For single mothers going back to school, figuring out how to secure financial assistance is one of their most important questions.
All non-traditional students face challenges when going to college later in life. Between life commitments and career responsibilities, it can feel impossible and overwhelming. For parents and mothers, there is yet another obstacle.
How do you go to school and access childcare? How can you afford to pay for a four-year college education while making sure you give your family everything they need? Going back to school for single moms means more than just securing enough money to go to college, it means access to financial assistance and resources to help them with everything from food to child care.
Luckily, there are some financial aid options for single mothers going back to school. Here’s what you need to know.
First, file your FAFSA®
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is your first step towards getting financial aid for your college education. Colleges and universities use the information in the application to award aid in the form of federal grants, scholarships, and federal loans.
The Pell Grant is one of the most awarded grants available to FAFSA® filers. To determine your financial need, the Department of Education (DOE) looks at your family’s income and expenses.
Income includes things you or your family owns, like savings and tangible assets like a house. Expenses take into account the number of people in your household, how many are in college or vocational school, and the annual Cost of Attendance (COA) for the school you want to attend.
The Pell Grant, while not specific to single mothers, is one of the most awarded grants for moms returning to school that fall into the lower-income brackets.
You can learn about how to file your FAFSA® in our guide, which is located here.
Apply for Scholarships & Additional Grants
Many independent companies and organizations offer scholarships specifically for single moms. Searching for scholarships is as easy as typing in your query in Google. There are tons of resources and options available on the internet, and we encourage you to apply for all the ones you meet the criteria for.
Scholarships and Grants are financial aid that you don’t have to pay back. They are great ways to get free money towards your education so that you can afford to continue while potentially also cutting back on work hours.
There’s no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for. Use our helpful scholarship guide to help you develop an application process that works for you.
To get you started, here’s a list of several scholarships for single moms from Scholarship.com.
Non-School Related Federal Assistance
If you’re a low-income single mom that needs additional assistance to help you finance higher education, there are many federal programs you can look into. We’ve compiled an extensive list of options below.
If you are currently pregnant or have children under age 5, WIC will help you get financial assistance.
For temporary cash and food assistance, you can reach out to TANF via the Department of Health and Human Services. This program is available for low-income, single mothers.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Housing Choice program offers low-income families affordable housing in privately-owned buildings. To qualify your household income must be less than 50% of the median income in your area.
Both of these programs are offered by the government to save low-income families money on their utility bills and the weatherproofing of their homes to help with energy costs.
The Department of Education in your state offers programs for affordable child care options for low-income families if they are working, attending school, or in training. While you’ll still be responsible for some of the costs, these programs significantly reduce the expenses incurred by the parents themselves.
Another affordable child care program, Head Start, helps to prepare your child for school up to the age of 5. They also offer resources that aim to support your child’s education and health as they head into their own educational journey.
If you need additional assistance with health insurance, these two programs are a great place to start. Medicaid provides free or low-cost health care options offered by your individual state. Additionally, if you’re pregnant or currently have kids, you can access children’s health insurance options through CHIP.
It’s not always easy to ask for help, but seeking out higher education can change your life for the better, so what better time is there to ask for assistance than when trying to better your situation?
If you qualify for any of these programs, they can be a significant help in getting you the resources you need to be able to finish your education. Reach out, ask for help, and use the resources available to you so you can better your life for yourself and your family.