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Grants to Help Moms Go Back to School

Grants For MomsToday’s guest article is provided by Tracy Fletcher.

The facts are irrefutable. On average, people with more education make more money, and no one needs money more than a mom working to provide for her family. While most mothers are aware of this fact, many do not have the extra cash available to invest in a college degree and may spend years working at jobs that pay minimum wages. However, moms who wish to return to school can actually do so even if their budget is quite limited. The trick is to find grants, or free money, to help with the cost of completing a degree program. Moms with a dream of going back to school in order to provide sufficient financial support for their families might find the following opportunities helpful:

Assistance from the Government

Because the US Government recognizes that education will increase potential earnings and give many women the opportunity to get off of welfare and food stamp rolls, it funds a variety of grants to assist women who wish to go back to school. This money can be obtained through filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Some of the most popular grants include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and some moms will qualify for more than one type of assistance.

Privately Funded Grant Opportunities

Some private foundations have made it their mission to provide grants that would make it easy for women to further their education. The Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund, for instance, has been providing money to women who show academic potential for over 25 years. The American Association of University Women also has several grants set aside for female applicants, and the Barbara Lee Foundation designates grants through their Women in Politics Program. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation also provides money to moms in low income brackets who want to go back to school for more training, and the Whitehead Scholarship Program for Women offers grants to moms interested in a health field.

Corporate Sponsors of Grants for Women

Businesses, both large and small, recognize the value of training women for the workforce. Moms interested in returning to school for more training should check out the grants offered by these corporations:

• ExxonMobil Grants for Women and Girls

• Avon Foundation Grants

• Huggies Mom Inspired Grant Program

• Talbots Women’s Scholarship Fund

• Verizon Foundation

• Union Bank

• Target

• Wells-Fargo

The key to getting the funds to pay for all aspects of a college degree, often including childcare and transportation, is to apply for as many of these grants as time allows. Some may only be for a small amount of money, but these can add up to a significant sum when lumped together. Moms should also check their specific states because some of these also offer some wonderful grant opportunities, and federal money is sometimes funneled through the states.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Tracy Fletcher. She writes for and believes moms should take the time to apply for grants to help them fulfill their ambitions to go back to school.

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Are You Eligible For The Federal Pell Grant?

The Federal Pell Grant serves as a great resource for students to obtain funding to help offset college costs. The maximum amount of Pell Grant currently available to a student on a yearly basis is $5,645 (which is an increase of $95 from last year – woot!?). In many cases, the Federal Pell Grant in conjunction with the Federal Direct Student Loan Program can easily cover all the tuition costs incurred by a student depending on the college or university they choose to attend.

Even though the Pell Grant is a very common term in the higher education community – that was not always the case. The following is a quick timeline of the how the Federal Pell Grant program came to be known:

  • 1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson implements the Higher Education Act which includes federal grant and loan support for college bound students
  • 1972 – Senator Claiborne Pell (Rhode Island) initiates a reformation of how federal aid is distributed
  • 1978 – President Jimmy Carter signs the Middle Income Student Assistance Act and provides additional support for more educational grant monies to be made available
  • 1978 – In honor of Senator Pell’s work on this education funding initiative the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant is now referred to as the Pell Grant.
  • 1978-1979 – The average Pell Grant was $814 and it was awarded to 1,893,000 students
  • 2010-2011 – The average Pell Grant was $4,115 and it was awarded to 8,873,000 students

Now that you know the history of the Pell Grant, what is in it for you utilizing today’s figures? The calculation that decides how much Pell monies you are eligible to receive comes from doing your FAFSA each and every year. The Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) number that is generated dictates the amount of Pell Grant funding you will receive. So, once you know your EFC number, you can utilize the following chart to determine how much Pell Grant you will qualify to receive. The most you can get is $5,645 and the least you can get is.. well… ummm.. zero..  And yes, it is probably important to mention that if you are reading this article from the confines of a jail cell, you are not eligible for the Pell Grant. However, you may have other options at your disposal.

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The Six Most Common Forms of Federal Financial Aid

The following is a guest post provided by Jenn Pedde from the University of Southern California

Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans — though they help you pay your way through school, the jumble of federal financial aid programs can be a bit too dense to understand. But considering that funding your post-secondary education may be one of the most important and expensive undertakings you commit to, understanding is necessary. We try and break it down on our MSW Financial Aid section of our website for our students, and we encourage you to share with your students as well.  If you are student, look for these resources on your school’s webpage!

