Going to college isn’t supposed to be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible either. For many single moms, a scholarship represents the only viable route to an academic degree. These financial aid awards earmarked for single parents are designed to alleviate a portion of the significant struggles these prospective students face when attempting to pay for their higher education expenses.
If you’re a single mom (or dad!) looking for a way to pay for college expenses, then you’ve come to the right place. In addition to listing 15 good options for single-parent scholarships, our editors have also provided detailed information about the many types of scholarships available for parents taking on both school and child-rearing simultaneously. Here, you will find invaluable insight into the scholarship application process, including tips on how to make your application stand out. You’ll also find information on where to find scholarships specifically designated “single parent scholarships.”
Cindy Ross Scholarship for Single Parents
School: Cameron University
The Cindy Ross Scholarship for Single Parents is an endowed scholarship for single moms granted to students pursuing a four-year academic degree at Cameron University. Eligibility requirements for the scholarship include:
- Full-time enrollment at the university
- A minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA
- Legal custody
The scholarship can be renewed each semester that the student is successfully enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program at Cameron University. Both single moms and dads are eligible.
J.Gilbert Reese Scholarship Fund for Single Parents
School: Central Ohio Technical College
Established by the Board of Trustees of the Newark Campus Development Fund, the J. Gilbert Reese Scholarship Fund for Single Parents is a merit-based scholarship program for single moms attending Central Ohio Technical College. Eligibility for this financial award is based upon the following:
- Good Academic Standing
- Complete Central Ohio Technical College Application
- Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Legal Custody
Single parents (both moms and dads) may apply to this scholarship.
Phyllis A. Keltner Foundation for Women Scholarship
School: University of Arkansas-Little Rock
The University of Arkansas-Little Rock’s Phyllis A. Keltner Foundation for Women Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship that covers tuition for up to 12 hours of study per semester at the university. This financial aid award also includes a $300 per semester award for books and supplies. To be eligible for this generous scholarship, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Retain primary legal custody of their child/children
- Undergraduate enrollment at UA-Little Rock
- Written narrative
- Completed and current FAFSA
The scholarship may be renewed each year, but the student must submit an annual application.
Single Parent Scholarship Program
School: Lincoln Technical Institute
Designed for students who hope to pursue a career in a vocational field, the Single Parent Scholarship Program at Lincoln Technical Institute provides a $1,000 scholarship for single moms who elect one of the following programs:
- Automotive Technology
- Health Sciences
- Skilled Trades
- Hospitality Services
- Information Technology
A university application and a FAFSA application are required for consideration. Both single moms and dads are welcome to apply.
Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund
School: Arkansas Colleges and Universities
The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund is not just one scholarship for single moms; it’s actually a fund that supports several different financial aid awards, including traditional scholarships and skilled vocational scholarships. To qualify, single parents must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Joint or sole custody of a child under age 18
- Single or divorce pending
- U.S. citizen
- 2.0 GPA minimum
- Household income not exceeding 250% of the federal poverty guidelines
The scholarship program also requires that recipients be enrolled in a degree or certificate program that leads to wages that can support a family.
Fortera Foundation Bridge Scholarship
School: Austin Peay State University
The Fortera Foundation Bridge Scholarship from Austin Peay State University is one of the more flexible scholarship programs for single moms. That is, students can qualify for this financial aid award, whether they are studying full-time or part-time toward a degree or certificate. Certain eligibility requirements do apply, however, and include:
- Minimum 2.0 GPA
- Legal custody of minor child/children (50% or more)
- Demonstrated financial need
- Single or divorce pending
The scholarship may be renewed each term, but students must reapply for renewal.
Ruth Harrington Luncheon Single Parent Scholarship
School: Central Washington University
The Ruth Harrington Luncheon Single Parent Scholarship from Central Washington University is reserved for high-achieving single moms and dads. In order to qualify, students must maintain a 3.2 GPA or higher. Additionally, applicants must be currently enrolled at the university as a non-traditional student and be able to demonstrate evidence of their status as a single parent. Each recipient of this financial aid award will receive $1,500. This scholarship is available through Central Washington University’s Financial Aid Department and is made possible through a donation from Ruth Harrington.
BYU Marriott Single Parent Scholarship
Brigham Young University
Funded by the school’s National Advisory Council Spouse Association, the BYU Marriott Single Parent Scholarship is one of the few scholarships available for graduate students who also happen to be single moms (or dads). To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in one of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business graduate programs and be in good academic standing. Other eligibility criteria apply as well, including:
- Legally Single
- Custody of Minor Children
- Yearly Evaluation
The amount of this particular financial aid is unspecified, but its mission is to help single parents with their educational expenses.
