For Seniors, retirement is not just waiting for the grandkids to come over and visit, relaxing in front of the TV to watch your favorite Sitcom, or even traveling through the States or seeing the world. Many older adults find that retirement is a time to try new things, explore new ideas, or learn about a new field of interest. Going back to school is sometimes easier in the retirement years than when you were working full time. Plus, there can be many benefits to getting a degree when you have reached your silver years compared to when you are young. Some schools may provide a “Senior” discount on tuition costs if the student is over fifty-five. This can include full scholarships for those who meet certain requirements or criteria.
Here are some of the most useful and beneficial scholarships for Seniors citizens. Each one of these scholarship opportunities may be for a specific demographic yet some are offered to all ages, not just older adults. There are also some that are geared to women only, while others are for low-income households or military personnel and their families. So, please read carefully to the criteria and eligibility requirements. Some deadlines may have passed or about to be not available for 2020, however, they do come back in 2021. Overall, going back to college in your later years provides new opportunities to learn something you may not have had the option to do when you were young.
1. Adult Student in Scholastic Transition Scholarship program
The Adult Students in Scholastic Transition Scholarship (ASIST) program is offered to all students who are past high school age and have made a choice to enroll in a college, university, or trade school. This is a great opportunity for senior citizens who want to go back to school and receive a degree. The ASIST program helps provide financial assistance and support to adult students. To be eligible for the ASIST scholarship program, applicants must be at least 18 years of age or older and reside within the boundaries of a participating Executive Women International (EWI) Chapter. The ASIST Scholarship is a non-discriminatory, educational scholarship program designed for non-traditional students working on an associates, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. According to EWI, the ASIST Program will positively impact the personal life, employment, family, and community of the applicant. The ASIST scholarship program also offers micro-scholarships. They are awarded by universities for the student’s high school achievements and do not require essay competitions or judges. The Micro-scholarships can earn students up to $3,000.
2. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund
The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund (JRF) is an awesome option for seniors or adult learners who desire to attend college for the first time. The JRF scholarship provides support for low-income women who are thirty-five and older living in the US. Part of their mission is to build better lives through post-secondary education. The JRF scholarship program is about empowering women through education. The scholarship is available to both online and on campus degree programs, as long as the program is from an accredited college. To be eligible, the recipient must be a woman, age 35 or older, considered low-income status, a US citizen, enrolled in a regionally accredited institution while pursuing a technical or vocational education for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Approximately 91% of JRF scholars have graduated or have worked towards completing their degree in the past year. Over 3 million scholarships have been distributed.
3. The Soroptimist Club
The Soroptimist Club is a globally volunteer organization, providing both women and girls access to education and training through scholarship awards. Their goal is to provide economic empowerment to each recipient of the program. The Soroptimist club’s focus is on educating women and girls, so they can live out their dreams. Women and girls who participate in the scholarship award are less likely to be vulnerable to sex traffickers, more likely to leave a domestic violence situation and not return, able to access healthcare, less likely to live in poverty, and able to raise stronger, healthier families. Women of all ages can be in situations of domestic abuse, even senior citizens. This award is for all women and girls, despite their age. The award is provided by the organization’s partners. The current partners are The Torrid Foundation, Janney Montgomery Scott, and Google. However, donations are accepted from anyone with a giving heart to help women and girls around the world achieve their goals. The Soroptimist Club headquarters is in Philadelphia, PA.
4. The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting
There are also scholarships geared to specific fields, such as Accounting. The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting (EFWA)offers both scholarships and mentoring opportunities that provide supporting access to education and the advancement of women who are pursuing careers in accounting. The scholarships are available to women who are enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate degree. There are several types of scholarships available. Two common awards given is the Women In Transition and the Women In Need scholarship. The Women In Transition (WIT) is designed for a woman who is the primary source of support for her family and is a freshman, enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. The Women In Need (WIN) scholarship is the same, other than it is for women who are enrolled as sophomore students. All recipients must hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Recipients of the scholarship may apply for more than one award. The scholarship application period opens in January and closes April 30th for most scholarships and postgraduate scholarship application period closes May 15th for each year. Awards can be up to $16,000 over a four-year period.
