Going Back to School as an Adult? Check Out These 16 Scholarships
Applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it is a rite of passage for many high school seniors.
But what about adult students who have been out of school for a while? There’s no school guidance counselor to show you the way, parents probably can’t help you through the FAFSA, and chances are you have a lot of other financial considerations— like how to keep paying your bills while putting yourself through school.
The good news is that there are scholarships specifically intended for adult students, which can make going back to school a lot easier on your budget. So who exactly qualifies for a scholarship as an adult student? We’ll dive into that next.
Who’s Considered an ‘Adult Student’?
While eligibility requirements will vary depending on the scholarship, an adult student (or “nontraditional student”) is generally anyone beyond the age of a high school senior. This might be someone who took a break between high school and college, or someone in the workforce looking to return to school. It might also be a single parent, a later-in-life learner, or a graduate student looking for financial relief from their accumulating student loans. In other words, “adult student” can mean a lot of things.
The key thing to hone in on for these scholarships is whatever makes your application stand out and to make sure that you have the qualifications to apply for the specific scholarship. Some of them are for women exclusively and others are for specific majors.
What could make your application stand out could be your status as a single parent, or it might be that you want to go back to school to further your career in a specific industry— like hospitality or engineering. It might also be that you can demonstrate financial need, which many scholarships will ask about.
Whenever searching for scholarships, you should also consider what kind of degree you’re hoping to get, since some scholarships may be specifically for undergraduate or graduate degrees, while others are for those attending a vocational school.
By focusing on what makes you unique, you’ll be able to find the scholarships that are looking to reward adult students just like you.
16 College Scholarships for Adult Students
One more tip before you scroll through these scholarship opportunities: Fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA doesn’t just help you get financial aid from your school. Some financial-need-based scholarships (aka most of them) require information from your completed FAFSA, as well.
Translation? FAFSA is your first step in qualifying for any and all student aid — whether its scholarships, grants, or student loans.
Another thing to keep in mind? There’s no age limit to receive federal financial aid, including Pell Grants, which you don’t even have to pay back after graduation.
So go ahead and fill out that application, and once you do, check out this list of scholarships for adult students.
Most of these scholarships are recurring year to year and if you are too late to apply for 2022, remember them for next year.
1. AfterCollege Succurro Scholarship
Enter to win this $500 scholarship by completing a free profile at AfterCollege.
To qualify, you must be enrolled in an accredited, degree-seeking program (anything from your associates to an undergraduate or a graduate degree qualifies) with at least a 2.5 GPA. Applicants must fill out a quick form and submit a short (200-word), “resume-style” personal statement highlighting their goals.
The deadline to apply is June 30, 2022. Deadline for 2023 not available yet.
2. College JumpStart Scholarship
The College JumpStart Scholarship is open to adult learners 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.
The fall deadline for applications is Oct. 17, and the spring deadline is April 15.
3. Courage to Grow Scholarship
Any college student (who’s also a U.S. Citizen) 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.
If you’re a senior adult, you can take college courses for free or cheap, and many institutions offer the chance to earn credits toward a degree. Here’s how to find them in every state.
4. 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 between Jan. 1 (when the application is posted online) and May 1 (the date by which it must be postmarked). This foundation awards between one and three awards each year.
5. HotelPlanner.com Scholarship
Military vets and their family pursuing a degree related to technology may apply for one of these $1,000 scholarships from HotelPlanner.com. The company awards 10 scholarships two times per year. Applicants must submit a 500-word article describing what they plan to achieve with their degree, their financial need, and if/how their military experience sparked an interest in technology.
The fall deadline is Dec. 15 and the summer deadline is Aug. 15.
6. 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.
EWI gives preference to applicants facing economic, social, or physical challenges.
7. Imagine America Adult College Grants
Adult students attending or 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.
8. Niche “No Essay” Sweepstakes Scholarship
Set up a free Niche account to enter this monthly sweepstakes with a $2,000 cash prize. This scholarship is open to all high school seniors, college, or graduate students who plan to enroll within the next 12 months. The scholarship can be used to cover any education related expenses including tuition, books, or even housing.
New winners are selected every month and there’s no limit to how many months you can apply throughout the year!
9. 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. If three sentences doesn’t seem like enough, no worries — you can submit up to 12 entries to more fully explain your academic goals. Awardees can use the scholarship toward any level degree.
The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.
10. ‘Scholarship Detective’ Launch Scholarship
This scholarship search engine offers two annual $1,000 scholarships to raise awareness about their free online service, which helps students of all ages find scholarships based on eligibility requirements.
The application shouldn’t take you long to complete, with the longest section requiring a 140 character (between 20 and 40 words) explanation of how you plan to use the scholarship money. The deadline to apply is Aug. 31.
11. SuperCollege Scholarship
Any student pursuing higher education or planning to start may enter this annual random drawing for $1,000 — only incomplete applications will be disqualified. The winner may use the money for tuition, books or any other education-related expense.
The deadline for the next scholarship is June 30, 2022. Details for 2023 not released yet.
You have your own tuition to worry about, but do you also have college-bound kids? Here’s how to help them pay for college without sinking your own financial ship.
12. Unigo $10K Scholarship
If you’re enrolled in college or plan to be, you can apply for this $10,000 award. Applicants must write a 250-word essay on the following topic: ‘Would you rather be smart, funny or rich? Why?’
The deadline is Dec. 31, and winners will be announced in March. Visit Unigo for a list of the website’s other scholarships. There’s something for everyone, and the essay requirements are usually brief!
13. Single Parent Scholarships
For any adult student who’s also the sole provider for a child—you might want to check out this list of Single Parent Scholarships on Scholarships.com. These opportunities range in value from $1,000 to $20,000, with application deadlines throughout the year.
Not a single parent? Use Scholarships.com to find out which scholarships you may be eligible for anyway.
14. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
Low-income women 35 and older who are working on a technical or vocational education, an associate degree or their first bachelor’s degree are invited to apply for this scholarship fund.
The application cycle is open from November until February.
15. PEO Program for Continuing Education Scholarship
PEO offers a maximum $3,000 grant to a female adult student in the United States or Canada whose educational journey has been interrupted.
The need-based grant is open to any woman who has had at least 24 consecutive months as a non-student sometime in her adult life and is within 18 consecutive months of completing her degree.
Applicants must do an interview at the chapter level to qualify. Contact your local chapter to apply.
16. 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 from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
Adult students and re-entering students who have been out of school for a minimum of two years prior to the beginning of the current course of study can apply. The scholarship is available to full- and part-time students entering any year, including graduate school.
Sophomores through graduate students typically apply between December and February, while first-year students apply between March and May.
Lisa Rowan, Larissa Runkle, Tiffany Wendeln Connors, and Jacquelyn Pica contributed to this post.