Financial Assistance and Grants Single Mothers Need to Know About
No matter if you are needing assistance with child care, tuition, healthcare, or just putting food on your table, single parents and low-income families are eligible for a multitude of aid programs at the federal and state levels.
Related: 10 Ways to Make Money as a Stay-at-Home-Mom
Here is a look at the various types of financial assistance for single mothers or single parents available across the nation.
Assistance Programs Available for Single Mothers
When it comes to proper nutrition, childcare, and general living expenses, there are state and federal programs that can provide assistance to families in need.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is a nutrition assistance program for low-income families. Previously known as the Food Stamp program, this government service allows households to obtain healthy food options through the use of an electronic benefit transfer (similar to a debit card).
In order to qualify, your family must meet certain net and gross income requirements and you must apply through your state office.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC is another food and nutrition service that is made specifically for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum as well as their infants and children under the age of five. Fathers of kids under five are also eligible.
Just like SNAP, you must fall under certain salary thresholds and you and your child must have a “nutritional risk” to qualify. These can include “medically-based risks (designated as "high priority") such as anemia, underweight, maternal age, history of pregnancy complications, or poor pregnancy outcomes [or] diet-based risks such as inadequate dietary pattern”. This status is determined by a healthcare professional.
To find out if WIC and other food programs are available in your area, check out your state agency list. If you qualify, you will also be able to participate in other programs like the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which gives participants vouchers for fresh produce at farmer’s markets.
HUD Public Housing Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers funds to local agencies “to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.”
As with most other programs, you need to meet certain income requirements for your area. However, these housing grants are only given to individuals and families considered good tenants.
If you have a history of detrimental habits, they can deny your application. For those interested in this public housing initiative, contact your local housing agency.
Temporary Assitance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF is a benefit program for unemployed or underemployed individuals who are pregnant, have children under the age of 18, or are under the age of 18 and considered the head of the household. If eligible, needy families can receive funds to aid with living expenses such as utility bills, transportation, housing, and clothing.
It is important to note that this assistance is limited and the amount depends on your income and the size of your family. For more information, simply contact your state office.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP is a program designed to provide families with financial help with their cooling and heating energy costs as well as energy-related home repairs and weatherization projects. This is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Those who participate in programs like SNAP or TANF are automatically eligible. To determine if you qualify, check with your state office.
Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
For families who earn too much to receive Medicaid, but too little to afford private health insurance, CHIP is an affordable option. This service covers routine checkups, emergency services, immunizations, prescriptions, and laboratory tests, just like any other insurance plan.
While the cost varies from state to state, if you qualify, you will never pay more than 5% of your family’s yearly income. To sign up, call 1-800-318-2596 or go to the Health Insurance Marketplace and fill out an application.
Head Start Programs
One of the hardest parts of being a parent is finding a way to work to pay your bills while simultaneously finding affordable and safe childcare. Head Start and Early Head Start are Child Care Assistance Programs that offer daycare and preschool services to low-income families.
These programs are run by local school districts and non-profits, which means that they are free for qualifying kids. Children who attend these programs participate in various educational activities. They also receive some free medical and dental care services, have healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting.
In order to be eligible, your family must be at or below the federal poverty level and your child must be at or below the age of five. Check out the Head Start locator to find a program in your region.
Educational Financial Aid for Single Moms
For mothers who are opening up their horizons and bettering their education while juggling parenthood, there are a plethora of assistance and scholarship programs to help finance their higher education.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA is one of the best ways to discover if you are eligible for student aid. The application is completely free and depending on your financial need, it will give you information on grants, work-study programs, and student loan opportunities.
All you will need is your tax information, dependency status, bank account balances, and a few other personal details. Make sure to include the schools that you are considering to ensure that the cost of the specific program is considered. This money can go towards tuition, room and board, books, and other schooling supply costs.
