How To Go Back To School As A Single Parent

Many single parents would like to go to school, graduate, and start a new career to better support themselves and their children. It can seem like a challenging task financially as tuition is not cheap. Fortunately, there are some government programs and grants available that will help reduce your tuition costs and go back to school. This article will outline the programs and grants you should pursue, as well as some important items to consider when going back to school as a single parent.

Online Courses

Consider enrolling in an online program. Online programs would allow you to study during the times that work best for you. You could do a bulk of your studying on the weekend with some of some studying in the evenings during the week . This means you could still work full time, and care for your children. This could be especially useful if you have a career a don’t want school to interfere with it. Most universities offer online courses so be sure to see if the courses you are interested in are available online.

Night School

You might also want to consider enrolling in a course that is offered in the evenings. This could still allow you to work during the day and go to school at night. Not all courses offer night classes so be sure to check if any of the classes you are interested in offer night classes. Keep in mind this might not allow you to see your kids every with the work during the day and school at night, so evaluate your options.

Tutoring

You might be overwhelmed when you first start attending classes so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many schools have free tutoring available, to help you out. Also connect with your classmates and start a study group. Engaging with your classmates can make it easier to study and learn more efficiently.

Plan Ahead

It is important to know that during March break or summer break, your kids will be out of school. You don’t want to be stuck not knowing what to do with your children, so plan in advance what you will do when your kids are off school.

Colleges For Students With Children

Going to school regularly means you will need some sort of child care for your children. This can be really expensive and is a reason some single parents do not go back to school. Fortunately, there are over 1500 colleges and universities across the U.S. that offer free or very low cost on site child care for the student’s children. Many major U.S. universities offer this service so be sure to see if the schools you are interested in enrolling in offer this service. Although the child care is not always free, it can be as low as $2.25 per hour, which would be a lot cheaper then a private day care center. Click here to see a list of the top 50 colleges that offer on site child care.

Financial Aid

If you receive any financial aid, it will greatly reduce your tuition costs. For the rest of the article we will discuss the scholarships and grants you should apply for.

Pell Grants

The first thing you should consider is applying for a Pell Grant through the federal government. A Pell Grant is a need based grant which grants low income students/families money to use to pursue college or university education. Pell grants are available to students who are striving toward their first bachelor’s or professional degree. It is important to note that Pell Grants are not available to graduate students. These grants can be used at over 5400 participating college or universities across the United States. The criteria used to determine the amount of the grant is based on several factors such as the students expected family contribution, the cost of the schooling, and whether or not the student is a full or part time student.The maximum an individual can receive for a Pell Grant for the 2015-2016 year is $5775. The amount each student receives varies based on the student’s personal situation.

Once you are awarded a Pell Grant you must maintain a good academic standing to be eligible to continue receiving the award each year. The academic good standing is different based on the school you are attending, as each school has criteria that may differ, however factors such as course completion, attendance, and most importantly, a good GPA are reviewed.

How To Apply For A Pell Grant

To apply for a Pell Grant, you have to fill out something called a  Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form which when submitted, will be all you have to do to apply.

You can apply for a Pell Grant three different ways:

  • You can apply online with the Department of Education’s website at ed.gov
  • You can apply by downloading and completing the PDF version which can be found at the above website
  • You can apply by completing a paper version of the application which is mailed to you when call the Department of Education’s toll free number.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

If the Pell Grant does not work out, you can apply for the FSEOG, as it is a need based grant that awards low income students with financial aid to help pay for tuition. This grant is awarded at over 3800 participating colleges across the U.S.

If you qualify you can receive up to $4000 per year to use towards your tuition costs. To apply for this grant you have to submit a FAFSA form, which is the same form used to apply for the previously mentioned Pell Grant. Once you complete the FAFSA form you will be notified if you qualify for this grant.

Scholarships

There are numerous scholarships available, with some specifically directed at single mothers, single parents, and those who are in financial need. Below are a few on the scholarships available for single parents.

Support a Student Scholarship

This is the ideal scholarship for a single mother as this scholarship awards single parents a

$10 000 dollar scholarship to financially any disadvantaged single parents. To be eligible you must be enrolled to a accredited online post secondary education in the United States. To apply visit onlinecolleges.org.

P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education

This program offers a variety of scholarships with some being merit based and some need based. It provides up to $3000 to women who display a need for financial assistance to continue their education in order to better support their families. The funds can be used for tuition costs, textbooks, or any school related expenses. In order to apply, applicants must be sponsored by a local chapter of the P.E.O. sisterhood. To learn more about this program visit peointernational.org

Jeanette Rankin Foundation Scholarship Program

This program isn’t solely intended for single mothers however they would have a good chance of being awarded a scholarship, as the program aims to award any women who have children and have no other means to attend college or university .The program awards recipients all over the United States.

To be eligible the applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • must be 35 years of age or older
  • be in a low income bracket
  • pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate’s degree, or a first bachelor’s degree

For more information and to apply for this scholarship visit rankinfoundation.org

For a state by state resource on available scholarships for single mothers please visit

singleparents.about.com. Remember to also browse through all major companies as most have a scholarship program that you could also apply to. Furthermore if you have no luck in securing a scholarship keep in mind there are still many options available such as grants, including Pell Grants, federal student loans, private student loans etc.

Institutional Aid

An institutional aid is financial aid provided by college or universities to help students with school expenses.  These forms of financial aid are sometimes called bursaries. These funds are sometimes very limited depending on the school so it is best to apply as early as possible. I know when I was in college I applied early and was awarded a $500 bursary every year.  The funds are usually awarded to students who demonstrate the most financial need. Single mothers would definitely fall under the category of demonstrating a large financial need. Applicants need to fill out a CSS Profile form instead of the FAFSA form that is usually needed to apply.

The CSS Profile form is a form required by colleges and universities to determine the individuals eligibility for non government financial aid. To fill out this form all is needed is to contact the college or university you plant on attending and explain to them your situation and they will guide you in the right direction. Institutional grants make up a large portion of all available funding sources so this is the ideal source to receive financial aid.