Life is hectic for working moms, especially when you’re looking to further your education and advance your career, reenter the job market, or gain skills to pursue a new profession. Often, it is essential to find financial and personal support to help ease the burden of juggling work, school, child care, and other demands.
Fortunately, there are many scholarships and grants designated specifically for mothers who are pursuing their education. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the top awards. Plus, read our tips for finding and winning scholarships and grants.
7 Scholarships and Grants for Working Moms
Stressing the importance of education for single mothers and their children, Rosenfild Injury Lawyers LLC offers two $1,000 scholarships to single mothers who are returning to school, one to be awarded to a student in an undergraduate or community college program and one to be awarded to a student enrolled in an accredited law school.
Applicants will write a 500+-word essay about the advantages of returning to school while raising children. In their essays, they should stress how the challenges of motherhood have prepared them for those they will face as students.
The scholarship may be applied to education-related expenses, including tuition and registration fees, as well as textbooks and other supplies.
Named for United States Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink, who represented Hawaii’s 2nd district and was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, the Patsy Mink Foundation offers five Education Support Awards of up to $5,000 each to low-income women with children who are pursuing a vocational degree or certificate, associate’s degree, first bachelor’s degree, or a professional, master’s, or doctoral degree.
To be eligible, applicants must have minor children and be enrolled in an accredited, not-for-profit institution or program. They must also be low-income, meaning having a total annual family income of less than $20,000 for a family of two, less than $24,000 for a family of three, or less than $28,000 for a family of four.
An important source of financial aid for many low-income students. Federal Pell Grants are generally awarded to undergraduate students who have not completed a postsecondary education program and demonstrate “exceptional financial need.” (In some cases, students pursuing advanced programs may also apply.) To apply for a Pell Grant, you should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for each year you are enrolled in school.
The amounts of Pell Grant awards change every year. In the 2018–2019 award year, the maximum award was $6,095. In the 2019–2020 award year, it will be $6,195.
Pell Grants are not reserved exclusively for working mothers; they can help offset costs for many low-income students who qualify and meet certain criteria. Your eligibility is determined by your expected family contribution (calculated based on information you provide on your FAFSA) and the cost of attendance for your school and program. When he raised the Pell Grant award in 2010, President Obama encouraged mothers to apply and further their careers, emphasizing the importance of education.
Owned and operated by FreeCollegeScholarships, LLC, and established by mothers who wanted to provide financial assistance to other mothers looking to further their education, Scholarships4Moms offers $10,000 scholarships up to five times per year. Winners are selected from a drawing, and there is a simple entry form to participate.
If selected as winners or the scholarship, recipients must provide proof of enrollment in an educational program within three months of their notification.
The Single Parents Alliance of America (SPAOA) offers many resources, including financial planning, advance, articles, forums to connect, and more, to single parents. It also identifies third-party programs and scholarships to assist single parents with their education and other expenses.
In order to receive these and other benefits, single parents must register for a free membership with SPAOA. Participation in any aspect of the alliance is completely free and voluntary.
Soroptimist offers awards in amounts varying from $3,000, $5,000, and $10,000 to women who provide primary financial support for their dependents, demonstrate financial need, and are enrolled in a skills or undergraduate degree program. The award may be used toward costs associated with higher education attainment, including tuition, books, childcare, and transportation.
Most of the recipients of these awards have overcome enormous obstacles in their lives, such as poverty, teen pregnancy, or drug or alcohol addiction. More than half are survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, or sexual assault.
Awarded to women who have left a situation involving domestic abuse and are seeking education in order to gain economic independence for themselves and their children, WISP scholarships may be used toward costs associated with attending private or public community colleges, colleges, universities, and technical and vocational schools.
Recipients may be part- or full-time students. They must meet certain qualifications, including having a plan for attaining specific skills for career advancement or reentering the job market.
How to Find—and Win—Scholarships and Grants
How do you find the best scholarships for you? And what can you do to up your odds of winning them? Here are some tips for success.
• Search for niche scholarships and grants.
There are many scholarships available for people of specific demographics, including those aimed at women, people of certain ethnicities, minority groups, socioeconomic statuses, and more; people returning to school; residents of certain locations; and others. There are also school-specific grants and scholarships, so be sure to look into funding and awards sponsored by the school you attend or plan to attend.
• Cast a wide net.
For the most part, you can apply for numerous scholarships. Since many are competitive, it is a good idea to apply for as many as you can. This will increase your odds of winning at least one, and if you’re able to win multiple, all the better.
Also, keep in mind that some scholarships are renewable or allow you to reapply. If you receive the same scholarship or additional awards year after year, they can help support you throughout your education.
• Be meticulous.
Keep a list of deadlines and requirements to ensure that you have met and fulfilled everything necessary. Read and reread your applications and/or essays if they’re required for consideration for the scholarship. Have a friend or family member read over your applications and essays to catch any errors or typos, too.
• Look into other grants and support.
Your college and community may offer additional forms of support to parents returning to school, so make sure to inquire about daycare, financial assistance, and more.
It’s also a good idea to consider grants that aren’t specifically for education. For example, you may find grants that support mothers with their personal needs, housing, daycare, work and businesses, and more.
Finally, don’t forget to apply for financial aid. Filing a FAFSA, as described earlier with regard to Pell Grants, can help you receive a financial aid package that can offset the cost of tuition and other education-related expenses tremendously. Typically, packages include work-study, grants, scholarships, and loans, and you’ll likely only need to repay the loan portion after graduating.