College Scholarships for Single Mothers

Last updated: April 23, 2019

Of the 12 million single-parent families in the U.S., 80 percent are headed by single mothers, 51 percent of which are living at or below the poverty line. For the 2 million single-parent students out there, finding support to maintain and uplift their families by leading a promising career path is essential.

If you’re a single mother or father looking for ways to help support your college education, use our scholarship guide to find specific scholarships created with you in mind. Regardless of your intended career path, privately owned and funded scholarships offer you the chance to continue your higher education, and provide the support to help you get there.

Entrepreneur Shani Brinkely is no stranger to double-majoring in single-parenthood and higher education. For her, it all started with the decision to continue her degree despite having a full-time job as a single parent. And now? She started Feed Your Wall where she’s a wellness coach, educating individuals on how to find long-term wellness no matter the obstacle.

For Brinkley, becoming a role model for her daughter by continuing her education, studying abroad and starting a successful business were possible due to one simple, not-so-secret, secret: support.

“There were lots of late, late night papers, after hours study sessions, running to the bathroom between classes to pump my milk and sleepless, restless nights. As I juggled motherhood, a full course load and a part-time job; I decided that my daughter was my reason to graduate, not my excuse not to. We have to show them what success looks like.”
Shani Brinkley

Opportunities are out there to help connect single parents with the opportunity to find support in the form of federal funding, state-issued grants, private scholarships and loans, and networks that provide support for other non-educational essentials like medical, housing and other household expenses. This support, as Brinkley says, “creates the space and the opportunity to succeed.”

Resources for Single Mothers

Federal Policy Guidelines

Single parents qualify for federally-funded assistance programs. Check the 2017 Federal Policy Guidelines to determine eligibility for government funded support.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

This program assists families with minimal income with up to three years of coverage for childcare services.

Office of Childcare

This project offers local and state specific child care resources and referral agencies to help single parents find child care, health and social services, financial assistance, and support for families.

Office of Head Start

This federally-funded program offers the opportunity for children from low-income families of up to five years old childcare support and education.

Administration for Children and Families

The ACF offers grant programs to fund a variety of educational, economic and public services for families, children and single parents.

Enroll for health insurance and discover premiums and other opportunities available for single parents.

Transitional Housing

Find government-funded temporary living accommodations with opportunities to be places with housing for several months, to a few years.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

If you meet your state’s income criteria, you may qualify for the benefits of the Food Stamps program to help cover the cost of food.


How to Pay for College



There are hundreds of scholarships for single parents, which are awarded by local organizations, private companies, societies and more.



Grants don’t need to be paid back and are based on your financial circumstances. They are usually funded by the federal government, your state or college.



While scholarships usually fund tuition, fellowships typically cover graduate study, research projects and abroad experiences without needing to be paid back.


Student Loans

You can borrow money from the government or a bank, but it needs to be paid back with interest. The federal government offers many loan options—fill out the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for financial aid. If you need help, use our interactive guide to learn how to answer every question.


Federal Work-Study Program

Provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to pay education expenses.


If you’re just beginning the process of finding suitable scholarships, make sure you’re prepared for the application process by starting a folder with the assets below.

Scholarship Application Preparation

Not all scholarships are based off of your GPA, but most need to verify your high school education to qualify. Try to get certified copies of your transcript early, so you have plenty of time to meet the deadline.
Although there are scholarship opportunities that aren’t merit-based, it’s valuable to take the SAT or ACT standardized tests in case it’s a scholarship qualification.
Your scholarship essay is what will bring attention to your application out of the pool of applicants. That’s why it’s important to craft a stand out piece that attests to your experience, adheres to the scholarship guidelines and most importantly, highlights your true personality.
Letters of recommendation are a true judgement of your character—something that can’t be revealed through your test scores or transcript. Reach out to former teachers, counselors or bosses, so that they can speak to your qualifications. You may also want to provide them with a resume that outlines your achievements and goals as well.

Scholarships for Single Mothers

Instructions: Click through the dropdowns below to select if your a single mother, father or child of a single parent, then sort by award amount and if you qualify for need-based aid.

Esther Dutton Kates Fellowship

Amount: $2,000-$3,000

Deadline: September 25, 2020

This two-year fellowship is awarded to a single mother with financial need in pursuit of a full-time degree. The fellowship supports any field of study, and award amount ranges.

