Single parents are all too aware of the extra challenges they face when considering embarking on a college education. It means giving up things now for the promise of better opportunities in the future, and juggling the needs of raising children alone whilst studying and balancing finances. College is an expensive choice but there is financial aid available to single parent students in Vermont who qualify for needs based assistance due to financial need.
It may be necessary to take on the pressure of loans to obtain a degree, but federal student loans are available. The first step any student must complete to be eligible for both grants and loans is to submit the FAFSA form which amongst other things gives access to the federal Pell grant to all eligible students. This is awarded to those with the greatest financial need, and single parents often become recipients of the Pell grant.
The Vermont colleges or universities to which you apply will have financial aid officers which will advise on further grants and scholarships available. It is important to seek out as many grants and scholarships as you can, both nationwide, and state or college provided, as this reduces the necessity of borrowing.
The University of Vermont offers the ‘Osher Foundation Re-entry Scholarship’ which is designed to assist students who can demonstrate financial need, and are over 25 years of age. Students need to have had a 5 year gap in their studies to qualify, which may well make single parents suitable applicants if they took a break from studying to raise children.
The State of Vermont also offers 2 grants which are available on a first come, first served basis, to students who are eligible for the Pell grant. There is a part time grant available for students who take fewer than 12 credits per term, at schools which participate in the Pell grant program. There is also the Vermont Incentive grant available for those who take at least 12 credits per term. It is also possible for single parents who are able to balance work with study and children, to participate in the work study program available from the individual colleges.
If loans are necessary then the student should always choose federal loans over private student loans as they are government guaranteed and fixed at lower interest rates. There are two federal Stafford loans, one subsidized and one unsubsidized, which require no credit check. They are awarded on the basis of financial need, and those single parents who are eligible for the Stafford subsidized loan will have their interest payments paid by the government until 6 months after graduation. If the thought of taking on loans is a daunting one it is worth considering a career in the public sector which may offer loan forgiveness programs to eligible students upon graduation, who meet the criterion.
A college degree can make a huge difference in the future earning potential of the single parent student, and they must be organized and committed to achieve it. Demonstration of organizational skills will be needed to search out and apply for all available grants to reduce the cost of student borrowing which can be obtained by making the earliest application.