We’ve all seen the ads talking about “grants for single mothers” or “go back to school now, forgivable loans”. But they always seem to feel like scams, and I’m left wondering many times if there is any authenticity to them. In most cases, they are exactly what they sound like: too good to be true.
Many end up leading to lists of financial aid links and programs that you can buy, while some others aren’t even legit websites and are just scams trying to take money and information from those looking for help.
With that in mind, there are some real educational funding programs that provide grants for single parents. There are also scholarship programs and educational grants for single parents that are based on skill and merit. Lastly, there are programs to help students pay off educational loans.
Federal Pell Grants
The Federal Pell Grant Program is one of the more well-known grant programs. It is not limited to only single mothers, despite being known as the “single mother grant”. Pell grants have helped many parents continue their education and boost their earning ability.
Federal Pell Grants are based strictly on financial need and are generally offered only to undergraduate students. To qualify for a Federal Pell Grant the applicant must first have filled out and filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. Applications can be filled out online through the official website. The 2020-2021 school year holds a maximum possible Federal Pell Grant amount of $6,345.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants
The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant programs operate on a state-by-state basis. They are most frequently given to students who show the most need based on the information submitted in their FAFSA. Depending on the degree of financial need, awards up to $4,000 per year can be seen.
Academic Competitiveness Grant
This is another merit-based grant. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is specifically designed for first year college students and second year students who graduated in 2006 or after. It is awarded as a supplement to students receiving the Federal Pell Grant. Students can expect up to $750 for their first year and up to $1,300 for their second year.
Individual State Grants For Single Parents
In addition, a large number of states offer their own various grants and financial assistance options for single parents. These are less popular and often underutilized because fewer people know about them. Qualifications for each of these will vary by state. California’s version, called the Cal Grant is prioritized for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged families. These programs should have websites in coordination with the state, and more information will be available there.
The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant or SMART Grant is an award given to students in programs related to the sciences, such as mathematics, technology, engineering, and more. The recipients are determined by merit from third and fourth year Pell Grant students.