Single mothers, that category of women who are doing their best to raise families on their own, are most often than not in need of help of all kinds. Sometimes, you need help to improve your life. And fortunately, there is such help for women who want to get an education. We’ve provided the web’s most comprehensive financial aid for single mothers resources to help moms get the help they need to afford school.
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid resources for single mothers are some of the avenues of assistance from which these females can benefit to help them attend school. Financial Aid, as opposed to Financial Assistance, refers specifically to financial assistance for school. And there are quite a few resources out there in terms of financial aid for moms who want to attend school. Many of these resources come from the government. However, it’s possible to get private financial aid too.
Why Go Back to School as a Single Mom?
Most employers , for example, are looking for workers who have a certain level of education as this lends itself to the possession of required qualifications. For this reason, it is important that single moms take steps to secure the knowledge employers are seeking, if they don’t already possess it. This can be done by attending school part time or even full time if possible. The reality of low income, or perhaps no income at all, would mean that these ladies need to find sources of aid. Some sources incur expenses while others do not.
What Type of Financial Aid Are There?
Typically, finanical aid consists of grants, scholarships, fellowships, and student loans. Grants are given out on the basis of financial need, scholarships on the basis of merit, fellowships for studying in specific feilds (they are sort of like grants). Grants, scholarships, and fellowships are NOT repayable. Loans on the other hand, must be repaid.
Grants are programs that give out money on the basis of NEED and not MERIT. Grants, outside of education grants, are usually given to organizations and businesses in fields or industries that the government wants to promote. Grants (especially government grants) are usually not given out for personal assistance — despite what sort of wild claims you might have read online.
The one exception here are educational grants which ARE given out on the basis of financial need. So yes, you can get government grants for financial assistance provided you ARE a student going to an accredited university/program. There are also an assortment of private grants which you can apply for which may be for education.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher (TEACH) Education Grant
This Grant has been available since 2007 and, as is typical of grants, does not require repayment. For single moms interested in teaching, this avenue could be explored. Up to $4000 per year is provided to students who plan to teach in either a public or a private elementary or secondary school that caters to low income families. There are certain conditions which must be adhered to for the enjoyment of this facility. The recipient –
- Must teach for at least four academic years after completion of study.
- The four years must occur within eight calendar years after completion of study.
- Non compliance will convert the grant into an interest-paying loan to the government.
- Must meet eligibility requirements.
Academic Competitiveness Grant
This Grant came into existence in 2006 to assist first year college students who graduated from high school after January 2006, and for second year college students who graduated from high school after January 2005. It can be used to supplement the students’ Pell Grant award. First year undergraduates may receive up to $750, while second year undergraduates are eligible for as much as $1,300. A rigorous high school study program has to be completed according to state’s standards, and second year students need to maintain a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). Other eligibility rules apply.
Federal Pell Grant
The Federal Pell Grant is available to undergraduate students with low income and certain other needs. It is also awarded to some postgraduate students for completion of postsecondary education. In order to receive a Pell Grant, students need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The maximum awarded during a given year is $5,550, and the amount disbursed is dependent on –
- Applicant’s financial need
- Costs for attending school
- Status of full time or part time
- Duration of course.
The StraighterLine Scholarship for Working Moms
This Scholarship is awarded to moms who are working, because it is challenging enough to be a mother. The deadline for application is usually June 1, with the scholarship awarded on June 15. A 200-word essay relaying specified information is required for submission.
There is also a Special Mother’s Day offer, involving registration into StraighterLine’s college. Further details of the offerings of this group are available at http://www.straighterline.com/landing/scholarship-for-working-moms.cfm/?a_aid=mrkt.
The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant)
The National SMART Grant targets students in the third and fourth years of a four-year full time program of undergraduate study (or the fifth year of a program for five years). It is awarded in addition to the Federal Pell Grant acquisition. There are specific enrolment requirements which need to be met, including majoring in –
- Physical, life, or computer sciences
- Foreign language critical to national security
Certain eligibility requirements apply.
State Grants for Single Mothers
Different states have aid programs with their own unique set of requirements for eligibility, application processes and amounts awarded. Information is easily accessible in libraries or on the Internet. For example:
- New York State’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) gives up to $5,000 to eligible residents.
- Kansas Comprehensive Grants awards from $100 to $1,100 to their residents.
- New Mexico Student Incentive Grant provides between $200 and $2,500 a year to their eligible residents.
Many schools also offer grants to single mothers in recognition of that growing sector.
Institutional grants are awarded by colleges in an effort to cover the shortfall in funds after other income sources have been exhausted. Some of these grants are called merit awards or merit scholarships and have an academic achievement slant to them. Some of them are open only to families with a financial need, while others are not.
