For most people who want to return to college, the main concerns are how they will pay for college as well as whether or not they will be able to handle the course work. For single moms there is the added concern of how they will afford to take care of their children and find time to squeeze in homework and class time on top of their work schedule and parenthood. This is not an easy load to carry, but if you can stick to a budget and stay focused, the end reward is worth the work it takes to get there. Thankfully there are plenty of financial programs available to help.
There really isn’t a grant specific to single moms, but the combination of available grants, scholarships, and other financial aid programs make college very feasible for single parents.
To begin with you have to understand what a grant is. Grants are funds that are available for use under certain circumstances. There are plenty of grants that people do not think of as “grants”, such as the food assistance program known as SNAP. Grants are resources that never have to be paid back unless you misuse them or misrepresent your situation in order to get them.
To begin with, you should apply for all programs. If you do not meet the income qualifications, then you won’t get them. If yo do meet them, don’t be afraid to take the assistance because you are living in poverty and should make use of available resources. Start by applying for assistance from the Division of Family and Children in your area. If you qualify, ask about the daycare voucher program and apply for it. Then, fill out the FAFSA, the key to any and all financial aid for college. The main document that you need to have completed in order to receive assistance going to college is the FAFSA. This document usually needs to be complete by March 10 in order to receive all funds that you can. After this deadline, you will not be able to receive state grants for the year. Know that you can fill out the FAFSA even if you have yet to complete your taxes. Submit it and then come back later to revise it if need be, but submit it by March 10 no matter what.
The PELL grant is the most popular grant available. While the amounts change from time to time, you can generally get a little over $5,000 a year as a half time to full time student. Your state will also have grants you may qualify for. The financial aid office at your college will help you find available grants, but if this is still not enough, you may need to take out student loans. Student loans are low interest loans with no credit qualifications to meet. Most single moms qualify for the PELL grants, which can completely cover the cost of tuition in some cases. PELL grants never have to be paid back as long as you actually do the coursework you signed up to do. Some states also offer grants based on financial need or grades. Your financial aid counselor at your college will have access to all the government grants you qualify for and will offer them in your financial aid package.
Carefully review available scholarships posted through your school. Scholarships usually require some sort of application which can be as simple as providing financial information and as in-depth as long essays about specific topics in addition to personal or financial information, but since these never have to be paid back, they are well worth the effort. Sometimes one school partners with another so you can receive a scholarship just for transferring from one school to another. You might also find that there are scholarships available just for single mothers. There are also a variety of sites online like FastWeb which offer you lists of scholarships based on your specific situation. Some people even search their cabinets for brand names and contact those companies for information about existing scholarships. Be sure to check with any clubs or organizations you are associated with as well.
Student loans should always be a last resort simply because they do have to be paid back. Even so, there are both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans that require no credit check and do not have to be paid back until you are out of school.
Once your tuition and fees are paid, your school will send you what is left of your financial aid to help you meet the cost of living and going to school.
There has never been a time when education was more valuable than it is today. There has also never been a time when there were more financial resources available to pursue an education than there are today and that is a fact that single mothers should take advantage of.