Last updated: October 13, 2017

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.

HealthCare.gov

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

1

Scholarships

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

 
2

Grants

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.

 
3

Fellowships

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

 
4

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.

 
5

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.

Women in Transition Scholarship

Amount: up to $16,000

Deadline: April 30, 2018

Women who are the primary source of support for their families enrolling as a freshman to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. The Board of Trustees renew this scholarship annually with evidence of maintained 3.0 GPA.

Women in Need Scholarship

Amount: $2,000 per year

Deadline: April 30, 2018

This scholarship is for a woman who is the primary source of income for her family and completing her sophomore year of her bachelor's degree in accounting. The award amount of $2,000 per year for two years will be renewed with evidence of a 3.0 GPA.

Institute of Management Accountants IMA

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: April 30, 2018

Women working towards a bachelor's degree in accounting will be considered for this award that will cover one $1,000 undergraduate scholarship, among free CMA exam fees and registration.

Michele L. McDonald Memorial

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: April 30, 2018

This annual scholarship will be awarded to one woman returning to college from the workforce after raising children, with the intention of receiving a degree in accounting. Must be a U.S. citizen demonstrating financial need to apply.

Moss Adams Foundation

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: April 30, 2018

The Moss Adams Foundation is available to minority women, or women returning to school to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting. Must demonstrate clear evidence persistence towards personal and professional goals.

Beatrice F. Kroesche Fund Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: January 31, 2018

Region: Southwest

This scholarship is awarded to single women who are visually or hearing challenged, or a single mother in good academic standing who also majors in humanities and/or education. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Ann and Peter Ziegler Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

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.

Gathering Friends Restore Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: March 1, 2018

This award goes to one single mother based on the strength of essay response and financial need.

Rhonda J. B. O'Leary Memorial

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: April 30, 2018

One woman demonstrating aptitude in accounting and business will be selected for this scholarship. Undergraduate and graduate students may apply. Must be a U.S. citizen demonstrating financial need for consideration.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

Amount: $1,000-7,000

Deadline: Varies

Women of any age pursuing a business degree in an accredited business program who demonstrate outstanding potential in the field are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Must be entering at least the second year of business program and demonstrate initiative, ambition, and commitment to career in business for consideration.

The ANSWER Scholarship Endowment : The Andersen Nontraditional Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: March 1, 2018

Region: Southeast

Scholarship applicants must be "nontraditional" female students ages 25 and older, and be the primary caregiver to at least one child ages K-12. Must be a U.S. citizen and enrolled in a full-time accredited university.

Agnes Drexler Kujawa Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: February 15, 2018

Region: Midwest

Applicants must be single mothers with legal custody over dependents. Must be legally divorced, seperated, widowed or never married for consideration. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and be registered for at least 6 credit hours to apply.

Coplan Donohue Single Parent Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: March 3, 2018

Region: Midwest

Single parents of any major who excel academically are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Must be a U.S. citizen and be enrolled in a full-time undergraduate or graduate program at Minnesota State University to apply.

Heroes Fund for Single Parents Scholarship

Amount: $250-$1,500

Deadline: April 2018

Region: Midwest

Students studying at the University of Wisconsin-Eau-Claire in good academic standing are eligible for this needs-based scholarship for single custodial parents with dependent children with financial need not yet met by traditional financial assistance. Female students returning to education after prolonged time out of school are preferred.

The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Region: Midwest

Students of Arkansas who are single parents and living near the poverty line are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Must have a 2.0 GPA and be a legal resident of the U.S. to apply.

Naomi Scholarship

Amount: $1,450

Deadline: February 1, 2018

Region: Midwest

The Naomi Scholarship recognizes Christian-led individuals who have lost a spouse or parent to death or divorce. Students entering freshman year are preferred, but transfer students are also applicable. Must maintain GPA of 3.0 or higher. Financial need will be considered.

Live Your Dream Scholarship

Amount: $3,000-10,000

Deadline: November 15, 2017

This scholarship awards women pursuing a degree who also provide primary financial support for themselves and their dependents. Dependents can include children, spouse, partner, siblings and/or parents. Must demonstrate financial need, motivation towards career/goals and must be enrolled into an undergraduate/vocational program for consideration.

Women's Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Women are encouraged to apply for this scholarship if they are survivors of abuse, demonstrate a critical need for financial assistance and exhibit a strong desire to compete training and/or an academic program for career advancement. Women also are asked to provide a sponsor/mentor that provides support through her educational experience.

P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education

Amount: $3,000

Deadline: Varies

Women are eligible to receive this award if she has had at least 24 consecutive months as a non-student sometime in her adult life, and is within 24 months of completing her educational program. Must reside in the U.S. or Canada for the entire course of study for consideration. Must be recommended by P.E.O. chapter.

Deana Kendrick Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $250-$500 per semester

Deadline: December 15, 2017

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.

