Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by Lori Pace
If you’re here, reading this blog, then you’re probably thinking about going back to college. You’ve thought about it more than once. But you’re worried about maybe being too old or even the cost of going to college. In this article, we explore scholarships and school grants for women over 55.
Every year, more mature students like me are pursuing higher education, redefining what’s considered the ‘new normal’ in college. Having personally walked this path, I can share that scholarships tailored for older learners have surged in recent years, making it a great time for women over 55 to embark on their educational journey.
For you, this means that there are plenty of options for you to pay for college. There are grants and scholarships that have been created to help women over 55 years old go to school. There are even government grants that are available to help women just like you.
School Grants for Women over 55
There are some grants that are offered through the US Department of Education. The government’s student aid program doesn’t need to be paid back. This means that you can go to college without the worry of paying back your expensive college tuition.
These government grants include the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant. These grants are also great for older because they are aimed at students who are in dire financial need.
Take the Federal Pell Grant, for example. As someone who benefited from this program myself when I returned to college in my late 50s, I can attest to its importance. This grant, a cornerstone of the government’s financial aid initiatives, is tailored to undergraduates facing financial challenges. The amount of money you can get from the grant changes every year. You wouldn’t have to pay back this grant.
All you need to do to apply is to start filling out a FAFSA. Just make sure that you apply every year. The amount of financial aid that you qualify for can change from year to year.
You can find out more about this program from the school that you’re applying to. It’s a good idea to do this because not every college will offer this program. The program will award financial aid to college students who need it the most financially.
The FSEOG usually awards between $100 and $4000 per year. It will all depend on how much you need to go to college. It will depend on how much money the school can give in financial aid.
Women’s Grants and Scholarships
Alma Baron created this scholarship in 2001 to help women older than 45 go back to college, specifically at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She created the scholarship after her struggle to go back to school to get a doctorate in adult education. Her family members and her friends currently run the scholarship.
There are a few things that you need to qualify for this scholarship:
- You need to be 45 years and older
- Just started or continuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Proven financial need
- You need to be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, asylum seeker, or other eligible non-citizen
This non-profit organization is especially for women who are looking to grow or even change their careers. The AAUW offers grants to women who already have a bachelor’s degree. Their organization is also a great option for older women who want to get back into the workforce.
The organization has more than 245 fellowships and grants with over $3.7 million in funding available. There are even grants for students who aren’t American citizens. The AAUW will also give special preference to women of color and looking to enter unconventional fields.
For women who are over 40 years old and want to go back to school or work, there is the AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship Program. This program is especially for women who have been to college or work for a long time. It’s also women who work in low-paying jobs.
If you want to qualify for this scholarship program, there are some things that you need.
You need to:
- Be a woman older than 40 by March 31st
- Be a US citizen
- Prove your financial need
- Be enrolled in a US technical program or an accredited school within 6 months of getting your scholarship
This foundation created the Newcombe Scholarship for Mature Women Students. Mature women who are going back to school or even changing their careers and can’t get financial aid. This is great for older female students who want to avoid taking out massive student loans to cover the cost of their tuition or even housing fees.
As someone who embarked on this journey as a mature student, I understand the criteria for scholarships like the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation. Typically, eligible applicants are aged 35 and older. I’ve also experienced firsthand the importance of maintaining good grades to increase your chances of securing these valuable scholarships. You can also be a student who works part-time or full-time while you’re studying. This is great for any mature woman who needs to keep working while studying.
For students who are low-income women and over 35 years old, there is the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund. The late Jeannette Rankin was the inspiration for this scholarship. She was the first woman elected to the United States Congress.
The scholarship is for mature female students who want to get an associate’s degree or a first bachelor’s degree. You also need to be a US citizen or a permanent resident of the US. You would also need to be enrolled or accepted into an ACICS-accredited school.
I want to highlight the efforts of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), an organization I personally turned to in pursuit of my educational dreams. PEO, through its grants, loans, and scholarships, empowers women of all ages, including myself. Their mission of supporting women’s education is something I’ve experienced firsthand, and it’s reassuring to know that they don’t impose an age limit on their support. They also focus on women with the main goal of supporting their families or even just themselves.
This organization specifically helps women who want to pursue a degree in engineering. The SWE manages two different scholarships. There is the BK Krenzer Memorial Re-entry Scholarship and the Wands Munn Scholarship, mainly for older women who want to go back to college.
The Soroptimist Club is an international volunteer organization that manages the Live Your Dream Award Program. It’s aimed at helping women who have to pay for their college education.
There is no age limit for their applicants. This means that the scholarship isn’t just for women who are over 55 years old. To be eligible, you need to be a resident of the club’s member countries and territories.
If you’re looking to get a degree from an accredited two-year or four-year college, technical or vocational school, or university. You need to have achieved your GED or high school diploma in the last 10 years. You also need to be a US or Canadian citizen.
When you apply, you will need to send in an essay and your transcript. This essay and your academic record will help determine the money you will get from the scholarship fund. It will also be a good idea to mention your future goals and any community work that you’ve done.
Women’s Institute Scholarship Program for Women 50 and Older
The Business and Professional Women’s Education Foundation sponsors this scholarship program. Just remember, before you apply, you need to be already accepted at a college or university or even a vocational school.
Personally, I understand the financial hurdles of pursuing education, having returned to college in my late 50s. It’s essential to recognize that financial concerns aren’t confined to age. Whether you’re 25 or 55, like me, the cost of higher education is a shared challenge I’ve personally navigated. If you’re worried about the fees and the amount of time you need to study, there are always online learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera.
Personally, I’ve navigated the challenges of education at various stages of life, from my mid-20s to my mid-50s. Regardless of age, the value of education remains unwavering. My journey has not only enriched my life but also enabled me to guide others in making informed decisions about pursuing education at any age. By going to college, you will also be able to show your children the value of hard work and having an education.