International Fellowships and Grants
This Grant is offered by the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) and is geared towards postgraduate research, study, and training for women. The conditions for this Grant are –
- Female graduates who are members of IFUW’s national federations and associations, or IFUW independent members are eligible to apply.
- Grants are offered for any postgraduate program in any branch of learning.
- Grants are not open to first year doctoral students.
- The awards may not be used in any country in which the applicant was educated or in which she usually lives.
Quite a few of IFUW’s national affiliates give fellowships, grants, scholarships and stipends to women and girls for primary and secondary education, as well as undergraduate studies and postgraduate research or study and training. Many of them are offered in the US each year. Many of the awards are only given to women in particular countries.
The Rockefeller Family Fund
This Fund focuses on four areas of assistance for maximum effectiveness. Namely,
- Economic Justice for Women
These programs try to improve the quality of life for working women and their families. They do this by lobbying for updated employment standards as well as equal employment opportunities.
- Institutional Responsiveness
- Citizen Participation
Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund (MMMF)
This Fund is sponsored by the World Bank and is aimed at women from developing countries involved in graduate studies that will benefit women and children from those regions. It is important that the applicants are committed to this goal. The World Bank Family Network (WBFN) has planned online and offline courses for the Fall of 2011, designed to improve the financial prowess of single mothers. These include courses like –
- Money Matters – which provides tips on ‘balancing the books’ in a household, and information on a family pension plan, among others.
- Family Budgeting – an online program which includes information on how to track expenses and get out of debt.
- Savings and Investments – an online program focusing on saving for retirement, and other tips.
- Getting on with Money – includes preparing for emergencies, and teaching children how to live within their means.
- Time Management – learning how to identify urgent and important tasks and prioritize them.
Scholarships may be awarded for all types of reasons and to all kinds of recipients, straightforward or unexpected. Scholarships are usually given out on the basis of MERIT not NEED, though there may be some overlap. Typically, most common scholarships look at your academic performance in high school /college/ university. But there may be exceptions depending on the scholarship. Some of the common scholarship programs include –
- Charlotte W Newcombe Foundation Scholarship for Mature Women
- International Women’s Fishing Association Scholarship
- University Women’s Club Nontraditional Student Scholarship
- Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
- The United Negro College Fund Scholarships Programs.
Typically, you can find a list of scholarships from a college financial aid office. You can also search for scholarships online with scholarship-finding websites like scholarships.com. We’ve compiled a list of suitable scholarships for single mothers here, but this list is by no means a definitive list.
A List of Scholarships Suitable for Moms…
George Snow Scholarship Fund
This Scholarship provides educational grants to young people in Palm Beach and Northern Broward Counties in Florida. A number of scholarships are offered particularly for four-year courses of study. One application only is needed for all eligible scholarships.
- Snow Scholar Graduate School Scholarship
This Scholarship targets former Snow Scholarship recipients who wish to pursue graduate studies. Eligible students must be accepted or at least enrolled in a graduate program. Scholarships include –
- Arts Scholarship
- American Association of Care Giving Youth Scholarship
- American Association of University Women Scholarship
- Brown Music Scholarship, to name a few.
College of DuPage Foundation Single Parent Scholarship
This Scholarship awards $1,000 to ten single parents each year who need financial assistance to attend the College of DuPage. The funds are strictly intended to cover tuition, fees, and books, and the students do not receive the cash payments directly. Payments of $500 each are distributed over two academic semesters. Unused funds are returned to the general fund.
Kirkwood Community College Scholarships
Some of these Scholarships are based on financial need, leadership, residency, academic excellence, among others. Eligible applicants must have a current Kirkwood application on file. The recipients are usually selected by the middle of June, and the scholarships last for one year.
Emporia State University (ESU) Scholarships & Grants
Emporia State University has many different types of scholarships and grants to new and continuing students. Some requirements are that students –
- Must complete an ESU Scholarship application.
- Must be enrolled in full time programs.
- Must complete at least 10 credit hours and have at least a minimum 2.5 term grade point average (GPA) for continued funding.
- Activity Scholarships – These include art, dance, music, debate, theatre.
- Athletic Scholarships – These include athletic scholarships for football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, track and field, tennis, to name a few.
- Departmental Scholarships
- Classified Personnel Dependent/Child Scholarship
- Disability Scholarships, among others.
Minnesota State University (MSU) Scholarships
There are several scholarships offered by this institution. They include –
- Mary Jane Young Undergraduate Scholarship for Re-Entry Women
These scholarships are for $1,500 yearly and are awarded to –
- Re-entry single women, over 25 years of age, with custody of children
- Full time undergraduate students pursuing any major at MSU
- Completion of 30 semester credits or transfer credits.