5. Society of Women Engineers
The Society of Women Engineers is a support group of members for women who are either working in the field of Engineering or working towards a degree in engineering. In today’s world, STEM undergraduate degrees are becoming more popular with women students compared to the past. For instance, in the engineering field, sixty years ago only 1% of women were engineers in the field. However, these numbers have continued to increase. Today, statistics show that one in five engineers are women, according to statistics from an Alabama Newscenter story. That is a huge increase, going from one percent to 20%. This is why the Society of Women Engineers has made it their mission to provide mentoring services and advocacy for women who join the SWE. The Society of Women Engineers is the world’s largest advocate and catalyst for change for women in engineering and technology and have worked to support and guide each member during their professional journey by providing a wide range of resources for career development in the engineering field. The SWE have helped women achieve their professional goals in engineering for nearly seventy years.
6. Philanthropic Educational Organization
The Philanthropic Educational Organization has helped women of all ages “reach for the stars” in the US and in Canada for over 150 years. The PEO, as they call themselves, was created to celebrate the advancement of women in the workforce and educate women by providing several incentives such as scholarships, grants, awards, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College. The organization is one of the oldest women’s organizations in North America. Women over the age of 18 are eligible to be considered for P.E.O. membership. The PEO sisterhood has over 6,000 chapters throughout the US and in Canada and desires to motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations through the program. The PEO offers several scholarships, including an International Peace Scholarship Fund, which is available to a citizen of another country other than US or Canada; it is for graduate students or students attending Cottey College and it is a needs-based scholarship. The PEO has helped over 109,000 women, as of 2019 and has raised over 345 million in educational assistance for all recipients of the program. Check their website to learn more on the other scholarships.
7. Ford ReStart Program
The Ford ReStart Program is specifically designed for students who are at least 25 years of age or older and reside in the state of Oregon or Siskiyou County, CA. This makes it a good option for seniors who have never had the opportunity to finish college and yet live in these areas listed. Many seniors may have started a college program in the past; however, due to family circumstances or other issues, they never completed their program. The Ford ReStart program is a need-based scholarship, one of over 46 renewable scholarships offered each year to students from Oregon and Siskiyou County, CA. The award amount covers about 90% of unmet college costs and is calculated by the college’s Cost of Attendance, minus any grants or scholarships added. Students also need to be no more than halfway through their degree program and working toward their first associate or bachelor’s degree. The Ford ReStart Scholarship is renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study. To apply, fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by October 1st of each year. The Ford ReStart Scholarship is sponsored by the Ford Family Foundation.
8. Beacon Scholarship for Rural America
The Beacon Scholarship for Rural America is sponsored by Carrot-Top Industries; which has been a leading retailer for patriotic products towards patriotism and community growth throughout America. Through the Beacon Scholarship for Rural America, their desire is to help low-income students with their college endeavors, no matter how old the student is. To be eligible, the student must be a college-bound graduating high school senior, current college student, or an adult learner. That’s right, a senior citizen can also apply for this scholarship, as long as they meet all requirements. As part of the requirements, the student must also have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and enrolled in an accredited college program. The scholarship is available Bi-annually and the total award is $1000, given each spring and fall semesters. To apply, the student must complete the online application and write a 750 word essay on the following: What does patriotism mean to you, and how do you believe patriotism can help communities across America? Students need also to submit a copy of their most recent high school or college transcript, as well as two letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, counselors, other academic professionals, or colleagues; and a current photo or school photo for marketing purposes.
9. Sylvia Lask Scholarship
The Sylvia Lask Scholarship is sponsored by the Mental Health Association in New York State Inc. They are located in Albany, NY. It is open to all enrolled undergraduates or graduate students who attend college in the state of New York and are majoring in a mental health-related field while preparing for a career in mental health. Senior citizens may find this scholarship award useful if they live in New York and want to receive a graduate degree. The scholarship is offered to both full-time and part-time students and is restricted to residents of New York. Students must show their need for financial help to be eligible. The Sylvia Lask Scholarship amount varies; however it may be as much as $2,500. The scholarship is not renewable. Applicants for the scholarship need to fill out an application form, write an essay on why they could benefit from the award, and provide community service initiatives. The Sylvia Lask Scholarship is offered on the Peterson’s college resource website.
