Finding that extra funding that will help you change your life is never easy. It can seem like a disheartening venture, especially when looking at loans and repayments. But have you ever considered applying for a grant?
Well you should! Y0u just may be able to get some form of assistance like food, clothing, rent help, school funding, money to start a new busines (or even free money) IF you qualify for a specific grant.
But the onus is on YOU to 1) first find a grant that you qualify for 2) and then to apply for it.
Note that there are many grant ‘scams’ out there: Websites or organizations that promise you free money from the government or an organization IF you just hand them your credit card number or ‘pay them’ for the grant forms. These are ALMOST ALWAYS SCAMS.
For the vast majority of grants, you don’t pay anything. You simply APPLY and cross your fingers while waiting to see if you get approved.
Since grant funding is (usually) very limited and the need among people great and the applications many, it’s NOT EASY to get grant money. You have to apply, apply, and keep applying — sometimes for many, many different grants.It’s often a numbers game — and a numbers game where you actually need to meet the criteria for the grants you are applying.
You need to find grants you may qualify for, spend the time cooking up a quality application for it, find another grant, apply for that, and rinse and repeat.
And, it’s very likely for some of the competitive grants (such as SNAP, WIC, Section 8 Housing), it may take months or even years before your application is approved and you actually get some help. The easiest grants to get are SCHOOL grants which come from the federal government. Outside of school grants — grants that offer rent help, business help, or direct financial aid — often are very difficult to get. If you are looking for emergency cash or assistance, look elsewhere because grants are often a LONG term process.
Grants vs Scholarships vs Loans
- Grants aren’t like loans or scholarships, they are money given, by the government or a private company, to an organization or an individual to help them complete a specific task and usually based on FINANCIAL NEED. For example you may get a grant to further your education. The people, or more usually, the organization awarding the grant, will decide who gets it based on who has the greatest need. And so long as you complete the task that the money was given for, you don’t have to pay it back. Ever. Grants come in many forms: direct money, vouchers which can be used in lieu of money for a service or for goods (Food Stamps for example or Section 8 housing vouchers), or even some sort of tax detectable or ‘credit’ for a specific purchase (for example, a price reduction off the list price for buying energy efficient vehicles), or even credit for school use (i.e. tuition). Some of the public benefits given to low income persons can be considered ‘grants’ — we include these on this list.
- Scholarships on the other hand are given out based on merit. So if you wanted to apply for a scholarship to further your studies, you would have to meet certain academic or sporting criteria. The other thing about a scholarship is that the money does NOT need to be paid back — just the same as a grant. But considering that most grants seem to be geared towards either low-income earners, non-profits, business start ups, or young students, this might not be such a bad thing to consider. Getting free money to help you go back to school is pretty good incentive to go back to school!
- Loans are probably the most common form of extra money that we know of, but often these aren’t an option. With the interest lumped on to the amount borrowed, you could end up paying the original sum back twice or three times over, and who can really afford that? Anyway to apply for a loan you pretty much have to prove that you don’t need it, and have more than enough money to pay it back. We don’t consider LOANS a good method of helping yourself out of a financial hole!
Types of Grants
There are different grants. Most of the grants out there — at least the big ones — are given to non profit organizations, schools, or researchers who are working in areas that government are targeting to make improvements. Areas like education, scientific research, women’s health, children’s well being are often where grant funding is allocated by the Federal Government and large non profit grant foundations.
Individual grants for financial help are not so commonly given by the government outside of a few specific areas (Food Stamp help, Housing Assistance, etc). Mostly actual grant money for individuals is found in the education sector — i.e. you may qualify for a grant to help pay for SOME of your tuition if you have less than a certain amount of money and you apply with the FAFSA for school financial aid.
So when it comes to Government or Federal Grants, your options are limited and generally to just the low income assistance programs (also called public benefits or low income benefits) or school grants. The big ‘grants’ you may find on grants.gov are mostly for ORGANIZATIONS.
Some private companies (corporations), non profits may offer grant funding that you could qualify for.
So, your best options are the low income assistance programs offered by the government, the federal grants for school, and grants offered by private companies and non profits.
Read Before You Start Applying for Grants
There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when searching for and applying for a grant. Because of the volume of people applying for them, and the limit of how many people can receive a certain grant, it can be tough to get one. You may have to wait, and wait a long time — even if you qualify and get approval. Grants are also (often but not always) handed out on the basis of greatest need first.
