Scholarships & Grants for Non-Traditional Students 55 Awards to Help Pay for School & Resources for Success

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Pam Andrews CEO of The Scholarship Shark Read bio

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Kenya McCullum Read bio

All students are concerned about how they will fund their college education, and Non-Traditional students are no exception. While some of the funding opportunities may be different for their traditional counterparts, there are many avenues Non-Traditional students can take to find scholarships and grants. This guide is designed to help Non-Traditional students navigate this endeavor. Readers will find information on the types of scholarships and grants Non-Traditional students can receive, as well as resources to help them in the college environment.

Who Are Non-Traditional College Students?

Non-Traditional students have diverse backgrounds and there may be several factors that contributed to them going to college later in life. Generally, students are classified as Non-Traditional if they have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Do not immediately continue their education after high school

    Non-Traditional students have a gap between their high school and college years—and in some cases, that time can stretch to several years. Also, Non-Traditional students may have completed some college and subsequently re-enrolled to finish their degree program years later.

  • Attend college on a part-time basis

    Many Non-Traditional students are raising children, so they still need to be able to make ends meet while they attend college. As a result, they may decide to enroll in a degree program on a part-time basis. In addition, enrolling in a part-time program allows students to pay per credit taken each semester, which may be helpful if they can’t pay the flat fee for tuition that they would be charged in a full-time program.

  • Work full time

    In many cases, Non-Traditional students continue to work a full-time job, so they are juggling working at least 35 hours per week while they attend school.

  • Have financial independence

    While traditional college students may receive financial support, in whole or in part, from their family, Non-Traditional students are financially independent. As a result, their parents’ income does not factor into the amount of financial aid they’re eligible to receive.

  • Have children or dependents other than a spouse

    Non-Traditional students may have dependents that they care for, generally children. In some cases, a Non-Traditional student may be taking care of elderly family members.

  • Are raising a child alone

    Students who are raising children on their own—whether they never married, got divorced or legally separated, or became widowed—are considered Non-Traditional.

  • Have a GED, not a high school diploma

    Instead of completing a high school diploma, Non-Traditional students may have passed the General Education Development (GED) exam or received a certificate of high school completion.

Expert Perspective: Do Traditional Students Get Preference When Applying for Scholarships?

As long as students meet scholarship criteria, they are eligible for any financial opportunities available. However, whether or not programs give preference to certain students depends on the institution. For example, because Non-Traditional students are more experienced and diverse than younger traditional ones, medical schools and law universities see them as noteworthy applicants.

Pam Andrews, CEO of The Scholarship Shark

40 Scholarships for Non-Traditional Students

Finding scholarships can take a lot of time and effort. To help Non-Traditional students get started, we compiled the following list of 40 scholarships that these students can apply for to help them pay for their higher education costs. From general scholarships to those for single parents, this comprehensive list includes many funding sources.

Sponsoring Organization: American Legion Auxiliary
Application Deadline: Early March

This scholarship is available to members of the American Legion, Auxiliary, or Sons of the American legion who are pursuing a two- or four-year professional, technical, or trade program. To be eligible, members of the organization must be up to date on their annual dues.

Sponsoring Organization: University of Washington
Application Deadline: Mid-March

The University of Washington provides this scholarship to those who are enrolled in at least 12 credits at the school per semester. A 2.50 minimum grade point average is also required to win this scholarship.

Sponsoring Organization: Daniels Fund
Application Deadline: Varies

This scholarship is available to adults who are returning to college or attending for the first time in Wyoming, Colorado, or New Mexico. Partnering schools may award the scholarship based on specific criteria such as being a former foster care youth, military personnel, or someone pursuing an EMT or early childhood education certification.

Sponsoring Organization: Battle Creek Community Foundation
Application Deadline: Early March

This award is available to students from Calhoun County, Michigan who have overcome adversity and want to change their lives by getting a higher education.

Sponsoring Organization: Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education
Application Deadline: Early February

To receive this scholarship, applicants must be enrolled in a four-year program on a full-time basis.

Sponsoring Organization: University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Application Deadline: Mid-September

This scholarship is for full-time students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Sponsoring Organization: Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education
Application Deadline: Early February

Applicants for this scholarship should be Non-Traditional students enrolled in a four-year program. To win, students must demonstrate their participation in community activities.

Sponsoring Organization: Rhode Island Foundation
Application Deadline: Late April

Funds from this scholarship are available to Rhode Island residents who are 25 years old and older. Students who plan to enroll in an undergraduate degree at Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, or University of Rhode Island are given preference.

Sponsoring Organization: National Leased Housing Association
Application Deadline: Mid-April

Funding is provided to students who live in public housing. Applicants must demonstrate need and academic achievement to be considered.

Sponsoring Organization: The Bernard Osher Foundation
Application Deadline: Varies

Students who are 25 to 50 years old and had at least a five-year educational gap are eligible to receive this scholarship. Students must demonstrate financial need and dedication to academic performance.

