Going Back to School as an Adult? Check Out These 19 Scholarships
Applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it is a rite of passage for high school seniors.
What about students who have been out of school for a while? There’s no guidance counselor to show you the way, your parents may not be around to help you through the FAFSA, and Rodney Dangerfield is nowhere to be found to ensure you’re not the oldest person in all your classes.
But there are scholarships to make going back to school as an adult easier on your budget.
They have various requirements — some are for vocational school, while others can go toward any degree — but all show an appreciation for making an investment in your education.
One tip before you read through these opportunities: Fill out the FAFSA! There’s no age limit to receive federal financial aid, including Pell Grants, which you don’t have to pay back after graduation.
The FAFSA doesn’t just help you get financial aid from your school. Some financial-need-based scholarship applications require information from your FAFSA, as well.
Once you sign and submit your aid application, check out these scholarships for adult students:
1. AfterCollege Succurro Scholarship
Enter to win this $1,000 scholarship by completing a free profile at AfterCollege.
To qualify, you must be enrolled in an accredited, degree-seeking program with at least a 2.5 GPA. Applicants must submit a 200-word, “resume-style” personal statement highlighting their goals.
2. Alpha Sigma Lambda Scholarships
Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL), the honor society for nontraditional students, offers 12 scholarships of varying amounts. Applicants don’t need to be members of their school’s ASL chapter, but they must be enrolled in an associate’s or bachelor’s program and have completed 24 semester hours of coursework with at least a 3.2 GPA.
This scholarship requires a personal statement and a faculty recommendation, and applicants must demonstrate financial need.
3. CollegeAmerica Adult Student Scholarships
CollegeAmerica, which has career campuses in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming, offers $3,000 scholarships to adult students pursuing associate's degrees and $5,000 scholarships to adults working on bachelor’s degrees.
Applicants must submit a 500-word essay, but their high school and prior college grades are not considered. Scholarships are disbursed over the course of a student’s program and awardees must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
CollegeAmerica students may apply for several of the available scholarships, but they can only receive one. A variety of awards are available for single parents, first-generation college students, individuals from minority groups, health care and nursing students, information technology students, and more. Some applications may require a FAFSA.
4. College JumpStart Scholarship
The College JumpStart Scholarship is open to nontraditional students and provides a $1,000 scholarship to a student “committed to using education to better [their] life and that of [their] family and/or community.”
Applicants must submit a 250-word personal statement based on one of a handful of required prompts. You should be enrolled in a two- or four-year college or a vocational school, or plan to enroll in the next 12 months. Check the website for spring and fall deadlines.
5. Courage to Grow Scholarship
Any college student with at least a 2.5 GPA may apply for this $500 scholarship that recognizes one winner each month. Applicants must explain why they deserve the scholarship in 250 words or less. The award is sent directly to the winner’s school.
Some previous winners listed on the site mentioned they applied several times before being selected.
6. Dr. Angela Grant Memorial Scholarship
Cancer survivors or students with family members affected by cancer may apply for a scholarship worth up to $5,000.
Applicants must write an essay outlining their personal achievements and career goals, and give two personal references. Undergraduate and graduate students may apply, but they must do so by May 1.
7. Executive Women International ASIST Scholarship
Executive Women International (EWI) offers the Adult Students in Scholastic Transition (ASIST) scholarship to women and men looking to improve their economic outlook through education. Applicants must apply through their school’s chapter. Qualified applicants move to a national round where EWI awards 13 scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.
The application period opens each January, with a deadline of April 15. Each applicant must submit two personal recommendations and clearly state their educational and career goals.
EWI gives preference applicants with children living at home.
8. HotelsCheap.org Scholarship
Any U.S. resident 16 or older may apply for this $1,500 scholarship from HotelsCheap.org. Applicants must answer four questions about their goals and financial situation; they must also submit a 700-word article describing the top five things to do in their “favorite vacation destination.”
Check the website for spring and fall application deadlines.
9. Imagine America Adult College Grants
Nontraditional students already enrolled in an eligible Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP) can apply for a $1,000 award from the Imagine America Foundation. Interested students must complete the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) Student Success Assessment before submitting their application.
ASEP-qualified schools include Medical Careers Institute, Lincoln Technical Institute and Academy of Art University, to name a few.
Deadline: Dec. 31.
10. Niche “No Essay” Sweepstakes
Set up a free Niche account to enter this monthly sweepstakes with a $2,000 cash prize. If you’re a U.S. resident enrolled in college or plan to enroll in the next year, you’re eligible!
11. Return 2 College Scholarship Program
Anyone 17 and up who is starting college in the next year or is already enrolled can apply for this $1,000 scholarship.
You must submit a three-sentence essay that explains why you are getting your degree. Awardees can use the scholarship toward any level degree.
Deadline: Jan. 31.
12. Scholarship Detective Launch Scholarship
Act quickly to apply for one of two $1,000 scholarships — the deadline is Dec. 31, 2016.
There’s no formal essay, but you must explain in fewer than 140 characters how you intend to use your scholarship money.
13. SuperCollege Scholarship
Any student pursuing higher education or planning to start may enter this annual random drawing for $1,000. The winner may use the money for tuition, books or any other education-related expense.
Deadline: Oct. 31.
14. Surety Bonds Small Business Scholarship
This scholarship offers three $1,500 awards for full-time students who are either small-business owners or have a small business in their family. Applicants must submit a 500- to 1,000-word essay about how their experience with small business will affect them in the future.
The annual deadline is March 31.
15. Unigo $10K Scholarship
If you’re enrolled in college or plan to do so by 2022, you can apply for this $10,000 award. Applicants must write a 250-word essay on why college is a worthy investment.
Deadline: Dec. 31.
Visit Unigo for a list of the website’s other scholarships. There’s something for everyone, and the essay requirements are usually brief!
16. Walmart Associate Scholarship
Walmart associates may apply for scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.
The following scholarships are available for women only:
17. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
Low-income women 35 and older who are working on a technical or vocational education, an associate's degree or their first degree are invited to apply for this scholarship fund.
Applicants must submit two recommendation letters, transcripts and proof of community involvement. Last year, 60 women received scholarships.
Deadline: March 18.
18. PEO Program for Continuing Education Scholarship
PEO offers a $3,000 scholarship to a woman whose educational journey has been interrupted. Any woman who is within 24 consecutive months of completing her degree in the United States or Canada may apply. Applicants must do an interview at the chapter level to qualify.
The award can be used for tuition, books, transportation, child care or course equipment. Contact your local chapter to apply.
19. Society of Women Engineers Scholarship
Women studying full-time for their bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering, technology, or computer science may apply for various scholarships the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Membership is not required for most available scholarships, but a faculty recommendation, personal reference or letter from your school’s financial aid office may be required.
Nontraditional students and re-entering students may not be required to attend full time.
Sophomores through graduate students typically apply between December and February, while first-year students apply between March and May.
Your Turn: Are you an adult returning to school? How are you budgeting for your education?
Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. Editorial intern Jacquelyn Pica contributed to this post.