Scholarships4Moms

Amount: $10,000

Deadline: March 15, 2018

This contest is operated by Free College Scholarships, LLC. Sign up for this $10,000 scholarship giveaway! Must be a U.S. citizen to enter.

AAUW Career Development Grants

Amount: Varies

Deadline: November 15, 2017

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.

The Jeanette Rankin Foundation Women's Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: March 1, 2018

This annual scholarship serves women over the age of 35 the opportunity to continue higher education despite low-income qualifications. Women must be a U.S. citizen, and enrolled in a vocational, technical or degree program. Candidates will be chosen based on your goals, how you plan to reach those goals and how you plan to give back to the community.

Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: August 1, 2018

This foundation offers education support awards of up to $5,000 each to assist low-income women with children pursuing education or training. Applicants will be selected based on financial aid, personal circumstances, educational goals and community service.

Shawn Carter Foundation

Amount: Varies

Deadline: April 30, 2018

Shawn Carter Scholars are high school, undergraduate, vocational and trade students who are highly motivated individuals emphasising in giving back and furthering their education. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and be a U.S. citizen to apply. Shawn Carter Scholars are required to give back by engaging in community service and serving as mentors to aspiring scholars.

Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $6,000

Deadline: February 15, 2018

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.

Top Products Single Mothers Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: August 31, 2018

This contest will select one degree-seeking single mom based on her personal narrative of her family, education goals and how this scholarship will help achieve her dreams.

Life Lessons Scholarship Program

Amount: $15,000

Deadline: March 1, 2018

This program supports students entering college after the loss of a parent or guardian. Applicants are asked to submit a 3-minute video entry talking about how the loss of your loved one has affected your life both financially and emotionally.

Mary Barton Freeman Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: March 11, 2018

The Mary Barton Freeman Scholarship was established to support young adults working towards career and higher education aspirations despite illness. Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 39, and must have survived or be the children of a parent who has survived a cancer diagnosis/treatment.

Executive Women International Scholarship

Amount: $1,000-5,000

Deadline: Varies

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.

Mary Rowena Cooper Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: August 15, 2018

This scholarship provides financial assistance to children of veterans who served in Vietnam. This award seeks students pursuing degrees at vocational/technical programs as well as universities and colleges. Award amounts vary based on individual's financial need.

Executive Women International Adult Students in Scholastic Transition

Amount: $2,000-10,000

Deadline: Varies

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.

Wings Over America Scholarships

Amount: $3,000

Deadline: March 1, 2018

Scholarship awards are given to students who are dependents of active duty members or former members of the U.S. Navy. Any spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Navy who has dies while on active duty may qualify.

Wah Lum Warrior Spirit Scholarship Award

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: July 15, 2018

The Wah Lum Warrior Spirit Scholarship awards graduating high school students who have demonstrated perseverance and persistence towards a meaningful plan for the future. Preferred students demonstrate generous hard work and having overcome adversity. The application takes nominations from educators, or other mentors.

Bruce and Marjorie Sundlun Scholarship

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: May 12, 2018

Region: Northeast

Students living in the Rhode Island area who are low-income parents are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Preference is given to parents previously receiving state aid or have previously been incarcerated.

Park Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: June 1, 2018

Region: Northeast

These awards are given to two full-time students, one male and one female, who are single parents with dependents. Students must have a 3.0 GPA for consideration. Financial need will also be considered.

Esther Dutton Kate's Fellowship

Amount: $2,000-3,000 yearly

Deadline: September 15, 2018

Region: Northeast

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.

The JoAnn Heffernan Heisen Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Deadline: Varies

Region: Northeast

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.

Capture the Dream Single Parent Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: July 31, 2018

Region: Northwest

Low-income, single parents who reside in the San Francisco Bay Area enrolled full or part-time at an accredited institution are eligible to apply. This scholarship only applies to undergraduates.

Michael S. and Jeffrey C. Hagler Scholarship Fund

Amount: Varies

Deadline: April 1, 2018

Region: Northwest

This scholarship awards nontraditional students who have enrolled in at least 9 credit hours in a degree program at Boise State University or College of Western Idaho. Students of all majors are welcome to apply.

Ford Opportunity Program

Amount: $1,000-25,000

Deadline: March 1, 2018

Region: Northwest

The Ford Opportunity Program is a need-based opportunity for students who are single parents without support from a partner, and seeking a bachelor's degree. Financial need, character, work ethic, initiative and commitment will be considered.

The Peggy Jack Baskin Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $20,000

Deadline: March 15, 2018

Region: Northwest

This scholarship seeks to support bright, highly motivated, underprivileged women attending University of California, Monterey Peninsula College, Hartnell College, or Cabrillo College. Students who are re-entering the workforce with a strong potential to make a difference, who are completing their junior or senior year may apply.

Emerge Scholarship

Amount: 2,000-5,000

Deadline: April 21, 2018

State: Southeast

Female students at least 25 years or older are encouraged to apply for this need-based scholarship. Georgia residents are given preference, however students nationally are welcome to apply.