Sponsoring Organization: University of North Carolina Wilmington
Application Deadline: Varies

The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers this scholarship to students who demonstrate financial need and academic excellence.

Sponsoring Organization: Michigan State University
Application Deadline: Varies

Michigan State University provides this scholarship to its Non-Traditional students enrolled in any degree program. The school encourages students who have gone through a life-changing experience, such as the death of a partner, to apply.

Sponsoring Organization: Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education
Application Deadline: Early February

Graduate students who demonstrate need, academic achievement, and a contribution to their local community are eligible to receive this funding.

Sponsoring Organization: Colorado State University
Application Deadline: Varies

Colorado State University offers this scholarship to Non-Traditional graduate students at its College of Health and Human Sciences. Applicants must have a least a 3.0 grade point average to be eligible.

Sponsoring Organization: Central New Mexico Community College
Application Deadline: Varies

Central New Mexico Community College provides this scholarship to single mothers who plan to transfer to a liberal arts program at a four-year college. Applicants are required to have at least a 3.0 grade point average to be eligible.

Sponsoring Organization: Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund
Application Deadline: Varies

Arkansas single parents who have at least 50 percent physical custody of their child are eligible to receive this award. Students must be below the federal poverty level and have a high school diploma or GED to apply.

Sponsoring Organization: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Application Deadline: Mid-April

Custodial parents of dependent children who attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire can receive this scholarship.

Sponsoring Organization: Westminster College
Application Deadline: Varies

Non-Traditional students who attend Westminster College at least half time can apply for this scholarship. They must be single parents and have at least a 3.0 grade point average to win the award.

Sponsoring Organization: Northern Arizona University
Application Deadline: Early March

Single parents at Northern Arizona University who maintain a 3.0 grade point average are eligible to receive this scholarship.

Sponsoring Organization: Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation
Application Deadline: Mid-July

This scholarship is available to single parents who are at least 21 years old.

Sponsoring Organization: Westminster College
Application Deadline: Varies

Single parents at Westminster College can receive this award if they have at least a 3.0 grade point average and prove financial need.

Sponsoring Organization: Battle Creek Community Foundation
Application Deadline: Varies

Female business majors who live in Calhoun County, Michigan can receive these scholarships. Students are required to have at least a 2.50 grade point average.

Sponsoring Organization: Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts Auxiliary
Application Deadline: Varies

Non-Traditional students who are interested in studying agriculture and natural resources can receive this award.

Sponsoring Organization: Westminster College
Application Deadline: Varies

Non-Traditional students who are majoring in business or social science are eligible for this award from Westminster College. Applicants must be a sophomore, junior, or senior with a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

Sponsoring Organization: Colorado State University
Application Deadline: Varies

This scholarship is for human development and family studies majors at Colorado State University.

Sponsoring Organization: University of Arkansas
Application Deadline: Mid-February

Students who are enrolled in the university’s engineering school or arts and sciences school can apply for this funding.

Sponsoring Organization: Calvin College
Application Deadline: Early February

This award is for education majors who are minorities with at least a 3.0 grade point average. This scholarship can be renewed provided students maintain their GPA.

Sponsoring Organization: University of North Carolina Wilmington
Application Deadline: Varies

The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers this scholarship to juniors and seniors majoring in business.

Sponsoring Organization: University of North Texas
Application Deadline: Early March

To receive this award from the University of North Texas, students must major in audiology, rehabilitation counseling, industrial-organizational psychology, speech-language pathology, or counseling psychology. Students should have at least a 3.50 grade point average.

Sponsoring Organization: Colorado State University
Application Deadline: Varies

Colorado State University awards this scholarship to Non-Traditional students who are in a major related to family and consumer sciences.

Sponsoring Organization: Executive Women’s International
Application Deadline: Varies

This award is given to women who are economically, socially, and physically disadvantaged.

Sponsoring Organization: Arizona Business and Professional Women’s Foundation
Application Deadline: Early April

This scholarship is for women 25 years old and over who want to return to college to advance in their careers.

Sponsoring Organization: National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc.
Application Deadline: Early March

African-American women can receive this scholarship if they are continuing their education after a life situation disrupted their ability to attend college.

Sponsoring Organization: Emerge Scholarships, Inc.
Application Deadline: Varies

Women who are at least 25 years old can receive this award.

Sponsoring Organization: Ohio University
Application Deadline: Varies

Women at Ohio University can receive this funding if they live in Lawrence County. Students must have at least a 2.50 grade point average and demonstrate financial need.

Sponsoring Organization: Jeannette Rankin Foundation
Application Deadline: Early March

This scholarship is for low-income women who are at least 35 years old.

Sponsoring Organization: University of California Berkeley
Application Deadline: Varies

Women who are 35 years old and over can qualify for this scholarship.

Sponsoring Organization: American Association of University Women
Application Deadline: Early March

Women in north San Diego County who are at least 23 years old can receive this scholarship from the American Association of University Women.

