Back to School Grants: Opening Doors for Single Moms


For many women, life as a single parent means struggling to make ends meet in a low paying job.  Returning to school to prepare for a new career seems like a dream that’s too expensive to reach.  But a number of grants for single mothers may bring that dream within reach.  Federal, state and private financial assistance provides support for educational programs of all types, from career certificates to four year degrees.

The federal Pell grant, based on financial need, can help single mothers start a new career. This grant is based partially on a student’s expected family contribution to the educational program, including such factors as income and family size.  With children, a single mother with a low income becomes a good candidate for a Pell grant, which can be used for education related expenses such as tuition, books and even living expenses. Because it is a grant, not a loan, the Pell grant does not need to be repaid after schooling ends.

State-based grants cover tuition fees for students enrolling in both two year, community college programs and four year schools.  Based on need and other circumstances, these grants are offered through specific educational institutions. some of which have their own programs for students in special circumstances, such s homemakers returning to school.  With their emphasis on community support and making education available to everyone, community colleges frequently offer services targeted to single mothers, including daycare on some campuses.

Private educational grants target specific populations and needs. This type of grant may be dedicated to single mothers, individuals of a particular ethnic group, or someone with a disability, or they may support a particular area of study, such as nursing. These grants are generally administered by a particular school or study program.

Organizations and foundations dedicated to mothers and children or child welfare may also provide grant assistance to single moms or their children for education and other general expenses related to school. Applying for a grant can be as simple as sending  a letter, or as complex as filling out the federal FAFSA form, required for every grant and scholarship application at a public institution.

With options ranging from short-term career education to full time college study, available grants for single mothers can open doors to new careers and better paying jobs. Financial aid advisers can work with prospective students to find the best options to help single mothers, displaced homemakers and others to return to school.