For most women, enrolling in college is not a difficult matter. After all, admission to their local community colleges only requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. The problem is how to pay for college after the first year, when the government grants run out.
Frankly, if you are one of these single mothers in trouble, the first thing you need to check is whether your college and degree program is accredited. If not, you will not be eligible for any tuition grants. But then how did you get the college grant in the first place? There are two possibilities. The first – your college may have been accredited when you applied and got the grant/scholarship, but has since lost its accreditation. The second – you may not have received a grant in the first place. There have been stories of women and single mothers who were careless and allowed themselves to be mis-led into signing for student loans when they enrolled in college. These moms thought the forms they signed were part of the admissions procedures, or were application forms for government grants, not bank loans. Obviously, these are stories which come from students at for-profit schools, not public colleges.
One might think that only the first case is a problem. Unfortunately, the second case often occurs at colleges which are not accredited. Since these colleges are not accredited, you are not eligible to apply for government grants. Either way, your only choice is to cut your losses short and quit the school. What you can try to do to salvage the situation is to transfer into a public college. Most will not allow you to transfer your credits as is. However, with some negotiation, you might be able to ask to sit a test. If you pass, you prove that the credits you earned were real and you may be able to get a running start in your new college.
Hopefully, your situation will not be so dire. Many people are not aware that they need to re-apply for any grants and scholarships they receive. It’s possible that all you need to do is consult your college’s financial aid office and submit your “renewal” form to regain your financial aid, be it a grant or a scholarship. If you missed the window for this semester, you may just have to postpone your studies and wait for the next semester. Obviously, this won’t work with grants that are only open once a year. But there are also grant/scholarship programs which are open for application every semester. Of course, there is also the option of borrowing from the Stafford Loan or Perkins Loan (if available).
Obviously, we are assuming that you earn enough credit hours every semester. Be it a grant or scholarship, almost all of them have a minimum credit requirement, and some also have a minimum grade or cumulative GPA requirement as well. If you miss those, it is not reasonable to expect any kind of financial aid.
It is also possible that you are a recent widow or divorcee, and your household income was too high to qualify for a grant or scholarship last year. If this is the case, then you do not have to worry. As long as you can prove your financial need for this year, you should be eligible to apply for all the usual scholarship or grant programs. That said, you may need to consult your college’s financial aid office on how to handle the proof that you need help to pay your tuition fees. Most proofs rely on your IRS statement for the previous year’s income, which obviously does not apply here. So you need to find out what kind of documentation they will accept, e.g. receipts of welfare benefits like the TANF, SNAP, etc.
What tuition grants and scholarships can you apply for? For details, talk to your college’s financial aid office. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to apply for the Pell Grant, FSEOG, TEACH Grant, SMART Grant and your state college grant. If your college is one of the larger ones, it may have scholarships which you can apply for. You should also be able to find scholarships related to your profession or industry. Talk to your professors about this. They should be able to tell you of the professional associations relevant to your field of study.
Assuming you are an older woman, you might also be eligible to apply for one of the following scholarship programs:
- Philanthropic Educational Organization Program for Continuing Education
- Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund for women 35 and up
- AARP Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Council Scholarship Program for women 40 and up
- Talbots Women’s Scholarship Fund for women who earned their high school diploma or GED certificate at least 10 years ago.
If you are enrolled in an accredited degree program, there should be no problems applying for women’s grants and scholarships if you can show that you need financial help to pay your tuition fee. Practically all tuition aid programs are available even in your second and subsequent years of study, provided you meet all the criteria.