Going to college isn’t supposed to be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible, either. For many single moms, college scholarships may represent the only viable route to earning college degrees. When you think of scholarships, high school students may come to mind. But some of these financial aid awards are earmarked for single mothers in financial need. This scholarship money is intended to ease a portion of the significant struggles these prospective students face when attempting to pay for their higher education expenses, whether they’re headed to community college or university.
If you’re a single mom (or dad!) looking for a way to pay for college expenses, you’ve come to the right place. Aside from listing 15 good options for single mom scholarships, our editors have gone one step further. They have also provided detailed information about the many types of college scholarships available for parents taking on both school and child-rearing simultaneously. Here, you will find invaluable insight into the scholarship application process for those with dreams of attending school. This includes tips on how to make your application stand out when pursuing higher education. You’ll also find information on where to find college scholarships specifically designated as “single mom scholarships,” including merit based scholarships and need based scholarships for low income mothers. Keep in mind that like grants for single moms, single mother scholarships don’t have to be paid back.
Cindy Ross Scholarship for Single Parents – Cameron University
The Cindy Ross Scholarship is an endowed scholarship. This financial award is for single moms pursuing a four-year college degree at Cameron University. Eligibility requirements for the scholarship include:
- Single mom or dad
- Attending college full-time at the university
- Legal custody
- 2.5 cumulative GPA
- Bachelor’s degree track
The scholarship can be renewed each semester that college students are successfully enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program at Cameron University. Both single moms and dads pursuing an undergraduate degree are eligible.
J.Gilbert Reese Scholarship Fund for Single Parents – Central Ohio Technical College
The J. Gilbert Reese Scholarship for single moms 2023 was established by the Board of Trustees of the Newark Campus Development Fund. It is a merit-based scholarship program for single moms attending Central Ohio Technical College to earn a college degree. Eligibility for this financial award is based upon the following:
- High School Diploma
- Good Academic Standing
- Complete Central Ohio Technical College Application
- Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Legal Custody
These are scholarships for single parent households. That means all single parents (both moms and dads) in pursuit of an undergraduate degree may apply to this scholarship.
Phyllis A. Keltner Foundation for Women Scholarship – University of Arkansas, Little Rock
The University of Arkansas-Little Rock’s Phyllis A. Keltner Foundation for Women Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship. Like college grants for single moms, this award does not need to be repaid. It covers tuition for up to 12 hours of study per semester at the university. This financial award also includes a $300 per semester award for college education expenses like books and supplies. Single moms qualify for this generous scholarship if they meet the following criteria:
- High school diploma
- Have primary legal custody of their child/children
- Undergraduate degree enrollment at UA-Little Rock
- Written narrative
- Completed and current FAFSA to demonstrate financial status
The single mom scholarship may be renewed each year that the recipient is attending college, but the student must submit an annual application.
Single Mom Scholarship Program – Lincoln Technical Institute
Offering some of the best college scholarships for single moms, the Single Parent Scholarship Program at Lincoln Technical Institute is designed for students who hope to improve their career prospects in a vocational field. It provides $1,000 college scholarships for single moms who elect one of the following associate degree programs from the community college:
- Automotive Technology
- Health Sciences
- Skilled Trades
- Hospitality Services
- Information Technology
A university application and a FAFSA application are required for consideration to this trade school scholarship. Both single moms and dads are welcome to apply.
Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund – Arkansas Colleges and Universities
The Arkansas Parent Scholarship Fund is not just one scholarship for single moms. It’s actually a fund that supports several different college scholarships ideal for the single mom. This includes traditional merit based scholarships and skilled vocational scholarships. To qualify, single parents must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- High school diploma
- Joint or sole custody of a child under age 18
- Single or divorce pending
- U.S. citizen
- 2.0 GPA
- Demonstrate financial need (taxable income not exceeding 250% of the federal poverty guidelines)
The scholarship program also requires that recipients be enrolled in a degree or certificate program leading to wages that can provide primary financial support for a family. You will also need to fill out the FAFSA, the same application that will determine your eligibility for Pell grants for single moms as well as other financial aid awards.
