Scholarships for Nontraditional Students

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What is a Nontraditional Scholarship?

If you postponed college, you may be eligible for a Nontraditional Scholarship. Nontraditional scholarships are for people who want to go to college. But may be adults returning to school after being in the workforce.

Such scholarships often help pay for college at a time when other expenses abound. Unlike a loan, a nontraditional scholarship is free money. So, if you abide by the terms, it should not add debt.

Who offers nontraditional scholarships?

Providers of nontraditional scholarships are diverse. You may find them through corporations, professional associations and colleges and beyond. One example is a Founders Scholarship. These awards are for members of ANTSHE. The Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education pays $500 to full tuition.

You need to be a member and attend a college full-time. There are many colleges offering Founders Scholarships too. Albright and Beloit College are a few.

What is a Nontraditional Student?

Students who did not go from high school right into college are “nontraditional.” Many students start working after earning their diploma. But then want to go to college later in life.

Apart from that, nontraditional students have diverse backgrounds. In general, if you fit the bill as a nontraditional student, you meet one or more of the following 6 criteria:

  1. Are over the age of 24 - Traditional students are usually under 24 years of age. Nontraditional students are above 24.
  2. Delayed enrolling in college by 1 year or more after high school - Nontraditional students did not continue their education after high school. Many want to return to college after a long gap to finish their degree.
  3. Attend college part-time - Many nontraditional students have to raise a family. To make ends meet they often enroll in a part-time program.
  4. Have family duties and limited finances - Nontraditional students may have to care for dependents other than a spouse. Some are single parents and are raising a child on their own.
  5. Independent in terms of financial aid - Traditional college students may get financial help from their parents. Not so with nontraditional students.
  6. Have a GED, not a high school diploma - Many nontraditional students did not complete a high school diploma. But passed the GED exam and have a high school certificate of completion.
  7. Work full time - Many nontraditional students work a full-time job. They may be supporting a family while attending school.

Can nontraditional students get financial aid?

As a nontraditional student, you may be eligible for federal student financial aid. Like anyone younger, you should soon fill out a FAFSA.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid figures out your financial needs. Since there is no age limit for a Federal Pell Grant, you may be eligible too.

Many scholarships for nontraditional students do not place age limits either. Though some providers may ask to see the results of your FAFSA.

Can I get a scholarship at age 25?

There are scholarships that you may apply to if you are age 25. You may need to show financial need and have at least a GED. One example is the Tennessee Hope Scholarship. You can also apply if you were home schooled.

Why Consider Nontraditional Scholarships?

Many people ask if there are any scholarships for adults returning to school. In short, yes and you are not alone.

A scholarship may help a nontraditional student re-enter college. Studies show lifetime earnings are higher with a college degree.

One study shows that people with less than a high school diploma earn a weekly average of $520. But having an associate degree, many workers earn $836 per week. Still more with a bachelor’s degree where weekly pay averages at $1,173.

How many college students are adults?

Enrollment of students age 25 and over was 11 percent higher in 2016 than in 2006. The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that is on-the-rise by 1% through 2027.

At last check, 7.4 million students age 25 or older went to college in fall 2019. This is less than the number of ‘traditional’ students. About 12.5 million college students were under 25 years of age.

What percentage of college students are nontraditional?

About 10% of college students attending 4-year public colleges are nontraditional. Of these, most students (8%) are age 25 to 34. The remaining 2% are 35 years or older.

If you look at private for-profit schools, about one third (39%) are 25 to 34. Another 28% are 35 plus.

Somewhere between these two are private nonprofit colleges. While most (8%) are in the 25 to 34 range, 5% are adults age 35 and up.

Top Nontraditional Scholarships for 2019

As a nontraditional student, there are many scholarships to help you earn a college degree. These are our top Nontraditional Scholarships for 2019. Don’t forget to source your college’s financial aid office too!

Renate W. Chasman Scholarship

This award is for U.S. re-entry female students - one who has returned to school to pursue her education following an interruption. Applicants must be residents of Long Island in New York State, accepted for credit into a degree-oriented program in the natural sciences, engineering, or mathematics, and entering the junior or senior undergraduate year or first-year graduate level.

Total: $1000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  January 30
2020

Dr. Hans & Clara Zimmerman Foundation Education Scholarship

This scholarship is available for Hawaii undergraduate and graduate students who are majoring in education with an emphasis on teaching and have a grade point average of 2.8 or higher. Preference is given to non-traditional students with at least two years of teaching experience and to students of Hawaiian ethnicity.

Total: $2825 Awards:  28
Deadline:  January 31
2020

Carol Murphy Memorial Endowment Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate students who are 25 years of age or older and residents of Indiana, Missouri, and Texas. Students must major in business or education, and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Total: $600 Awards:  1
Deadline:  January 31
2020

Gordon & Betty Cape Continuing Education Endowment Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. and international Kansas residents who are enrolled or planning to enroll in any Kansas college or university. Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and must be 25 years of age or older.

Total: $500 Awards:  1
Deadline:  January 31
2020

Second Chance Endowment Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. and international residents of Illinois who have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must be 25 years of age or older.

Total: $1500 Awards:  1
Deadline:  January 31
2020

I Have a Dream Scholarship

This award is open to all U.S. students who are 13 and older and who are currently enrolled (or enroll no later than fall of 2026) in an accredited postsecondary institution of higher education. One scholarship winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship.

Total: $1500 Awards:  1
Deadline:  January 31
2020

No Essay Scholarship

This scholarship is available for U.S. and international high school and college students enrolled in U.S. academic institutions. Applicants must apply online.

Total: $2000 Awards:  12
Deadline:  January 31
2020

UW-Eau Claire Blugold Promise-De Maio Scholarship

Students who graduated from a Wisconsin high school and have earned less than 30 undergraduate credit hours are eligible for this award. Students must plan to attend University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; preference will be given to single parents.

Total: $1000 Awards:  2
Deadline:  February 1
2020

UW-Eau Claire Blugold Promise-Graupner Scholarship

Students who graduated from a Wisconsin high school and have earned less than 30 undergraduate credit hours are eligible for this award at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Students must demonstrate significant financial need; preference is given to single parents and students who have experienced other non-traditional paths to university.

Total: $1000 Awards:  2
Deadline:  February 1
2020

UW-Eau Claire Single Parent Scholarship Program

U.S. single custodial parents with dependent children who are enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are eligible for this award. Preference will be given to returning female students.

Total: $6000 Awards:  3
Deadline:  February 1
2020

Southern California Mothers of Multiples Clubs, Inc. Scholarship

This award is for mothers of multiples currently attending or planning to attend a college, university, trade or vocational school.

Total: $1500 Awards:  25
Deadline:  February 3
2020

Bernice Murray Scholarship

This scholarship is available for U.S. undergraduate students. The applicant must demonstrate financial need and be a single parent with primary custody of one or more children under the age of 12.

Total: $2000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  February 12
2020