Going Back to School as an Adult? Check Out These 18 Scholarships
Applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it is a rite of passage for high school seniors.
But 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. Here’s what you need to know.
College Scholarships Available for Adult Students
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 $500 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.
The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.
2. Alpha Sigma Lambda Scholarships
Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL), the honor society for nontraditional students, offers scholarships of varying amounts. Applicants don’t need to be members of their school’s ASL chapter, but they must submit their applications to their chapter councilor for review.
You 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 Grants
CollegeAmerica, which has career campuses in Arizona and Colorado, offers $5,000 grants to adults who’ve never attended college and those who’ve earned some college credits but not a degree.
For more information about the application process, you can contact the school at (800) 622-2894.
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.
The fall deadline for applications is Oct. 17, and the spring deadline is April 15.
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.
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.
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 between Jan. 1 and May 1.
7. 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. Applicants must submit a 500-word article describing how their military experience sparked their interest in technology, what they plan to achieve with their degree and their financial need.
The fall deadline is Dec. 15 and the summer deadline is Aug. 15.
8. 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.
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.
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. If three sentences doesn’t seem like enough, no worries — you can submit as many entries as you wish. Awardees can use the scholarship toward any level degree.
The deadline is Sept. 30.
12. Scholarship Detective Launch Scholarship
If you explain how you’d use this scholarship money in less than 140 characters, you can apply for one of two $1,000 scholarships — the deadline is Aug. 31.
13. 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 Aug. 31.
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.
14. Unigo $10K Scholarship
If you’re enrolled in college or plan to do so by 2025, you can apply for this $10,000 award. Applicants must write a 250-word essay on the following topic: Imagine a historical figure is brought back to life. Who is it? What’s their favorite mobile app?
The deadline is 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!
15. Walmart Associate Scholarship
Walmart associates have until Nov. 30, 2020 to apply for the last remaining scholarships available to them and their dependents.
Replacing those awards is the Live Better U program, which allows you to earn one of the 40-plus associate and bachelor degree programs for $1 a day. Similar deals are available for skilled trade diplomas and professional certificates.
Scholarships for Women Only
Here are three scholarships available to adult women.
16. 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.
17. PEO Program for Continuing Education Scholarship
PEO offers a maximum $3,000 grant to a woman 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.
18. 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).
Nontraditional 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 is a former writer at The Penny Hoarder. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors and former SEO analyst Jacquelyn Pica contributed to this post.