Grants for Women to Help Pay for College

Student girl outdoor in park smiling happy going back to school. Asian female college or universityWomen are still considered a minority across the board, and this may help open some doors to females seeking higher education. The number of women attending college is actually on the rise with 10 million females enrolled in the fall of 2012, making up 56 percent of the total number of people enrolled in college nationally, overtaking men who made up the remaining 44 percent, as published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This rising number could be due to the number of encouraging opportunities for women that now exist. College costs are also rising as well, however, and it may be difficult to afford the costs of higher education without assistance. Fortunately, there are many options available to women to help offset these costs.

Student loans from either the federal government or private financial institutions are an option for students wishing to borrow money and pay it back after graduation. These loans can, however, easily bog you down in debt that may be difficult to repay, unfortunately. You should first explore any forms of free money open to you. This includes both scholarships and grants. Scholarships are usually offered on the basis of merit, or if you meet certain criteria, while grants may be more generally accessible. Both are forms of free money or gift aid that doesn’t have to be paid back.

Federal Grants

One of the first things you should do when looking for financial aid for college is fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine how much, if any, federal aid you may be eligible for. FAFSA uses your financial information to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and then balances that amount with your enrollment status, plans for duration of your enrollment, and actual cost of attendance at your chosen school to calculate how much aid you qualify for. The U.S. Department of Education funds and administers four types of grants to both females and males alike, which are:

Pell Grants are the most common federal grants, and they are awarded to undergraduate students seeking their first degree. The maximum award amount varies each year, and for the 2016-2017 school year, it is $5,815 for up to six years total. The actual amount you are awarded is based on your demonstration of financial need as calculated via your FAFSA application and school information.

If you plan to become a teacher in a high-need field in a low-income location, you may qualify for up to $4,000 a year via a TEACH Grant. This type of grant requires that you take certain eligible classes, maintain academic achievement requirements, and then get a teaching job as specified by your TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve. TEACH Grants are available for undergraduate, post baccalaureate, and graduate students, and require annual TEACH Grant counseling to remain eligible.

Participating schools’ financial aid offices can administer grants through the FSEOG program. The U.S. Department of Education allocates a set amount of funds to the school, and you may be eligible for anywhere between $100 and $4,000, depending on your financial needs. This type of aid is considered “campus-based” since it comes through your school, and once all FSEOG funds have been allocated, no more will be available for that year. So while the Pell Grant program provides financial aid to all eligible students, FSEOG funds have a cap. In order to obtain FSEOG money, it is in your best interest to apply early.

If you are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant due your EFC being too high, but you were under 24 or enrolled in college at least half-time when your parent or guardian died as a result of military service while in the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11, you may be eligible for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. The amount awarded may be equal to the Pell Grant maximum amount but cannot be more than the cost of attendance at your school. Award amounts are also subject to sequestration, and for the 2014-2015 academic year, the total will be reduced by 7.3 percent.

Non-Traditional Student and Disadvantaged Women Grants

A non-traditional student is typically considered students beyond the “normal” college age. Students wait to pursue a higher education rather than go to college straight out of high school for many reasons, including starting a career or family. The Jeanette Rankin Foundation Women’s Education Fund targets women entering college after age 35, offering $1,500 grants for those who show both ambition and financial need. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation specifically targets women who are U.S. citizens and who may be disadvantaged, helping over 750 women attain a college degree and improve their lives. The foundation is only renewing scholarships and not offering new ones at this time.

Victims of domestic violence have some options open to them to help start a new life with higher education as well. The Sunshine Lady Foundation offers financial aid through their Women’s Independence Scholarship Program in an attempt to empower battered and abused women and aid them in starting anew. This privately run program is intended for survivors of abuse who wish to pursue an education to become economically independent.

Single mothers may be eligible for certain grants and scholarships when seeking a better life through education. The Student Loan Repayment Grant helps single mothers who do community service, are in a service or teaching job, or document at least eight hours of volunteering their professional skills a month by repaying their student loan debt through grant funding. The Child of a Single Parent Woman Scholarship provides scholarships and grants for children of single parents while single mothers who have been denied other grants or financial assistance because of their incomes being too high may qualify for funds through the Scholarship for Continuing Education.

Minority Grants

Girl studying
Many schools are highly interested in pursuing and recruiting minority women and encouraging them to enroll in their programs in order to promote diversity. If you are a non-U.S. citizen or a minority woman, there are many opportunities for college grants open to you. Some of these programs may be offered through your individual school while others come from private or non-profit organizations. The United Negro College Fund and Hispanic College Fund are great resources for finding out more information on the types of grants you might qualify for.

College is expensive, and many women find it difficult to afford a higher education without help. You should seek out and apply for as many scholarships and grants as you may be eligible for. You may qualify for aid from more than one source. Be sure to check with your financial aid office and do your research, including browsing our site in order to determine what types and how much funding you may be able to obtain.


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