Scholarships for Women Over 40

Many women over 40 want to start a new career or fulfill their educational goals. Often women spend decades of their lives dedicated to raising children, keeping a home comfortable and even working outside the house. As a result, their dreams of completing college are put on back burner. Scholarships for women over 40 make it possible to return to school without taking out huge loans. It is free money to help women get back to their professional desires. Once their children are older, women have a golden opportunity to finally take care of themselves and build a future based on their personal goals.

The AAUW Career Development Grants Program

Women looking to make a career change, advance their careers or re-enter the workforce may be eligible for the AAUW Career Development Grants Program. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree that is not honorary and be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. They must enter a field of study that differs from their original bachelor's degree and plan to participate in courses for career advancement, a certification program or a professional degree. Rewards of $2,000 to $12,000 are used to cover tuition, supplies, books, fees, local transportation and child care. Deadline is December 15. To find out more, visit http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/educational-funding-and-awards/career-development-grants/

The Talbots Scholarship Program

Women from 20 to 60 years or age residing in the United States or Canada can apply for the Talbots Scholarship Program. To qualify, candidates must have a GED or high school diploma on or before September, 2001. They also must be enrolled at an undergraduate program in an accredited college. Applicants need to have a minimum of 24 credit hours left to complete their undergraduate program. Scholarships are from $10,000 to $30,000 along with a Talbot’s gift card and a resume eKit. Deadline is Jan. 20. To get more details, check out Talbots.com/scholarship.

Sophie Greenstadt Scholarship for Mid-Life Women

Residents or those attending school in the Greater Los Angeles who are 35 or older may qualify for the Sophie Greenstadt Scholarship for Mid-Life Women. The scholarship is for those in Orange and Venture Counties. It is sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women – Los Angeles. Applicants can be from freshmen to seniors, single or married, with or sans dependent children. The award is up to $1,000. Applicants must submit essays about their goals and how they intend to achieve them as well as show financial need. To learn more call (323) 852-8515 or email brandee at ncjwla.org/our-programs/scholarship-program/.

Osher Re-entry Scholarships

Are you between the ages of 25 to 50 with a gap of 5 or more years in your education? You could qualify for the Osher Re-entry Scholarships sponsored by the Bernard Osher Foundation. Candidates must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at a university that receives the Osher grant funds. They must show financial need and be committed to completing a degree with good academic records. The award solely covers tuition fees. To learn more, go to osherfoundation.org.

Brookhaven Women in Science Renate W. Chasman Scholarship

Are you over 40 and looking to return to college? Consider the Brookhaven Women in Science (BWIS) Renate W. Chasman Scholarship in the award amount of $2,000. Candidates must be women who are returning to scholarship that are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. They must also be at least an undergraduate junior and a resident of Long Island, NY pursuing a degree in natural sciences, engineering or mathematics. The deadline to apply for this special scholarship is November 30. For additional details, visit http://www.bnl.gov/bwis/scholarships.php or write to Chasman Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 183, Upton, NY 11973.

The AARP Foundation Women's Scholarship Program

Discontinue in 2013

If you are a low-income woman who is 50 or over, you could qualify for the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Foundation Women's Scholarship. Life is just starting when you take advantage of funding for education and skill training that can lead to improved employment. Eligible applicants are pursuing an associates or bachelor's degree and are enrolled at a U.S. Department of Education accredited school or a technical course within six months of the award. Priority is given to certain candidates including women veterans, those raising children from another family member, women who are unemployed for over a year and women in low-paying jobs with no room for advancement. The scholarship includes funds to be used for tuition, books and fees as well as a mentoring program. The deadline to apply is March 30 with results announced in June. Get more details at aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/womens-scholarship-program/how-to-apply.html.

Federal Pell Grant

Returning and older students often overlook the fact they can always try to qualify for federal grants such as the Pell Grant. There are no limitations with regard to age. You are not eligible to receive a Pell Grant if you are incarcerated in a state or federal penal institution or subject to a civil commitment after completing incarceration for a nonforcible or forcible sexual offense. Any other undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or professional degree might be able to get funds. Some students enrolled in a post baccalaureate teacher certification program many also qualify for the Pell Grant. The maximum grant at this time is $5,550 based on cost of attendance, financial need and status as a part-time or full-time student as well as whether you plan to go to school for a full academic year. As of July 1, 2012, recipients can receive the Pell Grant for no more than 12 semesters. The grant might be paid to the school, you directly or a combination of both. Students must complete a FAFSA (Application for Federal Student Aid) to qualify. To learn more, visit www.ed.gov/programs/fpg/.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Another federal grant program women over 40 might qualify for is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). These grants are based on need rather than imposing an age limit to help low income undergraduate students cover the costs of higher education. Over 3,800 postsecondary educational institutions participate in the grant program. The institution is required to give priority to students who show exceptional need, such as the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) in the school. Recipients are also those who receive the Federal Pell Grant. The institution applies annuals for FSEOG allocation by submitting an FISAP (Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate) to the United States Department of Education. A formula is used to allocate funds and the institutions contribute 25 percent of the award amounts. Students are required to file a FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov.

