College Scholarships for Single Mothers

Last updated: March 07, 2022

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.