Scholarships for single moms make second chance easier

mom smiling at her little boy wearing a backpackMy friend Mae is 29 and just entered college for the first time. She got married and had her daughter right after graduating from school, then became a stay-at-home mom. But after the marriage ended a decade later, Mae was on her own for the first time.

The fact that her 10-year-old daughter was in school for most of the day, and that her own mom offered to babysit, made it easier for Mae to decide the time was right to go back to school. "The hardest decision though is coming up with the money to pay for it," Mae told me. "Where do I find it? Are there any scholarships for single moms like me?"

Actually, there are. Governments, nonprofits and corporations recognize that single parents need help to pay for school, and have created scholarships and grants specifically to help single moms get through college. Here are some good scholarships for single moms to research:

  • Jeanette Rankin Foundation Women's Scholarship Fund. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation has awarded scholarships for single moms since 1978 to "single women 35 and older," who are low income. That could easily apply to many single moms, as nearly 40% of them live near or below the poverty level. The application time is between November and February, and scholarship winners are announced in July.

  • Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation. As the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1965, Patsy Takemoto Mink worked for women's rights and economic justice. Her foundation offers five scholarships for single moms of up to $2,000 each to help low-income single moms with children pursue their education and training. Applications are accepted between May and mid-July, and awardees are contacted in October.

  • Women's Independence Scholarship Program. For single moms who have survived a domestic-abuse situation, Doris Buffett, sister to billionaire Warren Buffett, created this program. Funding is given specifically for single moms who have left a domestic-abuse behind for at least one year, received counseling and have enrolled in college either part- or full-time. There are no specific scholarship amounts allotted in these scholarships for single moms, and applications are accepted year-round.

  • Project Working Mom. The online-education information website has created this program to send working single parents back to school tuition-free with $5 million in scholarships for single moms. The focus is on online education, as many single moms with jobs find that the easiest way to complete their degree.

  • AAUW. For single moms who have finished college and want to change careers, advance in the workplace, re-enter the workforce or enter a degree program that typically enrolls few women, the AAUW (formerly the American Association of University Women) offers several grants, fellowships and awards. Some of them are restricted to women of a specific age group and economic background, but AAUW lists the specific criteria and guidelines for each. Most applications for these scholarships for single moms are due between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15.
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