Scholarships for Single Mothers & Fathers
Single parents have a lot to gain from earning their degree. Click through to learn about scholarships you can use to overcome financial hurdles.
Single parents made up 22% of the undergraduate population at U.S. colleges and universities as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Additionally, according to the American Council on Education, more than half of this demographic were first-generation college students and in the low-income bracket.
Many student parents find funding through scholarships and grants specifically created for their demographic. After all, it is always advisable for single moms and dads to maximize what's essentially "free money."
Funding Challenges for Single Parents
Single mothers and fathers often report financial hardship as an obstacle to attending college. Many single parents spend the majority of their income on housing and basic necessities, which makes it hard to save money for school.
This financial difficulty, combined with a lack of time and child care options, can make going back to school after becoming a parent especially hard. Finding reliable childcare as a single parent with both school and work obligations can be especially difficult.
In response to this growing need for reasonably priced child care that can be provided as needed for college students, some states such as Oregon have developed grants to provide child care for college students.
Overcoming the unique challenges of being a single-parent student can begin with researching scholarship and grant options specifically for your demographic.
Scholarships for Single Mothers
This award is open to female sophomore, junior, or senior Western Kentucky University students with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants over the age of 30 who are widowed or divorced with dependent children are given first priority. Consideration is given to those demonstrating financial need.
Award Amount: One time award of $500
This scholarship — named for former Congresswoman Mink — is open to students enrolled in or planning to attend an accredited certificate, degree, or training program who are at least 17 years of age with minor children. Applicants must have a low-income status according to IRS tax codes.
Award Amount: A one-time award of up to $5,000
This scholarship is open to students at Howard Community College who are single parents with dependent children. Preference is given to students who are pursuing a degree in business or a related field.
Award Amount: Varies, depending on funds available
Scholarships for Single Mothers & Fathers
Access to this network of scholarship opportunities is available to low-income Arkansas residents who are single parents of one or more dependent children, and who do not have a degree or diploma from a four-year college or university.
Award Amount: Varies according to county of residence
This is one of several BYU Marriott School scholarships awarded by the Spouse Association of the Marriott School's National Advisory Council. Applicants must be a single parent with custody of dependent children and enrolled in a Marriott School program with good standing.
Award Amount: Amount varies, renewable annually
The Downer-Bennett Scholarship is available to undergraduate students who are single parents studying at the University of New Mexico. Applicants must be continuing undergraduate students at UNM with a competitive GPA. They must also complete at least 12 on-campus UNM credits each semester of the upcoming academic year.
Award Amount: A one-time award of $200-$1,000
This scholarship is open to Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College students who are residents of Kentucky and single working parents with at least one child under the age of 12. Applicants must be full-time students and demonstrate financial need that is not met by other funding sources.
Award Amount: $2,500, renewable for a second year with continued full-time study and by maintaining satisfactory academic progress
The LouEllen Dabbs Scholarship is open to Holyoke Community College students who are single parents pursuing a business, banking, or finance major who demonstrate financial need. Applicants must be registered for at least nine credits and have a minimum 2.35 GPA.
Award Amount: Award covers tuition
This scholarship from The Foundation for the Carolinas is open to full-time, degree-seeking students who are legal residents of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, or residents of a contiguous county in North or South Carolina. Applicants must be female students ages 25 or older who are primary caregivers to at least one school-aged child who lives with them in their household.
Award Amount: Variable, dependent on individual need
This Westminster College scholarship is open to part-time students who demonstrate financial need and are single parents. Applicants must be enrolled at least part time, with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Priority is given to business, education, and nursing students.
Award Amount: A one-time award of up to $1,500
This scholarship is open to undergraduate Westminster College students with strong academic backgrounds who demonstrate financial need. Applicants may be enrolled on a part-time or full-time basis but must have a minimum 3.5 GPA. Priority is given to students who are single parents.
Award Amount: A one-time award of up to $5,000
This Westminster College scholarship is open to students who can demonstrate financial need and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Priority is given to students who are single parents.