Value: Not Specified
Patsy Takemoto Foundation Education Support Awards
One of the more valuable private scholarships for single moms is the Patsy Takemoto Foundation Education Support Award. Established specifically for single mothers, this financial aid award is only open to female applicants with minor children who can demonstrate financial need. The scholarship is highly selective, and only five recipients are selected for each school year. Additional eligibility requirements include:
- Age 17 or older
- Enrollment in an accredited, nonprofit school
- Enrollment in her first degree program
Additional criteria can be found on the foundation’s website.
School: University of New Mexico
The Downer-Bennett Scholarship is an endowed scholarship for single mothers offered by the University of New Mexico. Non-traditional students are considered for this financial aid award upon enrollment, and there is no official application. Still, as the UNM Scholarships Office considers potential recipients, it takes into account criteria such as:
- Undergraduate enrollment
- Full-time status (at least 12 credit hours per semester)
- Grade-point average (GPA)
Single parents must also agree to write a scholarship thank-you letter to the award donor upon receiving the scholarship.
The Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship
School: Bluegrass Community and Technical College
Designed for working adults who also happen to be single parents, the Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship awards $2,500 per school year to two selected students who meet the eligibility criteria. These criteria include:
- Employment or work study
- Custody of child/children under the age of 12
- Degree program enrollment
- First-time student preferred
The scholarship is renewable for up to four semesters. Both single moms and dads are encouraged to apply.
Value: $2,500 annually
Emporia State Single Parent Scholarship
School: Emporia State University
Emporia State University’s scholarship for single moms is a $2,500 per year renewable financial aid award. Available to both undergraduate and graduate students, the scholarship is awarded to single mothers who meet the following eligibility requirements:
- 2.75 minimum GPA
- Primary or joint custody
- Single, widowed, or divorced
- Completed FAFSA
In addition, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours of coursework, and graduate students must take at least 7 credit hours per semester.
Custody X Change Single Parent Scholarship
The Custody X Change Single Parent Scholarship is an essay-based scholarship that invites single parents to describe how education will improve their family in 400-500 words. Three scholarships are awarded each year– $1,000 each for the Spring and Fall semesters and $500 for the Summer session. To be eligible for this single mom scholarship, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- First-time student or 3.0 minimum GPA
- Part-time or full-time enrollment at an accredited postsecondary school
- Primary physical custody
A college transcript or admissions letter is also required at the time of application.
Ford Opportunity Program
School: Oregon and California Schools
Offered through the Ford Family Foundation, the Ford Opportunity Program was originally created for single moms but is now open to all parents of any age as well as adults ages 25 and under. This program awards nearly 100 scholarships each year to students from Oregon and Siskiyou County, Oregon. To be eligible, single parents must meet the following criteria:
- Enrolled in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program
- Full-time enrollment
- Enrollment at a public or nonprofit private school in the student’s state of residence
- At least one year of school remaining
This generous scholarship for single parents covers up to 90% of outstanding college expenses for each recipient.
Beatrice F. Kroesche Memorial Scholarship
School: University of Utah
An institutional scholarship for single mothers, the Beatrice F. Kroesche Memorial Scholarship is awarded to University of Utah students who major in Education or English. Eligibility requirements for this $1,000 to $2,000 financial aid award include:
- 3.0 GPA
- Full-time course load
- Enrollment in the College of Education or Department of English
The number of scholarships awarded each year varies. Single parents, whether moms or dads, are encouraged to apply.
Value: $1,000-$2,000 annually
Bethel Foundation Grace Scholarship
The Bethel Foundation Grace Scholarship is a scholarship for single mothers designed to help students pay for books and/or tuition expenses. Awarded three times per year, the scholarship grants $1,500 to full-time students during the Spring and Fall semesters and $750 to part-time students as well as students who attend the Summer session. Eligibility criteria include:
- U.S. Citizen
- Parent of a child under the age of 18
- Single head of household tax filing status
- Financial need at or near poverty
- Pell grant recipient or applicant
Students who wish to renew the scholarship can do so each semester that they qualify.
About Scholarships for Single Moms
While tuition can place a burden on any type of student, single parents seem to have it harder than most. That’s because, in addition to paying their school expenses, they must also fork over childcare expenses any time they need someone to watch their children so that they can attend class or study for an upcoming test. Scholarships for single moms can help alleviate some of the financial pressure these types of students face when juggling college classes and parenthood.
