Going back to school any time is a big commitment of time and money any time. But especially with the current state of the economy, many people are looking for creative ways to get financial help to further their education.
This WomenBloom member asked for help looking for grants and scholarships to help her fund her return to college. Here is what some of our other members had to say.
I am over 50 and have decided to return to school to finally complete my bachelor's degree in environmental science. Do you know anyone who knows about researching for grants to fund my education? I continually hear that there are billions of dollars to access in grant money, particularly for women. With all the online scams, it would be great to talk with someone who can direct me.
Paulette C. -- Austin, Texas
We posed this question to several other WomenBloom members involved in grant writing, research, or the educational field. Here are their suggestions:
I recently received my master degree and there are several things you can do. First and most important is the school you are applying to will have all that information on grants. It should be visible on their website or call the administration dept for links. They usually have grant info available on the websites, and sometimes they even have the grants broken up by the discipline meaning that if you go to your specialty, they may have links there specific to your discipline.
I also heard that this Administration is funding any person seeking education by trading out community service which means that you don’t have to pay them back. I would definitely check that out. I got a student loan which are easy to get and the school can again supply you with all the info.
You can also go to the Foundation Center and log on there...address below. They have every grant listed. You may have to sign up for a month to get the research they have in their database. OR you can go to your local library and get on their computer and use it for free. But make sure that they have the program before you go, some don’t.
~~ Susan Schmidt, Information Management Professional & Corporate Archivist – Dallas, Texas
Many grants are specifically for non-profit organizations and individuals are not eligible for them. However, there are a number of scholarship programs and databases, many of them geared to particular types of individuals, or individuals who are willing to study specific subjects. A basic google search for “scholarships over-50 women” turned up a number of entries, including:
Maybe you could check with a college financial aid office for a school that offers that particular program, and ask the question about how to get started. Their financial aid officer may be aware of scholarship databases or sources geared to this person.
~~ Suzanne Hershey, consultant to non-profit and community organizations
The Stimulus bill added $15 billion to Student Financial Assistance and raised the maximum Pell Grant to $4,860 for award year 2009-2010. All of that money is administered in the same manner as regular student financial aid, there is no special application for Stimulus funds. I would suggest going to the financial aid office of the place she plans to attend. They have tons of resources. Pell Grants are awarded based on the standard financial form every school uses.
~~ K. L., Education Professional
Absolutely this person should go directly to the financial institutions she is interested in and work with their financial aid people as they will know exactly what kinds of funding might be available to her.
By far, most higher education funding is administered by the educational institution itself either through money that is under their control through endowments, or through student loans. Private institutions may have some federal grant money and state schools may as well. But, many private institutions control endowments or gifts and other money that are dedicated to very specific uses. The notion that many scholarships or funds go unused or unclaimed is a myth however since donors often set up very restrictive criteria for how that money may be used. If no applicant fits those criteria, the money cannot be used.
One web resource I could recommend is www.fastweb.com. It is a site that lets people search for scholarships and grants that may lie outside the above sources. However, it is a small percentage of students who are able to fund their education this way. Many of those types of funds are either awarded in such small amounts or so restricted by applicant criteria that they simply don’t contribute much to the average student’s school bills.
~~ Doris Constantine, Associate Vice President, Financial Aid, St. Edwards University- Austin, Texas
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Written by weihanteng - Wednesday, December 14 2011