Must-see scholarship sources for working moms
In 2010, 36.4 percent of women in the workforce held college degrees, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Moms can help boost that figure and join the growing trend of women who found success later in life by heading back to school. Whether you're a single mom, supporting a large household, working full-time or working on raising a family, there are financial resources that can take some of the pressure out of financing your education.
Starting your scholarship search
Mickey Mikeworth, a consultant voted Best Financial Advisor for Women by the Minnesota Women's Press, advises women to start simple. "The first place to start is to look around you and what is in your life already," she says. "Many scholarships are circling close by and they want to award to people that are close by. Churches, banks, unions and credit unions, women's groups and small community programs are often overlooked."
From there, a little web work can go a long way. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a necessary step for a number of loans, grants and scholarships. "[The FAFSA] will give you more information than anything on how much the family will need to contribute (EFC)," Mickey says. "Many families will have to pay less than they think, especially if there is more than one [person in the family] in college, low incomes or a large family size."
Scholarship resources for moms
These top scholarships are perfect for working and single moms who are ready to take the next step in their education. Take a look at the variety of scholarships, including national, state and school-based awards.
Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Scholarship
- Provides: Yearly award up to $2,000
- Requirements: Low-income (less than $17,500 for a family of 2), woman with at least one child
- Contact: Look for the 2012 award requirements to appear in April at the Patsy Takemoto Mink Foundation website.
The Ford Opportunity Program
- Provides: 90 percent of unmet financial need to up to 50 awardees
- Requirements: Single parents who are working towards a bachelor's degree in Oregon or Siskiyou County, California
- Contact: Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information before the March 1 deadline.
Bruce and Marjorie Sundlun Scholarship
- Provides: $1,500 range
- Requirements: Low-income single parents or ex-offenders in Rhode Island
- Contact: Browse requirements at the Rhode Island Foundation website before the June 15 deadline.
Single Parents' Program at Champlain College
- Provides: Support service, childcare, financial aid and academic support
- Requirements: Single parents attending Champlain College
- Contact: Call (802) 860-2723 for more information.
Assistance League Scholarships
- Provides: Varied assistance by state program
- Requirements: Varies; preference often given to women who volunteer or who have overcome adversity
- Contact: Browse the Assistance League and look for your state for local information.
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
- Provides: Varies; their American Fellowship offers $1.5 million in awards.
- Requirements: Varies; American Fellowship grants are geared towards doctoral research, while Career Development Grants are geared towards women making a shift in the workforce.
- Contact: See the AAUW Fellowships and Grants directory for more information.
These scholarships are just a sampling of the national, local and school scholarships you can find geared towards your specific needs as a single or working mother. Education can enrich your life as a mom, and it's worth doing the research to find a program that works for you.
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Mickey's tips for scholarship success:
- Start early. "Many scholarships are now taking applications for students as young as 10th grade," she says.
- Ask your school. "Look at the colleges themselves to see what they offer for programs for students that are parents - especially single moms," she says.
- Ask your community. Credit unions, labor organizations and religious groups can all have scholarship resources.
- Find support. "Look to women's organizations that are looking to support women moving upward," Mickey says. She suggests the P.E.O. Sisterhood.