The State of Virginia is extremely forward thinking in the attention it gives to non traditional students pursing a college education and obtaining a degree. Many State residents have in the past abandoned their college studies for a variety of reasons such as personal and financial, yet the State actively encourages them to return and complete their degree courses and also provides financial aid in some cases. Single parent students who fall into this category may well benefit by the opportunity to return and complete their degree, and special programs assist those who are now working within the State.
Virginia is committed to increasing opportunities for those with low incomes to participate in further education. In 2008 Virginia was awarded a grant by the US Department of Education in order to study resources which would help low income students. The ‘College Access Challenge Grant program’ was established to look at ways in which federal, state and philanthropic organizations could work to increase the number of students furthering their education. One of the aims of the program is to provide financial sources to students living below the poverty line, thus benefiting many single parent students who are trapped by low incomes and poverty.
The ‘Information is Key to Access and Success’ is another program administered by the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, and was designed to raise awareness of the opportunities available through post secondary education. The program gives informative guidance on how to apply for and finance a college education.
The State Council of Higher Education in Virginia administers a number of needs based scholarships and grants available to low income students in Virginia. In order to be eligible for any of these grants and scholarships the student must first complete the standard FAFSA application which is used to apply for federal loans. The FAFSA also gives undergraduate students automatic access to the federal Pell grant which is awarded as a means based grant to those students in greatest need.
Individual colleges which administer the Virginia grants may also require additional institutional forms completing for the student to be eligible for the available grants and scholarships. The single parent student should liaise with the college financial aid officer for clarification regarding grants available.
It may well be possible for the single parent student within Virginia to fund all or some of their education through the federal Pell grant, state grants and scholarships. If there is still a shortfall in tuition and necessary costs then the federal Stafford loan should be applied for via the FAFSA application, which is not subject to credit checks.
Single parent students in Virginia have access to one of the most forward thinking State Education Departments which are actively encouraging non traditional students with low incomes to improve their prospects through returning to education.