Fortera Foundation Bridge Scholarship – Austin Peay State University
The Fortera Foundation Bridge Scholarship from Austin Peay State University is one of the more flexible college scholarships for single moms pursuing degrees and other credentials. Students can qualify for this financial aid award whether they are studying full-time or part-time toward an undergraduate degree or certificate. Certain eligibility requirements do apply, though. These include:
- High School Diploma
- 2.0 GPA
- Legal custody of minor child/children (50% or more)
- Demonstrate financial need
- Single mom or divorce pending
The scholarship may be renewed to pursue higher education each term, but students must reapply for renewal.
Ruth Harrington Luncheon Single Parent Scholarship – Central Washington University
The Ruth Harrington Luncheon Scholarship from Central Washington University is reserved for high-achieving single moms and dads. To qualify, students must maintain a 3.2 GPA or higher while pursuing a college education. Additionally, applicants must be currently enrolled at the university as a non-traditional student. They must also be able to show evidence of their status as a single parent (i.e., at least one dependent child) attending college. Each recipient of this financial aid award will receive $1,500. This scholarship is available through Central Washington University’s Financial Aid Department. It is made possible through a donation from Ruth Harrington.
BYU Marriott Single Parent Scholarship – Brigham Young University
The BYU Marriott Scholarship is funded by the school’s National Advisory Council Spouse Association. It is one of the few college scholarships available for graduate students who also happen to be single moms (or dads). To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in one of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business graduate programs. They must also be in good academic standing as they pursue higher education. Other eligibility criteria apply as well, including:
- High school diploma
- Single Parent Household
- Primary Custody of Minor Children (Primary Financial Support)
- Yearly Evaluation
The amount of this particular financial aid is unspecified. But its mission is to help single moms with their educational expenses as they pursue a college degree.
Value: Not Specified
Patsy Takemoto Foundation Education Support Awards – N/A
One of the more valuable private scholarships for single moms in higher education is the Patsy Takemoto Foundation Education Support Award. This financial aid award was established specifically for single mothers. It is only open to female students with minor children who can prove their status as low-income women with financial need. The scholarship is highly selective, and only five female students are selected for each school year. Other requirements include:
- High school diploma
- Age 17 or older
- Enrollment in an accredited, nonprofit school
- Enrollment in her first degree program
Specific criteria can be found on the foundation’s website.
Downer-Bennett Scholarship – University of New Mexico
The Downer-Bennett Scholarship is an endowed higher education scholarship for single mothers offered by the University of New Mexico. Non-traditional students are considered for this financial aid award upon enrollment. There is no official application for this single mom scholarship. Still, as the UNM Scholarships Office considers potential recipients, it takes into account criteria such as:
- High school diploma
- Undergraduate enrollment
- Full-time status (at least 12 credit hours per semester)
- Grade-point average (GPA) and academic achievement
Single parents must also agree to write a scholarship thank-you letter to the award donor upon receiving the scholarship.
The Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship – Bluegrass Community and Technical College
The Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship is designed for working adults who also happen to be single moms. It awards $2,500 per school year to two selected students who meet the eligibility criteria. These criteria include:
- High school diploma
- Employment or work study
- Primary custody of child/children under the age of 12
- Degree program enrollment
- First-time student preferred
The higher education scholarship is renewable for up to four semesters. Both single moms and dads who are primary caregivers are encouraged to apply.
Value: $2,500 annually
Emporia State Single Parent Scholarship – Emporia State University
School: Emporia State University
Like many scholarships, Emporia State University’s scholarship for single moms is a $2,500 per year renewable financial aid award. It is available to both undergraduate and graduate students. The scholarship money is awarded to single mothers who meet the following requirements:
- High school diploma
- 2.75 GPA
- Primary or joint custody of dependent children
- Single, widowed, or divorced
- Completed FAFSA to demonstrate financial need
Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours of coursework. Graduate students must take at least 7 credit hours per semester.
Custody X Change Parent Scholarship – N/A
The Custody X Change Scholarship is an essay-based scholarship. It invites single mothers to describe how a college education will improve their family in 400-500 words. Three scholarships are awarded each year– $1,000 each for the Spring and Fall semesters and $500 for the Summer session. To be eligible for this single mom scholarship, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- High school diploma
- First-time student or 3.0 GPA
- Part-time or full-time enrollment at an accredited postsecondary school
- Single mom with primary physical custody
A college transcript or admissions letter is also required at the time of application.
