Grants for single mothers

Being a single mother can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Single-parent households often have lower income than their two-parent counterparts, and finances can create emotional as well as monetary strain on busy, single mothers.

Fortunately, many organizations, both government and private, offer grants that can help. Usually these grants provide money in varying amounts, but all with the same intention to help single mothers alleviate hardships, become self-sufficient and ultimately advance their incomes and well-being.

What is a grant, anyways?

A grant is a gift from one person or group to another person or group. Because a grant is a gift, the recipient doesn't have to pay the money back.

In almost all cases, the goal of a grant is to accomplish something good. That means the person or group giving the grant hopes that the person who receives the gift will be able to accomplish something positive. Some reasons for giving a grant might be so that a person can attend school, learn new job skills, pay basic living expenses, or help the less fortunate.

Grants By Type

Usually the person or group that offers the grant wants to help someone with a specific kind of problem. Other times, the grantor wants to help a person who has suffered a particular hardship. Grants can be categorized based on the type of assistance they provide or the characteristics of the person who receives it.

1. Government Grants

Usually government grants help with an immediate need, like food. Most of the time, the government does not directly give a single mother food, but rather gives the mother a debit card that she can use to buy food for herself and for her children. Usually the mother's income and the number of children she cares for determine the amount of the food assistance she receives.

In additional to food, government grants for single mothers can include health care. Because the children of single mothers often do not receive employer-sponsored health care, governments grant single mothers and their children health insurance for a variety of procedures. Governments usually grant health care to single mothers based on the mother's income and number of children.

2. College Grants

Both governments and private organizations offer college grants for single mothers. The U.S. Pell Grant Program offers need-based grants to students of all kinds, including single mothers. The amount of this grant varies, and can be up to $5,775 (as of 2015). The amount each person receives depends on multiple factors, including the cost to attend school, the student's income, and whether the student attends school full or part time.

Many universities and educational organizations also offer tuition grants. Some of these organizations commit to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated student need. Usually, a single mother who is seeking a college grant completes an application process, either with or in addition to their application for admission to study.

Like government grants, the amount an educational institution grants a single mother depends on her income, the cost of study, and whether the mother is a full or part-time student. Schools often waive application fees for low-income or high-performing students.

3. Financial Aid & Academic Scholarships

Public and private organizations offer school-related aid beyond traditional grants. Sometimes, this includes academic scholarships. If a single mother is academically talented or applies with outstanding credentials, the university or other organization may offer her a scholarship. Educational organizations often offer scholarships to attract the best students to their schools.

Most of the time, a student does not need to complete a separate application for a scholarship, but some scholarships require interviews or competitive on-campus activities. Schools sometimes offer activity-specific scholarships, like athletic scholarships or music scholarships. Often times, private donors work with universities and educational institutions to offer scholarships to students from a particular background or who choose a certain field of study.

4. Housing Grants

Single mothers sometimes need help with housing in emergency situations. And single mothers often struggle with housing security. Usually organizations that are local and community-based provide emergency and long-term housing. These grants allow the single mother to select and secure housing in her local community. Sometimes, these grants require the mother to participate in education or work projects. Read more about housing assistance here.

5. Business Grants

To get on her feet and secure an independent income, non-profit organizations offer single mothers business grants. These grants give single mothers the capital and liquid income they need to rent office space, buy supplies, and establish their business. To receive this type of grant, the mother usually creates and presents a business plan to the grantor.

6. Minority Grants

A single mother that is a member of a minority group or a group that suffered historic discrimination may receive a minority grant. These grants often come in the form of academic scholarships or tuition waivers for other educational opportunities.

Many minorities qualify for small-business grants that are set aside specifically for underprivileged groups. This grant assistance can help minorities gain equal representation in various business fields, generate income and profit, and enjoy financial security.

7. Personal Grants

Organizations and social services offer personal assistance to help single mothers with out-of-pocket expenses. Even with housing and food covered, single mothers still face unexpected expenses and they need cash. Personal grants help meet this need.

Often, many of the same local, community-based organizations that offer housing assistance also offer cash grants for emergencies. Sometimes, these grants come in the form of gift cards for gas or supplies. Social service departments also offer cash assistance in certain circumstances, depending on the mother's resources and needs.

8. Daycare Grants

Working mothers might need help with daycare. Many states offer cash payments for single mothers whose children attend daycare. Working mothers can also take advantage of tax credits for mothers whose children attend daycare. In addition, some employers offer health care assistance or flexible spending accounts that allow single mothers to reduce daycare expenses.

9. Military Grants

Single mothers in the military may benefit from grants and benefits specific to the military. The military offers housing grants to service members who are single mothers, and when a parent lives overseas, children usually attend school on-base free of charge.

Finding the right grant for you can be a daunting challenge. But with persistence, grants for single mothers can ease worry and financial burdens and make life a little easier.