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College Scholarships for Adults

Instructor: Bill Sands
Adult students looking for financial aid have plenty of scholarship options from which to choose. Potential sources of assistance are outlined below, along with resources to help you submit a successful application.

Adult Scholarships

Adult students looking to enroll in a degree or certificate program are often unaware of the vast financial resources available to them. There is an unfortunate myth that scholarships and other forms of financial aid are only offered to high school graduates, and nontraditional students are ineligible for assistance. This is simply not true.

While some scholarships are only for younger students, there are plenty of options for students of all ages. In fact, some scholarships are only available to older students. Examples of available scholarship options are profiled below.

ASIST Scholarship

Offered by Executive Women International, the Adult Students in Scholastic Transition (ASIST) Scholarship is given to adults who want to pursue postsecondary education in an effort to improve their economic situation or overcome physical and social challenges. Every year, EWI awards 13 scholarships to both men and women ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Applicants must have clear career academic and career goals and live near an EWI chapter. A listing of locations is available on the EWI website.

ASEP Scholarship

The Imagine America Foundation offers an annual award of $1,000 to students who qualify for the Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP). Students looking to qualify for this scholarship must be U.S. citizens who are at least 19 years old and enrolled in a participating school. Prospective awardees will also need to complete the NCCT Educational Success Potential Assessment, a standardized test used to determine if applicants have the characteristics needed to succeed in the classroom.

Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarship

The Women's Scholarship Fund, offered by the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, is a program designed to benefit women above the age of 35 who are classified as 'low-income' by the foundation's standards. The foundation also gives preference to students with clear goals and plans for their education.

School-Based Scholarships

In an effort to encourage more adults to earn a college degree, several schools set aside scholarships funds specifically for adult learners. For example, Murray State University has developed an Adults Belong in College (ABC) program to provide support and assistance to adult students. In addition to services including orientation and academic advising, the ABC office provides scholarships to part- and full-time adult students studying at Murray State.

DePaul University is another school offering scholarships to adults pursuing accelerated degree-completion programs as well as programs offered through the School for New Learning, an academic division catering to adult learners.

How to Apply

In most cases, you'll need to download or fill out an online application in order to be considered for a scholarship opportunity. You might also need to submit letters of recommendation, school acceptance letters, or copies of school transcripts. When applying for scholarships set aside for students who've demonstrated financial need, you might need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as well (which is the case with the ASIST program listed above and many school-based scholarships).

Commonly known as the FAFSA, this application totals your family's assets, expenses, and income to determine how much assistance you will require to attend college. It's typically used to assess your qualifications for other forms of financial aid, including Pell Grants and an annual federal student loan of around $5,500 or more.

Regardless of whether or not it's required to apply for scholarships, you should consider filling out this form to help supplement any scholarship funds you might receive.

Application Help

If you're having trouble navigating the application process, Study.com has a few resources to explain the steps involved and help you complete your application:

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