So since applying can be a lengthy process, you need to weigh up your options and go with the best one for you. After quite a bit of research we have put together the following list of grants that are legit with no BS attached, to the best of our knowledge. To apply for any of these grants is free, (you should never have to pay to apply.) You will have to meet certain criteria which we have included where possible, to help you choose the right one for you. It might be helpful to look at the list below with an eye on your children and community as well. There are grants and programs aimed specifically at helping children that may help to take some of the financial burden off your shoulders.
Grants for Single Parents / Single Moms
There also very few grants that are geared only at single parents / single moms, but there are some general ones that might help depending on what you need the funds for. We list some government assistance programs and scholarships that do specifically target women in need. SO yes, grants for single moms do exist, of sorts. Just keep in mind this is not a major category. Chances are a grant that a single mom in need will qualify can be applied for by any person regardless of gender — unless the grant states it is only for WOMEN.
This type of grant is specifically for gaining access to safe, proper housing and a good, supportive environment. Some of the grants are federal grants and aimed at low income households. Keep in mind these federal housing grants have a very long waiting list — it can be a couple years before you actually get the grant after you apply, should you qualify.
1. Block Grant
This grant is a community grant given by the government to help communities with their developmental needs. They are given to low to moderate income areas and at least 70% of the money has to be used to help others in the community who are moderate to low income earners as well.
Qualifying criteria: Applicants have to be moderate to low income earners for the area they live in and must use at least 70% to better their community. There are other criteria that you can read up on by following the link if this grant is something you are interested in.
Apply Here: http://www.hud.gov/cdbg
2. Section 8 Housing Vouchers
The government has set aside money specifically to help families, seniors and the disabled find and afford safe housing. With this grant you can choose where you want to live, in an apartment, townhouse or a single family home.
Qualifying criteria: Applicants have to approach their local Public Housing Agency (PHA). The PHA will take into account the size of the family, the level of income (which mustn’t exceed 50% of the median income of the community) and use this information to determine how much funding the applicant will receive. Once again, those in most need will be helped before others.
3. ADDI (American Dream Down Payment Initiative)
It’s exciting to buy your first home and 4. this grant can make it happen for you. This program aids the applicant by paying either one or both of the major extra costs for first time home buyers; the down payments and closing costs. This money can be used to buy a house, condominium, co-operative unit or a manufactured home.
Qualifying criteria: To be eligible the applicant must be a first time home buyer whose income doesn’t exceed 80% of the median income of the area.
4. Housing Counselling Assistance Program
This program helps people to work with their money better. It provides counselling to help people to rent or buy a home, by teaching them how to budget to make their payments each month. These services are offered through a HUD approved counselling agency. Although not a cash hand out, it’s amazing how much further your budget can stretch if planned properly.
Food Assistance Grants
Your health and well being, as well as that of your family, is important. Below is a list of grants that can help you with nutrition, medicine and other costly services.
5. WIC (Women, Infants and Children)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is a Federal program aimed at helping pregnant women and mothers whose children are under the age of five years, gain access to healthy foods and medical care. It also provides training about nutrition and breastfeeding. Read our article how to apply for WIC.
Qualifying criteria: this program is only for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have children under the age of 5 years who are at risk of suffering from malnutrition. The woman’s income needs to be less than 185% of the poverty line.
Read about applying for WIC here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic
6. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
State agencies help low income individuals and their families gain access to the means to get nutritious foods. We’ve written a dedicated article on how to apply for SNAP you should read.
Qualifying criteria: your gross monthly income, before taxes, must be 200% of the poverty level and your net income, after deductions, must be 130%. There is a formula that is then applied to each applicant to determine the level of assistance that they will receive.
You can find out exactly how to work it out by following the link below: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap or read our article about how to apply.
7. Food Pantry Programs
As part of its “giving back” policy, Walmart has awarded grants to various organizations around the world. One such organization is the National Giving Program. This program helps fund other programs like the Mobile Food Pantry Program. This initiative goes out bringing much needed nutritious food to areas that otherwise wouldn’t have access to it. They also supply food to Food Banks and can be contacted through their website.
Read more about applyin here: www.feedingamerica.org
8. NSLP (National School Lunch Program)
As a single parent it can seem like a daunting extra cost to have to supply your child with a packed lunch, or money for lunch at school. That’s where this program comes into effect. NSLP helps parents to be able to afford school lunch for their children. This isn’t a grant as such, it is aid. If awarded the child will only be able to buy lunch at school for the price awarded. Read our article on how to apply for the National School Lunch Program.