Award Amount: A one-time award of up to $500
Scholarships for Minority Single Parents
This scholarship is open to female students age 30 and older who have children. Applicants must be entering their first, second, or third year at Calvin College. They must also demonstrate financial need and have a GPA of at least 2.5.
Award Amount: $1,900; renewal is possible if GPA requirements are maintained
This scholarship is open to single, Hispanic women with dependents who are enrolled in an associate degree program at Austin Community College. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and have at least a 3.0 GPA
Award Amount: One-time amount varies depending on funds available
Scholarships for the Children of Single Parents
Designed to provide financial assistance to children of workers killed or permanently disabled in work zone accidents, this scholarship is also open to the spouses of fallen workers and parents with custody or legal guardianship of surviving children. Applicants must apply the award toward higher education at an institution that requires a GED as a condition of acceptance. They must also demonstrate financial need according to the FAFSA application.
Award Amount: A one-time award of up to $10,000
This scholarship is open to first-year and transfer students at Calvin College who are from a single-parent family and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and Christian character.
Award Amount: A one-time award of $1,350; may be renewable with maintenance of 3.0 GPA and Christian character
This scholarship is open to undergraduate law students who are Hispanic or African-American. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and demonstrate financial need.
Award Amount: A one-time award of $500
This scholarship is open to U.S. residents accepted to Arizona State University as full-time, degree-seeking students. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. Students must also have experienced family circumstances beyond their control that have prevented them from accessing educational opportunities.
Award Amount: Up to $8,000
This scholarship is open to students at the University of Minnesota who are children of Jewish parents and have lost one parent due to divorce or death.
Award Amount: Varies according to financial need
Post-Baccalaureate Scholarships for Single Mothers & Fathers
This scholarship is open to Emporia State University students who are single parents with sole or joint custody of their dependent children. Applicants must demonstrate financial need by completing the FAFSA and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75 while completing at least seven graduate credits during the fall semester of the scholarship year.
Award Amount: $2,000, renewable for up to four years
This scholarship is open to full-time graduate Minnesota State University students in good standing who are single parents with primary custody of their children.
Award Amount: A one-time award of $1,000
This award is open to low-income Rhode Island residents who are single parents enrolled in any college-level study program. Preference is given to those previously incarcerated or currently receiving state financial aid.
Award Amount: One time award of up to $1,500
Grants for Single Parents
Grants are one of the largest sources of financial aid in higher education for single parents. Here are some of the most common options:
- Pell Grants: These grants are available to low-income undergraduate students and select graduate students at over 5,000 participating colleges and universities. Awards vary based on FAFSA information.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants: FSEOG is a need-based grant that your university may award you. You may be eligible for $100 to $4,000 for the academic year, but this varies based on your school.
There are also state-funded grants, grants specific to your school, and private grants.
Other Ways Single Parents Can Save on Education Costs
In addition to the many scholarships and grants available to single-parent students, there are many other resources to help offset the costs of getting a college education while caring for a family:
- Employer Tuition Reimbursement: You might work for a company that reimburses employees for the cost of tuition. Check with your employer to see if you have this benefit.
- Subsidized Child Care: You might qualify for free or subsidized child care through a private or federal funding program, such as the Child Care and Development Fund.
- Subsidized Family Housing: You may qualify for housing assistance through agencies like the Public Housing Agency or Social Services. You might also qualify for low-income housing tax credits or Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), which gives low-income families the opportunity to live in government-sponsored living facilities.
Additional Resources for Single Mothers and Fathers
This project, under the Institute for Women's Policy Research, aims to improve the postsecondary education experience for single parents and build awareness of public education programs.
The Office of Head Start (OHS) provides support for the emotional, social, and mental development of students from birth to age five. Services include nutritional, social, health, and educational programs. Single parents from low-income families can seek aid from their local OHS office.
Single parent programs generally offer academic advising, career counseling, financial aid guidance, educational workshops, and other relevant services. Check with your school's academic counselor to find out about local single parent programs.
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