2020 College Grant Guide for Women
How female students can find more money for college
You might have heard of the gender pay gap, a stat that shows that women’s pay in the U.S. is still just 85% of men’s. But what about the gender student debt gap?
Among college graduates in the U.S., women are more likely to graduate with student debt and have higher student loan balances, on average, compared to their male peers. American women now owe a combined $929 billion in student debt, according to the American Association of University Women.
This disparity in student debt shows that women have a greater need for financial assistance to pay for college. That’s where gift aid such as scholarships and college grants for women can help.
Where to Find College Grants and Scholarships for Women
Grants and scholarships are gift aid that provide free funding for college that you don’t have to repay. Generally grants refer to need-based aid while scholarships are more often used for merit-based aid.
Scholarships and college grants for women provide key assistance for female students looking for ways to pay for college without taking on too much student debt.
College-bound women who put in some legwork can find and apply for female-focused student aid. Here are some major sources of scholarships and grants offered specifically to women.
Colleges and Universities
Many colleges offer their own scholarships or grants for women or partner with female-focused organizations such as Distinguished Young Women to do so. On-campus departments or organizations, including student or women’s clubs, or sports teams, can also be sources of aid for female students.
Here are a few examples of the types of scholarships and college grants for women that some schools offer.
- Boston University Women’s Guild Scholarships are extended to women age 30 and over with an average award of $5,500.
- Southern Illinois University Women’s Club awards $2,000 scholarships to one traditional female student and one nontraditional female student each year.
- The Women’s Center of the University of New Orleans (UNO) awards a variety of scholarships to female students, including up to $3,000 to a female computer science student each semester.
- The Women’s Club at the University of Louisville Scholarship offers three $11,000 and three $500 awards each school year, with preference given to single mothers.
Check with your own college for on-campus scholarship programs for women. Reach out to your college’s financial aid office, the department that oversees your chosen area of study, and other on-campus organizations to see if they offer this type of aid.
Organizations that help women access more academic and career opportunities are another smart place to look for student aid. Providing educational funding for women is a natural extension of the missions of these nonprofits and advocacy groups.
These groups’ student aid for women comes in different sizes and with a wide range of criteria to qualify, so spend some time finding scholarship programs that are a good fit for you.
Here we’ve highlighted a few such scholarships and college grants offered by women-centered organizations.
- American Association of University Women (AAUW) offers a range of scholarships for women. Local scholarships for women are also offered by state or city branches of the AAUW, with awards up to $10,000. Career Development Grants assist women returning to college to make a career change.
- The Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarship aids women age 35 or older to complete vocational, associate, or first bachelor’s degree.
- The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program provides college funding (the average award is $2,000 per term) to women who are survivors of intimate partner abuse and have a demonstrated need for financial assistance.
- The Yale University Women’s Organization Scholarship awards between $1,000 and $3,000 to women in the Yale community (but not necessarily students at Yale) who are returning to college.
Women’s Professional Associations
Next, check professional associations for women that provide networking and support to women as they progress their careers in a given field. This support often includes offering student aid for women earning degrees in related areas of study.
Here are examples of professional associations that provide scholarships and college grants for women.
- The Alliance for Women in Media sponsors scholarships of up to $5,000 for women pursuing careers in news, journalism, or media.
- The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting provides several scholarships to women earning a degree in accounting, with awards of up to $16,000 over the course of four years.
- The Society of Women Engineers administers dozens of scholarships to women pursuing degrees for a career in engineering and computer science, with awards between $1,000 and $17,000.
- The Women in Film Foundation Scholarship Program offers education funding to women enrolled in film schools, with awards of up to $2,000.
- The Women Techmakers Scholars Program offers $10,000 scholarships to students in computer science or computer engineering majors who are making efforts to increase women’s involvement in this field.
Conduct a Thorough Search for Scholarships and Grants
We highlighted 13 scholarships and college grants for women here, but there are hundreds more out there.
As you’re seeking out scholarships and grants for women, don’t overlook general student aid that’s not tied to gender. There are thousands more scholarships and grants extended to both men and women that you can seek out and apply to, from federal Pell Grants to work-study programs.
In addition to searching out female-focused aid, consider seeking aid offered to other minority groups. Many scholarships aim to help students with a particular socioeconomic status, racial or ethnic identity, sexual orientation or gender identity, religion, or who meet other specific criteria.
Conduct a broad search to find and apply for scholarships that could be offered for your specific background, circumstances, goals and needs. Help is out there, and with some time and effort you can apply to get extra money for college.