- Coplan Donohue Single Parent Scholarship
These scholarships award $1,000 each year to varying numbers of students. These recipients must be –
- Non-traditional, single parent students who have primary physical custody of children.
- Have a commitment to parenting.
- Full time undergraduate or graduate level students in any major at MSU.
- Complete 30 semester credits or transfer credits.
- Displaying evidence of academic excellence – not financial need based.
- A US citizen.
The American Association of University Women
The Mankato branch of The American Association of University Women, in recognition of the financial strain experienced by women wishing to return to college, has developed a fund to assist them. The funds are for undergraduate study, and application forms are available at the Women’s Center, CSU 218.
Zonta International Jane M Klausman Women in Business Scholarship
This Scholarship offers a $5000 payment for women who are majoring in business fields. A $1000 scholarship is also awarded at the regional level. Both undergraduate students entering their third year of study, and graduate students who show potential in business are eligible. More information is available at
Scholarships in Social & Behavioural Sciences
There are several scholarships and awards available. These include –
- College-Wide Scholarships
- Global Promise Foundation Study Abroad Scholarship
- Perry Wood Scholarship
- Chuck Sherwood Anthropology Research Award
- David L Andreas Anthropology Graduate Fellowship
- E Dale Peterson Scholarship
- Mohamed Askalani Scholarship
- Ethnic Studies
- Achievement Scholarship
- Global Ethnic Diversity Scholarship
- Gender & Women’s Studies
- Dorie Morinville Memorial Scholarship
- Smitten Kitten Research Award
Abdo, Eick & Meyers Entrepreneurial Scholarship
Another MSU scholarship granted to three College of Business students presenting outstanding business plans at an Exposition. Cash is paid to assist in the launch of a small business. The amount awarded varies according to availability of funds. Application can only be done online at http://cob.mnsu.edu/.
B H & Betty Chesley Scholarship
This is also an MSU College of Business Scholarship, and is awarded to students majoring in the Business field. The awards are based on participation in extra-curricular activities and academic achievement, but consideration is also given to financial need. Award amounts are also dependent on funds availability. Application forms are also only available online, at http://cob.mnsu.edu/.
Other Financial Aid Options
Colleges offer three types of financial assistance to students. One service is a grant in the form of the FSEOG, the other a work-study program called FWS, while the third is a loan program called the Federal Perkins Loan.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a campus-based assistance program which caters to undergraduates who have very special financial needs. Recipients of a Pell Grant with the lowest family income are usually taken into consideration first for receiving an FSEOG. The school directly pays the applicant, either by check or deposit to her account, once per term, semester, trimester, or quarter, or at least two times per year. The amount available on this grant is from $100 to $4000, in accordance with –
- Time of application
- Financial need of applicant
- Funding available at attending school, and
- The school’s financial aid office’s policies.
Federal Work-Study (FWS)
The FWS, another campus-based assistance program, caters to both undergraduate and graduate students alike who have a financial need, by providing part time jobs for them. In this way students obtain funds to help pay their college expenses. The jobs provided are either community service oriented or college course related. Undergraduates are paid an hourly rate each month, equal to at least the current minimum wage. Payment may be higher in accordance with the nature of the work and the skills required. Jobs are either done on campus for the school, or with a private nonprofit organization or public agency in the public interest, and relevant to student’s study program.
Federal Perkins Loans
The Federal Perkins Loan facility is the third of the campus-based trilogy of programs. It offers a 5% interest rate to undergraduate and graduate students alike, as long as they have a great financial need. The loan is administered by the school’s financial aid office and must be repaid to the school. The funds are either paid directly to the student or used to offset school charges, twice yearly. There are repayment conditions to the loan. An amount of $5,500 and $8,000 is paid annually to undergraduates and graduates, respectively, for a total amount of $27,500 and $60,000, respectively. The amounts received depends on –
- Time of application
- Financial need, and
- Funding level of school.
Federal Student Loans
Student loans are the primary way students pay for their education these days. Usually, you’ll need a combination of federal financial aid and your own resources to cover the cost of a college degree. Federal financial aid includes federal student loans and an assortment of federal grants. You college itself may throw in various grants and scholarships too if you qualify for federal financial aid.
Direct Stafford Loans
These Loans are intended to cover the cost of a four-year study program at a college, university, community college, trade school, career school, or technical school. Students who are eligible apply to the US Department of Education at their school. There are two types of Stafford loans:
- Direct Subsidized Loans
These loans are for students with a financial need. The school examines the student’s FAFSA application to know the amount that can be borrowed. There is a grace period or a deferred period during which interest is not charged.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Unlike subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans do not depend on financial need. Again, the school decides the amount of the loan, but interest is charged from the moment of disbursement. If interest payment is deferred, as it can be, the amount is added to the principal, thereby increasing the size of the loan.