Sponsoring Organization: American Association of University Women
Application Deadline: Early April

This scholarship is for women who are continuing college after a long interruption. It is available to Illinois residents in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Villa Park, Addison, Oakbrook Terrace, Glendale Heights, and Lombard.

Sponsoring Organization: Women’s Independence Scholarship Program
Application Deadline: Varies

This funding is provided to women who are survivors of intimate partner abuse.

Expert Perspective: How Can Non-Traditional Students Leverage Their Work and Life Experience When Applying for Scholarships?

As a Non-Traditional student, you have years of experience and personality traits that are exclusive to you, and when these are used in scholarship applications, they can separate you from the competition. When applying for scholarships, make sure to highlight your strengths (things learned from raising children, working, living independently, etc.) and make your weaknesses your strengths (a circumstance that taught a life lesson, overcoming a roadblock, etc.).

Pam Andrews, CEO of The Scholarship Shark

15 Grants for Non-Traditional Students

Grants are another great resource people can use to fund their education. However, unlike scholarships, grants are provided solely based on financial need and not academic performance. The following are some grants available to Non-Traditional students.

Sponsoring Organization: Calumet College of St. Joseph
Application Deadline: Varies

Students who are 55 years old and above can receive this grant.

Sponsoring Organization: Alabama Commission on Higher Education
Application Deadline: Varies

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education offers grants for residents who are enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at a college in the state.

Sponsoring Organization: Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education
Application Deadline: Varies

State residents who attend participating colleges can receive this grant.

Sponsoring Organization: American Association of University Women
Application Deadline: Mid-December

Women who hold a bachelor’s can receive this grant in order to go back to school to earn an advanced degree.

Sponsoring Organization: State of New Jersey – Office of the Secretary of Higher Education
Application Deadline: Mid-February

Students who had to leave college and want to continue their education are eligible to receive this grant.

Sponsoring Organization: U.S. Department of Education
Application Deadline: Varies

This grant is available to undergraduate students.

Sponsoring Organization: U.S. Department of Education
Application Deadline: Varies

Undergraduate students who attend participating schools can receive this grant.

Sponsoring Organization: Air Force Aid Society
Application Deadline: Late April

Members of the Air Force who want to return to college can apply for this grant. In addition, military spouses can receive this funding.

Sponsoring Organization: Georgia Student Finance Commission
Application Deadline: Varies

This grant is for residents who are enrolled in a private college or university in the state.

Sponsoring Organization: Iowa College Student Aid Commission
Application Deadline: Early July

Iowa students enrolled in an undergraduate college in the state are eligible to receive this award.

Sponsoring Organization: Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority
Application Deadline: Varies

Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority provides this grant to state residents who are at least 24 years old.

Sponsoring Organization: Soroptimist International
Application Deadline: Mid-November

Soroptimist International offers grants to women who have been accepted in bachelor’s degree or vocational programs.

Sponsoring Organization: Minnesota Office of Higher Education
Application Deadline: Varies

Students can receive this grant if they attend one of the participating Minnesota colleges.

Sponsoring Organization: New Mexico Higher Education Department
Application Deadline: Varies

This grant is provided to New Mexico residents attending a public college or university, or a tribal college, in the state.

Sponsoring Organization: Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion
Application Deadline: Early May

Oregon offers grants to students enrolled in a participating college in the state. Students should be attending college at least half time.

Expert Perspective: How Non-Traditional College Students Can Explain Why They Have Not Yet Completed a Degree

There are many reasons a student may not have yet completed their degree (they had other pursuits, a relative fell ill, they had a family to support, their financial situation was unfavorable, etc.). Colleges understand this and want to provide opportunities to all of their prospective learners.

Pam Andrews, CEO of The Scholarship Shark

Is Online School Right for Me?

Many Non-Traditional students are busy trying to balance their education with a full-time job and a family. In order to do this effectively, attending an online school can be a good option for them. The following guide provides helpful information about online education, such as the personality traits online students need, the tools available to them, and how these institutions are accredited.

Guide to Online Colleges

Additional Resources for Non-Traditional Students

Non-Traditional students may face many challenges when navigating higher education, whether they are returning the school after a break or going to college for the first time. The following resources can help these students gain the knowledge they need to be successful as they embark on this journey.

How to Go to College Without a GED or High School Diploma

This guide provides information on how students can get a college education without completing a high school diploma or GED. It includes information on the programs and organizations that help high school dropouts, the steps students need to take to earn a GED, and tips for passing the examination.

Help for Single Parents in College: Scholarships & Resources

It can be challenging for single parents to get the funds they need to go to college as they raise their children. This guide provides valuable information that single mothers and fathers can use as they advance in their education, including where to find scholarships and grants.

Guide to Online K-12 Schools & College

Parents who are interested in online schools for their children can get started with this guide. There is information on synchronous and asynchronous schools and massive open online courses, as well as a side-by-side comparison of traditional and online schools.