AnnaMarie Houlis
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So you want to go back to school, but it's been quite some time. Perhaps it's because you decided to go right into the workforce and never started a higher education program.

Maybe it's because you took some time to raise your family and, now, you'd like to go back to school to hone your skills.

Maybe you weren't able to finish school because of a debilitating health issue that also cost you an arm and a leg.

Or perhaps you are looking to change careers and you need more education to help you do just that.

Regardless, you're wondering, can you get a scholarship at any age? Or, are there any scholarships for adults returning to school? The answer is yes. And, if you're a woman over the age of 40, there are options out there for you. 

Here are seven scholarships for which you might be eligible that could give you the financial assistance you need to get back into the classroom.

1. The Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund

The Jeanette Rankin Women's Scholarship fund, named after the first woman elected to the United States Congress, is for low-income women over the age of 35 looking to get either their associate's or bachelor's degrees. When she passed, Jeanette Rankin left behind a portion of her estate to create a scholarship in 1978 for women returning to school. 

Since then, the Jeanette Rankin Foundation has given out more than $2.5 million in scholarships to some 1,000 women, based on their goals, their plans to achieve those goals and how they plan to give back to their communities. To learn more, visit the scholarship website.

2. A National SMART Grant

Some women over 40 are eligible for the National SMART Grants (the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant). These go to United States citizens with Federal Pell Grants who are ready to enter their junior or senior year of an undergraduate college program, who have a minimum GPA of 3.0. The grant is based on academic achievement or merit for students, including female students over 40 years of age, majoring in computer, life or physical sciences, mathematics, foreign languages, technology or engineering. 

Women can receive up to $4,000 for the academic year, which does not exceed the cost of their  attendance when combined with the proceeds of the Federal Pell Grant. To learn more, visit the scholarship website.

3. A Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a program for which women over 40 might qualify. These grants are given to low-income undergraduate students to cover the costs of their higher education — and they're based on need, as opposed to age. More than 3,800 postsecondary educational institutions participate in the grant program, and they each give priority to the students who exhibit the strongest need, who also receive the Federal Pell Grant. This might mean that they have the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) in the school, for example.

In order to be eligible for this grant, you are required to file a FAFSA form at fafsa.ed.gov. To learn more, visit the scholarship website.

4. The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Award

The Patsy Takemoto Mink award honors Patsy Takemoto, who served in Congress and was the first woman of color to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Her foundation was launched in 2003 and has, since, helped low-income women — and, particularly, mothers — afford educational costs. To be eligible, you have to be a mother entering a vocational training course or pursuing your associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and your income cannot exceed $20,000 for a family of two or $28,000 for a family of four. You must also be at least 17 years old, but there's no age cap on this award. The women winners are chosen based on their financial need, their personal history and their future goals. 

Five winners are given $5,000 each. To learn more, visit the scholarship website.

5. The American Association of University Women Career Development Grants Program

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Career Development Grants Program is for women who are looking to make a career change, re-enter the workforce or advance their careers in some way. They must hold a bachelor's degree that is not honorary, and they must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Likewise, it's required that they enter a field of study that differs from their original bachelor's degree, and they need to show plans to participate in career advancement courses, a certification program or a professional degree.

Awardess are given $2,000 to $12,000 to cover their tuition, supplies, fees, transportation and childcare. To learn more, visit the scholarship website.

6. Society of Women Engineers Scholarship

Through the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), women interested in pursuing careers in engineering, engineering technology and computer science through studying community college, baccalaureate or graduate programs are offered scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 in value. It also designates funds for non-traditional students, such as women over the age of 40 years old, and women who are looking to re-enter the workforce. 

In 2018, the SWE awarded approximately 238 new and renewed scholarships valued at over $830,000. To learn more, visit the scholarship website.

7. Soroptimist Live Your Dreams Award

The Soroptimist Live Your Dreams Award offers financial assistance to women who can prove that they are the primary breadwinners for their families. The organization awards more than $2.1 million in grants to nearly 1,500 women with financial dependents every single year.

To be eligible, you have to be the chief earner of your family, and you have to be enrolled in or accepted to a vocational training program or a four-year university. Likewise, you need to be able to demonstrate that you need the financial help.

To learn more, visit the scholarship website.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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