There are many students returning to school at a later age. The reasons vary from pursuing a degree for a promotion to “empty nesters” chasing a new dream now that their children are in college themselves. Many people who begin to seek help to pay for school are pleased to learn that many scholarships have no age limit or requirement. There are some scholarships and other financial aid options that are geared specifically toward older students. The organizations listed below are just a few.
Federal Student Aid
ALL students are eligible to apply for federal student aid regardless of age. The free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, is available at the FAFSA website. There is a very clear and thorough checklist to apply and create an account with FAFSA to include a PIN number. Once completed, applicants can follow the status of their application at every step. Additionally, the Federal Student Aid website has a published a chronological guide for adult, non-traditional students is provided to help students assess themselves and consider their options for education and funding.
State Level Funding
Older students can also apply for college scholarships and financial aid at the state level. The Department of Education has put together an extensive list of state organizations that provides financial aid to older Americans and other minority groups. The Education Resource Organizations Directory is an excellent starting point for anyone in the 50 states and U.S. Territories.
Air Force Aid Society
The General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant is supported by the United States Air Force and is designed to support service-members and their families by providing financial aid for college. The grant provides up to $2000 for service-members, retirees and their spouses who are returning to college to complete their degree. Application details can be found at the Air Force Aid Society website.
Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL)’s Scholarship for Adult Students
Adults that are in the undergraduate programs with a chartered Alpha Sigma Lambda chapter can also apply for the Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL)’s Scholarship for Adult Students. There are over 300 current US chapters. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.2 and be able to prove they need the extra financial help.
Americorps Silver Scholars
The Americorps Silver Scholars Program grant was established by Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act for adults over the age of 55. For every 350 service hours, the senior receives a $1000 education award. The program is especially attractive because the grant money can be transferred to the recipients’ child or grandchild.
Association On American Indian Affairs (AAIA)
The Association on American Indian Affairs offers $1,500 non-renewable scholarships to full-time American Indian students who are unable to fulfill their academic goals due to family responsibilities. These scholarships are for older students who have been delayed in attending college while raising their children, are entering or are returning to college when their children enter school or divorced and had to leave college to care for their children. Details can be found at the AAIA website.
Business and Professional Women’s Foundation
The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW) maintains a list of scholarships and fellowships aimed at women who are returning to school to upgrade their career skills, train for a new career or re-enter the job market. Dollar amounts depend on the program and/or need of the applicant. For more information on scholarship amounts, deadlines and how to apply, visit the BPW website or write to:
Scholarships BPW Foundation 2012 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036
Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting (EFWA)
The Women in Transition (WIT) scholarship is available to women who have worked as homemakers most of their adult life and have no college degree. Awards are up to $16,000 over a four-year period in order to pursue a bachelor degree in accounting. Applicants should be entering school as freshman. Application information is available at the EFWA website.
Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.)
The Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) is one the earliest foundations established to educate women in North America; founded in 1869. The organization offers grants for seniors and women of all ages whose education was interrupted for at least 2 years. Individual chapters sponsor women in their local area within the US and Canada. The P.E.O. Award is for tuition only and cannot be used for living expenses.
William E. and Phoebe Clark Scholarship
This scholarship is managed by Michigan State University. Applicants must be adult students who are about to begin their academic journey or are returning to college to pursue a bachelor’s or advanced degree. Priority is given to single parents and students who are returning to school following the death of a spouse. Award amounts vary according to financial need, academic achievement and course of study. Applicants requirements can be found at the Michigan State University website.