4 Ideas for Single Moms Going Back to School

iStock_000005608156XSM_momgirlEducationGrant often hears from single moms who are looking for ideas about going back to school and the financial aid that can help them accomplish this goal. It’s inspiring to see how many single moms are determined to get the higher education they need to create a better quality of life for their families!

Single moms have many factors to balance when it comes to going back to school: scheduling, child care, transportation, time management, college tuition and fees, money for schoolbooks, and keeping children fed, clean, and rested while mothers work, study, or both. (Not sure how they do it all!) It won’t come as a surprise to any single mother that money, or the lack of it, is the biggest worry that most single moms deal with every day. So going back to school can feel like a Catch-22. To earn more money and make your family financially stable, it helps to have a quality college degree. But to get the college degree, you need money.

Even still, finding financial aid isn’t always the first necessity in ideas for single moms going back to school. Another important goal, especially in this bleak economy, is to NOT end up with a lifelong mountain of student loan debt after you’ve graduated.

Are you determined to get your college degree? Here are some ideas on how to get started:

1) Choose a realistic education goal. Are you going back to school so you can qualify for a particular job or change your career? What’s the average pay for the new career? (How about the pay for an entry-level worker?!) Will this industry still need workers once you’ve graduated?

2) Comparison-shop for the best accredited school and program for your needs. When considering schools, keep these factors in mind:

  • Where is the school? Can you get to its campus easily by public transportation if you don’t have a car? How long is your commute?
  • How much time on campus will the program require? Will you be able to get child care to cover the time you want to devote to your classes and schoolwork? (Besides federal financial aid, look for grants and scholarships that provide funding for child care and other living expenses.)
  • Would an accredited online program work better for you?
  • Is there an admissions representative at the school that can tell you about the program and what it will require from you?
  • How much does the program cost? What fees are there in addition to tuition?
  • Is there a financial aid officer who can walk you through the financial aid process? Does the school have education grants for single moms? (If not, maybe consider a different school.)

3) Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • This application opens the door to all federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants and low-cost student loans, as well as single mom education grants from individual schools and states.
  • Federal and state financial aid can be used for any accredited higher education program registered with the U.S. Department of Education as a “Title IV” school. These include community colleges, state universities, and online programs in addition to traditional 4-year schools.
  • You don’t need to be accepted or enrolled in a school before you submit your FAFSA. All you have to do is list the school(s) you’ve applied to. You’ll get a report back that tells you how much money you’ll be expected to contribute to your degree costs, and the school(s) will use that number to determine how much financial aid they can offer you. If you qualify for a Pell Grant, you’ll get one automatically.

4) Consider choosing the school that will allow you to graduate with the least amount of debt.

Single mothers do it all, and both the news and personal family histories are filled with countless stories of single moms whose children remember and honor them as role models and heroes. A college degree may be your ticket to the quality of life you want your children to have, but only if it doesn’t leave you worse off financially than you were before.

For more college planning details, see the earlier blog-post, How to Prepare for the FAFSA: 3 Pre-FAFSA Steps. You can also find more information about the FAFSA, scholarships for single moms, scholarships for women, adult learning scholarships, and low-cost student loans in earlier blog posts and the grants, loans, and scholarship pages in this site.

And if you have other tips and ideas for single moms going back to school, please share them here in the comments. The very best advisors for single moms are… other single moms!

Check out Grants for Single Mothers too!

18 comments to “4 Ideas for Single Moms Going Back to School”

  1. Interested in grants offered to single moms pursuing masters degree in education or teaching (preferably math, more specifically middle school math grades 6-8)

    Not interested in Loans at this time.

    Please send me information only regarding grants offered for this purpose, preferably on-line

  2. Hi, Thanks for reading!
    For information on grants for single mothers, please visit: http://www.educationgrant.com/grants/grants-for-single-mothers/.
    You should also ask your financial advisor if you have any specific questions.
    Best of luck,
    EducationGrant Editor

  3. Interested in grants for single mom returning to school to obtain RN. Looking for career change after being laid off over 18 months ago but I’m finding out that because I already have a bachelor’s degree, I am not eligible for Pell or Fafsa. Is there any help out there for me…..I’m still unemployed!

