How to Find Grants (for Women Returning to College)

Four Methods:General GrantsSchool/State-Based GrantsGrants for WomenCorporate Grants

Adult students, single mothers and other non-traditional students can benefit from programs that award money for higher education. Scholarships and grants have the benefit of not requiring repayment, unlike loans; however, they usually require a high level of financial need. You can learn how to look for grants geared at women returning to college by contacting schools, foundations, corporations and federal financial aid programs.

Method 1
General Grants

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    Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application can be completed at, and it allows you to apply for federally funded scholarships, grants and loans.
    • The FAFSA application takes into account your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). It helps you develop a plan of what you realistically can afford, helping you to apply for grants and loans that can fill in the gaps.
    • Some school financial aid offices may require that you file your FAFSA before applying for individual school grants.
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    Apply for the Pell Grant. Grants worth up to $5,000 are given to students in financial need. Although this is a general grant, it is the first one most students apply for.

Method 2
School/State-Based Grants

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    Contact the schools at which you plan to enroll. Ask the financial aid office which grants are available for women, returning students and students in your curriculum.
    • You may need to submit an application to attend the school prior to applying for grants at the school.
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    Ask if there is a non-traditional student office. This office may have additional info about what companies and organizations give grants to help returning students in the area.
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    Ask the deadlines to apply for these grants. There are usually deadlines for submission several months in advance of the start of the semester.
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    Contact community colleges in the area. These schools are well-known for helping non-traditional students and may have more women and returning student grants than larger universities.
    • For example, schools like the East Lansing Community College have grants for women, special populations, single parents, non-traditional careers and displaced homemakers.
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    Look for state sponsored grants. Many states have special foundations or state agencies that support adult students. Call your state's Department of Education.
    • Try the following organizations, if you live in the state in which they are based: California's Capture the Dream, Arizona Private Post-Secondary Education Student Financial Assistance Grant, Kansas Board of Regents, Central Alabama Community Foundation, Michigan Tuition Grant, College for All Texans, New York Higher Education Services Foundation and the Delaware Governor's Education Grant for Unemployed Adults.

Method 3
Grants for Women

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    Apply for a fellowship through the American Association of University Women. These fellowships are similar to grants, in that the money need not be repaid, but may require part-time work or volunteering.
    • These fellowships are geared toward women in law, computer science, engineering and medicine.
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    Apply for grants with the International Federation of University Women. Go to approximately a year before you want to go back to school.
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    Research the Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund, financed by the World Bank Group. The grant of $12,000 is available to women from developing countries who are looking to study in the US.
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    Apply for the Jeanette Rankin grant, if you are 35 or older and seeking higher education. Go to
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    Try the Women's Opportunity Award through the Soroptimist International of the Americas. Learn more at
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    Apply for the P.E.O. International grants and scholarships. Women who are returning to school should try the "Program for Continuing Education," which awards a single grant of $3,000.12.
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    Seek out the Executive Women International scholarship programs. These are aimed at women who are trying to improve their socioeconomic status by returning to school. The "Adult Students in Scholastic Transition" (ASIST) program may be the best for returning students.
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    Apply for an AARP Foundation women's scholarship, if you are over 50 and returning to school. You must be low-income designated and enrolled in school. Go to and look in the Foundation section of the website.
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    Seek out an Emerge scholarship. These awards are available to women who have had their schooling interrupted and want to return. Go to

Method 4
Corporate Grants

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    Apply for the Denny's single parent grant. This is only available to Hispanic single parents.
    • Visit the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, at, to look at more scholarships and grants that are available to Hispanic returning students.
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    Apply for Google's Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, if you are considering returning to school to work in technology. Visit
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    Contact the Talbot's Charitable Foundation. This company supports a foundation that helps women return to school. Grant opportunities will vary.


  • Consider searching for scholarships and grants by the vocation you are pursuing. There are many grants available to women seeking degrees in engineering, science, technology, medicine, and other areas that are growing and employ more men than women. Use a search engine and terms like "technology grant women."

Things You'll Need

  • FAFSA application
  • Pell Grant application
  • School financial aid office
  • School non-traditional student office
  • State Department of Education
  • Corporation/Foundation scholarship fund applications

Article Info

Categories: Applying for Tertiary Education