You are never too old to learn something new. Scholarships aren’t just for recent high school graduates and if you’ve decided to go back to College, as an adult student, you’re eligible for financial aid, too.
You might have put your education on hold for a while, but now it’s your time to take stock, pursue your goals and reboot your life. Just imagine the excitement and joy of engaging in vibrant conversations about academia and life at university, or the confidence boost that may arise from guiding young hesitant students to discover the importance of education. Without a doubt, these incredible experiences would add a dash of flavour to the next chapter of your life.
How to increase your chances of winning scholarships
The best way to find scholarships as a woman returning to school is to use an online scholarship search engine like Scholarships.com or Fastweb. 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 those you like the most in order for you to create a database of potential funding.
It also helps to stay organized during your scholarship hunt. Keep a spreadsheet of all applicable awards, listing out the award name, amount, deadline and standout eligibility requirements.
Many schools offer scholarships and grants at the institutional levels, and state or local governments may also offer funding for adult students. But you have to be quick because 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.
Best Scholarships for Seniors Returning to College
These scholarships below are a great place to start, although broadening your search can help you find programmes geared toward your specific interests and needs. Most of them are based in the US but some scholarships are awarded to eligible no-citizens too.
- Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
Inspired by our namesake, the first U.S. Congresswoman, the Jeannette Rankin Foundation awards scholarships to applicants who are working toward their first associate’s or bachelor’s degree, identify as women/nonbinary, are 35 and older, and demonstrate financial need — from all states and backgrounds. The scholarship is awarded based on financial need, personal circumstances, and future goals.
Today, they have awarded more than $4 million to women across the US and now call scholarships, Scholar Grants, to reflect the unrestricted nature of the award that has allowed more than 1,300 women to pursue their educational aspirations.
- Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award
Soroptimist offers a scholarship specifically for women who are the main financial providers for their families. This scholarship is available to those who are currently enrolled in or have been accepted into a vocational training or undergraduate degree program. The recipients of this award have the freedom to use it for any educational expenses they may have, such as child care and transportation. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate financial need and not already possess a graduate degree.
If you reside in any of Soroptimist’s member countries or territories, you are eligible to apply for this scholarship. These member countries and territories include the US, Canada, Argentina, Panama, Venezuela, Bolivia, Taiwan Province of China, Brazil, Guam, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Chile, Philippines, Colombia, Peru, Korea, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Japan.
- The American Association of University Women
The AAUW is a renowned organization dedicated to empowering women through education. Their primary goal is to eliminate economic barriers and ensure that every woman has access to quality education. It offers a diverse range of fellowships, including the prestigious International Fellowship. This fellowship provides an incredible opportunity for women from around the globe to engage in full-time study or research in the United States. It is specifically tailored for non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents, making it an ideal choice for women residing in other parts of the world.
- Northern Michigan University, Senior Citizen Scholarships
If you’re 62 years old or above, you have the opportunity to apply for this scholarship program and pursue a degree at this university. It covers the full tuition fees for on-campus classes, making it a great option for senior students who wish to continue their higher education. However, please note that it does not include expenses for books or web-based classes, nor does it cover fees for off-campus classes.
- Alma Baron Second Chance for Women
Alma Baron established this scholarship in 2001 to assist mature female students who are over the age of 45. The inspiration behind this scholarship came from Alma’s journey of returning to college at the age of 51 to pursue her doctorate degree after her youngest child had grown up.
Although Alma passed away in 2006, her loved ones and friends have kept her legacy alive by continuing to support this fund in her honour. To be eligible for this scholarship, you must not only be a woman aged 45 or above but also be recently admitted or currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Additionally, you must demonstrate financial need and be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or another eligible non-citizen.
- The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarship
The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting provides scholarships and mentoring, supporting equitable access to education and the advancement of women who are pursuing careers in accounting. The foundation provides scholarships at all education levels and offers specific Women in Transition (WIT) and Women in Need (WIN) Scholarships to women who are the main source of family income.
Other Sources of Financial Aid for Seniors Returning to College
In addition to scholarships, there are other sources of financial aid available for seniors returning to college. These may include grants, loans, and work-study programs.
It’s important to explore all options and create a financial plan that works for you.
For instance, over the past six decades, AARP Foundation has been dedicated to assisting tens of millions of older adults who are facing financial challenges. They have observed that a staggering 37 million older adults are struggling to make ends meet. Every year, they generously contribute millions of dollars to support these individuals, including women aged 50 and above.
As an example, AARP Foundation recently received a remarkable $10 million grant from Google.org. This grant aims to provide digital skills training to older adults, with a special focus on empowering women and individuals from diverse backgrounds. By offering free technology training, AARP Foundation aims to help older adults thrive in the digital economy.
Returning to college as a senior can be a daunting task, but with the help of scholarships and other forms of financial aid, it can be more manageable.
By researching and applying for scholarships, you can reduce the financial burden and focus on achieving your educational goals. Don’t let age or financial concerns hold you back from pursuing your dreams. With the right resources and determination, you can make your return to college a success.