Scholarships for Women
Going to college can be expensive, but the good news is that there are grants and scholarships to help you cover the cost. Unlike loans, which you have to repay, scholarships and grants are awards you’re given because you qualify for the financial assistance they provide. Some scholarships will help you cover a significant part of your college expenses. Others provide only a modest sum. But every little bit can help.
Many grants and scholarships are available for both men and women, but a number are designed especially for women. Some of these scholarships are for specific careers and areas of study, like education and healthcare, as well as areas that have traditionally had fewer women than men, like law enforcement, engineering and math, and business. Others are offered exclusively to women from a particular geographical area, race, or school. Some, like the Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarships, are for women 35 and older. Remember, applying for scholarships is an ongoing process. If you don’t qualify this year, keep checking back for the new application term.
Searching for ScholarshipsScholarships and grants may be awarded by the federal government, state governments, a college or university, or a nonprofit or private organization. To get started with your search, you can visit your high school or college financial aid office and find a lot of information online. For example, you might begin at www.scholarships.com, www.usscholarshipguide.org, or www.scholarshipsandgrants.us/scholarships-for-women/.
You should also check out nonprofit foundations, community organizations, religious organizations, and professional associations in your area of interest or the field of work you’re interested in and don’t forget to check with your employer to find out if the company might offer scholarships. One of the best resources for sorting through the variety of scholarships is the US Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool at www.careerinfonet.org. Whatever route you use, it’s best to get started soon. Scholarships have different deadlines, and you wouldn’t want to miss out because you discovered one that seems perfect for you just a few weeks too late.
Scholarships exist to make school more affordable, so avoid financial aid services that charge a fee for finding you a scholarship. Also avoid sites that charge you for filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). None of these sites are affiliated with the US Department of Education. Be careful of any scholarship that requests an application fee. Even if the fee is very low, it could simply be an attempt to gain access to your credit card number and other information. Be sure that the scholarships you find are legitimate, and check out studentaid.gov for more tips on avoiding scams at studentaid.ed.gov/types/scams.
Meeting the CriteriaIn most cases, you have to apply for the scholarships you think you may be qualified for in addition to completing the FAFSA, which you must fill out to be eligible for federal student loans. A vast majority of scholarships are granted based on criteria in addition to financial need, though need does play an important factor in most cases.
When you’ve identified the scholarships for which you want to apply, be sure to read the applications carefully so that you understand what standards the grantors use in choosing award winners. Then be sure to explain why you qualify in your application. For example if you are a single mother, look for scholarships that focus on helping women like you complete a certificate or degree program.
Remember, too, that some scholarships are given for just one year, but others are renewable if you maintain a certain grade point average and make progress toward completing your degree or program. Be sure you know whether you can count on a scholarship for the entire time you are enrolled if you’re a successful student.
If you apply for and receive a scholarship, bear in mind that it may affect your eligibility for other types of financial aid. Since the sum of your scholarship and other financial aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance (COA), you need to inform your school if you’ve won a scholarship. Your school’s financial aid office should be able to answer your questions.
The bottom line is that whatever your financial and personal situation, there’s a good chance that there are multiple scholarships for which you can apply.
Getting Started and Staying OrganizedGetting started on the scholarship application process can be overwhelming, so remember these seven key steps, and you’ll be on your way:
- Make a list of all the organizations to which you can inquire about scholarships.
- Gather the scholarship applications.
- Create a log where you can keep track of all the scholarships you apply to. Have a column for scholarship type, Application Due Date, Date Submitted, References Used, Notes.
- Request multiple copies of your transcript so you have it available should it be requested.
- When you prepare your application, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS, and then follow them exactly.
- When submitting your application be sure you include everything. An application missing any part is the first to be rejected – no matter how good it might have been. It will not even be looked at – guaranteed.
- Don’t miss the deadline. Anything that arrives after the deadline will not be considered.