I hear words like these all the time:
"I would love to (or need to) go back to school. But I've got little kids at home who need me. We're pinching pennies as it is. I have no idea how we'll pay for my tuition, let alone child care."
You're not alone. There are thousands of non-traditional students and many programs to help them. Besides regular scholarships offered by the college or university you attend, you may be eligible for scholarships specifically for single parents or parents in general. Learn about scholarships, grants, and loans at your school and in your community--some are specific to non-traditional students, parents, single parents, or women. Many businesses offer scholarships, and there are also federal, national, and state programs available. Check out the links on the right--we'll be adding more as we go.
(Most of the links for specific schools are in Utah, since that's where most of our readers live, but if you live elsewhere, it's easy to find similar information by Googling your school's name and terms like "non-traditional student" or "single parents").
Also, if you're currently working, is it possible to get tuition assistance from your employer, or to ask for it even if it's not typically offered as a benefit?
When you've got children, the typical full-time degree program may or may not work for you, depending on your situation. To make your education fit with your life, you may need to consider a broad range of schedules, schools, and types of education.
If you already have a degree and are considering graduate school, the potential to increase your income is even greater. Some types of financial aid are limited to bachelor's or associate's programs, but there are also fellowships, teaching assistantships, scholarships, and loans specific to graduate programs. Being female (and/or belonging to a minority group) can be an advantage if you're seeking admission to a graduate school, especially if that school is seeking to diversify its students. This is even more true if your field of study is a traditionally male-heavy one (think chemical engineering or construction management).
So don't assume you're financially doomed until you check every avenue available to you. Check the department where you're studying, your college or university, your workplace, local businesses, state government, federal government, and national programs. They may have programs available for women, mothers, returning students, non-traditional students, women in certain fields of study, single mothers, minorities, or any other group you belong to.
Financial Aid for Non-traditional Students
Federal Financial Aid
National/Private Scholarship Programs
Utah/ LDS Church Schools:
Brigham Young University
University of Utah
LDS Business College
Weber State University
Utah Valley University
Utah State University
Southern Utah University