Ford Opportunity Program – Oregon and California Schools
School: Oregon and California Schools
The Ford Opportunity Program is offered through the Ford Family Foundation. It was originally created for single moms, but it is now open to all parents of any age as well as adults ages 25 and under. This program awards nearly 100 scholarships each year to students from Oregon and Siskiyou County, Oregon. To be eligible, single moms and dads must meet the following criteria:
- High school diploma
- Enrolled in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program
- Full-time enrollment while pursuing college education
- Enrollment at a public or nonprofit private school in the student’s state
- At least one year of school remaining
This generous scholarship for single parents covers up to 90% of outstanding college expenses for each recipient.
Beatrice F. Kroesche Memorial Scholarship – University of Utah
The Beatrice F. Kroesche Memorial Scholarship is an institutional scholarship for single mothers. It is awarded to University of Utah students who major in Education or English. Eligibility requirements for this $1,000 to $2,000 financial aid award include:
- High school diploma
- 3.0 GPA
- Full-time course load
- Enrollment in the College of Education or Department of English
The number of scholarships awarded each year varies. Single parents, whether a single mom or dad, are encouraged to apply.
Value: $1,000-$2,000 annually
Bethel Foundation Grace Scholarship – N/A
The Bethel Foundation Grace Scholarship is a scholarship for single mothers. It is designed to provide financial support to help students pay for books and/or tuition expenses. Awarded three times per year, the scholarship grants $1,500 to full-time students during the Spring and Fall semesters. It also grants $750 to part-time students as well as students who attend the Summer session. Eligibility criteria include:
- High school diploma
- U.S. Citizen
- Parent of a child under the age of 18
- Single head of household tax filing status
- Demonstrate taxable income at or near poverty (i.e., demonstrate financial need)
- Pell grant recipient or applicant
Students who wish to renew the scholarship can do so each semester that they qualify.
About Scholarships for Single Moms
While education costs can place a burden on any student, single moms and dads seem to have it harder than most. That’s because, aside from paying their school expenses, they must also fork over childcare expenses any time they need someone to watch their children so they can attend class or study for an upcoming test. Often, they’re providing primary financial support for themselves and at least one child. Scholarships for single moms can help ease some of the financial pressure these types of students face when juggling college classes and parenthood.
Who Qualifies for Single Mom Scholarships?
When you hear the word scholarship, you may automatically equate this kind of financial aid award with academic achievement. Unlike single mother college grants, some of these financial assistance programs for single mothers are academically competitive. But this isn’t the only type of scholarship that is available. Other types of scholarships that a single mom can apply for are need-based scholarships. These types of scholarships award funds based on a student’s financial need, not their grades. In this way, these types of scholarships are similar to the Pell grants single mothers sometimes receive. Of course, even need-based scholarships may ask that recipients maintain good academic standing to receive financial support.
On top of financial need and academic merit, there are often other eligibility requirements that students must meet to receive certain scholarships. These criteria can vary from one scholarship to the next, of course, but there tends to be a good amount of overlap. In this section, we’ll briefly discuss some of the common scholarship requirements.
Custody of Child or Children
To receive a single mother scholarship, it stands to reason that applicants have to prove that they are in fact, single moms. This means that you may have to provide documentation that proves you are the sole or primary provider for at least one child in order to qualify for financial assistance. This documentation might include your child’s birth certificate, divorce and/or custody documents (when applicable), and/or bank statements that prove the child’s financial dependency on the single mother.
Single Parent Status
Another part of qualifying for single mom scholarships is being single. Thus, the majority of these financial aid award programs will request evidence that you’re either unmarried, widowed, or divorced. Unless you’ve never been married, you may be asked to provide official documents such as divorce papers and/or death certificates.
To qualify for a single mother scholarship, you’ll be required to enroll in school. Yet, some single-parent scholarship programs mandate a certain type of enrollment. For instance, some financial assistance programs ask applicants to take a certain number of credit hours. Others simply specify either full-time or part-time enrollment. Moreover, some scholarships are more restrictive than others in terms of the field of study and/or academic level they will fund (e.g., nursing school scholarships). For example, a scholarship may require students to pursue either an undergraduate education or graduate degree. Or they may specify specific fields of study or degrees that eligible applicants must take up. Finally, some scholarships are designed to help students attend community college for an associate’s degree while others may require post secondary education at a four-year university.