  4. Hi,
    I would contact a financial aid advisor, so they can provide you with information and your options for going back to nursing school. You should be able to qualify for some type of financial aid.
    Best of luck,
    EducationGrant Editor

  5. Are there any grants for going back to school for a certificate course. I’m interested in Medical Billing and Coding. Any advice?

  6. I am interested in grants for single mom returning to school to obtain RN degree. I already have a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. My son is going to college this fall as well, so this is putting an extra strain on our fianances. Is there help for someone like me? Thank you.

  7. Hi,
    Thanks for reading! Check out our article on grants for single moms: http://www.educationgrant.com/grants/grants-for-single-mothers/. Hopefully this will provide you more information! For more information I would contact your financial advisor.
    Best of luck,
    EducationGrant Editor

  8. I’m a single mom with four kids. I’ve been basically out of work (I substitute teach at a private school for minimum wage) for the past 2 years. I qualify for full financial aid to go to vocational school to become a medical assistant (always in very high demand in my area) but I have two that would still need childcare at least part time. Where do I look for funding? I was told by the financial aid dept at the school that based on my situation, I would most likely qualify for the WFNJ (formerly welfare)program but I haven’t been able to find out how many hours of school/work are required to qualify for the child care. Short of waiting on line 5+ hours at the Social Service office, I can’t seem to get that information. Any ideas?

  9. Live in New Mexico, just got divorced, don’t have a job, home and I want to go to school like I was planning! I don’t know where to start and I am scared! I just thank God that my daughter can stay with my ex-husband…

  10. I am a single mother who now works to support my child. I am pursuing going back to school for nursing and i’m scared. I really want to try to not work as much so that my daughters home life is not flipped upside down. Can i do this or am i dreaming. can i get enough financial help to be a student, mother and worker.

  11. I am a single mother of two trying to go back to school to pursue nursing. Do you know of any websites that would be helpful for me?

  12. Hi, Thanks for reading.
    For advice, it may be best to talk to a financial advisor, so they can help you plan out how to pay for school.
    You should look into what you want to study, and determine which programs and/or school you want to go to. Online? Community Colleges? Public schools, etc?
    You should also apply for financial aid, by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, which can be found here: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. Your FAFSA form will essentially be your application for grants. For more information, check out: http://www.educationgrant.com/grants/.
    You should also apply for any and all scholarships that you qualify for. Check out scholarships being sponsored in your state, community, local businesses and organizations, and through any activities you may be involved in. On our scholarships page, http://www.educationgrant.com/scholarships/, there are Private Scholarships, Unusual Scholarships, Scholarships for Non-Traditional Students (single moms, single parents, etc.), Minority Scholarships, and Military Scholarships. Look into these scholarships to see if you apply for any!
    Best of luck,
    EducationGrant Editor

  13. If some one could please direct me in the path of any type of grant or scholarship, I am a single mother of 3 and all the basic grants(fasfa,pell grant) has taken been taken up for my classes and I am having to quit my second job to go back to school and I needed some extra money for room and board and the other extra expenses for school. Please e-mail me with the information latonyaj78@gmail.com


  14. I am a single mother who works in Africa and am interested in scholarship or grant inorder to go back to school, to pursue nursing which will enable me to care for our world.Is there any help out there ? Please e-mail me with the information

  15. Thank you for this, understanding the challenges of being a single mom is often underestimated , its great to have help!

  16. Hi I am a single mother who wants to quit my job and go back to school full time to be an esthetician. I am working on getting certified as a makeup artist but I want to be an esthetician along side of doing makeup. I am nervous about incurring the debt of student loans but I don’t want to give up on my dream that I have had for 30 years. I feel like if i don’t do it now I never will. I feel like i should chance it but I am terrified, Any advice for me :(

  17. Hi
    I’m a single mom and trying to support me and my disabled son with no child support. I already work as a RN fulltime. I’m trying to do my masters so that I can work less, care more for my son and may be save enough for a house. Do you think there is any likelihood that I may qualify for a grant.

  18. I am a single mother of three and would like nothing more than to further my education for me and my children.I really need this because I believe that in order for them to be successful i must be successful

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