Are you a single mother eyeing a college degree? You may think it’s next to impossible to get a college education as a single mom. Fortunately, you’re wrong. There are various ways to pay for college apart from saving for a long time.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to college for the first time or returning. Your journey should start at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). According to the Department of Education, a single mom meets the definition of an independent student, which means results from your FAFSA will not be based on your parents’ tax returns. Rather, it’s based on your income. With the independent undergraduate status, chances are you can qualify for aid from the school, state, or federal government.
In fact, since you’re a single mom, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research says you have a 50% likelihood of scoring $0 in the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) compared to other independent students without kids.
As the name suggests, EFC is what you can contribute toward your college fees from your own pocket. This is what FAFSA will use this to determine whether you qualify for Direct Subsidized Loans, state grants, and federal Pell Grants. You’ll have a better shot at landing these aids if you have a lower EFC.
As a single mom, chances are you’re already dealing with various debts. Picking up more debts will only work against you. Therefore, student loans will be your last resort. In the meantime, consider applying for as many scholarships and grants as possible.
Take a look at some of the ways single moms can pay for college.
1. Single Mom Scholarships
Unlike grants for single mothers, scholarships for the same category are readily available in numerous places, either offline or online. Take a look at some of the places you may want to try your luck as a single mother:
- Professional associations
- Federal agencies
- Your school
- Charitable foundations
- The state government
If you know which college you’ll attend or are already attending college, seek more information about scholarships from the financial aid office. Present your case to them as a single mother and afterward, the financial officer should provide more direction on your next course of action, which may include a single mom scholarship.
While seeking help from your school is a great idea to get a head start, it’s also important to launch your own search for a scholarship. Scholarships.com is one of the tools you can use to hunt for funding. The tool allows you to narrow down the list to single moms.
Don’t forget to search for private organizations through the state education agency or even your school. The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund is one such organization focused on single moms. Many states have them.
2. Single Mom Grants from the Government
Similar to scholarships, you’ll not repay the money issued as a grant by the government. In addition, the criteria used depend on financial need and not merit, as is the case when offering scholarships.
As a single mother, it may be easy to qualify for any type of nation 21 cash loan lender, especially with a low income while trying to provide for your children. While searching for a grant, it’s easy to skip past these opportunities since your focus will be on single mother grants. Having said that, there are numerous single mother grants available, even though some may not cover college expenses. For instance, the Oregon Student Child Care Grant offers single mom students with money for childcare.
Your first stop is the state when searching for these grants, but this doesn’t mean you should end your search there. There are several federal grants available to single mothers in dire financial need. Here are some:
- Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants – You can get anything from $100 to $4,000 each year from your school.
- Pell Grants – 2017-2018 year saw $5,920 as the highest amount awarded.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants – As you may have already guessed, this fund is only available to the children of fallen soldiers.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants – If you intend on becoming a teacher, you may benefit from $4,000 offered by this organization.
3. Student Loans
Taking out a student loan should be your last option when seeking to fund your college education as a single mother. However, this is not to say the loan won’t come in handy because you may just need it.
You must keep in mind; federal loans are restricted to college-related expenses. This excludes expenses such as baby care. When going for a student loan, consider taking out a federal loan instead of a private loan. This is because such loans come with low-interest rates and other lenient repayment terms. Also, if you don’t have a satisfactory credit score, a federal loan will be your best option.
However, there are instances where a private loan may take priority. For example, if you have a cosigner with stellar credit, chances are the lender may offer you lower rates compared to the government’s rates. While this sounds like a good deal, it’s important to know there are no lenders offering benefits or discounts on these loans.
Therefore, when searching for student loans in personal loan companies, tread with caution when you come across “single parent loans.” Often, personal loans carry high-interest rates and short repayment periods, making it more difficult to repay than if you took out a student loan.
As you search for single mom student loans, chances are you’ll come across parent loan options from private lenders and the Parent PLUS loan from the federal government. Note that these loans aren’t for single parents looking for college education funding. Instead, they are for parents with children in college.
In addition, private lenders may not meet your needs as a single mother, but they can offer you a product that may cater to your needs differently. For instance, Sallie Mae issues loans to help single moms in schools that don’t offer degrees. However, you may want to compare the conventional private student loan to this loan before applying.
Funding a college education can be a daunting task, especially if you’re a single mother. However, with the options listed in this article such as grants for single mothers, you should be in a better position to achieve your academic dreams.
Student loans may chip in where there’s a financial gap but it’s better to first seek a scholarship or a grant. Are you the first person in your family to pursue a degree? Well, the odds may be in your favor if you apply for the first-generation student scholarship.
The bottom line is there are several ways to fund your college education as a single mom. All you have to do is separate yourself from the others seeking such loans. Make sure you indicate you’re a single mom and an aspiring college student.