Luckily, figuring this out doesn’t have to be a maze of numbers and esoteric terms. Here is a simple breakdown of the six most common kinds of financial aid provided by the U.S. government, what they mean to you and how they can work for you.

1. Federal Pell Grants

Named after U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, Pell Grants are need-based aid to low and middle-income students pursuing their first bachelor’s degree. Being grants, they do not need to be repaid. Maxing out at $5,550 (though recent legislation may reduce that to amount to $4,705), the amount awarded fluctuates according to cost of attendance and family finances. The largest source of federal grants to undergraduates, Pell Grants currently help about 5.4 million students attend school each year.

2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are similar to Pell Grants in that they are also need-based aid to low-income students seeking their first bachelor’s degree, but they differ in that a FSEOG is not awarded directly to students by the federal government, but by their attending academic institution. The federal government gives FSEOG funding to colleges and universities, who in turn divvy it out to students. Capped at $4,000 a year, the amount received by a student is determined by his or her college.

3. Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership / Special LEAP Grants

Both the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Grant and the Special LEAP (SLEAP) Grant are similar to other federal grants, except they provide federal funding to state governments, who then award the grants to students at their discretion. (If you recently took your SATs: LEAP/SLEAP are to state governments as the FSEOG is to academic institutions.) Capped at $5,000 per school year, both LEAP and SLEAP can take the form of either grants or work-study opportunities in community service.

4. Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans

Direct Stafford Loans are funds lent to students directly from the federal government and named after U.S. Senator Robert Stafford (hence the loan’s name). Though the loan is from the federal government, the amount is decided by the school. Because the loans are borrowed directly from the U.S. Treasury, Direct Stafford Loans typically have interest rates that are much lower than loans received from private banks. An additional bonus is that Direct Stafford Loans can be consolidated for more convenient payment and possibly even lower interest rates. Subsidized Direct Loans do not accrue interest while the student is enrolled, but are only available to those who demonstrate financial need. Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans, on the other hand, are not need-based but do begin collecting interest immediately. For a detailed breakdown on Stafford Loan interest rates and loan limits, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

5. Perkins Loans

Named after Representative Carl D. Perkins, the Perkins Loan is lent by the academic institution, though with funds from the federal government. Capped per year at $5,500 for undergraduate students and $8,000 for graduate students, the amount awarded is also determined by the attending school. Reserved for those in extreme financial need, the Perkins Loan is fixed at a low interest rate of only 5%. Cancellations of the loan are also possible through teaching at a highneeds school or volunteering in the Peace Corps.

6. Work-Study

WorkStudy differs from other forms of financial aid as it is neither a grant nor a loan but a need-based employment opportunity with wages paid by the federal government. Funds for Work-Study are given by the federal government to schools, who administer the program, dictating both the hours and wages (though they must abide by federal minimum wage standards). Students involved in Work-Study typically work on-campus, though employment with non-profit organizations and (rarely) for-profit businesses are also possible.

Applying to each of the programs listed above is as simple as filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — but don’t stop there: Other aid, such as subject-specific grants (like the Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant), state government aid and private scholarships are also available. Speak to your school’s financial aid office to determine all of the opportunities available to you.

Jenn Pedde is the community manager for the Masters in Social Work program at the University of Southern California.  She’s an avid traveler and enjoys photography. We are pleased to have her as a Contributor on

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Get $100,000 Grant for Dropping Out Of College

I am not a big proponent of students dropping out of college but what if someone offered you $100,000 to walk away from college? Would you do it? Sound too good to be true? What’s the catch?  I wondered all these questions and then some when I heard about this recent grant program.

Peter Thiel, Founder of Paypal, is looking for 20 of the best and brightest student entrepreneurs under the age of 20. His hope is to award a $100,000 grant to each of these students in support of their scientific and technological ideas. The only catch.. you have to drop out of school.

“Our world needs more breakthrough technologies,” said Thiel. “From Facebook to SpaceX to Halcyon Molecular, some of the world’s most transformational technologies were created by people who stopped out of school because they had ideas that couldn’t wait until graduation. This fellowship will encourage the most brilliant and promising young people not to wait on their ideas, either. The Thiel Fellows will change the world and call it a senior thesis.”

So, if you are having a hard time making it through your college experience from a financial perspective but really think that you could turn the world upside down with your ideas – this may be the program for you!

The application period for this program is October 29th to December 15th and it is open to people under the age of 20 as long as they are “budding entrepreneurs”.  You also need to be willing to move to California to receive the full impact of the mentoring that will be provided throughout the fellowship. If you would like to submit an application for this revolutionary grant program, you can do so by visiting this link!

