College Grant Opportunities for Single Moms

Fund Your College with Free Grant Money

Higher education is an extraordinary expense under the best circumstances, but single parents face even greater challenges paying for college. Often, mothers suspend their educational pursuits to address the needs of their children.  When a mom is on her own, it becomes increasingly difficult for her to jump back in and complete her studies.

Grants and scholarships help single mothers, many of whom are living in poverty, advance their upward mobility through education.  Whether you are a first-time college student, or a single mother returning to school, there are public and private grants aimed at helping you succeed.  As a single parent, your best approach is to capture as much general aid as you can, but also to target funding that is explicitly offered to financially challenged moms.

Grants and scholarships are similar, in that they are not repaid, but distinction exist between the two.  Grants are usually issued based on the financial need demonstrated by recipients.  Scholarships, on the other hand, are tied to performance indicators like grades and test scores.  In practice, many organizations responsible for issuing student aid to single mothers use the terms indiscriminately.  A wealth of scholarships are in place that do not require applicants to prove their worthiness beyond financial need.  For all intents and purposes, these are grants.  Don’t allow semantics to limit your search for financial aid.

In general, grants for single mothers originate from the same funding sources as other forms of general financial aid.  The most common entities that finance grants and scholarships include:

Federal Grantsgrants for single moms

Federal Grants represent one of the most enduring and often-used pillars of student financial aid. Most federal grants are considered to be need-based forms of college aid, but some funds have a merit-based component attached.  That is to say, some awards also use performance matrices to determine eligibility.

The Federal Government issues more grants than any other entity, so this should be the first stop for all college students requiring financial aid-including single mothers.

Applying for federal aid is a straightforward, standardized procedure that starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA requests specific information about your family; including income, assets and number of members.  If you file your FAFSA as a dependant student, it means your parents are able to claim you as a deduction on their federal tax return.  If this is the case, your parents income and asset information must be included on your FAFSA and will be taken into account when determining your eligibility for financial aid.

On the other hand, if you submit your FAFSA as an independent student, your parents’ financial status is not considered. This is an important distinction for single moms who are likely independent, and as such may qualify for substantially higher grant awards.

To be considered for the greatest amount of available aid, it is important that you file your FAFSA on time. June 30th is the customary federal filing deadline each year, but states impose their own unique deadlines, so the location of your school might require you to file sooner.

The absolute bottom line is that the FAFSA can be submitted any time after January 1st, of the year you are attending school. If you anticipate financial hardship related to your college expenses (and who doesn’t), why not file your FAFSA as soon after the first of the year as possible?  Single moms, hungry for higher education, are most likely to get the financial help they need by filing early.

Information contained on your FAFSA is used to tabulate the anticipated cost of your education and arrive at a figure representing your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  All things considered, EFC estimates the proportion of your total education bill  that falls within your ability to pay. Your EFC carries over to your formal Student Aid Report (SAR), which is forwarded to the colleges and universities you are considering attending.  Each school uses your SAR to compile a formal financial aid offer letter that synthesizes the entire package of aid that the school can make available to you.

Scholarships, grants and loans are generally offered as blended solutions for financing college.  Scholarships and grants are key features, because they do not require repayment.  Single mothers with mouths to feed are best served by college financial aid that does not create an unmanageable debt-load following school.

Federal grants for single mothers include:

  1. Financial need that goes beyond your EFC
  2. Total cost of attending your school
  3. Enrollment for an entire academic year
  4. Status as a full or part-time student

Congressional funding determines individual maximum Pell eligibility amounts each year, currently in excess of $5000 per student.

Merit-based awards from the Federal Government are tied to performance standards that must be maintained by grant recipients.  Two grant programs specifically promote academic excellence in science and technology subject areas.

Other grants issued by the U.S. Department of Education include:

State Grants for Single Mothers

In most cases, state financial aid opportunities for single mothers mirror those put forth at the federal level.  Need-based aid is available to general student populations, but some states also reserve funds for the most disadvantaged applicants.  Economics are a primary consideration, but financial hardship isn’t the only disadvantage taken into account by state granting agencies.  Individuals whose social circumstances severely limit their access to higher education are also targeted for state college aid.

Some states use your FAFSA to determine eligibility, while others require additional application materials.  Consult your state’s department of higher education for specifics about grant programs.  Examples include:

Grants from Colleges and Universities

Educational institutions commited to advancing education for single parents issue scholarships of their own. For instance:

Other Grant Opportunities

Corporations and private advocacy groups sponsor college grants for single mothers exhibiting financial hardship.  This cross-section of grant providers illustrates the diverse scope of organizations that support education for single moms.

Leave no stone unturned in your quest for single-parent financial aid.  Grants originate from unexpected sources, so use each of your unique traits to qualify for college cash.  Your employer, community organization, college or other group might hold the key to your educational financing.