10. Imagine America Adult College Grants
Here is a great option for all nontraditional students who are already enrolled in an eligible Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP) through the Imagine America Foundation. The award amount is equalled to $1,000 to go toward the program of choice and sponsored by the Imagine America Foundation. All prospective students must complete the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) which is the Student Success Assessment before they can submit their application. To be eligible, Nontraditional students must be over 21 years of age. The scholarships are intended for adults who desire to improve their present situation through education and who plan to enter a trade profession. All recipients must become a member of the Imagine America Foundation to complete the application process. The ASEP is a national aid program, established in 2009 by the Imagine America Foundation that offers a one-time grant to eligible Nontraditional students.
11. Boundless Opportunity Scholarship (BOS)
The Boundless Opportunity scholarship is offered to non-traditional students that are highly motivated and desire to receive a good education to better themselves and their family life. The scholarship is available at specific two- and four-year colleges or universities located in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The BOS program will be provided to seven non-traditional student populations that can demonstrate their need for financial assistance toward their continued education goal. To be eligible, nontraditional students must be from one of the following: adults entering or returning to college, GED recipients, former foster care youth, former juvenile justice youth, returning military, individuals pursuing EMT/paramedic training, or individuals pursuing Early Childhood Education (ECE) certification. Not all schools may offer the Boundless Opportunity Scholarships. Check with your school of choice to determine eligibility. The Daniels Fund sponsors the BOS program, It is named after Bill Daniels, a legacy of cable television pioneer, which awards grants to partnering colleges and universities who in return provides need-based scholarships to successful student applicants.
12. AfterCollege Succurro Scholarship
The AfterCollege Succurro Scholarship is a great option for individuals going back to college, such as senior citizens or adult learners. AfterCollege has contributed over $1,600,000 to student activities in a variety of majors and scholarships. AfterCollege scholarships are available quarterly to help support any current student who has demonstrated the need for help financially and has a passion to be successful at the career of choice. To be eligible for the AfterCollege Succurro Scholarship, students must currently be enrolled in an accredited program and working toward a degree, such as an Associate’s, bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree in any discipline. A GPA of 2.5 or higher is also required to apply for the scholarship. AfterCollege provides several other scholarship options for students on their website, with some having differferent eligibility requirements. Scholarships are for students who also demonstrate professionalism in their field. AfterCollege was founded in 1999 and is an online professional platform; they work to connect students, faculty, alumni and employers through customized career networks at colleges and professional organizations across the country. Deadline to apply is December 31, 2020.
13. William E. and Phoebe Clark Scholarship
The William E. and Phoebe Clark Scholarship offers adult students who plan to return to college to pursue a bachelor’s or advanced degree or just in the beginning stages of an academic journey. The scholarship is managed by Michigan State University. Single parents and students who are returning to school following the death of a spouse receive precedence over other students. Award amounts may vary according to financial need, academic achievement, and the course of study. Students who are awarded the scholarship must attend at a full-time status. A list of other Applicant Requirements can be found at the Michigan State University website. This scholarship is renewable. Due dates and number of awards will vary.
14. Dr. Angela E. Grant Memorial Scholarship
For those who are a Cancer survivor and have the willingness to pursue your dreams and go back to school and graduate, then the Dr. Angela E. Grant Memorial Scholarship is here for you. The scholarship is in honor of the late Dr. Angela E. Grant, a woman that kept persevering even when hope seemed so out of reach. Dr. Grant dedicated her life to community service and teaching students who struggle with mathematics. She was always there for students who need a helping hand. She fought her battle with Cancer rigorously, never losing hope. Dr. Grant may have been taken from us early, but her memory will still go on by offering hope to Cancer survivors and students who are dedicated to community service and celebrating the spirit of life. To be eligible, students must be a Cancer survivor or be an applicant with an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with cancer and exhibit leadership, community involvement, exemplary character, and high academic standards on their application. One of Dr. Angela E. Grant’s accomplishments was being one of only 150 African American women with a doctorate in Mathematics.
15. HotelPlanner Scholarship Program
The HotelPlanner Scholarship Program is specifically offered to military personnel and their families that are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree that is related to the major or field of technology. The scholarship is for both active serving and veterans of the military, including family members. The scholarship amount is $10,000 in financial assistance, and is awarded to ten applicants or recipients, two times each year ($1000 per person). The student may re-apply, if the applicant meets all requirements. For the commitment made by the brave men and women of the military who fight to keep the country safe, HotelPlanner is committed to honor them by supporting eligible recipients who choose to pursue a college degree and need financial assistance for a higher learning education.The HotelPlanner Scholarship is created to help grow the intended to increase the amount of recipients interested in making their technology education dreams a reality for the future.
