Student with learning difficulties awarded $1M in scholarships from 15 colleges

It was a moment of pride when this California student battling learning difficulties was awarded $1 million in financial aid from 15 different colleges. 

"I never thought it would be so much work, but now looking back on it, I’m pretty certain I can say it was all worth it," said Josh Barri, a senior at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano.

He told that he was diagnosed with ADHD and dysgraphia, which makes it hard for him to express himself in writing. The school allows him extra time on tests and assignments, and he types his work instead of handwriting it.

Despite his learning challenges, Barri said it was always important for him work hard.

"I wanted to make sure I was doing the best I could, but I didn’t want to do something super easy for me and not challenge myself," he explained. "I found out what my limits were and what my goals were, and I did my best to complete them."

His other challenge was finding a way to fund a private school education without burdening his parents too much.

"I have two other siblings, and they’re going to college two years after me," Barri explained. "If I wanted to go to the nice expensive private schools I wanted to go to, I needed to get big scholarships so my family would be able to afford it."

Although he said he never aimed as high as receiving $1 million in financial aid combined from the 15 schools to which he was accepted, "It just kept rolling in," he joked.

His mom, Kristin Skibo, told as her son focused on preparing his application, she and her husband looked into what colleges would award the most scholarship money.

“His best learning environment was going to be a small private collage, and at $60,000 or $70,000 out of pocket a year, we couldn’t afford that,” Skibo said. "That’s where we kind of stepped in. We knew we needed to be a little strategic about it."

Ultimately, Barri said he accepted an offer to his dream school Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., which offered him $108,000 over the next four years, where he will be pursuing a degree in either business or politics.

"I want kids with learning disabilities, like I have, to not be embarrassed about it and to seek the help that you need," he said. "I know I would have never gotten this far without help […] and I’m very grateful."