Who Qualifies for Single Mom Scholarships?
When you hear the word scholarship, you may automatically equate this kind of financial aid award with academic merit. While some scholarships for single mothers are academically competitive, this isn’t the only type of scholarship that is available to single parents. Other types of scholarships single moms can apply for are need-based scholarships. These types of scholarships award funds based on a student’s financial need, not their grades. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that even need-based scholarships may require that recipients maintain good academic standing.
In addition to financial need and academic merit, there are often additional eligibility requirements that students must meet in order to receive certain scholarships. These criteria can vary from one scholarship to the next, of course, but there tends to be a good amount of overlap. In this section, we’ll briefly discuss some of the common single-parent scholarship requirements.
Custody of Child or Children
To receive a single mother scholarship, it stands to reason that applicants have to prove that they are in fact, single parents. This means that you may have to provide documentation that proves you are the sole or primary provider for a dependent child. This documentation might include your child’s birth certificate, divorce and/or custody documents (when applicable), and/or bank statements that prove the child’s financial dependency on the single mother.
Single Parent Status
Another part of qualifying for a single-parent scholarship is being single. Thus, the majority of these financial aid award programs will request evidence that you’re either unmarried, widowed, or divorced. Unless you’ve never been married, you may be asked to provide official documents such as divorce papers and/or death certificates.
Obviously, to qualify for a single mother scholarship, you’ll be required to enroll in school. However, some single-parent scholarship programs require a certain type of enrollment. For instance, some programs require applicants to take a certain number of credit hours while others simply specify either full-time or part-time enrollment. Moreover, some scholarships are more restrictive than others in terms of the field of study and/or academic level they will fund. For example, a scholarship may require students to pursue either an undergraduate or graduate degree, or they may specify specific fields of study or degrees that eligible applicants must take up.
Types of Scholarships for Single Mothers
Although the idea that single mother scholarships can have numerous eligibility requirements can be daunting, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many different types of scholarships for single parents available. If you find you don’t qualify for one, keep your head up and move on to the next. Below, we’ll discuss the three most common kinds of scholarships for single moms that you’re likely to come across.
Some colleges and universities offer scholarships for single moms planning to enroll in their academic programs. These school-specific scholarships are designed to help single parents pay for tuition while also attracting them to the college or university’s degree offerings. In other words, they can create a win-win situation for everyone involved. It is important to note that these institutional awards can only apply to the specific school’s academic programs, though. They cannot be used to pay for college courses or programs at any other school or institution.
Postsecondary schools aren’t the only source of scholarships for single mothers. In order to bolster their economies, some states and counties throughout the United States sometimes offer incentives for students to go back to school. This often includes financial aid awards in the form of scholarships for single moms. While these state or regional scholarships are more flexible than school-specific scholarships, they still require that students choose a postsecondary school within a certain geographical location.
Of the available scholarships for single parents, third-party scholarships are perhaps the most flexible. That’s because most of these types of financial awards can be applied to any college or university, so long as they are accredited. Sometimes referred to as private scholarships or outside scholarships, third-party scholarships for single moms are those scholarships that are funded by a private organization or individual donor. These kinds of financial aid awards are often small, but unlike school-specific scholarships, they can often be combined with one another as well as with other types of scholarships to reduce the student’s overall financial burden.
How to Get Scholarships for Single Moms
While the process of finding school-specific and regional/state scholarships for single moms is relatively straightforward, locating third-party scholarships can be more challenging. At the same time, these types of scholarships are more plentiful and can usually be combined. While researching online is one good way to locate private scholarships, you may also want to consider hitting the pavement or at the very least, making some phone calls. That’s because many outside scholarships for single parents are likely available in your local area and may or may not be advertised online. Need any ideas on where to start? Think about the churches, cultural organizations, youth clubs, and banks in your area.
When looking for scholarships for single moms, it’s also important not to limit yourself to just those financial aid programs designed specifically for single parents. There are thousands of scholarships out there, and you may qualify for many regardless of whether or not you have children.
Applying to Single Parent Scholarships: Tips
While finding scholarships for single moms is half the battle, there are some techniques you can use when applying for these awards that could increase your chances of becoming a proud scholarship recipient. Here are a few proven tips:
Read the Fine Print
Many scholarship applications get thrown out simply because they fail to provide all of the information requested on the application. Don’t let this happen to you; instead, be sure to read all of the directions provided on the application form and follow them precisely!
