When financing your college education, it is always a good idea to seek out all sources of “free money” before applying for loans or paying out of pocket. After all, free money is money you don’t have to pay back.
Grants and scholarships are available based on need and merit, and numerous ones exist nationwide if you know where to look. In this article, we take a look at seven grants specifically for women. As a disadvantaged group that has historically struggled for equality, these grants help promote women and enable them to gain an education and start their desired career paths.
1. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
This fund provides scholarships and support for low-income women aged 35 and older to pursue post-secondary education. To date, they have awarded more than $3 million in scholarships since 1978 and assisted over 1,000 women.
To apply, you must be 35 or older and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States pursuing a technical, vocational, associate, or bachelor’s degree. You must also meet certain income requirements as funding is based on need.
The application requires proof of your income, transcripts and/or letter of acceptance, and letters of recommendation.
2. Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation for Low-Income Women and Children
This foundation aims to promote educational access for low-income mothers. Five awards of up to $5,000 are granted each year. The award is named for Patsy Takemoto Mink who was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and was known for her work with civil rights, women’s rights, economic justice, and the integrity of the democratic process.
In order to apply, you must be a woman at least 17 years of age who is the mother of minor children and pursuing your first vocational, associate, bachelor’s, or professional degree. You must also meet certain low-income requirements. Awards are based on financial need, personal circumstance, educational path, occupational goals, and service.
3. Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
The SWE Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to women attending programs in preparation for careers in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science. Scholarships are available for freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and those attending graduate programs.
In order to qualify, you must be planning to attend a school with an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited program and have at least a 3.5 GPA as a freshman applicant or a 3.0 GPA as a sophomore or higher.
Criteria you are judged on include academic preparation, leadership and activities, work experience, and interest in engineering. An essay is also required. The nice thing about this particular program is that a single application puts you in contention for a whole list of 200 different scholarships for women in engineering.
4. Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards
This program provides education grants for women who are the primary financial support for their families and aims to give them the resources they need to pursue their education by distributing more than $2.6 million in grants to 1,700 women all over the world every year.
To be eligible, you must be the primary financial support for yourself and your dependents, including children, spouse, partner, siblings, or parents. You must also demonstrate a financial need, be enrolled in or accepted to a vocational program or undergraduate degree program, and not be a Soroptomist member or an employee of Soroptomist International or immediate family of either.
Awards are offered at three different levels in amounts of $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000. Applications are accepted from Aug. 1 through Nov. 15 each year and require reference letters and a personal statement.
5. Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)
What began as a program of the Sunshine Lady Foundation in 1999, WISP has since become its own entity, providing scholarships to women survivors of intimate partner abuse. Since then, it has provided more than $36.5 million in funding to 4,000 women across the country.
In order to be eligible, you must be a female survivor of intimate partner abuse, have been separated from your abuser for a minimum of one year but not more than seven years, have sought services from a nonprofit agency for survivors for a minimum of six consecutive months, be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, display a financial need, and have a definite educational plan.
Applications are accepted year-round.
6. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Advocating for women since 1881, AAUW’s mission is gender equity and economic security. They have awarded more than 200 awards totaling $3.5 million in funding for women pursuing academic work and leading innovative community projects during the 2020–2021 school year.
Among the funding opportunities available through AAUW are:
- American Fellowships: Supporting women scholars completing dissertations, planning research leave, or preparing research for publication with $6,000 to $30,000 each.
- Career Development Grants: For women who hold a bachelor’s degree and are preparing to advance their careers by attending graduate or professional school, these award amounts range from $2,000 to $12,000.
- Community Action Grants: These provide funding for individuals or organizations for innovative programs or non-degree research projects that promote education and equity for women and girls. Amounts range from $2,000 to $10,000 for one or two-year grants.
- International Fellowship: Funding in the range of $18,000 to $30,000 is awarded for full-time study or research in the United States to women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
- International Project Grants: These are grants of $5,000 to $7,000 for international fellows who return to their home countries to build on their academic work and implement community-based projects.
- Research Publication Grants in Engineering, Medicine, and Science: Awards of $10,000 to $35,000 are available to help women scholars conducting basic research in these fields.
- Selected Professions Fellowships: These fellowships, ranging from $5,000 to $18,000, help women who intend to pursue a full-time course of study at accredited U.S. institutions in one of several designated degree programs where women’s participation has traditionally been low.
7. Distinguished Young Women (DYW)
This program combines scholarship opportunities with a life skills program to prepare young women for the world after high school. Students participate in either their junior or senior year of high school and are evaluated based on academics, interview, talent, fitness, and self-expression.
There are two ways to get scholarships through DYW; there are cash tuition scholarships that can be used at any accredited institution, or college-granted scholarships offered by over 100 colleges and universities who participate. In order to apply for the scholarships, you must participate in the program during your junior or senior year of high school.
Other Places to Search for Grants for Women
There are far too many scholarship and grant opportunities available to possibly list them all here, but there are great sources to search out free money for college that you can look into in order to find targeted scholarships and grants for you. Fastweb allows you to join for free, create a profile, and search a huge database of scholarships that are right for you.
You will, of course, also want to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which will gain you access to federal pell grants as well as qualify you for low-interest student loans. In addition, check out state and local level opportunities as well as grants offered by the school you plan on attending.
Consider a Women’s College
Women’s colleges have been around for a long time and have an established history of producing strong, intelligent, well-educated leaders. Many women’s colleges offer their own grants and funding for students on both a need-based and merit-based level.
The prestigious Seven Sisters, sometimes called the ivy leagues of women’s colleges, includes Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Wellesley College, while Vassar and Radcliffe have since become co-ed. These and other women’s colleges also offer incredible alumnae networks that can assist you in your future career and beyond.
Financing Your Dream
For all of the information and resources you need to finance your dream education, turn to the experts at College Finance. Stay informed with up-to-date information about scholarships, loans, and financial planning. Consider signing up for our newsletter to receive the latest information in your inbox.