Grants for Returning Students

Continuing Your Education?

The best laid plans for higher education are interrupted by countless distractions and adult obligations.  As a result, more and more students are coming back into the educational fold after time away from school. Students return to college to change careers, seek advanced degrees and re-train for employment.  Women and single parents come back to education once child-rearing duties are satisfied.  For adults returning to school, there are resources available to ease the financial burden of re-entry.

Returning students face unique challenges associated with adult learning. Getting up to speed on new technology and classroom protocol can be daunting for students who have been away from academia for extended periods of time.  And adults in college are juggling higher education along with family responsibilities and professional careers.  Grants and scholarships can be essential to meeting college expenses.

Financial aid for re-entry students originates from public and private sources, including corporations, memorial endowments and state governments. These examples illustrate society’s commitment to students returning to college.

Colleges and Universitiesgrants for returning college students

Many educational institutions offer ”in-house” grants and scholarships for returning students. Endowments and general scholarship funds are tapped to put-forth aid money that is earmarked for adult learners.  If your personal circumstances depart from the traditional path to a college degree, you may be eligible for institutional aid that pays your tuition and brings diversity to the student body.

At Michigan State University, returning students are eligible for a special award called the William E. and Phoebe B. Clark Scholarship for Returning Adult Students.  Graduate students and undergraduates are eligible, but each candidates must be a student returning to MSU in pursuit of a college degree.  Priority consideration is given to students returning to school due to the death of a spouse.  Single parents are also favored for these scholarships.  Applicants must have good academic standing and be admitted to qualified programs at the time the scholarships are disbursed.

To entice adult students to return to college, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities administers the Alliss Opportunity Grant for students who have been away from school for at least 7 years.  The award is open to beginning or returning community college students who are at least 7 years beyond high-school graduation.  The scholarship pays for a single course and any textbooks associated with the class.

Government Resources

U.S. Department of Labor operates CareerOneStop, a reemployment clearinghouse for information and access to resources. Local centers offer free and cheap training for students entering in-demand fields like computers and counseling.  Returning to school gets people back to work, so use whatever resources point toward college aid for returning students.

The Montgomery G.I. Bill pays for college for military veterans.  The generous program covers tuition, housing and books for qualified members of the armed services who have been on active duty for at least 90 days.  Veterens who are returning to school can attend any college, but the maximum G.I. Bill compensation is tied to the cost of public in-state tuition.

Disengaged Students Returning To College Program is a New Jersey initiative that provides grant funding for institutions of higher education that are committed to offering student assistance to adults returning to campus.  Students don’t apply directly, but your financial aid office is equipped to place you in line for institutional funds.  The Jersey program specifically targets students who have been away for less than a decade, but have completed at least 50% of the coursework required to earn degrees.

Women and Businesswomen grants

Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund  provides student assistance to low-income women pursuing vocational training and college degrees.  The scholarships are only available to women who are at least thirty-five years old, so recipients are often returning students.

Since 1998, the fund has aided 500 women, providing tuition assistance for mid-life higher education.  JRF winners are U.S. residents attending accredited schools in pursuit of career training, associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees.  Low income families are given priority consideration, based on estimated household income. Income thresholds are around $15,000 for single households, and $25,000 for students coming from 2-member families.

Talbot’s, the apparel manufacturer, is committed to women who take non-traditional paths toward higher education.  The company sponsors hundreds-of-thousands of annual re-entry student aid for worthy women, as they embark or return to college later in life.  Successful women are chosen to participate as members of the scholarship panel, bringing their real-life experiences to the judging process.

Emerge empowers women through education.  Returning students over age 25, who have overcome adversity are invited to apply for one of ten annual $5000 scholarships.  Giving back to the community is a requisite pursuit of each applicant.

Women returning to school are supported by  corporations and private organizations committed to diversity and female empowerment.  Mothers especially, are rewarded with scholarships that acknowledge their family responsibilities.

Special Grant Sources

Professional associations and foundations offer unique financial aid that promotes career development in certain disciplines.  As a returning student, tap whatever resources speak to your individual educational pursuits.

The Osher Foundation is a generous benefactor of scholarships catering to re-entry students.  the Bernard Osher Re-entry Scholarship Program is for students whose educational pursuits have been interrupted by at least five-years away from school.  Ideal candidates are:

  • Returning to complete undergraduate degree studies
  • Age 25-50
  • Full-or Part-time
  • Admitted to four-year universities
  • Committed to earning bachelor’s degrees
  • Academically talented
  • In need of financial assistance

The tuition-only awards are as rich as 50K per academic year, and can be renewed for junior and senior years.

Pell Grant

Returning students have access to targeted grants and scholarships that are designed to create higher education opportunities for non-traditional students.  But plenty of aid is wide-open to anyone who needs it, so don’t forget to throw your hat in the ring for general grants and government funded financial aid.

Do not overlook the perennial powerhouse of student assistance: The Federal Pell Grant. Your financial need and college costs are used to calculate your overall eligibility for federal Pell gift aid.  The process starts with a standardized government aid request called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Just about any financial aid program you apply to is going to ask for your FAFSA results, so think of it as square-one for your college financial aid search.

The Department of Education considers elements like income and enrollment status to help determine your precise college budget outlook.  Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)  represents a realistic prediction of what you can actually afford.  Working with financial aid offices at the colleges you choose, Pell administrators assemble blended financial aid packages that draw from all of the resources available.

Pell Grants are worth up to $5000 for qualified students, including those individuals who are coming back into the educational fold after an absence.


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