Apply to Multiple Scholarships
You’ve heard the old adage advising not to put all of your eggs in one basket. This advice applies to single-parent scholarship applications as well. Even if you think you’ve found the perfect scholarship for yourself, be sure to apply to others as well. Not only will this technique increase your chances of receiving an award, but you may also end up receiving more financial aid this way since some single mother scholarships can be combined.
Customize Your Application
Often, single moms who are applying to multiple scholarship applications at once attempt to save time by using the copy-paste function on their word processing software. Resist this temptation! Your application won’t pass muster if it isn’t specific to the scholarship being offered. Take the time to customize your application as well as any additional documents including personal statements and/or essays—you won’t be sorry!
Other Types of Financial Aid for Single Parents
Scholarships for single moms may be the most coveted type of financial aid award for this demographic, but there are other options as well. Many single mothers have success obtaining grants and loans from the federal government, for instance. Although there is no specific federal aid designated for single parents, there are special considerations that can be granted to single moms and dads when applying for financial aid. According to the U.S. Department of Education, single parents can have childcare expenses added to their cost of college attendance, meaning they will likely qualify for more financial aid to cover these extra costs.
Single moms going back to school are strongly advised to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for grants and loans through the federal government. Here is a quick overview of the types of financial aid awards you could be eligible for:
Federal Pell Grants
Through the Federal Pell Grant program, single moms may be awarded up to approximately $6,500 per academic year to cover educational expenses, including tuition. Like all grants, the Pell grant is an award that does not require repayment. Single parents can reapply for Pell grants each year that they remain in school for up to six years (or 12 terms).
Federal Student Loans
Single mothers who have exhausted all other financial aid resources may consider taking out student loans to fund their higher education. Federal student loans for single parents may be a good option for students who don’t qualify for grants or scholarships, or those who still have outstanding expenses after scholarships and grants have been applied. Student loans should be considered a last resort for single moms as they do have to be paid back along with any interest that accrues.
Once you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will find out which federal loans you qualify for as well as the amount of each loan. Remember to only borrow the amount that you need to cover tuition, books, and childcare as well as any living expenses not covered by other sources of income. You can take out loans for each academic year that you are in school, but you must reapply through the FAFSA each year.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Single Mother Scholarships
The first step in winning single-parent scholarships is to gather information about the process. This includes getting answers to any questions you may have about the scholarships themselves or how to apply. Below, our editors have fielded some of the most commonly-posed questions about scholarships for single mothers by providing some general information. For more specific information about a particular scholarship, look for contact information on the scholarship posting.
Q: Are there full scholarships for single moms?
A: Yes. Several of the scholarships for single mothers identified through our search are full scholarship programs, meaning they cover the full cost of tuition for the recipient.
Q: Can single moms get scholarships for graduate school?
A: Yes. While they are less common than undergraduate scholarships for single mothers, there are schools and organizations that accept applicants with plans for graduate school.
Q: Do scholarships for single parents cover childcare expenses?
A: It depends. Some single mom scholarships specify that the awarded funds must be used for school-related costs like tuition and books, for example. Others allow parents to choose how the money is allocated.
Q: Do scholarships for single moms include online college?
A: They can, yes. Many single-parent scholarships pay for students to attend any accredited college or university, including those that offer online classes and degree programs.
Q: Do I qualify for a single-parent scholarship if I’m not yet divorced?
A: It depends on the scholarship you’re applying for. Some programs specify that students must be unmarried, widowed, or divorced at the time of application. Others invite single mothers to apply even if they’re just separated or their divorce is pending.
Q: What’s the minimum GPA for single mother scholarships?
A: GPA requirements will vary depending on the specific scholarship you’re applying for. Some single-parent scholarships are need-based and don’t require a specific GPA. Still, you may have to prove you’re in good academic standing to qualify for the scholarship or maintain it once it’s been awarded.
Q: What are the income guidelines for single-parent scholarships?
A: Income guidelines will vary from one scholarship to the next. For example, one of the scholarships in our ranking requires applicants to be at or near the poverty line while another accepts applications from single parents with income that exceeds the federal poverty guidelines by up to 250 percent.
Q: Should I apply for single-parent scholarships?
A: If you consider yourself a single parent, you should definitely consider it. Anyone can apply for scholarships, and there’s no penalty for doing so. Still, we advise you to check eligibility requirements for the scholarships you do apply for to avoid wasting time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere.
- U.S. Department of Education: Federal Student Aid- Adult Students
- Federal Student Aid: Federal Pell Grants