For more info, read about it here: http://frac.org/federal-foodnutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program
Healthcare & Wellness Grants
These are SOME government and private programs that offer healthcare assistance and wellness assistance to those who need it.
9. Medicaid & CHIP (Children Health Insurance Program)
These two programs work together to provide low cost or free health care for low income earners and children who qualify. Each state can generate its own program as long as it does so by offering certain mandatory benefits and adding in other optional extras.
Qualifying criteria: This is for low income earners and children at risk, and the minimum eligibility level is 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). To find out more about these programs and how to apply for them follow the links below.
10. CCAP (Child Care Assistance Program)
This supplies child care assistance for single parents. This program is aimed at low-income families who are working, or if they are under 18 years of age, they must be in school working towards their high school diploma. The money provided is strictly for child care, and the amount received depends on what the child care centers involved in this program charge. Naturally the costs differ from place to place. Note that this program works along with the CCDF program below.
11. CCDF (Child Care Development Fund)
This program helps to fund child care centers and after school programs in impoverished areas to help parents find good, affordable child care. They also help individuals looking for assistance affording child care. To qualify the individual has to prove financial need. Child care centers need to provide a proposal showing how the grant money will be used to improve their facilities. Note this program can work with the CCAP program listed above.
12. Soroptimist Club Grants
These grants are handed out to women involved in projects that benefit women in the United States. The projects must be aimed at bettering the lives of women and girls. They have been awarded for projects helping victims of abuse and domestic violence, or those unable to afford medical assistance. These projects also often help with providing job skills for the disabled.
Qualifying criteria: All women in the United States can apply for these grants. The monies are awarded based on the merits of the program they are going to be used for.
Apply Here: www.liveyourdream.org
Making ends meet is never easy, especially when there is only one breadwinner in the house. Below are a few grants that help you pay your bills.
13. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
The Federal government supplies each state with a block grant to help families in need. Each state then has their own criteria when determining which families need financial aid, but the basic requirements are that the applicants must have dependent children, or be in their last three months of pregnancy. All applicants also have to live in the United States. The aim of this grant is to help families become financially self-sufficient. To that end they supply job training, counselling, education and emergency funding.
14. EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit)
This isn’t a grant but rather a tax reduction for low-income earners, allowing you to keep more of your hard earned dollars. Eligibility for this is determined by how much you earned in the last year and how many dependent children you have. The child must live with you for at least half of the year and not be claimed for on anyone else’s tax return.
There are other criteria that you can take a look at by following the link: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/EITC,-Earned-Income-Tax-Credit,-Questions-and-Answers
15. LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)
Utility bills always seem to be higher than you expect or budget for. The services they pay for are necessary but the cost is often so high that people are left wondering what happened to cause the bill to spike so. For those earning a low income paying these bills can take money away from other, equally important bills that must be paid, like groceries and rent. LIHEAP can help in this instance by greatly reducing the burden of paying for heating, cooling or electricity. The money can even be used for home repairs that will help to decrease energy costs. The amount of money given to the recipient depends on their financial need and the amount of the bills or repairs.
16. WAP (Weatherization Assistance Program)
WAP is the program the federal government uses to provide grants to states, territories, and some Indian tribes, to help low income families in those areas, reduce their energy bills. For more information check out the links below:
17. CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution)
This program is made up of non-profit and for-profit entities that serve those sections of society that have not been supported by traditional finance sectors. They supply capital and finance in the form of loans that can be used by applicants to buy their first home, start a business or develop low cost housing for the community. They have proven very successful in the past helping to improve communities.
For more information please follow the link below: http://community-wealth.org/strategies/panel/cdfis/index.html
18. Dependent Care Assistant Programs or Child Care Credit
This is a tax credit. It allows a parent to take the amount spent on child care off their earnings so that they pay less tax. There are various criteria that apply so check out the link to find out more.
If you’ve always dreamt of starting up your own business, but never seen a way to finance it, the information below may just be that helping hand you’ve been waiting for.
19. PeaChic Grant
This grant helps women running their own businesses, or businesses that specifically focus on women. The funds from these grants are typically small and are intended to cover expenses like creating a web presence or marketing the business.
20. SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
This program is not a grant but is a way for small struggling businesses to receive aid in overcoming their challenges, and compete fairly for government and private business. There are some prerequisites, but one worth mentioning here is that the business needs to be at least 51% owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
For more information follow the link: https://www.sba.gov/content/about-8a-business-development-program
21. NASE Growth Grants (National Association for the Self-employed)
This is a grant program for members of NASE. The grants are small, around the $4000 mark and are designed to help small businesses grow. The catch is you have to be a member. There is no mention in their website of having to pay for membership, so it might be worth doing more research on if you’re interested.
Thinking about furthering your studies, or getting your degree as a single parent, is always a double edged sword. Not only will you have to pay the fees for your education, but also the child care costs that you not being at home will incur. Below are some options you can look at that may help you. One of the possibilities is to approach your employer. Some firms are keen to help their employees gain more skills in a field that benefits the company. This money can cover either all or part of your studies. Usually businesses will require that you stay on for a certain period of time once you have earned your degree, as payment for the money spent. If this isn’t an option for you, or you would like to change careers, then perhaps you can apply for either a grant or a scholarship. Just remember a grant is money that doesn’t have to be paid back while a scholarship does. If you are looking for Scholarships, then you should check out our list of 50+ Legit Scholarships for Single Moms.
22. WIA (Workforce Investment Act)
These are Federally funded, state run programs designed to offer help to individuals who want to enter the workforce but aren’t equipped to do so. These programs offer help by supplying training, classes, and job search tools.
Qualifying criteria: Applicants have to be 18 years and older. They also have to be laid off workers who won’t be returning to the same industries they left. Or they have to be displaced homemakers and people who were self-employed.
Apply Here: http://www.doleta.gov/programs/general_info.cfm
23. TEACH grant
This helps individuals who want to further their education to become teachers. You have to be willing to adhere to some very strict stipulations or the money given will become a loan, and will have to be paid back. You will also have to agree to teach in a high need field, in an elementary, secondary school or educational service agency for low income families, for at least four years after completing the program.
To get more information on the program follow the link: http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grnts-scholarships/teach
24. The MacArthur Genius Grant
This is a five-year grant for highly creative individuals. It allows highly innovative people to pursue their passions to come up with outstanding advancements. So there are no restrictions on the grant and the individual can use the money for anything they please. That being said it is usually expected that the recipient will use the money to do great things.
Apply Here: http://www.macfound.org
25. NSF (National Science Foundation)
If you plan to study further, or have a burning desire to get involved in research in scientific or engineering fields, then the NSF database may have a grant you could apply for. This foundation awards many grants each year to individuals looking to advance science and engineering. There are specific requirements and each grant has their own list. Be sure to review the information carefully before applying.
Apply Here: http://www.nsf.gov/funding
26. SMART, ACG (Academic Competitiveness Grant) (National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent)
These grants are offered to students to encourage them to take more challenging courses at high school. They are for the most difficult disciplines; technology, engineering, mathematics, science and foreign languages. To qualify for these grants students must have a GPA of at least 3.0.
27. AAUW (American Association of University Women)
They have a lot of fellowships and scholarships available to women. They range from financial assistance to help women finish their dissertations, to community action grants that help create awareness of women’s rights. There are also Career Development grants designed to help women in their careers or to help them re-enter the workforce. For more information you can follow the link: http://www.aauw.org
28. FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant)
This grant (along with the Pell Grant) is given out to applicants who qualify for federal financial aid via the FAFSA applciation. Here the federal government gives colleges and universities funds to help students meeting certain criteria fund their studies. Which students qualify for these grants is determined by the institutions themselves. For information on what each tertiary education institute offers, you can always contact them directly. Many have information on their websites regarding financial aid that they offer to their students. Many institutions even have special plans for parents who are students To find this information on most sites go to their Admissions tab, and under that find the tab for Financial Aid. From there it should be an easy matter of clicking through the options until you find the information you need.
But for more information on how FSEOG works you can follow the link: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/fseog/index.html
29. The PELL Grant
This is one of the grants given out if you apply for Federal Student Aid via the FAFSA application (along with the FSEOG). This awards students funds to pay for college tuition as well as other study related expenses. The nice thing about this grant is that the student will receive money every year until graduation and EVERY student who qualifies for some assistance via the FAFSA application WILL get this grant in varying amounts. So it’s one of the ONLY grants out there that’s actually guaranteed money.
For more information on the PELL Grant follow the link: https://fafsa.ed.gov
30. Walmart grants
Another organization that Walmart supports is Dress for Success. This organization supplies disadvantaged woman with interview clothing, support groups and job training. Their interest lies in helping women become self-sufficient.
