According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 43 percent of college students in the United States are single mothers and 61 percent of those have no money to contribute to their college expenses. Almost 88 percent of single parents have incomes that are at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. Unfortunately, this means that single mothers who do go to college and earn a degree have much higher levels of debt upon graduation. In fact, single parents have approximately $3,800 more debt than female students who have no children and almost $5,000 more than men who have no children.
There is no question that obtaining a college degree can have a significant impact on earnings. Research indicates that someone with a bachelor’s degree earns almost 66 percent more over their career than someone with a high school diploma. A recent Forbes article reported that there is an $830,000 difference between a bachelor’s degree and a high school diploma, an amount that has risen steadily over the past 20 years. Although there have been people who have been successful without a college degree, many of them report that their path would have been smoother if they had obtained a degree.
One way for single mothers to attend college without leaving school with significant debt is through scholarships. Scholarship awards are based on merit and academic achievement. Although many are based on financial need, some are not, and others are offered based on majors, talents, fields of interest and ethnicity. Scholarships do not require repayment like student loans, making them a more affordable option for single parents. Many scholarships offered are specific to one school, one field of study or one area of the country. Some require certain state residency while others require residency in a specific area of the country. This limits whether a scholarship is best for all single mothers or just a selected few, so it is important to determine if the scholarship is available nationally or the specific requirements limit who may apply.
When looking for scholarships as a single mother, there are certain criteria that should be considered.
Many scholarships are only offered to high school seniors who plan to attend college after graduation. Single mothers often delay attending college, making them ineligible to apply for scholarships offered only to high school students. Therefore, finding scholarships for students who have already graduated but are just attending college is important. The amount of money offered through a scholarship is also important as the more money awarded, the less you may have to borrow to complete your degree. Limits on what the scholarship can be used for is also important. Single mothers may have financial obligations beyond tuition, including books, lab fees and even living expenses. Scholarships that allow flexible spending can be very beneficial for parents who are returning to school to seek a degree.
These scholarships are the best for single mothers who wish to return to school as they offer larger awards, are national-based, and some may be used for expenses other than tuition. Many require just a simple online application while others do require some documentation be provided with the application.
The Single Parents Alliance of America Scholarship is for single mothers who wish to continue their education. The scholarships are not based on income, but you must be enrolled in a post-secondary course of study to be eligible. Also, you must be a member of the Single Parents Alliance of America, an organization that provides support and resources to single parents, both male, and female. Scholarship amounts vary based on need. Membership is free and confidential. Members are also connected to a network of affiliates and businesses, third-party benefits, and advertisements that other members have found helpful. Referrals to the organization are also recommended.
The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) is for women who have been the victim of domestic abuse that the hands of an intimate partner. You must be attending an accredited college or university. The scholarship is for single mothers with young children who have the greatest financial challenges to furthering their education. You must have been parted from your abusive partner for at least one year but less than five. It is possible that a scholarship could be awarded to someone who has been separated from an abuser for more than five years, but funding is limited.
The Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund is for women over the age of 35 who are pursuing a technical or vocational education in order to obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree. The scholarship is based on income, your goals, your plan for achieving those goals and how your education will give back to the community. You must attend an accredited college or university in order to qualify for the scholarship. The amount of the scholarship varies based on need.
Two $500 scholarships are awarded by the National Hook-Up of Black Women for the Wynetta A. Frazier Sister-to-Sister Scholarship. You must be accepted to an accredited college or university in a bachelor’s degree program, must be 35 years of age and a returning student whose education was interrupted by family responsibilities or other personal demands. You must complete an essay of between 300 and 500 words on a specific subject and supply two letters of recommendation.
The Katz & Phillips Ashley Rose Honorary Diabetes Law Student Scholarship Award is named in honor of David Katz’s daughter, Ashley Rose Katz, who was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18 months. The scholarship is for a law school student who has been impacted by diabetes. You must be a current law student or have been accepted at an accredited law school and must have a GPA of 2.8 or higher. An official transcript must be submitted as well as an essay of between 500 and 1,000 words based on one of three topics:
- How has living with Type I diabetes affected your education?
- How have you overcome a particular challenge associated with having Type 1 diabetes?
- How has a famous individual with Type 1 diabetes inspired you to succeed?
The Moss Adams Foundation Scholarship through the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting is a $1,000 scholarship for minority women or those who are returning to school as current or reentry juniors or seniors. Women who are applying for their fifth-year requirement are also eligible to apply. You must provide evidence of established personal and professional goals. The Moss Adams Foundation was created by Moss Adams LLP as a way to give back to the community.
The Curiel & Runion Single Mother Scholarship is awarded to two applicants each year in the amount of $1,000 each. You must be a mother who is returning to school, and you must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better. An essay of 500 words or more is required on the advantages of returning to school after motherhood. The essay should explain the experiences you have had as a mother and how those will help you face challenges as a student. The scholarship can be used for any school-related expense, including tuition and books. Five finalists are chosen, and the two finalists who receive the most support on social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+ will receive the award.
