Scholarships for Student Parents!
The first step to financing a college education as a student parent is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. This application will be sent directly to the financial aid office at your school, and is used to determine awards for financial aid such as the Federal Pell Grant, Work Study, and Federal Stafford Loans, as well as some other state grant programs.
However, federal student aid often falls short of covering all of the costs when you are a student parent. One way that some people fill the gap, is through scholarships.
Unfortunately there’s no magic secret to unlocking the support of scholarships to support your education as a student parent. However, those who have been successful with securing scholarships have told us they applied to multiple scholarships every year.
We know you are busy as a student parent, and it can be frustrating to find scholarships that are right for you, and the time to apply!
There are five general types of scholarships that you should consider applying for:
- Institutional Scholarships – These are scholarships available directly through your college or university. Ask at your college’s financial aid office if your institution offers any merit-based or need-based institutional scholarships and how to apply for consideration!
- State and local scholarships – There are often scholarships available through your state that can help you meet college costs. Some scholarships have to be applied for separately, for example through an agency such as the Oregon Student Assistance Commission, while others are awarded directly as part of your FAFSA.
- Private Scholarships – Private scholarships are often offered through private foundations, or even sometimes through corporate programs and individual donors. Private scholarships are often highly competitive, receiving hundreds of applications per cycle, and are nationally competitive—so bring your A game!
- Public Assistance Programs – Although public assistance programs are not technically a type of scholarship, some public assistance programs provide additional support and assistance to help you get through college. States like Maine, Hawaii, Ohio, and California have special programs through the TANF program providing cash assistance, childcare vouchers, and other help for you to finish school. Unfortunately, some other states do not allow college to count toward qualifying to receive these services. You might also consider applying for other programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Care Assistance Vouchers, Head Start, Housing Subsidy Programs (Section 8), the WIC Nutrition Program, Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), Medicaid/CHIP or other programs in your community.
- Campus-based subsidies and services – Many colleges and universities offer campus-based subsidies and services for student parents that can help you get through school. A subsidy program often pays for a specific expense, often childcare, but also textbooks, school supplies or other items provided for free or discounted cost. A service is generally a support available to students for free or for a small fee and is generally restricted to students. Services might help to save you money, for example by using campus-based health or legal services you might access free or low cost medical care and legal advice that you would otherwise have to pay for. Another campus-based program, CCAMPIS, helps with on-campus childcare for you to attend school. To find out about campus-based subsidies and services ask if there is a Student Parent Resource Center on campus. If not, you might inquire at financial aid or student affairs about support services or subsidies for student parents or for low-income students more generally.
To get a head start in your scholarship search, feel free to check out our scholarship database , assembled in collaboration with students in the Keys to Degrees Program at Endicott College.