Mothers and single mothers have it harder when trying to get a college education.
In addition to balancing a full academic course load, they are also responsible for feeding, clothing, and financially supporting their children.
Data shows that between 30% and 40% of families headed by single mothers are living in poverty—which makes the idea of spending money on education even more difficult to fathom.
Fortunately, there are multiple companies who want to help moms and single moms improve their situations through education. Read on to see a list of scholarships directly aimed at mothers who are pursuing higher education.
Who Are These Scholarships For?
Many organizations want to help mothers get back into the classroom. They believe that if moms are getting college degrees, then they will be able to get better jobs and eventually be able to provide more for their families.
There is a lot of help out there for mothers and single mothers who are ready to put in some hard work.
Use this article as a starting point to explore some of the opportunities out there for moms to return to school.
I have split the scholarships into two categories:
- Scholarships for moms returning to college after a break
- Scholarships for single mothers
However, if you're serious about funding your education, don't stop there.
There are many other scholarships available that are not aimed specifically at moms, but that mothers who are pursuing degrees can and should still apply for. They're discussed in more detail at the end of this article.
Scholarships for Women Returning to School
These scholarships are for students who are returning to school after taking a break. If you're fresh out of high school, these are not for you!
- Deadline: N/A
This scholarship is aimed at women aged 50+ who want to go back to school. Awards range from $500 to $5,000 and are given to around 350 people every year. Winners must enroll in an accredited university within six months of winning the scholarship. Applicants will have to write a short essay about their educational goals and significant obstacles that they have overcome.
- Deadline: April 15
Students who are residents of Virginia Beach and at least 23 years old may apply for this scholarship. You should currently be enrolled in an undergraduate program at an accredited institution and have returned to school after being away. You should have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must write a short essay about their career goals and special circumstances. At least one award of $500 will be given.
- Deadline: May 1
The Arizona Business and Professional Women's Foundation gives out several scholarships aimed at women who are returning to school to better their career prospects. Applicants must attend a community college or trade school in Arizona and will need to write an essay about their career goals and financial situation. The application deadline is December 10th. Award amount varies.
- Deadline: May 1
This scholarship is awarded by the Society of Women Engineers to a non-traditional student who has re-entered education after a break. Students should be studying any kind of engineering and may be college freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors. The award is for $3,250.
- Deadline: Early February
This scholarship is aimed at African American women who are either returning to school after a break or who are starting college for the first time following a break after high school because of family responsibilities or other personal demands. Applicants must be able to confirm acceptance into a college or university to pursue a BA degree, must be at least 21 years of age, and need to write an essay on a given topic. Two awards of $500 to $1,000 will be given.
- Deadline: February 27
Emerge Scholarships are aimed at non-traditional women students who are going back to school after a break. Applicants must be residents of Georgia who are planning to study in Georgia, be at least 25 years of age, and must express their career and life goals in the application. The number of awards given varies every year; last year 14 were given. The award amount ranges between $2,000 and $5,000.
- Deadline: Early spring
EWI offers the Adult Students in Scholastic Transition Scholarship (ASIST) for adults who are facing economic, social, or physical challenges and are looking to improve their lives through education. Students must first apply through local chapters, and then chapter winners will be entered to win at the corporate level. Corporate level scholarships are for amounts ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.
- Deadline: February 27
This scholarship is aimed at women who are 35 years of age or older, low-income, US citizens or permanent residents, and are pursuing their first bachelor's degree, associate's degree, or technical degree. Selection will be based on applicants' stated goals and plans for reaching them, and how they plan to use their education to give back to the community. The award amount is around $2,000.
- Deadline: March 1
Applicants must be members of The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, or Sons of the American Legion. Applicants should be non-traditional students returning to the classroom after a period of interruption, or be starting education at a later point in life. Winners will be selected based on need, academic achievement, character and leadership, and personal goals. A $2,000 scholarship is awarded in every Auxiliary geographic division.
The majority of college applicants are high school seniors, and most of the college application advice out there is aimed at them. But what do you do if you don't fall into this narrow category? Our eBook on how to prepare for and apply to college as a nontraditional student will walk you through everything you need to know, from the coursework you should have under your belt to how to get letters of recommendation when you're not a high school senior.
- Deadline: Varies by chapter
This grant is intended for women whose educations have been interrupted and who want to return to school to complete a degree or certification. Applicants should be citizens of the USA or Canada and be studying in one of those countries. They should have had at least 24 consecutive months as a non-student in their adult lives and be within two years of completing their desired educational program. Awards are up to $3,000.
- May 1
Applicants must be members of the Society of Women Engineers and must have been out of the engineering workforce and school for at least two years prior to re-entry. The Olive Lynn Salmbier scholarship awards $2,000 and the Mary V. Munger Scholarship awards $3,000.
