Being a single mom is tough enough without the financial worries that weigh you down. Grants are a great way to supplement funding for some of the needs that you have. A grant is a source of funding given for a variety of uses. Grants are available for education, resources, career development, programs, projects, plus much more. Grants are not only given to businesses and non-profit organizations, but are also given to individuals who present a need or purpose for specific funding. Unlike a loan, a grant is not repaid, making it a great option for single moms trying to manage on their own. A grant is simply used for its specific purpose. Most times, you must apply for a grant by presentation, a pitch, or filling out an application.
Grants come from many different sources. There are government grants along with non-government grants. These non-government grants are often given by clubs, charities, or even just a small group of people who want to help others. Grants can be a scary and overwhelming subject if you do not know where to start, but once you are equipped with the knowledge of where to look for grants and how to apply, you will be able to navigate the available grants easily. Once you know the eligibility requirements for a grant, you will quickly be able to find which grants you qualify for. Many times you will find that you are able to apply for numerous grants at the same time.
Once you locate the available grants, you can begin the application process. Applications vary in size and complexity depending on the amount and purpose of the grant. Most of the time, the person or organization that is funding the grant is doing so in order to help others accomplish a goal they share an interest in. It is important that grants are sought after for the right reasons in order to ensure grants are available for those who need them. Whether you are looking for financial help with school or everyday living expenses, there are numerous grants available, some of which are specifically targeted for single moms.
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What types of grants are available?
There are many different types of grants available, including:
- Government Grants
- Education Grants
- Scholarships (similar to grants)
- Financial Aid Grants
Now here’s the truth about grants: it’s not easy to land one. If you’ve been reading on the web about how easy it is to land a grant for single moms, you’ve been mislead. True, you can qualify for some grants, especially in the areas of education and financial assistance (food stamps, housing vouchers, CHIMP program, TAFT program, etc). But the government is certainly not bending over backwards to hand single mothers money! This is even more true with the US government in serious financial trouble as of 2012. There simply isn’t enough “money” to go around right now.
If you want a grant, you are going to have to qualify for one and spend a good amount of time looking for one that you can actually reasonably achieve. As states, the grants that you are mostly like to actually get would be education related, especially the automatic kind that come with Financial Aid (by filling out the FAFSA application, for example). You can also look at state assistance programs and other federal assistance programs that may offer a helping hand of some sort — but these may not be cash, but food and housing subsidies. Singlemoms.org will try and provide you with the most up-t0-date, and honest grant information we can find, but keep in mind there are no guarantees here.
Though you may hear a lot of talk about the “free money” the government is handing out to people, the reality is that most government grants are not meant for personal financial assistance. Government grants are geared towards helping groups, organizations and small businesses. Most government grants are awarded to these larger groups. Probably the most useful government grants are those that are available through each state. Every state has different grant assistance available in many forms.
For more information on what state assistance is available in your state, this site has compiled a very thorough list of resources that are very useful and lists information for each state: http://singlemotherassistance.net/state-assistance-for-single-mothers/
If you feel that a federal government grant is the way you should go, here are a couple websites that will be helpful in your search.
- you can search for grants available to individuals at http://www.grants.gov/search/advanced.do – simply select the criteria you wish to search by, and select “individual” under the eligibility section
- http://www.grants.gov – this site will have all information regarding federal grants
While you may not qualify for some government grants, there are numerous education grants that are available. Being a single mom makes it tough to go back to school, but when you are able to finance your schooling through education grants, it can ease the struggle. Applying for education grants can be time consuming, but with so many available it will prove to be worth your time. Below, you will find information on the most common types of education grants available for single moms along with information on where to apply and helpful links with additional information.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
All federal funding, such as grants or student loans, is based on information provided from FAFSA. FAFSA should be the very first application you fill out, and should be completed as early as possible. FAFSA can help you find available financial aid and deals with most aspects of student aid. It is a free application that you can fill out in your schools financial aid office, or online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The form will ask detailed questions to determine your financial needs based on income and family size. Be sure to include all relevant information and read the application carefully to maximize your options for aid. Single moms usually benefit greatly from FAFSA.