Types of Financial Assistance for Single Mothers
If you’re wondering how to find scholarships, the idea that single mother scholarships can have numerous eligibility requirements can be daunting. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many different types of grants and scholarships for single moms. If you find you don’t qualify for one, keep your head up and move on to the next. You can apply to as many scholarships as you wish. Below, we’ll discuss the three most common kinds of scholarships for single moms that you’re likely to come across.
Community colleges and universities offer many scholarships for single moms planning to enroll in their academic programs. These school-specific scholarships are designed to help parents pay for tuition while attracting them to the community college or university’s degree offerings. In other words, they can create a win-win situation for everyone involved. It is important to note that these institutional awards can only apply to the specific school’s academic programs, though. They cannot be used to pay for community college courses or programs at any other school or institution.
Postsecondary schools aren’t the only source of scholarships for single mothers. To bolster their economies, some states and counties throughout the United States sometimes offer incentives for students to go back to school. This often includes financial aid awards in the form of many scholarships for single moms. These state or regional scholarships are more flexible than school-specific scholarships. But they still require that students with financial need choose a postsecondary school within a certain geographical location.
Third-party scholarships are perhaps the most flexible types of scholarships for post-secondary education. That’s because most of these types of financial awards can be applied to any college or university, so long as they are accredited. Sometimes referred to as private scholarships or outside scholarships, third-party scholarships for single moms are those scholarships that are funded by a private organization or individual donor. These kinds of financial aid awards are often small. But unlike school-specific scholarships, they can often be combined with one another as well as more scholarships to reduce the student’s financial burden while attending college.
How to Find Scholarships for Single Moms
The process of finding school-specific and regional/state scholarships for single moms is relatively straightforward. Locating third-party scholarships can be more challenging. At the same time, these types of scholarships are more plentiful and can usually be combined. Researching online is one good way to locate private scholarships. You may also want to consider hitting the pavement or at the very least, making some phone calls. That’s because many scholarships for single parents are likely available in your local area and may or may not be advertised online. Need any ideas on where to start? Think about the churches, cultural organizations, youth clubs, and banks in your area.
When looking for scholarships for single moms, it’s also important not to limit yourself to just those financial aid programs designed specifically for parents. There are many scholarships out there, and you may qualify for some regardless of whether you have children or not.
Related: Best Scholarship Websites
Applying to Scholarships: Tips
Finding scholarships for single moms is half the battle. There are some techniques you can use when applying for these awards that could increase your chances of becoming a proud scholarship recipient. Here are a few proven tips:
Read the Fine Print
Many scholarship applications get thrown out simply because they fail to provide all the information requested. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, be sure to read all the directions provided on the application form and follow them precisely!
Apply to Many Scholarships
You’ve heard the old adage advising not to put all your eggs in one basket. This advice applies to single-parent scholarship applications as well. Even if you think you’ve found the perfect scholarship for yourself, be sure to apply to others as well. Not only will applying to several scholarships increase your chances of receiving an award, but you may also end up receiving more financial aid this way since many scholarships can be combined. There’s no limit to how many scholarships you can apply for.
Customize Your Application
Often, single moms who are applying to many scholarship applications at once attempt to save time by using the copy-paste function on their word processing software. Resist this temptation! Your application won’t pass muster if it isn’t specific to the scholarship offered. Take the time to customize your application and/ any required scholarship essays to the scholarship provider. This includes any additional documents, including personal statements and/or essays—you won’t be sorry!
Other Types of Financial Aid for Single Mothers
Scholarships for single moms may be the most coveted type of financial aid award for this demographic, but there are other options to cover college costs as well. Many single mothers have had success obtaining grants and loans from the federal government, for instance. There is no specific federal aid designated for single parent students. Still, there are special considerations that can be granted to single moms and dads when applying for financial aid. According to the U.S. Department of Education, single parents can have childcare expenses for their dependent child added to their cost of college education. This means they will likely qualify for more financial aid to cover these extra costs.
