Single parents often place their children at the highest priority, which means spending the majority of their time running errands, playing with their children, and working long hours to provide for their families. As a result of shouldering this responsibility with little income at their disposal, attending college often appears to be an impossible feat for single parents. While statistics show that nearly 38 percent of single parents currently live at or below the poverty level, it is becoming more important than ever before to earn a bachelor’s degree to avoid this dire financial situation. Luckily, the following are numerous types of tuition assistance that single parents can utilize to afford a postsecondary education and secure a financial future for themselves and their children.
Federal/State Government Financial Aid
As the main weapon designed to help expand access to college education, the Pell Grant is a need-based grant that is open to all students who meet certain income requirements established by the federal government. Since the amount of financial aid provided is calculated based on need and having dependents is highly weighted in the equation, single parents often qualify for larger grants than traditional college students without children. As with any other type of federal aid, you can apply for the Pell Grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition, it is essential to search for state-level grants as well, which often offer free tuition assistance to low-income and single parent students. In particular, single parents living in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin can receive special help to afford attending a public state school.
Scholarships and Grants
Single parents are usually guaranteed some financial assistance from the government, but private scholarships or grants can provide even more help covering the costs of schooling. Many private foundations offer need or merit-based scholarships to target all sorts of diverse student populations, including those specifically for single parents. For instance, the Single Parents Alliance of America offers a variety of Raise the Nation scholarships to empower single parents to increase their household income. While it can take some time digging for scholarships through fairly in-depth specific eligibility requirements, it is well worth it to receive thousands of dollars towards a degree.
However, it is important to remember that being a single parent should not be the only criterion used to locate tuition assistance opportunities. Expand the search to involve scholarships that are related to your field of study, career interests, hobbies, ethnicity, religion, and more. If there is something unique about you, there may be a scholarship opportunity that perfectly fits your situation. Best Value Schools provides a State Listing of Scholarships Available to Full and Part Time College Students for individuals looking for scholarships by location. For single parents who are currently employed full-time or part-time, also remember to check for special tuition reimbursement programs that organizations offer employees for professional development.
Although finding the time, energy, and monetary resources necessary to attend higher education often feels slightly out of reach for single parents, no single parents should ever be held back from achieving their college dreams. Thankfully, utilizing these types of tuition assistance can help to significantly reduce the financial burden for single parents of either gender. As a result of having a college degree in hand, you will benefit from increased job opportunities, greater job security, and higher earning potential to provide a better life for your children.