16. Executive Women International ASIST Scholarship
The EWI ASIST scholarship program is offered to all adults, regardless of age, which are facing either economic, social, or physical challenges, including those who are looking to improve their situation through educational opportunities. This Executive Women International ASIST scholarship is NOT the same as the ASIST scholarship, mentioned above; however, the scholarship is sponsored and supported by the EWI and through local chapters who partner with educational providers and social services agencies that work to identify eligible candidates. There are a total of thirteen scholarships available, ranging from $2,000 to $10,0000. To be eligible, students first need to apply and compete at the local Chapter level. Once chosen, chapter-level winners are submitted to the Corporate level, where they are chosen as the recipient for the scholarship award. It is required that the student who is applying for assistance to reside within our chapter boundaries as a primary qualification.
17. Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL)
Older Adults who plan to attend college yet are looking for some scholarship assistance, then the Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL) scholarship can help. The college of choice must have an ASL chapter on campus to be eligible; however, the student does not need to be a member. The ASL scholarship is a grant provided to adult students who are continuing their educational goals, based on the principles of scholarship, leadership, clarified personal statement, faculty recommendation, and need of financial assistance. All scholarship funds will be disbursed to the student for payment and to the university or college of choice. The maximum award amount for each recipient will be determined each year. Recipients of the scholarship award must have completed 24 semester hours at their institution of choice, achieve a GPA of 3.2 or higher, enrolled in an associates or bachelors program, and proof of financial need.
18. Return 2 College Scholarship Program
The Return 2 College Scholarship program is for applicants that are US citizens or legal residents that plan to enter a degree program for higher learning, whether it be an undergraduate program or graduate program within the next 12 months. The applicants must be 17 years old or older; however, there is no age limit. Older adults are encouraged to apply. Both part-time and full-time students are eligible for the scholarship. The written requirements for the scholarship is that applicants write an essay on what is the most important reason for getting your degree. Applicants may submit up to a dozen entries, if they feel one essay was not sufficient to get their “focus” across. The deadline for submission is January 31, 2021. The first place award amount is a $1,000 scholarship, which will be paid to the applicant directly or to the designated school.
19. Scholarship Detective Launch Scholarship
Scholarship Detective Launch Scholarship is a free scholarship search engine and a new organization, designed to help families find free money for college. They are one of the largest scholarship databases on the Internet that anyone can search absolutely free. Scholarship Detective is still in its Beta stage; however, will be open to the public at ScholarshipDetective.com momentarily. To celebrate the new launch, they are offering $1,000 scholarships to eligible applicants. This scholarship is available to any current student and all applicants must be a permanent resident of the United States. To enter, students must complete the online essay of 140 characters or less on how you plan to spend the scholarship money. The Scholarship Detective Launch Scholarship is awarding two $1,000 college scholarships to celebrate their humble beginnings. The deadline for entry is December 31, 2020.
20. SuperCollege Scholarship
The SuperCollege Scholarship is available to all students, regardless of age; it is designated for students who are in need of financial assistance in order to make college affordable to attend. Whether you are a high school graduate, first year student, or a grad student, or an older adult going back to school, the SuperCollege Scholarship is for you. The scholarship will help pay for tuition, books, computers, room and board or any education-related expense. To apply, students need to complete the online application form. Winners of the award will be selected based on completeness of application. Any incomplete entries are automatically disqualified. October 31,2020 is the next deadline.
21. Walmart Associate Scholarship
Walmart is proud to support their associates and the dependents living under them by offering scholarships through the Associates in Critical Need Trust, which is also referred to as the Associate Scholarship, a fund dedicated to assisting associates affected by disasters and other financial hardships. The Walmart Foundation’s Associate Scholarship Program is meant to empower employees and associates and their children through education. The scholarship has been available over the past three decades. To be eligible, you must be a full-time or part-time associate, or have a dependent as a high school senior. The award scholarship is for those who plan to or enrolled and pursuing a two- or four-year college degrees, trade or technical school certificates. The Walmart Associate scholarship is only available until January 31,2021; it will be phased out and the Live Better U educational platform will begin on February 1, 2021. The Live Better U is similar to the Associate scholarship program; which will include the dollar-a-day college program, cost-free high school education to associates and eligible family members, and discounts on higher education programs like master’s degrees and foreign language learning.
