If you are single-handedly raising a kid or more, you know how challenging it is to make ends meet. That’s why we all aspire for a better future and the only way we can do that is through further education. We all dream of a future where we do not have to crack our brains thinking what to do to make the few dollars we have in our pockets last for a few more weeks.
Being a single mother, the thought of going back to school may be too much. You can hardly provide for your kids, where will you find money for school? But you know that education is the only way out. There are many ways to find financial assistance for your degree. Be it for a college degree or further education, you’ll find one that will help you.
Getting an educational grant is better than getting a loan because you don’t have to pay it back. In order to get a grant, you have to pass a certain eligibility requirement and exam and fulfill the minimum grade every semester or year. There are countless grants that specially cater to certain types of women. For example, there are grants for minorities, for women in a certain income bracket as well as for those who are interested in a specific degree.
Start with FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is a crucial step when applying for grants. Government grants and scholarships require this and some privately owned organizations too. It is used to determine the eligibility of each student based on their or their family’s financial status.
Deadline for application of the FAFSA is June 30 of each year but you do not have to wait until the last minute, you can fill-up yours as soon as January 1 or when you get your tax information of the previous year. FAFSA forms can be filled out online.
Even if you think that you will not be eligible for a scholarship, you should still fill out your FAFSA form because you never know if you will be granted a scholarship that can change your life.
Federal Pell Grant
The Federal Pell Grant is a need-based grant which means that it prioritizes single mothers who have the least income or those who are neediest. It focuses on women who are seeking a bachelor’s degree. The grant is given in cash and the average amount for full-time students in the academic year 2011–2012 was $5,500.
The amount is computed based on the student’s financial need, cost of tuition based on part-time or full-time and may pay for a full year or a portion of it.
A community may receive the Block Grant and it is up to them who to award it to. Candidates must belong to moderate or lower income families within their community, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD.
There is no set amount for the Block Grant since HUD determines it based on the communities needs.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant/FSEOG
If you are already enrolled at a university, you may check the financial aid office if they can grant you this. Not all universities receive the FSEOG from the government. It is the university’s discretion who to award this grant to and how much to give each student. Amount can range from $100 to $4,000 depending on the student’s needs.
Among the requirements is the FAFSA. Those who have been granted the Pell Grant will have to use that up before they qualify for the FSEOG.
Financial aid for single mothers
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families/TANF
Just like the Block Grant, TANF is disbursed by area. It is given to each state and does not only provide financial assistance to college students but through other services as well. These services include job training, emergency funding and counseling.
Eligibility requirements and amount of grant vary through each state. One common requirement across all states is that individual must have at least one dependent child or must be at least seven months pregnant.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program/LIHEAP
The LIHEAP will help families who can’t afford to provide electricity bills and home energy repair services. This makes sure that the homes of every family is comfortable and conducive even to children. Amount awarded depends on the actual costs of the electricity bill or the home repair.
Only families whose income fall well below the poverty line are eligible.
Government assistance to single moms
Women, Infants and Children/WIC
For women who fall under and on the poverty line, there’s the WIC for them and their children. It is also known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and it grants women money to provide their children food, health care and education pertaining to breast feeding and nutrition.
Each woman and her child or children will receive these benefits based on her financial needs and their nutritional risk. There is no set amount since this depends per state, per community and per family.
Medicaid allows families to receive health insurance that’s either free or low-costing. Recipients of the Medicaid must have a low-income and will be evaluated based on the Federal Poverty Level. Benefits and requirements vary from each community.
The basic benefits required to each state are both outpatient and inpatient hospital services, pediatric and family nurse, nursing facility, home health, and family planning among many others.
Child Care Assistance Program/CCAP
This program grants money to low-income families for the child care costs of their children. Exact amount depends on the community and the actual cost of child care. If you are receiving TANF, you must be abiding by the Responsibility and Service Plan. If you are under the age of 18, you must be working towards a high school degree in order to receive this service.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP
Just like WIC, SNAP is focused on the nutrition of children. SNAP aims to provide proper nutrition and healthy food to children and their families.
In order to be eligible for this program, you have to have a countable resource of not more than $2,000. Countable resource includes your money in the bank and your monthly income, if any. SNAP extends to elderly individuals too but with different eligibility requirements.
Scholarships from private sectors
Emerge/ Empowering Women Through Education
Emerge awards $5,000 scholarships to ten deserving women each school year. These women should prove to be financially needy, must be at least 25 years old and must possess leadership skills and social responsibility.
Candidates are narrowed down through an essay competition and must provide an acceptance letter or a transcript from the college they intend to enroll to.
Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
If the Emerge scholarship is for women of at least the age of 25, the Jeannette Rankin Scholarship is for those who are at least 35. This scholarship is only good in several colleges and only for women who are taking up their first bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree or a vocational or technical education.
Eligibility includes a certain monthly income cap which means that only those who are truly needy will receive the scholarship. For example, for a household of 2 the maximum income should only be $23,243.
Nancy Talbots Scholarship Award
Every year, the Nancy Talbots Scholarship Award gives one deserving woman a $30,000 scholarship and $10,000 to seventeen women. These women are chosen based on their past academic record, financial need, social responsibility, honors and work experience. Part of the screening process is the essay writing.
You must have graduated high school or have a GED in the past ten years and you must enroll part-time or full-time at any of its accredited colleges and universities.
Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity
This grant only awards women who are the sole bread-winner of her children. She must be in financial need and must be enrolling in an undergraduate program or a skills program. It gives out awards to around one thousand women every single year.
Awards range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the woman’s needs and her enrollment status. The Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity aims to empower women and help them achieve their dreams.
Subject-based grants for women
Society of Women Engineers Scholarships
If you are looking at a college degree in the field of technology, computer or engineering and want to be a full-time student, you should consider applying for this scholarship. They give awards of up to $10,000 to each scholar.
Scholarships are at any of the ABET-accredited universities or colleges and apply for bachelor’s degree and graduate programs.
Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program
This scholarship awards up to $42,000 per scholar who maintains a GPA of at least 3.3. This is only awarded to full-time students who are studying maritime archaeology, oceanography, or marine biology at any of its accredit universities.
Applicants are required to submit a letter of intent, just like an essay and are evaluated based on recommendation, experience and financial need.
Educational Foundation For Women In Accounting Scholarships
If you are interested in achieving an undergraduate degree in accounting or finance, this scholarship might be able to help you. Even if you are already pursuing a graduate or doctoral degree, they could still accommodate you.
Scholarship amount ranges from $1,000 to $16,000 depending on the woman’s financial need and the level of education she’s taking up. The EFWA has many scholarships being offered and requires a 3.0 GPA or higher every school year to get renewed.
Scholarships for Hispanics
Hispanic Scholarship Fund
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund has a wide coverage of scholarships including those pursuing a second degree and graduate school. You have to be at least a quarter Latino or Hispanic to qualify and do not have to have a low-income household.
The amount of funding they give to each student varies on the needs and capabilities of each individual. College students should have to have a GPA of at least 2.5 and high school students should have a 3.0 GPA.
Hispanic Heritage Foundation
If at least one of your parents is Hispanic, if you have a GPA of 3.0 then you may qualify for the many scholarships granted to each student by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.
Each year, they give out scholarships to different students that fall in different categories with full scholarships. They also award hundred more students with a $1,000 grant for education.
Hispanic Women’s Council
The Hispanic Women’s Council awards Hispanic women taking up either an undergraduate or a graduate course with full scholarship grants. These scholarships are only available at the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College.
They prioritize women who are full-time students and require an essay, letters of recommendation and resume. They choose awardees based on the potential to succeed and the person’s strength.
Scholarships for other minorities
National Black Nurses Association Grants
The NBNA awards $500 to $2,000 scholarships to black women who are in the field of nursing. You must be enrolled in a full-time, four year nursing course at any of their accredited college or university. Their service extends from the educational sector to the professional.
American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund has a wide scope of scholarship. It ranges from undergraduate to graduate courses and cover both tribal and non-tribal college and university. To qualify, you have to be a registered member of a government recognized tribe or a grandparent or parent must be an enrolled member.
They also require a 2.0 GPA to qualify for their Full Circle Scholarship Program but a lesser average for the TCU Scholarship Program.
Gates Millennium Scholarship
The Gates Millennium Scholarship partners with various other organizations that especially cater to minorities such as Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and African Americans. All these organizations award both full-time and part-time scholarships to graduate and undergraduate courses.
Among their other requirements is a GPA of 3.3.
Foundation for the National Student Nurses’ Association Undergraduate Scholarship Program
The FNSNA grants scholarships to women who are taking up a nursing or other medical related course. These grants are only available for undergraduate degrees. The grants range from $1,000 to $2,500 and are given to many deserving students.
Scholars are chosen based on their financial needs, their academic achievements and involvement in related organizations.
Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded only to non-traditional students, which they define as someone who has had no further education at least three years after they have graduated from highschool. The students must be enrolled full-time in a nursing program and must be working for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
They award multiple students with this grant each year and give $1,000 for tuition and fees.
Where to find grants
You can basically find anything online these day and that includes scholarships and grants. You’ll find a lot of lists that cater to a specific group online. All you have to do is take your time searching for these scholarships. There are thousands of grants up for grabs, find one that especially caters to your personal needs, your background or your field of chosen career.
Once you have narrowed down your search to a certain grant, you should look them up online to see what their requirements are and to see what their organization is about. If you do make it to their shortlist, it will do you good that you know enough about their organization.
Many of these organizations have online applications. You can fill out their application forms online and even send some documents virtually.
How to get these scholarships
Getting turned down by a scholarship or grant can be discouraging. But you should know that these awards don’t come easy and will sometimes take time. The competition is high for most of these grants and there are just so many candidates. You shouldn’t be hopeless after getting turned down several times. Just brush it off, look for another grant to apply to and do your best.
For this reason, it is best that you do not just apply for one scholarship program. Apply to as many as you can, that way you are increasing your chances of winning. Even if you get accepted to more than one grant, you’ll get to choose the better one.
In order to get better chances of getting accepted, you should take a close look at the eligibility requirements and only apply to those that apply to you. There is no point in applying for a grant where you do not make one of the requirements. These organizations hardly ever bend the rules and will most likely not pay attention to an incomplete application.
Once you have narrowed down to the grants where you pass their requirements, make sure that you send all their required documents. If you forget even just one document, you are risking having your application tossed away. Remember that the competition is high so do you best. Especially with essays or letters of intent, stay true to yourself and never sell yourself short.
Once you have submitted you application, the only thing that you can do is wait. The organization will get back to you for their decision.