Direct PLUS Loans for Parents
This is a loan for which parents of dependent children may apply as long as the children are eligible. Eligibility depends on –
- The parent borrower being the biological or adoptive parent, although stepparents may be eligible as well.
- The dependent student must be
- enrolled at a participating school,
- below 24 years of age
- have no dependents
- not a graduate or professional degree student
- not a ward of the court.
- The parent borrower must have good credit. If credit is not good, the loan may be secured through a guarantor, or if the parent can show extenuating circumstances.
- Both students and parents must be US citizens or eligible non-citizens in good loan and grant standing.
Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students
These Loans provide graduate and professional students with assistance to cover scholastic expenses. Some of the conditions applicable to the loans for parents also apply here. This includes a good credit history and a fixed 7.9% interest rate. The student, however, has to apply for the loan himself, and his FAFSA application has to be assessed to determine the eligible amount.
Private Student Loans
If federal student loans don’t cover the cost of your education (and they sometimes don’t) and you can’t get enough money from grants, scholarships, and part time jobs, then you’ll have to look at private student loans to supplement your income. There are a variety of such loans such as:
- Chase Student Loans
- Signature Student Loans
You can use a service such as PrivateStudentLoans.com to match you up with a private student loan OR you can visit your local bank and inquire about one.
Other Sources of Financial Aid
Assistance is not only given to facilitate going back to school. Some Funds are set up for social and other reasons.
The Sister Fund
This Fund is a private foundation which supports women working for justice within a religious arena. The women who participate in this venture are called ‘The Healers of Our Time’. This is because the Fund believes that these women perform healing works that can help the society to develop socially, politically, economically, and spiritually. Individuals are disqualified from receiving funding under this program, so single mothers could form a group aimed at developing women and girls, and receive funding for their venture.
peaChic targets business women, as the grants are designed to help women start a business or expand an existing one. The grant period is from November of one year to January of the following year, with the award being given in February of that year. Since only a limited number of applications are accepted during the grant period, applications need to be done early. The amounts of the grants are small, ranging from $500 to $1,000, and are intended for purposes like
- Setting up a web site
- Getting supplies and equipment
- Marketing expenses
- Other areas needing attention.
Women’s Fund of Central Texas
This Fund is a philanthropic fund set up for the benefit of women and children in Texas, through the media of education, arts and culture, and health or human services programs. Varying amounts of funds are given to support the following programs which have specific emphases:
- Boys & Girls Clubs
- Foundation Communities
- People’s Community Clinic
- Settlement Home
- Trinity Center
Tuition reimbursement is a financial aid program some employers institute to help their employees to further their education. Employees can take advantage of this resource by pursuing programs related to their work. Tuition reimbursement may range from 25% of costs to as much as a 100% refund. Most employers are willing to participate because they recognize that –
- Educated employees are more skilled and knowledgeable in their jobs.
- Educated employees are often inspired to work and so enhance productivity and performance.
- Education produces advanced skills and candidates suitable for promotion to senior positions within the company, which reduces recruiting and training costs.
- The tuition reimbursement benefit encourages employees and creates a supportive environment which results in better morale and consequent work performance.
A Direct Consolidation Loan enables the borrower to combine all other existing loans into one loan, thereby paying only one monthly payment. That is one advantage that is also a disadvantage. This is because a longer time period is given to repay the loan which eventually increases the amount of interest to be repaid. Also, consolidation is irreversible, and any benefits which the individual loans had would therefore be lost since those loans no longer exist. This resource should be carefully considered before engaging.
Things to Remember
When seeking financial aid resources for single mothers, there are certain things to be done and others to be borne in mind:
- Send out applications – these relate to FAFSA forms and should be completed every year, whether qualified or not.
- Know application deadlines and meet them – these vary from college to college, and are applicable each year.
- Financial aid application requirements are different among schools – all schools require the FAFSA form, but some schools may require additional forms.
- Know what Expected Family Contribution means – this relates to the amount a family is able to put towards a student’s school costs, and helps determine the amount the school will provide.
- Know total amount required for college – this relates to all costs, including books, transportation, food, housing, etc.
- Understand the difference between eligibility and need – this relates to the various types of aid available. Students may be eligible for some but not for others.
- Know the difference between need-based and merit-based aid – the former relates to a financial situation, while the latter awards good academic performance.
- Be knowledgeable about the different types of financial aid – these involve grants, work, or loans.
- Carefully read the financial aid award letter – to ascertain whether the aid is a grant or a loan, renewable or not, etc.