Many people imagine college students as recent high school graduates, but the truth is that there are plenty of students who attend college as an adult. Women returning to college may be seeking a first-time bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree; either way, it’s likely that they need to find ways to pay for tuition, supplies and even child care. Many organizations offer scholarship opportunities specifically for women returning to college. Here are some to look into.

Top 6 scholarships for women returning to college

Women returning to college have plenty of options when it comes to scholarship opportunities. The scholarships below are a great place to start, although broadening your search can help you find scholarships geared toward your specific interests and needs.

1. Live Your Dream Award

Soroptimist offers a scholarship for women who are the primary financial providers for their family and are enrolled in or accepted to a vocational training or undergraduate degree program. Recipients of the award may use it for any educational costs they wish — including the cost of child care and transportation. Applicants must prove financial need and have no existing graduate degree.

Amount: $1,000 to $16,000
Deadline: Nov. 15, 2021
Apply here:

2. AAUW Career Development Grant

The American Association of University Women offers a grant for women who currently hold a bachelor’s degree and wish to change career paths or reenter the workforce in social sciences, health and medical sciences or education.

The funds can be used to support a second bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or a qualifying certification or technical program. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to “education and equity for women and girls” and career goals that align with this new field of study.

Amount: $2,000 to $12,000
Deadline: Nov. 15, 2021
Apply here:

3. The Kris Paper Legacy Scholarship

The Kris Paper Legacy Scholarship for Women in Technology is offered to graduating female high school seniors and women returning to a two-year or four-year college or technical institute. Applicants must be from the greater Kansas City area, have at least a 3.2 GPA and pursue a technology-related degree to be eligible for the award. When applying, applicants should be prepared to answer why they selected their chosen field of study and why they’re a good fit for the scholarship.

Amount: Minimum of $1,500 annually
Deadline: April 15, 2022
Apply here:

4. ANSWER Scholarship Endowment

ANSWER is an organization that provides scholarships to mothers in nine North Carolina counties and two South Carolina counties. The ANSWER Scholarship Endowment is geared toward mothers age 25 and older who are raising school-age children and seeking a first-time college degree.

Award recipients are required to participate in the Mentors for Mom program, which hosts monthly workshops tackling professional and career development. Recipients must also maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. ANSWER gives preference to applicants who have financial need, demonstrate the potential for academic success, are single parents and have “good moral character.”

Amount: Not specified
Deadline: March 4, 2022 (applications open in December 2021)
Apply here:

5. Irene Adler Prize

Lucas Aykroyd’s Irene Adler Prize honors women pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing or literature at an accredited institution. In order to qualify, applicants must submit an essay, and the winning essay will be published on the Lucas Aykroyd website.

Amount: $1,000
Deadline: Applications open in January 2022
Apply here:

6. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund

The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship is offered to low-income women who are at least 35 years old and pursuing a trade skills certification, associate degree or first-time bachelor’s degree. Applicants must submit two recommendation letters and a statement about their goals, their plan for reaching those goals and how they will use their education to give back to the community.

Amount: Up to $10,000
Deadline: Applications open in November 2021
Apply here:

How women going to back to college can find scholarships

The best way to find scholarships for “nontraditional” students is to use an online scholarship search engine. With an online database, you can search for unique scholarships, like those offered to women going back to college. The more niche you make your search, the better your chances of getting the scholarship, since unique scholarships have fewer applicants.

Scholarship search engines also list all of the information you need before applying, like the deadline, amount and eligibility requirements, and some let you save scholarships that interest you so you can cultivate a database of potential funding.

How to increase your chances of winning scholarships

When it comes to winning scholarship money, there are a few simple things you can do to maximize your potential earnings. Here are some things to consider as you start the application process:

  • Stay organized: Create a spreadsheet listing all of the scholarship details so you can calculate your total earnings, keep track of requirements and stay up to date with deadlines.
  • Focus on unique traits: There are scholarships for just about everything now, and if you have a unique hobby or passion, you have a better chance of winning award money.
  • Apply quickly: Apply as soon as possible to any scholarships you’re interested in, since some scholarships operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Applying early also helps you avoid a last-minute deadline crunch, where you may not produce your best work.
  • Seek a second opinion: Because many scholarships are competitive, it’s important to ensure that your application is free of errors. A trusted friend, family member or colleague can offer help proofreading essays or other application materials.

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