For more information you can check out their website: dressforsuccess.org
These are study loans awarded on merit and have to be paid back. The fact is that often grants aren’t given to students over a certain age and so applying for a scholarship might be the best possible avenue to further your studies. Go to our 50+ Scholarships for Single Moms to see MORE scholarships aimed at single moms / women.
31. Sunshine Lady Scholarship
Helps women who have suffered intimate partner abuse by giving them the funds to have access to a higher education and then get a better job. The Women’s independent Scholarship program (WISP), is also part of this fund. It was founded in 1999 and was meant to help women coming out of violent relationships to get a college education.
Apply Here: http://www.wispinc.org/
32. Emerge scholarships
These are scholarships for women over the age of 25. Their mission is to support women in education through providing scholarships. There are a lot of criteria to qualify for these scholarships but averaging between $2000-$5000 it could be well worth going through the information.
Apply Here: http://www.emergescholarships.org/
33. The Jeannette Rankin (JRF) scholarships
This are given to low-income women 35 years and older. The goal of these scholarships is to break the cycle of poverty by giving women an education that will benefit them, their families and their community.
Apply Here: http://www.rankinfoundation.org/
34. Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation for Low-Income Women and Children
Patsy, a former US Congresswomen, who served for over 20 years, established her foundation in 2003. This foundation provides educational grants of up to $2000 for low-income moms who want to attend college.
Apply Here: http://www.patsyminkfoundation.org/
35. Philanthropic Educational Organization
The Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) is an organization created by women to help advance other women. This advancement typically involves education. As part of the PEO program there are grants, scholarships, awards and loans available to women.
Apply Here: https://scholarships.asu.edu/scholarship/1740
36. Talbot Scholarship Foundation
This foundation offers money to women who have been out of school for at least 10 years. Although this award isn’t geared specifically at single mothers, it can still be of benefit helping to ease the financial burden of furthering your studies. The awards can range from $1,000 to $10,000 and you must be at least 27 years old to qualify for this award.
Apply Here: www.talbots.com/scholarship
37. Linda Miller Scholarships
Linda Miller scholarships are for women 25 years of age and above. You must be living in the USA or Canada and attending a college or university in either of those two countries. The funds can be used for tuition fees, educational supplies, child care or even transport to and from school.
38. Curiel & Runion Single Mother Scholarship
The Law Firm of Curiel and Runion offer two $1000 scholarships to single mothers returning to school. They value education and believe that these scholarships help in some small way to make the world a better place. To apply and find out more information you can visit their website:
Apply Here: http://curielandrunion.com/scholarship/
39. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Single Mother Scholarship
This scholarship is also given to single mothers wanting to gain a higher education to improve their lives and their families’. Unfortunately submissions have closed for this year but it may be worth reading up about it anyway for next year.
40. Newcombe Scholarships for Mature women
These grants are given directly to universities and colleges to then be awarded to women over the age of 25 to aid them in their studies. Each institution that participates in this initiative is responsible for selecting the recipients themselves. To read up more you can visit their website: http://www.newcombefoundation.org/scholarship_mws.html
The Final Word
Another avenue to consider when thinking about finding extra funding is that each state has its own grants and means of aiding those in need. Below is a website that you can use to find grants and financial aid, not mentioned here, that are available in your area.https://www.tgci.com/funding-sources All you have to do is click on your state. Then a list pops up of local funding sources. You can then click on one of the following:
- Top grant making foundations
- Community foundations
- Corporate giving programs
- State home page
Your choice will take you through to another page with a list of companies, or foundations etc. There you will be able to find all their contact information and click through to their website where you will find all their information. As far as we know, all the grants and scholarships mentioned above are legit. No BS for people in need. And although this list is rather long and covers a lot of information, there are always more grants and scholarships out there. If you feel that none of these are for you and you plan to do your own searching, please bear in mind that there are sharks out there who just want to cheat you out of your money. So be wary. If anyone asks you to pay to apply for a scholarship or a grant then you know it’s a scam. There are MANY private grants out there that may not be listed on this list, so don’t think we’ve covered all the grant you can find. SO do your own research. And once you find a grant that you think you may qualify for, fill out a GOOD application for it, then try applying for a new grant — as many as possible. The more grants you apply for, the better your chances you will get something. If you need more assistance, check out our Low Income Assistance article for more resources. You may also want to visit your local CAA office (Community Action Agency) which is the best resource you can find out there that will have up to date information about what assistance is available to you, locally and federally.