Scholarships are designed to help students go to college, plain and simple. Scholarships may be aimed at students from low-income families, students with a certain disability, or students who have excelled in a certain skill and have earned financial assistance for academic or extra-curricular excellence.
If you don’t think being a teenage mother is difficult, and a good enough reason for getting a scholarship, then you obviously haven’t seen the popular MTV program Teen Moms. If you’ve never met a woman who gave birth as a teenager or seen any of the numerous documentaries about such women, it may be hard to wrap your head around the concept of how difficult it can be for these women to afford (and just attend) college classes.
If you yourself are a teen mother, there’s no doubt you have thought about going to college to further your education, give yourself more job opportunities, and provide better for your child. The good news is, plenty of scholarships exist aimed at teen moms, with their intent being providing financial assistance to women who face financial hardship because they are young, have little or no education, and must take care of a baby, sometimes full-time, without the assistance of the father. There is money out there for teenage mothers who may not have the grades or extra-curricular experience to compete with the traditional college scholarship population, due to the circumstances of their difficult lives.
FAFSA & Teenage Mother Scholarships
The first step in applying to scholarships aimed at teen moms is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, popularly-known as the FAFSA. Any student applying for college aid will probably have to fill out a FAFSA, but teen moms in particular will need to in order to establish the financial support they receive, or the amount they need in order to complete their higher education.
If you have never filled out the FAFSA form before, it may seem like a duanting task. You need lots of personal information to complete the FAFSA; most notably, the tax forms of you and your parents as well as your personal identification, such as a state driver’s license or ID. The FAFSA form will ask you a ton of questions about you and your family, your income, and the assets available to you through your family to identify if you qualify for existing federal funds for college tuition. If your financial situation is desperate enough, you may not need much in the way of scholarships, since plenty of federal aid exists for students who show great financial need.
How to Prepare for Teen Mom Scholarships
Obviously, you aren’t eligible for scholarships aimed at teenage mothers if you aren’t a mother in her teens. Awards vary in their terms and qualifications, with some setting age limits of 17 or 18, and other awards allowing teen moms of any age to apply.
Grades can be an important factor in determining which teen mothers win scholarship money and which don’t, although it is important to remember that teenage mother funding is often need-based, and not necessarily dependent on your performance academically. Having decent grades may make your application stand out among the crowd, though it is not a necessity if you are a teen mom seeking college funding.
Scholarships for Teenage Mothers
Here are a few examples of scholarships aimed at teen moms. There are many more offers out there than the few we list here, but these are good examples of the types of aid you can expect as a teenage mother.
This scholarship is aimed specifically at women who have children and are looking to get a four-year degree or even just extra vocational training. The Patsy Takemoto Mink foundation was set up to honor Pasty Takemo Mink, the first woman of color to be elected to the US House of Representatives. The minimum age limit for this award is 17 years old, so some younger teen moms will not qualify. This award comes with a low-income requirement, meaning that your total family income must be between $17,500 and $26,500 per year depending on the size of your family. This year, this foundation will hand out five scholarships worth $2,000 apiece to moms, with an emphasis on applicants aged 17, 18, or 19.
This award is handed out each year to two Georgia women in their teens who have children. The award is given to those two students who show the greatest need for financial support beyond high school–in other words, mothers who want to go to college or a vocational school but don’t have the income to do so. Two awards of $2,000 are given out each year, though the Website indicates that more awards are being added annually. This scholarship is paird directly to the two winners’ schools, so in order to be eligible for this scholarship, a teen mother must have given birth by Jan. 31st of their high school senior year. GED recipients also qualify; for GED requirements and applications, see the above Website.
Not all aid for teen moms comes in the form of actual tuition and fee payments; teen moms should look for other funding opportunities to make the cost of college a non-issue. The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers what are called “Second Chance Grants” to help teen moms pay for housing. Lowering the cost of living can provide teen moms the extra money they need to pay for college, though this isn’t technically a scholarship-granting organization. Eligibility for HUD’s Second Chance housing grants depends on total family income, citizenship status, and an application. Think of it this way–if you can get free or nearly-free housing for you and your child, you might be able to afford college tuition and fees, since housing, the largest expense of most people, will be paid for by the government.