.

Will award funds cover all of my expenses?
In all likelihood, no. Awards are intended to help with expenses.

What is pre-lingual deafness?
It refers to hearing loss which occurs before the child develops language, which is generally defined to be around age three.

What is post-lingual deafness?
Post-lingual deafness is hearing loss acquired after first learning a language.

What does decibel (dB) mean?
Decibel is the unit of measurement for the loudness or volume (intensity) of sound; the higher the dB, the louder the sound.

What is the scale of hearing loss?
Degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss. Below is one of the more commonly used classification systems. The numbers are representative of the individual's hearing loss range in decibels (dB HL).

  • Normal Hearing (-10 dB to 15 dB)
  • Slight (16 dB to 25 dB)
  • Mild (26 dB to 40 dB)
  • Moderate (41 dB to 55 dB)
  • Moderately/Severe (56 dB to 70 dB)
  • Severe (71 dB to 90 dB)
  • Profound (91 dB or more)

If you have a question not answered here, please send us an email financialaid@agbell.org.