Rosenfield Injury Lawyers offer two $1,000 scholarships each year to single mothers. You must write an essay of 500 words or more on the advantages of returning to school as a mother. Include skills you have learned as a mother, such as time management, listening skills and managing multiple priorities. Five finalists are chosen from all submissions, and the recipients are selected by staff. You must be enrolled in an accredited college or university and must be a mother who is attending school. Women enrolled in both law school, and undergraduate programs may apply. You must maintain a GPA of 3.0.
The Michele L. McDonald Memorial Scholarship offered through the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting is a $1,000 scholarship that is not renewable each year. It is for women who are working toward a degree in accounting and preference is given to a woman returning to college from the workforce who is raising children.
The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Women in Need Scholarship is a $2,000 award that is renewable for up to four years. You must be an undergraduate student attending a university or four-year college in pursuit of an accounting degree. You must have already graduated from high school or obtained a GED in order to apply. There is only one scholarship available each year.
The Society of Women Engineers offers financial assistance to women who are admitted to accredited programs that will prepare them for careers in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $15,000. Many of the scholarships are designed to help women obtain the credentials necessary to renter the workforce as engineers. For these scholarships, you must be out of school for at least two years and been out of the engineering field for at least two years.
A $2,000 scholarship is awarded by the American Legion Auxiliary to a member of the American Legion, Auxiliary or Sons of the American Legion who is pursuing training in certified, trade, professional or technical programs or is working toward completion of a two- or four-year degree. There is one scholarship awarded per Auxiliary geographic division. It is designed to help members attend college later in life or to pick up where their studies may have been interrupted due to family obligations.
Executive Women International (EWI) offers scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 to adults facing economic, social or physical challenges who wish to improve their circumstances through education. You must apply at the local chapter level, and chapter-level winners are submitted to the national organization for the chance to receive a scholarship.
The SR Education Group offers a $2,500 Community College Scholarship to a student attending a public community college, junior college, technical or city college. In order to apply, you must answer two, open-ended, personal and thought-provoking questions. Recipients are chosen by a panel of judges. Scholarships are paid directly to the educational institution, and you must agree to allow SR Education Group permission to use your likeness. You must be 16 years or older and enrolled full-time. There are two scholarships available.
The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting (EFWA) offers a Women in Transition Scholarship for women who wish to reenter a degree program in accounting. You must be the primary source of support for your family and must be enrolling as an incoming freshman in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The award is $4,000 per year for four years, but you must earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher in order to renew each year. You must demonstrate financial need and must have established goals with a plan for achieving those goals.
Named for Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink, this scholarship is open to students enrolled in or planning to attend college who are at least 17 and have minor children. The scholarship is based on financial need, and you must be planning to attend an accredited certificate, degree or training program. It is a one-time $5,000 award. Up to five awards, each year are available, and applicants are chosen based on:
- Financial need
- Personal circumstances
- Educational path
- Vocational or occupational goals
- Service, activist or civic goals
Awards are issued twice each year, once each semester, and must be used for direct school expenses or for living expenses.
The American Traffic Safety Services Foundation Toward Zero Scholarship is awarded to loved ones of fallen or permanently disabled traffic workers. It is a $5,000 scholarship awarded to the children and spouses as well as children whose legal guardians were killed or injured while working as a traffic employee. Financial need is a factor in choosing recipients. There is an additional $1,000 award available in honor of Chuck Bailey for applicants that demonstrate a strong commitment to volunteerism.
The Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Scholarship is available in awards ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. You must be a woman who provides primary financial support for dependents and must demonstrate financial need. You must also be enrolled in a skills program or an undergraduate degree. You can only receive the scholarship once, and you cannot already hold a graduate degree. You cannot be a Soroptimist member, an employee or the immediate family of anyone who is employed or belongs to the Soroptimists.
Recipients of the Women Techmakers Scholars Program receive $10,000 and are invited to attend the Google Scholars’ Retreat. You must be an undergraduate or graduate student with a strong academic background and be able to demonstrate leadership in the community. You must also be able to demonstrate an impact on women in the technical industry. Recipients are also included in an extensive online network of fellow scholars to help support the global community of women in technology.
The Talbot’s Women’s Scholarship is for women who are residents of the United States or Canada who earned their high school diploma or GED at least two years before applying and are enrolled in a full- or part-time undergraduate study at an accredited college or university. Women who plan to enroll in technical or vocational school are also eligible to apply. Scholarships range from $5,000 to $30,000. You must provide a list of work experience and involvement in the community as well as transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended. The scholarships are based on financial need, and there are up to 17 scholarships available. Awards are one-time only and cannot be renewed. You may not have received a bachelor’s degree prior to applying for the scholarship, and you must have completed at least two semesters, 24-credit hours) or more prior to applying.