June 28, 2012
When searching for financial aid, the application requirements for particular awards can become discouraging, especially for parents returning to school. However, you can use those specifications to your advantage. The key is to locate the scholarships out there that fit you and your interests. After you've filled out your FAFSA and applied for college scholarships for moms, like the awards from the American Association of University Women, start looking for additional unique scholarships. Here are some categories to investigate:
If you know what you want to study, research awards specific to that field. Odds are you'll have a better chance because the applicant pool will be narrower and it's based on an area of study you have enthusiasm for.
If you're an active member of a religion, explore online or ask at your local place of worship if there are any awards available specific to your faith. Some examples are the Italian Catholic Federation scholarship, which is for Roman Catholics of Italian descent, the Jewish Vocational Service Academic scholarship program, and awards offered to Muslim students by the Dollar-a-Day fund.
Your ethnicity and heritage may be able to help you find more financial aid for school. Try searching for these kinds of awards, like those from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund or the Mary Rowena Cooper Scholarship for children of Vietnam War veterans.
See if any of your quirky characteristics or hobbies are eligibility requirements for an award - you might be surprised. For example, if you're a mom who crafts confectionery treats, apply for scholarships from the American Association of Candy Technologists. Or, if you master the art of duck calling during your spare time, look into the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest. Some may be far too specific - Loyola University in Chicago offers a scholarship to students with the surname Zolp - but others you could get by simply being left-handed, like the Frederick and Mary F. Buckley scholarship.
Even when financial aid for moms seems to have run out, you never know what trait could help you win a scholarship.