Federal Pell Grant
The federal Pell Grant is the most commonly given grant. Being a single mom may give you an edge since you most likely have only one income. The amount you receive will be determined by what school you are attending and what your financial needs are. You can be given up to $5,500 per year. The Pell Grant is usually only given to undergraduate students, but there have been exceptions made on occasion. The funds can be paid to you directly, or can be applied to your school expenses. Your school will be notified if you are eligible.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
If you have received a Pell Grant, then you have a good chance of receiving the FSEOG as well. Similar to the Pell Grant, FSEOG is automatically considered when you complete your FAFSA. FSEOG is given on a first come first service basis, so it is very important that you fill out your FAFSA as early as possible. It is designed for students with the greatest financial needs, making it ideal for single moms. Students can receive up to $4,000. Your school will deliver these funds directly to you. Be sure to check your school’s financial aid office if you have any questions about whether you have received funds or not.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
For those who plan to teach in elementary or secondary schools that cater to students from low income families, the TEACH grant is available to help with school expenses. Students can receive up to $4,000 in funding. There are more stipulations on the TEACH grant, but they are simple to achieve if you are sure that teaching is the right profession for you. Teaching is often a great choice for single moms because of the work schedule, which often lines up with their own children’s schedules. Once you complete your schooling, you must be a full time teacher in a high-needs school for four of eight calendar years. If you do not meet this requirement, you will be required to pay the money back as a loan, including interest. Be sure you can complete the expectations or you will have to pay the funds back.
- For a list of eligible institutions for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, go to ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/090310TEACHGrant.html
- For more information on how to apply, visit https://teach-ats.ed.gov/ats/index.action
Aside from all the other grants available, most colleges offer institutional grants to help ease the financial burden that school can create for single moms and others struggling to make ends meet. Institutional grants can have more specific guidelines or expectations so be sure you read the descriptions and eligibility requirements thoroughly. In many cases, institutional grants are specific to different areas of studies and will provide funding in order to promote those areas. The best way to find out which types of institutional grants are available to you is to talk to someone in the financial aid office at the colleges you are interested in attending.
Along with federal grants that are available to people in the United States, most states also offer grant programs. State grants are based on similar requirements as other grants, such as your income level, financial need, and your area of study. Some larger state grants are available for students who plan on pursuing careers in a high-needs area. These often have specific requirements that must be fulfilled before, during, or after you have completed your education. There are often state grants offered to minorities. State grants can be given to specific ethnicities, or even gender, such as state grants for women.
- A few popular state grants include:
- Pennsylvania State Grant – http://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/state-grant-program/index.shtml
- Allegan County Community Foundation – http://alleganfoundation.org/scholarship.htm
- American Legion Auxiliary Department of Michigan – http://www.michalaux.org/
- For a list of available grants in your state, visit www.collegescholarships.org/grants/state.htm
Private Grants for College
Private grants can come from most anywhere, including clubs, businesses, or non-profit organizations. Though not usually very large amounts, private grants can be great because you can apply for as many as you qualify for. Every little bit can make the difference for a single mom. Private grants can be need-based, talent-based, achievement-based, or most anything the grant provider chooses to use as criteria.
Private Grants can take some effort and research to find but will be worth it if you are in need of funding. You can find local, private grants in your local newspaper, magazines, or school financial aid offices. Local libraries can also be a great help in your search for private grants. Be sure to read all the information completely and be sure you the stipulations before accepting a private grant.
Most foundations offer some type of private grants. The Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation offer many grants each year for students looking for education resources.
Some companies offer corporate grants or scholarships for students or employees who want to further their education, particularly in the area in which they are currently working. Corporate grants are often given to keep people in their same field of employment or to promote job creation for their company in the future. Whether the company is big or small, it may offer a corporate grant or scholarship of some kind. The key to finding these grants is asking what is available in your workplace. Below, you will find some of the available corporate grants and scholarships for students or employees.
- McDonald’s Employee Scholarship – www.mcdonaldsscholarship.net
- Verizon Foundation Scholarship – foundation.verizon.com/scholarship/
- Best Buy Scholarship – https://www.at15.com/
- Dell Scholars Program Scholarship – http://www.dellscholars.org/
Although not technically considered a grant, a scholarship is similar in that it is awarded to students who are seeking financial assistance for school expenses without having to be repaid. Scholarships are, unlike grants, based on MERIT not NEED. So you’ll have to qualify to a scholarship with something like good grades.
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Scholarships can be awarded based on many different things. Some scholarships are based primarily on merit and secondary, financial need. There are certainly scholarships that are awarded based on the student’s area of academics or college they plan on attending. From essays to academic achievements, there is a wide range of criteria, even being a single mom will allow you to apply for many scholarships.
There are plenty of scholarships available through a large number of sources, but finding them can be a bit overwhelming. The internet provides a quick, simple way to sift through available scholarships using a search engine. Simply searching the word “scholarship” along with other criteria, such as your college, field of study, or special skill will result in hundreds of options. It is important to read all details carefully, especially online, to avoid scams. A few of the most popular websites used to search for available scholarships are listed below.
Below, you will find several scholarships specifically geared towards single moms.
- Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation for Low Income Women and Children – www.patsyminkfoundation.org
- R.O.S.E. Scholarship – www.rosefund.org
- The Jeanette Rankin Foundation Scholarship Program – www.rankinfoundation.org/apply/default.php
- Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund – www.aspsf.org/students_spscholarships.html
- Florida George Snow Scholarship Fund Scholarship for Single Parents – www.scholarship.org/index.php?submenu=Scholarships&src=gendocs&link=Scholarships
- Women’s Independence Scholarship Program – http://www.wispinc.org/programs/wisp/tabid/62/default.aspx
- University Women’s Club Nontraditional Student Scholarship – http://www.aie.org/scholarships/detail.cfm?id=17222
Financial Aid Grants / Assistance Programs
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As a single mom, one of the most important financial decisions you can make is to be aware of the financial aid that is available to you. There are many sources of financial aid, both government and private, that can help you with everyday expenses. Financial aid can help with things like food or utilities. The following financial aid programs are available to help single moms along with others in need of financial assistance:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
States are able to provide financial assistance to single moms through grants provided by TANF. TANF is meant to be used temporarily to help families become self-sufficient, lessening the need for disrupting families by removing children who cannot be cared for due to financial lack. Single parents are required to put forth effort and participate in activities that will result in possible employment if the parent is not already employed.
- For more information on TANF available in your state, please visit http://singleparents.about.com/od/financialhelp/a/find_TANF.htm
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
CHIP, which is similar to Children’s Medicaid, provides free or low cost health care coverage for those without coverage. Single moms often have trouble affording health insurance due to high premiums and copays. CHIP covers medical office visits, dental and eye care, prescriptions and more.
- For more information on how to apply for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, visit http://www.chipmedicaid.org/en/apply-now
Feeding her children should not be one of the many worries a single mom faces. Food stamps are available for qualifying parents to help ease the financial strain of purchasing food to feed your family. In order to apply for food stamps you must fill out an application, meet for a face to face interview, and provide proof of financial information such as paycheck stubs and lists of monthly expenses. You can get an application for food stamps at any social security office.
- To see if you are eligible for food stamps, you can use the pre-screening tool located here: http://www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns/\
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
WIC provides help for low income women, infants, and children up to five years old. WIC makes sure that mothers and children are provided for and are not at nutritional risk. Once you qualify, WIC will provide you with checks made out like coupons each month that are labeled with specific foods. The foods vary according to the age of the child, from formula to cereal, milk and fruits. Most grocery stores have WIC labels or signs to identify food that qualifies for WIC purchases. Contact your WIC state agency to find out how to apply. You will find a list of toll free numbers for WIC state agencies here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/Contacts/tollfreenumbers.htm
- To find out if you qualify for WIC, use the pre-screening tool online at https://stars.fns.usda.gov/wps/pages/start.jsf
National School Lunch Program
For single mothers with school age kids, reduced or free lunches will most likely be available to you through the National School Lunch Program. To receive reduced or free lunches for your children, you will need to fill out and application. Parents need to contact your child’s school in order to obtain the Federal Child Nutrition Program application.
Aside from all the resources mentioned above, there are numerous other sources of funding available to single moms. There are many private sources, such as The Salvation Army or Catholic Charities, which will help with food, shelter, and other needs. There are also work study programs available through many colleges where single moms can work on or off campus to help offset school expenses. Along with these options, there are many giveaways, essay contests, scholarships and sweepstakes for single moms on the internet. There are charities as well as religious organizations and churches with ministries that specifically cater to single moms. Food banks are also available in most every community. If you are struggling to make ends meet, you might also consider a part time job to help offset expenses. Even some jobs can be done at home, leaving you more time to spend with your family instead of commuting back and forth to a workplace. Taking the time to search and find what is available to you can be highly beneficial.
Final Word on Finding Grants for Single Mothers
Being a single mom is one of the toughest jobs there is, but, with the help of grants, that job can get a little easier. You work hard for your money but sometimes it isn’t enough to provide. Be sure to take advantage of the funding that is available to you. You don’t have to do it alone, because there are so many options out there to help you with your finances.
Finding grants can be simple if you know where to look. The internet is a great place to start. You can visit government websites to find federal grants that are available, as well as college websites where you will be able to see what grants and financial aid are available to you. There are many forums online with discussions about topics like financial aid, grants, and scholarships. You can also check your local newspapers for available funding.
Applying for grants doesn’t have to be confusing. Many applications are available online on government websites and college websites. School counselors will be able to help you with the application process. Financial aid office employees at your college are often very knowledgeable about the specifications of certain grants. Remember to be honest and thorough when filling out applications for grants to ensure you are receiving a grant that is appropriate for your needs. Read through each question thoroughly and be sure to have all required paperwork ready before you submit. If a grant requires proof, it is important that you have everything prepared.
With the help of many different types of grants, scholarships and other funding, single moms can get the help they need to be successful. Grants can often make the difference between success and failure in a single mom’s life. Once you know what is available to you, be sure to take advantage of it.