Financial Aid Options For Single Moms Returning to School

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For a single mother back in the day, going back to school may have seemed rather far fetched. In today’s day and age, however, with so many different financial aid options out there for single moms going back to school, it is no longer an unrealistic goal.


From scholarships and grants for school, to work-study programs, federal loans, and even online tuition-free universities, single mothers are now being given better opportunities and chances to improve their careers.


Colleges and universities have seen a huge increase in non-traditional students, either enrolling for the first time, or returning to finish their degree.


It’s important to know that despite the financial challenges that come with being a single mother, you have options and are not alone! Here’s everything you need to know about going back to school and how to obtain a grant.


A single mother who has decided to go back to school by studying online at the University of the People to have extra time with her sons

Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels



What are Your Options & How to Obtain a Grant

If you are a single mother going back to school, you have a variety of options and ways that you can receive a grant for school to make this exciting step more realistic and comfortable for yourself. Here are your options to receive grants for school and make your dream turn into a reality, because you deserve a chance at higher education.



1. From the Federal Government


Federal grants are for students who demonstrate a high financial need. Such grants for school do not need to be repaid, and are much better than student loans which can be very stressful to pay back, even with deferral plans.


The most common type of grant is the Pell Grant, which can provide as much as $6,200 annually for students that earn less than $40,000 annually and have at least one dependent. It is important to note that you must apply for this specific grant before June 30th in order to be considered for this student grant.



Federal Work-Study Program


Students with financial struggles, such as single moms going back to school, can be given part-time work either on campus or off campus, by the government.


If you qualify for a federal work-study program, it generally starts at the minimum wage, but as you gain experience your salary can go up over time. This option is not the best for everyone, especially if you have a child at home that needs you to be around, but is another option that the government offers for students with financial struggles, and is something to be considered as you weigh all the pros and cons of all your options.



Federal Loans


Federal loans are loans that are given by the government directly, often to single moms going back to school. They are better than those from the bank or private lenders since they often have the lowest interest rate, meaning that you will have less to pay back in the long run.


They also offer more flexible plans to pay back the loan, and can even possibly be subsidized. A subsidized loan means that you don’t pay interest while in school, but rather that the government pays it, which is ideal.


If you are given a federal loan that is not subsidized, the interest does not increase while you are in school, and you can defer the payment until you complete your studies. If you defer the payment until after your studies and then need more of a grace period, then it does come with interest rates.



2. From Colleges and Universities


Colleges and universities sometimes provide assistance to those in financial need, such as single moms going back to school. Such aid is often very limited unfortunately, and is saved for those that need it the most. Those that require assistance beyond what is offered by the college can apply for federal grants, scholarships or federal loans through their educational institution.





For those that aren’t eligible for federal aid, scholarships are another great option when going back to school. Scholarships are given to students either based on merit or financial need — and in contrast to student loans, they do not need to be repaid!


Scholarships are often more limited than other student grants, but depending on where you are applying, it is possible to obtain a full scholarship for your studies. There are several scholarships available for single moms going back to school that are worth looking into here.



A single mom who decided to return to school and study programming

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels



Explore Other Options

1. Online, Tuition-Free Universities


Another great option for single moms returning to school is to look into tuition-free universities and online universities. University of the People offers both of these advantages, allowing students to work and study at the same time with more comfort and convenience.


Studying online also offers the ability to spend time with your children and be there for them through important milestones. University of the People is an American accredited university and offers the same level of education as traditional colleges, but without the financial stress of having to pay a high tuition while also raising children on your own and supporting your family. Returning to school as a single mom is already challenging enough!


One tried-and-true example is a single mother at University of the People who has already proven the power of studying at an online tuition-free university. She has learnt the necessary skills to get a promotion at work with two raises within a mere three months at her part-time job. This single mother was given the chance to still be there for her daughter while excelling in her career.



2. Employer Tuition Assistance


If you are currently working, you can request assistance from your employer if you are going back to school as a single mother. The chances are small generally, but it’s always worth a try with nothing to lose. If they do agree, you might have to commit to working for the company for a certain amount of years following the completion of your studies. This can be a real win-win situation for both you and your employer, as such programs help retain quality employees as well as strengthen the company with their newly sharpened skills.


Companies such as Intel, Fidelity, BP, Bank of America and P&G are all companies that offer their employees such an option. Some companies will even pay for their employees’ text books and internet.



3. Private Loans


If federal programs are not able to help you, then there are always private loans for single moms going back to school. Private lenders offer a variety of different borrowing plans, but they often come with a higher borrowing amount. This can be dangerous in certain cases, leading to financial problems later on in life. But it’s still an option that can help you get through college as a single mother returning to school.



What’s Best for You?

At the end of the day, you are the only one that really can know which option is best for you and your family’s future based on your own personal circumstances.


It’s important to make sure that you’ve explored all of your options and know what’s out there without giving up on your dream. Make sure you’ve done your research on how to obtain a grant, and how to return to school without taking out student loans that will create more financial stress for you in the long run.


Know that single moms going back to school can do anything they set their mind to, and that we are here to help you with every step of the way! Don’t be afraid to seek the help that you need to get to where you want to be.