Helping Hands for Single Moms

Amount: $270 per month

Deadline: Varies

Region: Southwest

Helping Hands accepts applications year-round for low-income single moms in college, who live in the Phoenix, AZ and surrounding areas. In addition to monthly financial assistance, the program provides other helpful free services as well. Must have U.S. citizenship and be legally single. Must have a GPA of 2.8 or higher and carry at least 9 credit hours per semester.

Ruth Thurmond Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: May 8, 2018

Region: Southwest

The Thurmond Family of Orange County support women over 24 years of age attending school to further their education and complete their degree program. Must attend Fullerton College of The University of California to apply.

Deblinger Family Scholarship

Amount: up to $10,000

Deadline: May 24, 2018

Region: Southwest

The Deblinger Family Scholarship Fund assists low-income, single mothers who are primary head of the household return to college. This award is available to residents in various counties but preferably residents of Oakland, San Jose, Watsonville and Palo Alto. Students who demonstrate strong academics, goal orientation and persistence towards completing degree program will be strongly considered.

Downer-Bennett Scholarship

Amount: $200-$1,000

Deadline: March 1, 2018

Region: Southwest

Nontraditional single parent students enrolled at the University of New Mexico are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Must have completed at least 12 credits prior to application, and be enrolled in at least 12 credits for consideration.

1,000 Dreams Fund Scholarship Fund

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: November 3, 2017

This scholarship provides support for currently enrolled high school and college pursuing women with ongoing financial needs. This scholarship funds beyond tuition expenses that arise such as textbooks, application fees, artistic pursuits, or medical care. Students must demonstrate financial need, and include letters of recommendation for consideration for this scholarship.

Mary Blake Single Parent Nursing Scholarship

Amount: $500

Deadline: June 15, 2018

The Mary Blake Single Parent Nursing Scholarship recognize individuals who meet the challenges of both single parenthood and pursuing higher education in nursing. Applicants must submit an essay for consideration for this one-time award. Must be a U.S. citizen and be enrolled in an accredited school of nursing. Must have a GPA of 2.7 or higher.

HRSA Chances Scholarship Program

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: Varies

Applicants for the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program must be enrolled in a professional nursing degree program in the U.S. Must be free from overdue federal debt. Must have GED or high school diploma to apply.

Helen E. Walker Endowed Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Region: Midwest

Students of St. Luke's College in the first or second year are eligible to apply for this nursing scholarship. Students who are dependents of a single-parent household are applicable. Must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Single Mother Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: December 5, 2017

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.

American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens Scholarships

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: Varies

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.

The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Amount: $6,250

Deadline: Varies

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.

Freedom Alliance Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

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.

ICMA-RC Public Employee Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $10,000

Deadline: March 15, 2018

This fund provides financial support to surviving spouses and children of officers killed in the line of duty as police officers, firefighters, and other local or state government employees who have made the ultimate sacrifice. This award is eligible for students attending an accredited two or four-year college, vocational or community college. Must provide a letter from the deceased employee's place of work.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

Amount: $10,000

Deadline: March 1, 2018

The nation's oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships to military children, this award supports students whose parent has been killed or wounded in the line of duty and/or demonstrates strong financial need. Student must maintain a 2.0 GPA and plan to attend an accredited university to qualify.

Toby Hopper Endowed Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: March 15, 2018

Region: Southeast

This endowment offers financial assistance to single, non-traditional female students who are the primary provider to their children. Students pursuing a teaching degree are preferred. Strictly financial need based.

Single Parent Professional Certification Scholarship of Northwest Arkansas

Amount: $500

Deadline: Varies

Region: Southeast

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 Thoroughbred Scholarship

Amount: $6,000

Deadline: March 25, 2018

Students who are financially independent and over 24 years in age are eligible to apply for this need-based scholarship. Students will be preferred if they are married, a veteran, an orphan or have dependents of their own. Must maintain a GPA of 2.85.

Society of Women Engineers Scholarships

Amount: $1,000-15,000

Deadline: For sophomores through graduate students: February 15. For freshmen : May 1

The SWE Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to women pursuing a degree in engineering, technology or computer science at an ABET-accredited university. Students who are re-entering college after two or more years, part-time students and full-time students are eligible to apply.

Women Techmakers Scholarship

Amount: $10,000

Deadline: Varies

Applicants for this scholarship must be studying computer science, engineering, or a technical related field while demonstrating consistently strong academics. Preferred candidates exemplify leadership and passion for increasing involvement of women in computer science. Applicants will be judged on the strength of their academic background, and impact on community.

Burlington Business and Progessional Women's Organization Science and Technology Scholarship

Amount: $500-$1,000

Deadline: June 30, 2018

Region: Northeast

Funded by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, this scholarship assist women pursuing a career in science, technology, math or engineering. All students who reside in the Vermont region and are single parents are eligible to apply.

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