Scholarships for Single Mothers
These scholarships are specifically aimed at single mothers.
- Deadline: Rolling
This scholarship is designed for low-income single mothers who are earning a college degree. Applicants should have US citizenship and live in Maricopa County or the Phoenix metropolitan area. They must also be legally single and not living with a partner, be registered in college with a GPA of at least 2.8, carry at least a 9-credit-per-semester course load, and have at least one child under the age of 11. The award amount varies.
- Deadline: August 1
This Foundation offers five scholarships for moms every year to women who are at least 17 years old and are mothers with minor children. Applicants should be pursuing an Associate's degree, Bachelor's degree, or a vocational degree or certificate, and be low-income. Awards are up to $5,000.
- Deadline: Rolling (2 months prior to starting educational program preferred)
Applicants must be women who are direct survivors of an abusive partner. You must have been separated from the abusive partner for at least one year. Special consideration will be given to women who plan to use their educations to further the rights of other women and girls.
- Deadline: December 5
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers offers two $1,000 scholarships to single mothers who are looking to go back to school to improve their living circumstances. Applicants must write a 500+ word essay on the advantages of going back to school while caring for their children. They should explain how motherhood has prepared them for the challenges of being a student.
- Deadline: November 15
These scholarships are for women who provide primary financial support for themselves and their dependents and have overcome obstacles such as poverty, domestic violence, or drug and alcohol abuse. Applicants should have financial need and live within a Soroptimist International member territory. Local-level award amounts vary; local award winners become eligible for regional awards of $3,000 or $5,000, and regional award winners are eligible to win international-level awards of $10,000. The application opens on August 15 each year.
- Deadline: March 1
The Ford Family Foundation offers scholarships to assist single parents in pursuing a bachelor's degree. They recognize that as the head of household and without the support of a partner, single parents face many challenges that most students do not face. Applicants must be single parents of dependent children and live in Oregon or Siskiyou County, California. Up to 50 students receive scholarships every year. The scholarships cover 90% of the student's costs that are not covered by other resources, generally ranging between $1,000 and $25,000.
If you're looking for more ways to fund your education, there are many other scholarships available. Read on to learn about some of your other options and how to apply to them.
How to Find Other Scholarships
No matter what you are studying or where you plan on attending school, you will likely be eligible for scholarships beyond those that are just for mothers. Finding and applying to these other scholarships is a great way to increase the amount of money you have for school.
A good place to start is by looking into scholarships for the areas you want to focus your studies on. Almost all disciplines have a number of scholarships available. Furthermore, if you have chosen to pursue a field in which women are traditionally underrepresented, such as the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), you will find that there are scholarships specifically set aside for women in these areas.
Next, try searching for scholarships that relate to your interests, hobbies, or special circumstances. For example, there are a number of weird, random scholarships out there for people who happen to have certain last names or characteristics (like being left-handed), and there are even more scholarships for people who have more conventional qualities, such as an interest in art or music. Keep searching until you come up with a long list of scholarships that you can apply to.
Now that you know about your different options read on to learn how to win these scholarships!
How to Win Scholarships
Rule 1: Apply to Multiple Scholarships
Keep in mind that many scholarships are competitive, meaning there are hundreds—or thousands—of people applying for them. You can greatly increase your chances of winning a scholarship or two by applying for a large number of scholarships. We recommend applying to anywhere between five and 30 scholarships.
Rule 2: Be Meticulous
Follow the required instructions for every essay and question. Pay particular attention to supporting documents that you will need to send with your applications, and keep on top of deadlines. As mothers, you're short enough on free time as it is—don't make it worse by spending time on incomplete or incorrect applications that will get you nowhere!
Rule 3: Keep Applying
Don't stop applying for scholarships just because you're in your second, third, or fourth year of college. In fact, there are many scholarships out there that are aimed specifically at students in the final years of their education. If you're able to continue bringing in new money sources throughout your academic career, you will end up with much less debt when you graduate.
Rule 4: Find Other Support
Keep an eye out for any other support that will help you. For example, some parents are eligible for government grants while they're studying.
You will likely find that you are not the only parent at your school—see if you can coordinate childcare with others so that you can get the most for your money. Also, see if your school offers any special aid or discounts for parents to provide their children with safe housing and hot meals. You may be surprised by how much your university or college will want to lend a helping hand!
Now that you know about scholarships for moms, take a chance to learn about other scholarships and how to apply for college.
Did you know that sometimes getting a scholarship is as easy as applying to your school of choice? Check out this list of schools that automatically offer scholarships based on grades and test scores.
Need a letter of recommendation for a scholarship? Here's how to get one.
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Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.