Applying for a grant as a single mom who wants to go back to school seems like a pretty straightforward process. But in reality, there are several different types of grants and enough different requirements to give you a major headache. There are a few things you can do to help eliminate and narrow down your options for grant programs. Choosing a grant program is probably one of the most labor intensive aspects of getting enrolled in college.
Before you begin applying for grants, figure out what sort of educational program you wish to enroll in. Check with your school to find out what their admissions process requires, and make note of all expenses that you will incur by going back to school. Expenses include not only tuition and books, but other supplies: child care, meals, housing etc. Essentially, what you need to do is figure out how much money you need to have coming in while you go to school. Many times, grants, scholarships and financial aid work together to make it so that a single mom can devote herself fully to her children and her classes without having to maintain a job.
Once you’ve decided what program you’re wanting and how much it will cost you to go to school, you can begin eliminating grants from the many lists you will find. Grants that are for specific academic programs that don’t pertain to you, grants for relocation to attend school, grants for abused women, and a huge list of other types of grant programs can be ruled out if they don’t apply to you and your education plans.
Your next trip through the list will be to check the various requirements of the remaining grants that do apply to your situation. Some may require that you do a work study; others may demand a certain number of hours of regular employment while you attend school. Others may be only for parents of pre-school aged children. Each grant has different requirements and is geared toward a certain type of student. Your main job is to find the ones you meet the requirements for before you go filling out applications willy-nilly. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration by finding out the terms and requirements before you apply.
Once you’ve narrowed the list down to the grants that you believe you have a chance at, you can begin following the application instructions. To completely cover your educational expenses, you may need to get more than one grant, and you’ll also need to find out how the grant pays as well. Some pay a monthly stipend for housing and meals, others only pay once a year in a lump sum that you have to budget and manage to cover your expenses. Make sure you understand exactly what you can expect from each grant you apply for, and also that you have completed the application as thoroughly as possible. Keep in mind that grant foundations receive thousands of applications, and you may have quite a waiting period to hear back from a grant. Apply early and be prepared to put off school for a semester if need be.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Apply for every grant program you qualify for, check with the school to find out if there is a financial aid program, and look into student loans. If you work, your employer may offer some sort of tuition assistance for classes that will benefit you on the job. There are several sources of financial help for a single mom to go back to school. Yes, it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to fill out many applications and repeat the same information over and over, but if it was easy, everyone would be in school earning a degree.
This initial organization period, up to and including the admissions process, is a way for you to see just how dedicated you are to going back to school and earning a degree. It’s a long hard road, but it’s also one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your children. So take the time, research the grant programs and fill out the applications. When you get frustrated, consider how nice it will be if everything comes through and you can dedicate yourself to your education and your children without worrying about finances.