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Oregon Opportunity Grant Exceeds Budget By $19 Million

The Oregon Opportunity Grant is a need-based grant that was established in 1971 to help Oregon students obtain their educational goals of going to college. It has been a successful program and has done very well in administering funds from the state budget… until now.

For the current academic year, the Student Assistance Commission (SAC) was provided a budget of $67 million dollars to grant to Oregon students attending participating Oregon colleges and universities. The problem came about earlier this year when the Commission announced that they had exceeded their budget by a minimum of $10 million dollars and once all is said and done that overage may reach $19 million dollars.

So whats the solution… The state appropriated an additional $9.7 million dollars to help offset the added expense but it appears that the SAC will be denying more of the grant applications this coming academic year to help bring the budget back in line.

My suggestion to Oregon students is to complete your FAFSA early this year to ensure receipt of the Oregon Opportunity Grant. The SAC states that they will not process awards for any students that submit their FAFSA after August 15th. They did say that they would consider applicants after the deadline but only if additional funding is made available (which is probably not likely).

The following is video coverage from a local news station:

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Education Grants Still Available for Military Spouses

76538846Beginning in March of 2009 a benefit for military spouses to receive $6000 in educational funding was put into place. Due to what was apparently an “oversight” this program was immediately halted, without notification to participants, in February when the expenses exceeded the $174 million dollar budget that was originally earmarked for the program.

Fortunately, the program – called Military Spouse Career Advancement Account or MyCAA – was put back into place and anyone that already had an application in process requesting funds is now eligible to receive their award. Unfortunately, no new applications are being taken at this time until the Department of Defense decides on a long-term plan for the program.

So, if you were a military spouse that applied for these funds and received a denial letter, you will want follow-up because chances are that you will now be eligible. If you are a military spouse and do not take advantage of this benefit, you should keep your ears to the ground and once the application process reopens, you should jump at the opportunity as quick as you can because it appears continued funding is going to be an ongoing issue.

You can visit the following site to get more information as it is made available:

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Election Grant Program Helps College Students

american-flagThe Election Assistance Commissions is providing $750,000 in grant funds to recruit, train, and support college students that will assist state and local governments in the administration of elections. These college students can serve as non-partisan poll workers and assistants.

The program is part of the Help America Vote Act (College Program) which promotes the following:

  • Encourage students enrolled at institutions of higher education (including community colleges) to assist State and local governments in the administration of elections by serving as poll workers or assistants;
  • Encourage college students to become cognizant of the elections process and civic education, and to assist in the smooth administration of elections in their community; and
  • Encourage state and local governments to use the services of the students participating in the program.

The hope is that the funding for this program be utilized by colleges and universities across the nation to provide an experiential learning opportunity for students and get them more involved and aware of the political process… and yes.. part of the grant monies can be used to provide stipends for the participating students (which goes a long way in helping to pay for college expenses).

Colleges and Universities interested in bringing this program to campus (and the funding that follows) can download the application information here. The deadline for application is Wednesday March 31st.

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Education Grants Available for Haiti Students

HaitiFlagAs everyone should be aware by now, a magnitude 7 earthquake devastated Haiti in early January. The death toll is estimated to be at 150,000 and leaving many more injured and missing. It is a very horrible event and tragedy for those in Haiti but it is also having a ripple effect on student citizens of Haiti that are attending U.S. colleges and universities. In many cases, these students have lost contact with family members and have been cut off from financial support that they may have been receiving.

The Institute of International Education has responded to this tragedy by creating an emergency grant program to help Haitian students continue their educational careers at U.S. campuses. They will provide grants of up to $2000 for undergraduate and graduate students having serious financial difficulty in meeting their educational costs.

The catch to this program is that students can not apply for these funds directly. They have to be nominated by an official of the school to be considered for the grant program.

The deadline for nominations are February 12th (not much time…) Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • Be a Haitian citizen
  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an accredited U.S. higher education institution (enrolled as of January 1, 2010)
  • Be in good academic standing, as defined by the host campus
  • Have the appropriate non-immigration visa status (legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens are ineligible to apply)
  • Demonstrate that the financial ability to continue their studies has been seriously disrupted by the January 2010 earthquake

A nomination form and instruction can be downloaded here.

If you know of anyone that qualifies and is in need, please be sure to share this information with them and have them contact the appropriate official at their University or College for nomination. (will probably be someone from the Financial Aid Office or International Education Department)

If you would like to donate to this charitable cause you can visit this link and just make sure your donation is designated as “Haiti-EAS”

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