Twenty eight Western Bay students with significant disabilities who need extra financial help to complete tertiary study will receive $47,000 between them this year from BayTrust's Dillon Scholarship fund.
Among them is psychology student Michael Geros who travels from his home in Pahoia to Massey University's campus in Manawatu up to eight times a year.
"I have a pretty big fear of flying so I drive. The Dillon Scholarship helps out tremendously in terms of paying for petrol and finding accommodation that's wheelchair accessible and quiet enough to study.
"It will also help buy the books I need for my final year ,which are very expensive," Geros said.
The Dillon Scholarship is in its 28th year and supports disabled Bay of Plenty students while they study for tertiary qualifications.
The fund recognises the additional efforts and costs involved for these students for things like medical bills, learning aides, special equipment and transport.
Geros was born with spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair since the age of 12. He also suffers from epilepsy and requires regular optometry check-ups to monitor his eyesight.
Despite those challenges, the 35 year-old is embarking on his final year of a Bachelor of Health Science at Massey University and hopes to eventually work with children in respite or palliative care as a play therapist.
"I used to work in a school library at Mount Maunganui and I saw a lot of kids with issues and troubles who had no-one to talk to. I want to be able to help them and I'm fascinated by how the brain works."
Geros will personally receive $4000 from this year's Dillon Scholarship fund which, he says, is great peace of mind.
"It makes study so much easier knowing that some of my costs are covered. BayTrust gives you a lot of freedom to spend the grant how you wish, as long as it's helping you towards your end goal which is brilliant."
BayTrust Dillon Scholarship committee chairman Bill Cleghorn said 57 students across the wider Bay of Plenty would benefit this year, with $86,500 worth of scholarships being awarded.
"Some of these people are absolutely amazing. I don't know how they do it. There is continuing demand for this scholarship even though the Government now offers free fees for the first year of tertiary study.
"There are always additional costs when you have special needs and the general cost of living keeps going up."
The Dillon Scholarship programme was established in 1990 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bay Savings Bank, the forerunner of Trust Bank Bay of Plenty.
It was named after the late Ray Dillon, a former chairman of the Trust Bank Bay of Plenty board and former Mayor of Tauranga.
Since inception, $1.8 million worth of scholarships have been awarded to over 500 students with significant disabilities.
Applications for the Dillon Scholarship open each year on October 1 for the following academic year.
Bay of Plenty students who have a medically-recognised significant disability can apply for a scholarship and receive up to $5000 per year for a maximum of four years.
There is no age restriction.