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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 21, 2018
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.
Institute of Management Accountants IMA
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.
Women in Need Scholarship
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.
Women in Transition Scholarship
Amount: up to $16,000
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.
Rhonda J. B. O'Leary Memorial
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.
Shawn Carter Foundation
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.
Michele L. McDonald Memorial
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
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.
Society of Women Engineers Scholarships
May 1, 2018
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.
Ruth Thurmond Scholarship
May 8, 2018
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.
Bruce and Marjorie Sundlun Scholarship
May 12, 2018
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.
Deblinger Family Scholarship
Amount: up to $10,000
May 24, 2018
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.
Park Foundation Scholarship
June 1, 2018
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.
Mary Blake Single Parent Nursing Scholarship
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.
Burlington Business and Progessional Women's Organization Science and Technology Scholarship
June 30, 2018
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.
Wah Lum Warrior Spirit Scholarship Award
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.
Capture the Dream Single Parent Scholarship
July 31, 2018
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.
Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation
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.
Mary Rowena Cooper Scholarship
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.
Top Products Single Mothers Scholarship
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.
Esther Dutton Kate's Fellowship
September 15, 2018
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.
Live Your Dream Scholarship
November 15, 2018
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.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Single Mother Scholarship
December 5, 2018
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.
Women Techmakers Scholars Program
December 11, 2018
Females enrolled in an accredited STEM program in the U.S. or Canada are eligible for this award. Must demonstrate strong academics and leadership for women in computer science to be considered.
Deana Kendrick Foundation Scholarship
December 15, 2018
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.
Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship
February 15, 2019
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.
The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship
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.
Ann and Peter Ziegler Scholarship
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.
Executive Women International Adult Students in Scholastic Transition
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
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.
HRSA Chances Scholarship Program
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.
Custody X Change Giving Fund
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.
Single Parent Professional Certification Scholarship of Northwest Arkansas
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.
Helping Hands for Single Moms
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.
Helen E. Walker Endowed Scholarship
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.
American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens Scholarships
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
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
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.
The JoAnn Heffernan Heisen Scholarship
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.
P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education
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)
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.
Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF)
Applicant must have at least a 2.0 GPA and be considered a single parent with a dependent child under the age of 18. Must have a high school diploma or GED but not have completed a bachelor's degree.