Men and women returning to school (including single parent students) are strongly advised to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This can qualify them for grants and loans through the federal government. Here is a quick overview of the types of financial aid awards you could be eligible for as you navigate college costs for a postsecondary degree:
Federal Pell Grant
Through the Federal Pell Grant program, low-income mothers and fathers (including single moms and dads) may be awarded up to approximately $6,500 per academic year in free grants. This is intended to cover educational expenses, including tuition. Like all grants, the Pell grant is an award that does not require repayment. Single mothers can reapply for Pell grants each year that they remain in school for up to six years (or 12 terms).
Federal Student Loans
Single mothers who have exhausted all other financial aid resources may consider taking out student loans to fund their higher education. Federal student loans may be a good option for some students. This includes those who don’t qualify for grants or scholarships or who still have outstanding expenses after scholarships and grants have been applied. Student loans should be considered a last resort for single moms as they do have to be paid back along with any interest that accrues.
After submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will find out which federal loans you qualify for as well as the amount of each loan. This will depend on your expected family contribution towards the cost of attending school, which is based on your annual taxable income. Remember to only borrow the amount that you need. This includes the cost of tuition, books, and childcare as well as any living expenses not covered by other sources of income. You can take out loans for each academic year that you are in school, but you must reapply through the FAFSA each year.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Single Mother Scholarships
The first step in winning single mom scholarships is to gather information about the process. This includes getting answers to any questions you may have about the scholarships themselves or how to apply. Below, our editors have fielded some of the most commonly-posed questions about scholarships for single mothers. For more specific information, look for contact information on the scholarship posting.
Q: Are there full scholarships for a single mom?
A: Yes. Several of the scholarships for single mothers identified through our search are full scholarship programs. This means they cover the full cost of tuition for the recipient.
Q: Can single moms get scholarships for graduate school?
A: Yes. They are less common than undergraduate scholarships for single mothers. But there are schools and organizations that accept applicants with plans for graduate school.
Q: Do scholarships for single moms cover childcare expenses?
A: It depends. Some single mom scholarships specify that the awarded funds must be used for school-related costs. This includes things like tuition and books, for example. Others allow parents to choose how the money is allocated.
Q: Do scholarships for single moms include online college?
A: Yes, you can find scholarships that pay for distance learning. Many scholarships pay for students to attend any accredited college or university. This includes those that offer online classes and degree programs.
Related: 5 Scholarships for Online College
Q: Do I qualify for a single-mom scholarship if I’m not yet divorced?
A: It depends on the scholarship you’re applying for. Some programs specify that students must be unmarried, widowed, or divorced at the time of application. Others give special consideration to single mothers even if they’re separated or their divorce is pending. See your school’s financial aid office for more information.
Q: What’s the minimum GPA for single mother scholarships?
A: GPA requirements will vary depending on the specific scholarship you’re applying for. Some single-parent scholarships are need-based and don’t mandate a specific GPA. Still, you may have to prove you’re in good academic standing to qualify for the scholarship or maintain it once it’s been awarded.
Q: What are the income guidelines for single-mother scholarships?
A: Income guidelines for the primary caregiver will vary from one scholarship to the next. For example, one of the scholarships in our ranking requires applicants to be at or near the poverty line. Another accepts applications from single moms with income that exceeds the federal poverty guidelines by up to 250 percent. The financial aid office at your school of choice may have more information.
Q: Should I apply for single-parent scholarships?
A: If you consider yourself a single mom or dad, you should definitely consider it. Anyone can apply for scholarships, and there’s no penalty for doing so. Still, we recommend you check the eligibility requirements for the scholarships you do apply for. This may help to avoid wasting time and energy that could be better spent on other scholarships.
Q: How many college scholarships for single mothers should I apply for?
A: The more scholarships, the better. You can apply for as many scholarships as you want to cover college costs, so don’t be afraid to apply for those dream awards! To save time, be sure to read the eligibility requirements for the scholarship carefully prior to completing the application process.
Q: What other types of aid should I apply for? Is there a grant for single mothers?
A: Scholarships are just one of the many types of financial aid you can apply for as a single parent. Grants for single moms are also available. Some of these may include online college grants for single mothers, not to mention the Pell grant. Single mom or dad, you’ll want to be sure to apply through the federal Pell grant program.
- U.S. Department of Education: Federal Student Aid- Adult Students
- Federal Student Aid: Federal Pell Grants