22. Air Force Aid Society
The Air Force Aid Society provides the General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant, designated to support all service-members and their families by offering financial aid for college. The scholarship is supported by the United States Air Force. Average Grant amounts are up to $2,000 for financial assistance. To be eligible, students must be one of the following: dependent sons and daughters of active duty, Title 10 Reservists on extended active duty, Title 32 Guard performing full-time active duty, retired, retired Reserve and deceased Air Force members, as well as spouses of active duty and Title 10 Reservists, and widows/widowers. Applications for the 2020-2021 academic year are now closed; however, students can re-apply in June 2021 for the next academic year. Some grants may range from $500 to $4,000.
23. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
The American Association of University Women scholarship is specifically for women who have a desire to pursue a degree or certificate to advance their education career in either a field in education, health and medical sciences, or social sciences. The scholarship is also only for women that have been out of college for at least eight years. The applicants of this scholarship award must be a US citizen or at least a permanent resident whose last degree was earned before June 30, 2013. Funds can be used toward tuition, books, fees, supplies, local transportation, and/or childcare. The student must use the scholarship toward an associates, bachelors, masters, or certificate program. Deadline for the online submission is November 15, 2020. The AAUW Scholarship is not available for doctorate-level work.
24. Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation’s Education Support Awards
The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation offers several Education Support Awards that support women from low-income households, regardless of their age, and are pursuing their higher education degree or some form of training. These awards are specifically designed for women with children who are 17 years old or younger. Applicants must also be enrolled in an accredited university or college, and pursuing their first bachelor’s degree, a technical or vocational degree, a master’s/doctoral degree, or an associate’s degree. Students can also be enrolled in a GED, skills training, or ESL program. The annual income must be less than $17,500 for a family of two or less than $26,500 annually for a family of four to be eligible. There are five awards given out; with each can be up to $2,000. The Patsy Takemoto Mink scholarship can be used toward living expenses or school expenses as long as the recipient is enrolled in an educational program.
25. Americorps Silver Scholars
The Americorps Silver Scholars Program grant is offered to all adults who are at least 55 years old. The grant is actually called SEGAL AMERICORPS EDUCATION AWARD and was established by Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. As a recipient, the student is eligible to receive a $1000 education award for every 350 service hours completed. The program is popular with older adults because the grant money can be transferred to the recipients’ child or grandchild. According to the website, “The amount of a full-time Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is equivalent to the maximum value of the Pell Grant for the fiscal year in which the term of national service is approved.” For more information on the amount, eligibility, and limitations of the Segal Americorps Education Award, Please check the website.
Reasons for the Elderly to go back to College
So, now that you know there is help and financial assistance to all types of individuals wanting to either go back to college or enter college for the first time. Seniors will be well prepared and excited on this next adventure in their lives, especially if all the kids are out of the house. This is a great time to do something for yourselves that is more than just a hobby. Older adults who go back to college have several reasons to do so. Here are some of these reasons.
Deciding to go back to college can be a big investment for older adults. Senior adults can take advantage of learning about a specific subject of interest that they may benefit from. Seniors can also bring something new to the classroom and inspire younger students by sharing their wisdom. Seniors may decide to go to college to just boost their careers or start a second career. Another reason for the elderly to go to college is to prevent any signs of mental/cognitive inabilities. Whatever the reason it may be, older adults are finding they want more and are deciding that a good college education will offer them a new set of life skills they may not have already learned or applied to their adult life.
There is more to just free scholarships for older adults…
There are some college courses which offer a wide range of free courses for the elderly or retired individuals. For example, depending on which state you live in, there are free courses for just people who are over a certain age, such as sixty and up. Here are just two examples. Residents of Massachusetts that are over 60 can enroll in any undergraduate or graduate program tuition free. However, some other fees may be applied. In Florida, any resident over 60 can receive a tuition waiver for courses provided at any State University in Florida. In many cases seniors can also receive half off of books and supplies when enrolling into a degree program. Check out your school of choice registrar’s office for more information. To learn more on free college courses for older adults in your state, read this article on the AARP news page, “Free or Cheap College Courses for Older Adults in All 50 States”. You can also take a look at my article on Free Online College Courses for Senior Citizens.