Yesterday’s Christmas wasn’t just for kids, and neither is financial aid. As we head into “financial aid season,” it’s the perfect time to get inspired and encouraged by all the free money available. Whether you’re a career college student, a career changer, a mom, or just an adult looking for some help funding your higher education, sneak a peek at some of the scholarships that await you.
I often marvel at the amount of work a single mom friend of mine has to put in in order to pursue higher education. Without a spouse to help shoulder the load, she’s left to manage her career, her master’s degree program, and her daughter – all by herself. She does it, but it’s exhausting, not to mention expensive.
If you go by the numbers, getting your degree before you have kids is the least expensive option, and it’s still pretty doable when you’re married with kids. Entering college as a single parent, however, adds a whole new dimension of debt.
Having an entrepreneurial spirit may help you earn scholarship money to earn advanced degrees.
Schools such as the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, known as NYU-Poly, encourage students to pursue their inventions and innovations with scholarship programs.
According to the AARP, women are less likely to have enough money in the second half of their lives because of lower earnings and different work patterns (Translation: staying home with the kids). Another report states that 8.1 percent of women are currently unemployed. But there’s good news – a variety of organizations are making it a priority to support older women in their career and education pursuits. Here are a few:
Send One Suit Weekend
Dressbarn, a leading national retailer of women’s clothing, is teaming up with the nonprofit organization Dress for Success and its partners for its 9th annual Send One Suit Weekend. The goal? To give underprivileged women across the country the ability to walk into a job interview with confidence through the transformative power of professional attire. Through the campaign, low-income women looking to re-enter the workforce benefit from donations of gently used suits, pants, shirts, skirts, shoes, and other professional items.
Learn more: http://www.dressforsuccess.org/supportdfs_SOSweekend.aspx
Dates: February 24-27, 2011
Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
The Jeannette Rankin Foundation awards scholarships to low-income women 35 and older in order to help them secure careers and break the cycle of poverty. Applicants must be enrolled in or accepted to an accredited school where they will pursue a technical or vocational education, an associate degree, or a first bachelor’s degree. Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of their goals, their plan for reaching those goals, challenges they may have faced, and their financial situation.
Download an application: http://www.rankinfoundation.org/
Scholarship deadline: March 1, 2011
AARP Women’s Scholarship Program
AARP Foundation’s Women’s Scholarship Program provides scholarship funds to women 40 and older who have limited financial resources and who are seeking new job skills, training, and educational opportunities. Awards range from $500 to $5,000, depending on financial need and the cost of the education or training program. Scholarship winners also receive mentoring services during their first year of school. All recipients must be enrolled in an accredited school or technical program within six months of receiving the award. Previous recipients may reapply fora second year of assistance.
Apply online: http://www.aarp.org/womensscholarship
Scholarship deadline: March 31, 2011
AAUW Career Development Grants
The American Association of University Women’s Career Development Grants support women who hold a bachelor’s degree and are preparing to advance their careers, change careers, or re-enter the work force. These one-time awards range from $2,000 to $12,000. Special consideration is given to women of color and to women pursuing their first advanced degree or credentials in nontraditional fields. Grants provide support for course work in a master’s degree or second bachelor’s degree program – no PhDs – or for specialized training in technical or professional fields. Funds are available for distance learning as well.
Apply online: http://www.aauw.org/learn/fellowships_grants/career_development.cfm
Annual scholarship deadline: Mid-December
Talbots Women’s Scholarships
The Talbots Charitable Foundation offers its scholarship program to women pursuing a college degree later in life, awarding 10 $15,000 scholarships and one $30,000 Nancy Talbot Scholarship Award. To be considered for an award, you must have earned a high school diploma or GED at least 10 years prior to application. You must also be enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate course of study for the full upcoming academic year. Scholarship winners also receive gift cards from Talbots, Borders, and Office Depot, as well as a backpack filled with Office Depot supplies, and the Reinvention Resumé Plus eKit, a step-by-step tool to develop resumés and cover letters.
Get more info: www.talbots.com/scholarship
Annual scholarship deadline: Mid-January
It’s never too late to get back in the career saddle, ladies!