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!

Unigo Education Matters $5K Scholarship

The Education Matters Scholarship is open to any applicant who is 13 years of age or older and is a legal resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. Each applicant must complete a scholarship match quiz/questionnaire and search for scholarships at UNIGO. The scholarship committee will select the winner based on the creativity and originality of the submitted written response to the scholarship question each year.

Total: $5000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  November 30

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:  November 30

Clarke Price Accounting Scholarship

This scholarship program is open to U.S. students who are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program as part of a plan to obtain the 150 semester hours required for the CPA exam. Students must be Ohio residents attending an Ohio college/university and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Non-traditional and veteran students are encouraged to apply.

Total: $2000 Awards:  2
Deadline:  December 1

AAUW Selected Professions Fellowships

This fellowship is available to U.S. women of any age who are pursuing a master's degree in selected areas of study.

Total: $18000 Awards:  25
Deadline:  December 1

UW-Eau Claire Blugold Promise-Sundstrom Scholarship

Non-traditional and first generation incoming students to the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire who have earned no more than 30 college credit hours and graduated from a Wisconsin high school are eligible for this award. Students must demonstrate financial need; preference is given to students from Durand High School.

Total: $1000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  December 1

Worthy Women's Professional Studies Scholarship

The Worthy Women's Professional Studies Scholarship is available for U.S. women over the age of 30 who are pursuing further education and professional studies.

Total: $2500 Awards:  3
Deadline:  December 2

Kathy Johnson Outreach Scholarship

This award is for a non-traditional undergraduate or post-baccalaureate student. Applicants must attend an Oregon school and pursue a degree in a field of study related to wildlife science.

Total: $600 Awards:  1
Deadline:  December 7
2019 Scholarship

This scholarship drawing is open to legal residents of the United States. Students must plan to attend college at least half time during the academic year.

Total: $10000 Awards:  4
Deadline:  December 15

San Diego 99s/Darlene Kelly Advanced Rating Scholarship

Female residents who are members of the Southwest Section of Ninety-Nines (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Utah, Nevada) and are pursuing an advanced certificate or rating are eligible for this award.

Total: $2000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  December 31

FACT "Second Chance" Scholarship

This award is for U.S. college freshmen who are members, or the child/grandchild of a member, of FACT. Applicants must not have attended school since 2007 as a full-time student.

Total: $10000 Awards:  4
Deadline:  December 31

Unigo Top Ten List Scholarship

The Top Ten List Scholarship is open to US students who are 13 years of age and older and who are currently enrolled (or enroll no later than fall of 2025) in an accredited postsecondary institution of higher education. One winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship.

Total: $1500 Awards:  1
Deadline:  December 31

Imagine America Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP)

This scholarship is available for U.S. high school graduates who are at least 21 years of age and enrolling in a participating career college.

Total: $1000 Awards:  50
Deadline:  December 31