Education Grants for Single Mothers and Fathers
Going back to school is within reach
Do you ever wonder whether ads promoting "free grants for single mothers” are authentic? Unfortunately, many of the promotions for single mother grants or single parent grants are not genuine, cost-free grant programs. Some of them lead to lists of financial aid programs that you can purchase, and others are simply scams aimed at taking money from those who most need the assistance.
However, there are some authentic programs offering grants for single mothers and fathers, including those listed below. There are also merit-based educational grants for single parents and programs to help repay borrowed funds.
The programs covered here are only for grants, which are typically awarded based on financial need. You should also apply for any scholarships for which you might qualify, as those are usually awarded based on academic performance independent of financial need.
The Federal Pell Grant Program
The Federal Pell Grant program is not limited only to single mothers, but it is often touted as a “single mother grant,” because government Pell Grants have helped many single mothers—and fathers—to go back to school and increase their income potential. Federal Pell Grants are offered primarily to undergraduate students and are based on the applicant’s financial need. The first step in applying for a Federal Pell Grant is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which you can do online through the FAFSA website. The maximum Pell Grant amount for the 2020–21 school year is $6,345.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants
FSEOG programs are run by individual states and operate much like the Federal Pell Grant. They are generally awarded to students who demonstrate the most need, based on their FAFSA application. If your financial needs are high enough to qualify, you can receive between $100 and $4,000 per academic year.
State Grants for Single Parents
Many states also offer their own education grants, which single mothers and fathers can take advantage of. These grants are designed to encourage students to seek higher education. Like the Federal Pell Grant program, state grants are not limited to single mothers or single parents. However, some state programs, such as California’s Cal Grant, take each applicant’s family status into consideration, with the greatest aid going to disadvantaged and low-income families. To determine whether your state offers a similar grant program for students, visit your state’s financial aid website.
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
A merit-based educational grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant is aimed at first- and second-year college students who graduated from high school during or after 2006 or 2005, respectively. ACG money is awarded based on academic merit to some students already receiving a Pell Grant. The grant can be for as much as $750 for first-year students and $1,300 for second-year students. Students who wish to be considered for an Academic Competitiveness Grant should complete a FAFSA application.
The National SMART Grant
The National SMART Grant (Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent) is a merit-based award to third- and fourth-year Pell Grant students who are enrolled in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering programs, as well as some foreign-language and non-major liberal arts programs. Applicants must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 to be considered for up to $4,000 per year. Fifth-year students participating in five-year degree programs are also eligible.
Loan Repayment Grants for Single Mothers
Although there aren't specific loan repayment programs for single mothers and fathers, there are a number of options for loan repayment assistance based on career field or public service. The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, for instance, offers repayment assistance for those employed in government or nonprofit sectors who have made 120 payments on their federal loans while working for a qualifying employer. There are also income-driven repayment plans through which you can adjust your monthly payment based on your income, and eventually have your loan balance forgiven.