Can you get a scholarship for having a single pArent?

Can you get a scholarship for having a single pArent

Pursuing higher education can be a daunting and expensive endeavor for many students, especially those from low-income families. However, for single parents, the financial burden can be even greater. With the added responsibilities of raising a child on their own, single parents often struggle to make ends meet and may not have the means to pay for their education. This begs the question, can single parents get scholarships to help alleviate the financial strain? In this article, we will explore the answer to this question and provide valuable insights for single parents looking to pursue higher education.

The Reality for Single Parents

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 13.6 million single parents in the United States, with 80% of them being single mothers. These single parents face unique challenges, including financial struggles, lack of support, and limited time for personal pursuits. As a result, many single parents may feel discouraged from pursuing higher education, despite the potential benefits it can bring for themselves and their families.

One of the main barriers for single parents is the cost of education. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year was $10,560 for in-state public colleges and $37,650 for private colleges. This does not include additional expenses such as textbooks, housing, and transportation. For single parents, these costs can seem insurmountable, making it difficult to even consider pursuing a degree.

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However, there is hope for single parents who aspire to further their education. Scholarships, which are financial awards given to students based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria, can provide much-needed financial assistance. But can single parents qualify for scholarships? Let’s find out.

Types of Scholarships Available for Single Parents

There are various types of scholarships available for single parents, each with its own set of eligibility requirements. Here are some of the most common types of scholarships that single parents can apply for:

1. Need-Based Scholarships

Need-based scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. This type of scholarship takes into account the student’s income, assets, and family size to determine their eligibility. Single parents, who often have a lower income due to their sole provider status, may qualify for these scholarships.

For example, the Pell Grant is a need-based scholarship that provides financial aid to low-income undergraduate students. To be eligible, students must have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,711 or less. Single parents who are the sole providers for their families may have a lower EFC, making them eligible for this scholarship.

2. Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic achievements, talents, or other criteria. These scholarships do not take into account the student’s financial need, making them available to students from all income levels. Single parents who have excelled academically or have a special talent may be eligible for these scholarships.

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For example, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation offers scholarships to high-achieving students with financial need. Single parents who have maintained a high GPA and have demonstrated leadership skills may be eligible for this scholarship.

3. Single Parent Scholarships

There are also scholarships specifically designed for single parents. These scholarships aim to support single parents in their pursuit of higher education and may have specific eligibility requirements, such as being the sole provider for the family or having a certain GPA.

For instance, the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation offers scholarships to low-income single mothers pursuing higher education. The applicant must be a woman, at least 17 years of age, with minor children and a low-income household to be eligible for this scholarship.

4. Scholarships for Non-Traditional Students

Non-traditional students, which include single parents, are those who are returning to school after a break or are pursuing higher education later in life. Many scholarships are available specifically for non-traditional students, as they often face unique challenges and may not fit the traditional student mold.

For example, the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to low-income women, including single mothers, over the age of 35 who are pursuing a degree or vocational training. This scholarship recognizes the challenges that non-traditional students face and aims to support them in their educational pursuits.

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How to Find Scholarships for Single Parents

Now that we know the types of scholarships available for single parents, the next step is to find them. Here are some tips for finding scholarships specifically for single parents:

1. Research Online

The internet is a valuable resource for finding scholarships. Many websites, such as and Fastweb, allow you to search for scholarships based on various criteria, including being a single parent. You can also visit the websites of organizations that offer scholarships for single parents, such as the ones mentioned above, to see if you meet their eligibility requirements.

2. Check with Your School

Many colleges and universities have their own scholarship programs for students, including single parents. Check with your school’s financial aid office to see if they offer any scholarships specifically for single parents. You can also inquire about any scholarships that may be available through the department of your chosen field of study.

3. Reach Out to Local Organizations

Local organizations, such as churches, community centers, and non-profit organizations, may offer scholarships for single parents in their community. Reach out to these organizations and inquire about any available scholarships or financial aid programs.

4. Utilize Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool for finding scholarships. Join groups or follow pages that share information about scholarships for single parents. You can also connect with other single parents who have successfully received scholarships and ask for their advice and tips.

Tips for Applying for Scholarships as a Single Parent

Applying for scholarships can be a time-consuming and competitive process. As a single parent, you may have limited time and resources to dedicate to the application process. Here are some tips to help you navigate the scholarship application process:

1. Start Early

It’s essential to start your scholarship search and application process early. Many scholarships have specific deadlines, and you don’t want to miss out on any opportunities because you didn’t have enough time to complete the application. Starting early also allows you to carefully review the eligibility requirements and gather all the necessary documents.

2. Stay Organized

With multiple scholarship applications, it’s crucial to stay organized. Keep track of deadlines, required documents, and any other important information. This will help you stay on top of your applications and ensure that you don’t miss any important details.

3. Highlight Your Strengths

When applying for scholarships, make sure to highlight your strengths and accomplishments. As a single parent, you may have unique experiences and challenges that have shaped you into a resilient and determined individual. Use these experiences to your advantage and showcase how you have overcome obstacles to pursue your education.

4. Get Letters of Recommendation

Many scholarships require letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or employers. Reach out to individuals who can speak to your character, academic achievements, and potential. These letters can strengthen your application and make you stand out among other applicants.

Success Stories of Single Parents Receiving Scholarships

While the process of applying for scholarships can be daunting, many single parents have successfully received scholarships and achieved their educational goals. Here are some inspiring success stories:

1. Tanya McDowell

Tanya McDowell, a single mother from Connecticut, received a full scholarship to study at the University of Bridgeport. McDowell, who was homeless at the time, had been arrested for enrolling her son in a school outside of her district. The case gained national attention, and McDowell’s lawyer helped her secure a scholarship to pursue her education.

2. Kaitlyn Smith

Kaitlyn Smith, a single mother from Ohio, received a scholarship from the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) to pursue a degree in nursing. Smith, who had been working as a nurse’s aide, wanted to further her education to provide a better life for her and her daughter. The scholarship from PEO helped her achieve her dream of becoming a registered nurse.

3. Tiffanie DiDonato

Tiffanie DiDonato, a single mother from New York, received a scholarship from the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund to pursue a degree in social work. DiDonato, who had been working as a waitress, wanted to make a positive impact in her community and provide a better life for her and her daughter. The scholarship helped her achieve her goal and become a licensed social worker.


As we have seen, single parents can indeed get scholarships to help them pursue higher education. From need-based scholarships to scholarships specifically for single parents, there are various opportunities available. However, it’s essential to start early, stay organized, and highlight your strengths when applying for scholarships. With determination and perseverance, single parents can achieve their educational goals and provide a better future for themselves and their families.

So, if you are a single parent considering pursuing higher education, don’t let the financial burden hold you back. Research and apply for scholarships, and you may just be one step closer to achieving your dreams.

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