According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 43% of college students in the United States are single mothers, and 61% of those have no money to contribute to their college expenses. Almost 88% of single parents have incomes that are at or below 200% of the poverty level.
Unfortunately, this means that many single moms 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% more over the course of their career than someone with a high school diploma. A college education may seem unattainable for some single parents of dependent children, but it doesn’t have to be just a dream. We will go over the best scholarships for single moms and some other factors to consider.
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Can Single Mothers Afford a Higher Education?
Scholarships are one way for single mothers to attend college without graduating with significant debt. Most scholarship awards are based on merit and academic achievement. Many are also based on financial need, and others are offered based on majors, talents, fields of interest, and ethnicity.
Compared to the types of financial aid included in most packages from the federal government or schools themselves, scholarships require fewer commitments. For one, they do not require repayment like student loans, making them a more affordable option for single parents. Scholarships also don’t require a commitment of employment, like a work-study does, so single parents won’t need to worry about finding child care while they work.
The eligibility requirements and application process are unique to each scholarship. Many scholarships offered are specific to one school, one field of study, or one area of the country. Some require residency in a certain state 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. It is important to research the requirements and application process for each scholarship before you apply.
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Scholarship Opportunities: Considerations for Single Moms
When looking for scholarships for single moms, there are certain criteria that should be considered.
Many scholarships are only offered to high school seniors who plan to attend college right after graduation. Single mothers might delay attending college, making them ineligible to apply for these scholarships. Therefore, finding scholarships for students who are not recent graduates is important.
The amount of money offered through a scholarship is also important. The more money you’re awarded, the less you may have to borrow to complete your college education.
Sometimes there are also limits on what the scholarship money can be used for. 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.
Finally, some scholarships are only available to full-time students. It is not uncommon for a single parent to attend college on a part-time basis in order to balance school and other commitments. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to make sure that the scholarships you consider are available to part-time students.
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The Best Scholarships for Single Moms
These scholarships for single moms are the ones we’ve identified as best suited for mothers who wish to return to school. They offer larger awards, are national-based, and some may even 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.
18. Single Parents Alliance of America Scholarship
The Single Parents Alliance of America Scholarship is for single parents who wish to continue their education. In order to be eligible, you must be enrolled in a post-secondary course of study, and 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.
17. Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)
The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) is for women who have been the victim of domestic abuse at 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. While you don’t need to include a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will be asked to provide information about your financial situation and documentation of any financial aid packages you may have.
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.
16. Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
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’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Out of our scholarships for single moms, this one is based on your 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, so low-income applicants will receive higher award amounts.
15. National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc. Wynetta A. Frazier Sister-to-Sister Scholarship
Two $500 scholarships are awarded by the National Hook-Up of Black Women for the Wynetta A. Frazier Sister-to-Sister Scholarship. In order to be eligible, you must be accepted to an accredited college or university in a bachelor’s degree program, must be 35 years of age or older, and must be a returning student whose education was interrupted by family responsibilities or other personal demands.
To apply, you must also complete a 300- to 500-word essay on a specific subject and supply two letters of recommendation.
14. Katz & Phillips, PA Ashley Rose Honorary Diabetes Law Student Scholarship Award
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. Out of our many scholarships for single moms, this one 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 between 500 and 1,000 words based on one of three topics:
- How has living with Type 1 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?
13. Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Moss Adams Foundation Scholarship
The Moss Adams Foundation Scholarship through the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting is a $1,000 scholarship for African American, Hispanic, or other 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.
12. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Single Mother Scholarship
Rosenfeld 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.
11. Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Michele L. McDonald Memorial Scholarship
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.
10. Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Women in Need Scholarship
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.
9. Society of Women Engineers Scholarships
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 re-enter the workforce as engineers. For these scholarships, you must be out of school and out of the engineering field for at least two years.
8. American Legion Auxiliary Non-Traditional Student Scholarship
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. The recipient must be pursuing training in certified, trade, professional, or technical programs or be 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.
7. Executive Women International Adult Student in Scholastic Transition Scholarship
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.
6. SR Education Group Community College 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.
5. Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Women in Transition Scholarship
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 (usually referred to as the head of household on your tax returns) 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 also demonstrate financial need and must have established goals with a plan for achieving those goals.
4. Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Scholarship
Named for Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink, this scholarship for single moms is open to women 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.
This scholarship is a one-time $5,000 award. Up to five awards are available each year, 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.
3. The American Traffic Safety Services Foundation Toward Zero Scholarship
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 of those 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.
2. Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity
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 program. You can only receive the scholarship once, and you cannot already hold a graduate degree. You also cannot be a Soroptimist member, an employee or the immediate family of anyone who is employed or belongs to the Soroptimists.
1. Women Techmakers Scholars
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 included in an extensive online network of fellow scholars to help support the global community of women in technology.
Apply Today for Scholarships for Single Moms
Funding a college education isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for single mothers. If you’re considering a return to school, or starting work towards a degree for the first time, know that there are many supports available. While scholarships for single moms can help you to fund your college education, we at College Rank can help to simplify your college search. Our proprietary rankings can help you to make an informed decision about which colleges are right for you, based on anything from type of degree program to affordability.
For some programs and resources that you might find interesting, check out our posts below:
- 25 Best Online Colleges
- 10 Best Tuition Free Colleges
- The Best Scholarship Websites to Find Your Funding
- Helping Women Pay for College
- 25 Best Colleges For Working Students