Single Parent Professional Certification Scholarship of Northwest Arkansas

Amount: $500

Deadline: October 15, 2020

Students studying in northwest Arkansas pursuing a career in nursing are encouraged to apply for this one-time scholarship. Must be a U.S. citizen or a resident with DACA-status. Students living at the poverty line will be strongly considered.

The JoAnn Heffernan Heisen Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: November 1, 2020

This merit-based award will be based on academic achievement and financial need demonstrated upon acceptance into Syracuse University. This award specifically supports students of single-parent households.

Live Your Dream Scholarship

Amount: $3,000-$10,000

Deadline: November 15, 2020

Female college students who provide primary financial support for themselves and their dependents are eligible to apply. Dependents can include children, spouse, partner, siblings and/or parents. Must demonstrate financial need and be enrolled in an undergraduate/vocational program for consideration.

AAUW Career Development Grants

Amount: Varies

Deadline: November 15, 2020

AAUW Career Development Grants provide funds to women preparing to advance or change careers or re-enter the workforce. Preferential consideration is given to women of color and women pursuing their first advanced degree or work in nontraditional fields.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Single Mother Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: December 5, 2020

Students must be enrolled in an accredited high school, college or university in the U.S to apply. Preference for women who are mothers and/or enrolled in a law school or undergraduate school. Must maintain a GPA of 3.0 for consideration.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC’ Annual Single Mother Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: December 5, 2020

To apply, submit a 500+ word essay on the advantages of going back to school while caring for your children as a mother.

Deana Kendrick Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $250-$500

Deadline: December 15, 2020

Women over the age of 30 who are returning to college are encouraged to apply for this scholarship program. The program does not discriminate based on religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability.

Custody X Change Giving Fund

Amount: Varies

Deadline: December 31, 2020

The Custody X Change Giving Fund awards three scholarships to single parents each year. To apply, write a 400 to 500 word essay, “How will you use your education to improve your family?” and attach your unofficial college transcript or admission letter.

Helping Hands Scholarship for Single Moms

Amount: Varies

Deadline: December 31, 2020

This scholarship is available for low-income single moms in college, who live in Phoenix and the surrounding cities of the Phoenix Metro Valley, or Maricopa County, AZ.

Ann and Peter Ziegler Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2021

This scholarship assists women majoring in liberal arts who are single parents planning on transferring to a four-year institution. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours and have completed at least 12 college credits to apply.

Helping Hands for Single Moms

Amount: $270

Deadline: January 1, 2021

This scholarship is for low-income single moms in college, who live in the Phoenix, AZ and surrounding areas. Must have U.S. citizenship and be legally single to receive financial assistance. Must have a GPA of 2.8 or higher and carry at least 9 credit hours per semester.

American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens Scholarships

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: January 1, 2021

Children of the men and women killed in the line of duty as police officers are eligible to apply for this financial support. Students attending four-year college, university, technical and/or vocational school may apply.

Freedom Alliance Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2021

Applicants to this scholarship must be a dependent of a U.S. soldier, sailor, airman, guardsman or marine who is permanently disabled as a result of an accident in the line of duty. Award amount ranges depending on individual student need.

The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Amount: $6,250

Deadline: January 1, 2021

Military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty are eligible to apply for this scholarship to help cover post-secondary schooling across the U.S. Applicants must maintain a 2.0 GPA for consideration. Scholarships are offered on a rolling basis.

P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education

Amount: $3,000

Deadline: January 1, 2021

The P.E.O. Program supports women whose education was interrupted. Candidates must be enrolled in a degree or certificate program and be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

Women's Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2021

Candidates are female survivors of intimate partner abuse who are now separated from their abuser who are in critical need of financial assistance. Applicants must accepted to or enrolled in a course of study at an accredited U.S. institution.

Ellen M. Cherry-Delawder Memorial Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 1, 2021

This scholarship will be awarded to a student who is a single parent with dependent children, with preference given to students pursuing a program of study in Business related field.

Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $6,000

Deadline: February 15, 2021

This award recognizes spouses and children of roadway workers who were killed or permanently disabled in work-related activities. This scholarship only applies to undergraduate, technical or vocational post-secondary school.

Executive Women International Adult Students in Scholastic Transition

Amount: $2,000-$10,000

Deadline: April 15, 2021

This scholarship is available to adults facing economic, social or physical challenges and are seeking advanced educational opportunities. Candidates will be chosen by educational providers and social service agencies.

Executive Women International Scholarship

Amount: $1,000-$5,000

Deadline: April 15, 2021

This scholarship is an annual, competition-based program that awards college scholarship to qualifying high school seniors. Applicants will be chosen based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and extra-curriculars.