Teacher Education Grants

Women over 40 who want to be a teacher might also be eligible for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant. Requirements include completion of the TEACH Grant initial and subsequent counseling as well as a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS). This makes it possible to get one or more grants to cover the cost of higher education. The TEACH Grant is specifically for student who intend to complete a course to start a career in teaching and agree to teach for a period of a minimum of four years. They must be a highly qualified teacher in a high-need field that teachers at an educational service agency or school servicing low-income students. Teaching requirements must be fulfilled within eight years after completing the program. To apply, students must have a Federal Student Aid PIN. To find out more, visit teach-ats.ed.gov/ats/faq.action.

National SMART Grants

Women over 40 who are ready to enter their junior or senior year of an undergraduate college program might qualify for National SMART Grants. It is formally referred to as the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant. This grant is based on academic achievement or merit for students majoring computer, life or physical sciences, mathematics, foreign language, technology or engineering. The student must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be a United States citizen and have a Pell Grant. Students receive up to $4,000 for the academic year and it does not exceed the cost of the student's attendance when combined with the proceeds of the Pell Grant. To learn more, visit ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/ac-smart.html.

LEAP Grants

Another program older students often do not know about are LEAP grants. These need-based grants are an excellent way to cover the costs of higher education and gain valuable work experience. Grants are provided by the Federal government to states to help them administer these grants for community service and work-study assistance to eligible postsecondary students. A single state agency administers the program and must meet a certain criteria. To find out more, visit ed.gov/programs/leap/index.html or do a simple online search to see what opportunities might exist in your local area.

Work Study Grants

There are a variety of work study grants available to students of all ages. Just ask the college you attend or want to apply to about their work study grant programs. Each institution has a different policy and criteria. It can certainly pay to inquire about these opportunities. There is also the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program that funds part-time employment to help needy students pay for postsecondary studies. There are over 3,400 participating educational institutions. The hourly wages cannot be less than federal minimum wage and offer great opportunities to get back to work for those who have not been employed for years. Employment is offered at the institution itself; a local, state or federal agency; a private for-profit organization; or a private nonprofit organization. Students must file a FAFSA to qualify for this unique program. To get additional details, go to ed.gov/programs/fws/index.html.

Tuition Assistance Programs

Many women over 40 continued to work while they were raising their children or living their lives. Now they are ready to pursue higher education. A wide variety of employers offer all types of tuition assistance programs. Usually these programs are administered by the Human Resources department of a company. IRS regulations permit companies to pay up to $5,250 to each employee annually, tax-free. Find out how the program works. Some employers pay upfront while others offer tuition reimbursement. This means you pay then they reimburse you for college costs. Many companies have GPA requirements to qualify for tuition assistance or reimbursement. Others have major requirements based on their needs and your career goals. There are also companies that may stipulate you remain with them for a certain period of time because they helped fund your education. Always do your research to know exactly what is available to you. No matter what your current position is, you could be pleasantly surprised to find out the opportunities available at the company you currently work for. It could also save you thousands of dollars as you complete your educational goals.

Women over 40 might feel hesitant about returning to school because they think their opportunities are limited. People are remaining in the workforce much longer today than they did twenty years ago. In a fast-moving world, new careers and educational chances are constantly becoming available. There are also plenty of grants and scholarships for women over 40 to take advantage of. It might take some effort, but you can have a great portion of your education paid for so you can move into a career that fulfills your personal goals and financial needs.

Many state that life begins after 40 and it is true. Now that your family is almost raised or your other issues are in the past, it is time to build a bright new future for yourself. Do the essential research to find out what scholarships and grants you qualify for. Take it slow and easy as you complete the mountains of paperwork. Keep your eye on the ultimate goal and realize this is terrific practice for returning to school. Maintain records of all your submissions so you can follow up on them and find out the status so that no time is wasted as you try to get back to school.