The WISP (Women's Independence Scholarship Program)

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program for Single Moms

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) aims to support and empower women prepared to begin their lives, not as victims or survivors but eager students and professionals.

WISP helps survivors of intimate partner abuse work through college to begin employment and earn independence and self-sufficiency. This will therefore allow you the chance to define your education and career as you want.

Women’s Independence Scholarship Program Information

WISP helps provide single moms with scholarships and other forms of assistance, like support to earn their income.

Here are a few critical factors about the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program:

  • They only help if you are a female survivor of intimate partner abuse.
  • WISP mentors and sponsors you until you can stand on your own two feet.
  • Their mission is to encourage you to stop relying on others.
  • They help you to work towards your dream career and to support yourself and your children.

How much is the scholarship award?

WISP doesn’t offer a set dollar amount because each application is reviewed and evaluated individually. However, their priority awards are tuition, books, and fees for undergraduate degrees.

The next priority is to reduce indirect financial barriers to education (childcare, transportation, etc.).

The minor award is about $250, and the average award is around $2,000 per school term. Most awards range from $500-$2,000 per semester or quarter; however, for master’s degrees, the awards average $1,000 per semester or quarter.

Do you have to go to college, or can you go to community college or trade school?

The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program considers programs at most accredited institutions, but the focus of their program is to support JOB-RELATED TRAINING. In addition, they want to see their applicants reach employment and self-sufficiency.

Some examples of programs that have received funding include:

Nursing, Teaching, Computer Technology, Computer Training, Law Enforcement, Theology, Equipment Handling, Physical Therapist, Social Work, Counselling, Hairdressing, Landscape Design, Journalism, Medical Billing, Massage Therapist.

Support is available for full or part-time students interested in attending programs at the educational institutions below.

  • State-supported community colleges.
  • State-supported colleges or universities
  • Technical/vocational schools
  • Private colleges or universities
  • For-Profit colleges

A note about For-Profit colleges: WISP discourages applicants from seeking an education at a for-profit college if there are any other options. For-profit colleges often use high-pressure sales tactics to enroll students, often have a high cost of tuition, which dramatically increases student loan debt and academics that do not always transfer to other educational programs. We strongly encourage all students to research for-profit colleges and be aware of the drawbacks before enrolling.

 Does WISP support certificates or short-training programs?

Yes! Eligibility requirements may differ slightly, but it is something WISP could offer.

I’d recommend that you call and talk with a scholarship coordinator to discuss your situation. But WISP is all about helping you work towards an autonomous future, and if you can get there quicker with a shorter course, it’s a win-win.

WISP Eligibility Criteria

The main criteria:

  • Identify as a female survivor of intimate partner abuse
  • Be physically separated from your abuser for a minimum of one year but not more than seven.
  • Have sought services from a non-profit agency that aids survivors of intimate partner abuse for a minimum of 6 consecutive months. This agency can act as a sponsor by mentoring and providing support throughout your education/training and can accept on your behalf, should a scholarship for living expenses be awarded.
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States, have an immigration status that makes you eligible for FAFSA, and be a current physical resident of the United States or its territories.
  • Have applied to or been officially accepted into an accredited course of study at a United States institution.
  • Demonstrate a critical need for financial assistance. An urgent need is to have an income that does not cover living expenses.
  • Exhibit a strong desire and the ability to complete a training or academic program.
  • Have a specific plan to use the desired training to upgrade career advancement skills, train for a new career field, or enter or re-enter the job market.

 Preference goes to:

  • Returning WISP students
  • Single mothers with young children who have the most significant barriers (i.e., childcare needs) to completing their education
  • Students seeking their first undergraduate degree
  • Students in vocational or technical programs

Remember, WISP does not require that students attend school full-time, but the number of credits can influence the scholarship amount awarded.

What if I have a baby? What about my children?

Preference goes to women who have children and need the funding, but you may lose scholarship funding if you have another baby while in the program. If you have been accepted into WISP and are participating in their program, the expectation is that you will demonstrate your commitment to making new life choices by keeping the focus on yourself.

They are looking to support women who are working on reducing distractions that could derail their education. In addition, financial assistance from WISP helps to further assist in reducing or removing these barriers.

New-borns, on the other hand, create additional barriers and expenses. Therefore, having a new baby or engaging in any other activity that creates further barriers to completing school will result in the loss of funding.

After all, WISP hopes that you will soon become self-sufficient after college, and another baby will extend your dependency on the program or even on your family.

BUT DON’T LOSE HOPE. Reach out to the program and ask about your situation because they consider each circumstance.

How can my application be denied/fail?

Most often, applications fail for one of the following reasons:

  • The applicant is not a direct survivor of intimate partner abuse.
  • The applicant does not have a sponsor.
  • The chosen course of study is not accredited or is not job-training-related.
  • The applicant doesn’t have a critical financial need.
  • The applicant is outside the United States.
  • The application is incomplete.

If you have any other concerns, you can also read through WISP’s website or contact their program coordinators. In addition, below is also a helpful guide from their website that shows how their application process works.

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