Many people do not completely realize how difficult it can be for single moms to get ahead in life, particularly without a college degree or a degree in a field that is not lucrative. Statistics show that single moms who have a bachelor’s degree have the opportunity to make as much as five times what their counterparts without degrees do. But because finances are so tight, many moms don’t know where they could come up with the money needed to pay for college.
Thinking of Going Back to School?
Living a life as a single parent requires a careful balancing act for work, kids’ activities, keeping house, and so much more. Adding in the time needed to attend class, study, and pay for college may seem overwhelming to some moms. Taking a step in the direction of education, though, can ultimately lead to much better opportunities and resources for the a single parent family.
In order to encourage women to go to college as non-traditional students, there are various companies and organizations who have created scholarships for single mothers in an effort to help them either begin or finish their post-secondary educations. Some of these scholarships are awarded based on employment status, academic merit, age requirements, and other factors. Many of these grants or scholarships are available for students pursuing almost any major degree of study.
Thinking about going back to college might feel rather daunting to a mom who has been out of school for a long time. The idea of carrying books, sharpening pencils, and filling a backpack may bring with it some fear. But there is truly nothing to be afraid of! So many adults go back to school to finish their degrees that non-traditional students are not at all uncommon. More women than ever are enrolled in college or some other sort of higher education.
Getting started is simply about taking the first step. Some of the first resources that single moms or dads can use to find financial help are:
- Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Many scholarships require this as proof of financial need. Plus, you may find that you qualify for grants through the federal government.
- Check with the college they are planning to enroll in to find out what resources are available.
- See what women’s advocacy groups offer scholarships for single mothers.
- Look into the specific state where you are attending school to see if their Department of Education website offers scholarship information.
- Learning about the best scholarship opportunities online that are available for single parents.
- Check the U.S. Department of Education for potential funding opportunities.
Top Scholarships for Single Mothers
Raise the Nation is a not-for-profit organization which helps single mothers find money for college, for continuing education, for dependent children of single moms, and for moms who need help getting their student loans repaid. In addition to assistance programs and providing connections to resources, Raise the Nation also offers a renewable Continuing Education Scholarship in amounts between $100 and $5,000 based upon need and other factors. http://www.singlemom.com/…
Women’s Opportunity Awards are given to women who are the primary financial provider for their families in order to promote education and help women achieve dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. Grants are given each year to over 1,000 women who need help toward higher education tuition, books, childcare, or even transportation. Eligible women will be enrolled in or accepted by a vocational training program or an undergraduate program, as well as demonstrating financial need. Cash award levels range from $3,000 to $10,000 and applications are due by December 15 for the following academic year. http://www.soroptimist.org/…
The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation, named for a Hawaiian Representative to Congress, was established in 2003. The foundation is committed to supporting women’s access to education, support for women pursuing education, helping particularly low income women, and enriching education experiences for children. This program awards five scholarships of up to $3,000 each year to help low income women (with children) who are pursuing either higher education or job training. Women aged 17 years or older who have minor children and are enrolled in an accredited program may apply. Application deadline is August 1st. http://patsyminkfoundation.org/…
Where to Find Scholarships for Single Parents
Capture the Dream offers opportunities to single parents and minority students to help them cover the costs of attending college. The Single Parent Scholarship offers $1,000 per recipient to low income single parents who are California reseidents and will be enrolled in a California higher learning institution in the following autumn. Selections are based upon financial need, leadership history, professional recommendations, community service, and academics. http://www.capturethedream.org/…
The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire offers a various grants and scholarships up to $2,000 to single parents with dependent children who are in good academic standing. These students must show potential for academic success as well as potential for success in their careers. Financial need must be demonstrated and preference is given to students who are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree. Deadline for application is typically in April. http://www.uwec.edu/…
Coplan Donohue Single Parent Scholarship may be used for non-traditional, single parent students who have primary custody of children and are committed to parenting as a priority. Students must be full time, undergraduate or graduate students attending Minnesota State University in good standing. Awards are given in the amount of $1,000 and the number of awards varies each year. http://www.mnsu.edu/…
Scholarships for Single Moms
The Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund has given over $1.8 million to over 700 women students in the last 35 years. If you are a woman, age 35 years or older, who put her education on hold in order to raise a family, whether a single mom or married, the Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund might be able to help you. It is necessary to be a US Citizen who qualifies as low income and is pursuing a vocational or technical degree, an associate’s, or a bachelor’s degree (must be the first bachelor’s). Factors included in selection are based upon goals, plans, and how the student will use her education in an effort to give back to the community. Letters of recommendation are required. Scholarships are ultimately determined based on the county of residence within the state of Arkansas. Deadline for application is typically March 1 of each year. http://www.rankinfoundation.org/…
Single moms or women who are considering pursuing a degree or are currently employed in a career in the field of national security or defense (not including criminal justice or law enforcement) may be eligible for the HORIZONS Scholarship. This organization was formed in an effort to encourage women in the field of national security, and students should be planning to pursue such a career. Given in amounts between $500 and $10,000, this award is available to students who are junior, seniors, graduate students, or post graduate students with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 who can show financial need. http://www.singlemom.com/horizons-scholarship/
Scholarships for Women
Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) provides grant money to single mothers and other women who are sponsored by a PEO chapter through their program for continuing education. The Continuing Education Program is specifically desinged for women whose education has been interrupted and now are ready to return to school. Eligible candidates will be citizens of the United States or Canada, have had at least 2 years as a nonstudent, are within 2 years of finishing the program, and are not enrolled in a doctoral program. Maximum grant amounts are $3,000 and awards are given based upon individual needs and may be used for tuition or books for academic or technical courses. www.peointernational.org
The Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women are offered to ten students annually in the amount of $1,000 each. This scholarship is specifically set up for women aged 25 years or older, such as single moms, who have struggles or difficulties in going to college or paying for college due to family commitments, disabilities, starting their own businesses, or other aspects which the scholarship might help to overcome. Application deadline is August 29. http://www.lindalaelmiller.com/…
Talbots Women’s Scholarship Program provides college funds for women who are hoping to pursue a college degree at a later point in life, including women who are single moms. The Nancy Talbot Scholarship Award is given in the amount of $30,000. Thirty $5,000 awards are also given annually to women pursuing Bachelor’s degrees, and fifty $1,000 scholarships are given to women enrolled in an Associate’s degree program. Application deadline is January for the following academic year. http://www.talbots.com/…
Scholarships for Specific States
Emerge is a program offered for women who are pursuing continuing education in any of the fifty states, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia. Up to seven special awards are given each year to women, and these funds may be used to pay for tuition and fees at the educational institution. Applicants must be age 25 years or older whose college education was delayed or interrupted and now have the desire to succeed in pursuing their education. Preference is given to students who are planning to attend college or university in the state of Georgia. http://emergescholarships.org/…
The State of Arkansas also offers opportunities for single parents to receive monies to be used for higher education which will be used to improve their income-earning potential. Typically funds can be used for books, tuition, transportation, childcare, utility bills, or other needs which might keep the student from being successful in college. Eligible candidates will be able to demonstrate financial disadvantage and have dependent children under the age of eighteen years old. Applicants may not have already earned a degree or diploma from a four-year college.http://www.aspsf.org/…
Mary Jane Young Scholarship for Re-Entry Women is offered through Minnesota State University for women who are either single parents or are continuing their education in order to raise a family and do not have enough income of their own for college. Scholarships are awarded in the amount of $1,000 each year and the number of awards varies each year. Deadline is in April for the following academic year. http://www.mnsu.edu/…
Tips for Applying for Scholarships for Single Mothers
Once you’ve decided to go to college and have done the research on scholarships you qualify for, it is time to get organized. Here are some of the steps to take toward successful college entrance:
- Make a file folder or notebook for each scholarship and make a checklist to determine the steps you can check off as you complete them.
- As soon as you can, make an appointment with the guidance counselor at the school you are planning to attend and figure out if you have previous college credits that may be transferred.
- Set up a calendar right away and check it daily in order to keep important deadlines in front of you–this will help keep you from missing something critical.
- Be sure to be proactive in sending in scholarship applications and do not wait until the last minute. Even if it is an online application, things can go wrong. Getting your scholarship in promptly after the receiving period has opened is the best practice.
- Find out if your scholarships or grants may be combined with other financial aid options for single moms or single dads in order to be sure they will all be useful to you.
- Take your time and do not rush yourself when filling out applications. Make sure to have all of your pertinent information at your fingertips so you can be as efficient as possible.
There are plenty of available scholarships for single mothers and fathers who want to pursue higher education in order to better their family’s position. And many of them are no-essay scholarships so applying can be easy. It’s best to get started as soon as possible in order to have the best chance of receiving grants or scholarship money for the best educational opportunities.
Image: “Girls with a laptop” from Flickr by Tom & Katrien
Image: “Mom and baby…” from Flickr by Oak Park Public Library