A Pell Grant is a form of federal financial aid that is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to first-time students seeking a bachelor’s degree. This is a fantastic option for both part-time and full-time students.
Best of all, it does not need to be repaid. The maximum sum that can be awarded through this grant program is $6,495. Once you fill out your FAFSA, you can find out your eligibility.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The FSEOG is another form of educational aid awarded by the federal government that does not need to be paid back. Eligible students can receive up to $4,000 annually, but they must have a zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
This means that they are categorized as having the greatest level of financial need. In order to apply, students must submit a FAFSA application.
Soroptimist's Live Your Dream Awards
Soroptimist is an organization that aims to help women to be their best. Every year, they distribute millions of dollars in scholarship funds to help those in need to achieve higher education.
“Over half of [the] Live Your Dream Awards recipients are survivors of domestic violence, trafficking or sexual assault.“ To apply, you must be enrolled in an undergraduate or vocational program and have a financial need. Awards are given to women all over the globe.
State School Grants & Scholarships for Single Mothers
There is also a myriad of funds available to single mothers based on their area of residence. These are just a handful of the possible state and college scholarships and single-mother grants that can be found across the nation.
Capture the Dream Single Parent Scholarship
If you are a low-income Bay-Area resident and a single parent, you are eligible for up to $1,000. This organization looks for exceptional individuals who are leaders in their community, find time to volunteer, and excel academically. You can apply from April 1 to June 30.
Single Parent Scholarship Fund
The ASPSF scholarship is available to single-parent residents of Arkansas as well as Bowie County, Texas. They offer traditional scholarships to part and full-time students who are working on their associate's and bachelor’s degrees as well as skilled trade scholarships for those enrolled in vocational programs. Eligibility is based on income.
BYU Marriott School Single Parent Scholarships
This scholarship is designed to help college students who are enrolled in a graduate program at the Marriott School at BYU. To be eligible, you must also be a single parent and you must maintain good standing throughout the academic year. Simply apply online to be considered.
Beatrice F. Kroesche Memorial Scholarship
This is another form of financial assistance specifically designed for students at the University of Utah. You must be enrolled in courses in their College of Education or the Department of English.
Your GPA must remain at 3.0 or higher. The Scholarships administer funds and Financial Aid Office at the University and students can receive up to $2,000.
ANSWSER Scholarship Endowment
This organization strives to send local moms to college. Women must be 25 years of age or older, raising school-age children, and they need to be “legal residents of one of the following counties: Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Stanly or Union in North Carolina or Lancaster or York in South Carolina.”
If you are selected, you will be required to participate in the Mentors For Mom Program. An impressive 60% of applicants are chosen for this scholarship.
The New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
The TAP is an easy way for New York residents to pay for education at a postsecondary institution in the state. Grant funds can reach up to $5,665 each year.
All you have to do is fill out the FAFSA to find out your eligibility. The main requirement is that your family’s Net Taxable Income be less than $80,000.
Opportunities for Single Parents
Many single parents feel as if their opportunities are limited. Do not let a lack of funds prevent you from achieving your dreams. You can accomplish anything when you set your mind to it.
Student loans are available to anyone with a financial need. However, they will need to be paid back over time.
In contrast, grants and scholarships are money that you get to keep with no repayment requirements. There are also no limits on the number of programs that you can apply to in order to receive funds.
When looking for grants for single mothers as well as scholarship opportunities, it is important to remember that these funds are provided by both federal and state governments.
Thus, it is imperative that you research programs available in your specific region. Investigate scholarships that are provided to students at the school that you plan to attend. Lastly, if you are a high school student, talk to your guidance counselor about the financial assistance programs that they recommend.
For more information about how to save money and earn financial assistance, check out our Top 10 Tips for Paying for College.
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Heidi is an experienced journalist who worked in the television news industry for a decade, where she gave local forecasts as an award-winning meteorologist, was a reporter, hosted a lifestyle show, and contributed to a weekl