Managing Student Loans

One of the biggest challenges facing single parents who wish to improve their situation through a college degree is the uncertainty of the financial pressures they will face, and the lack of support. Throughout America there are various grants and scholarships which low income single parents may qualify for. However the State of Massachusetts is quite unusual in having a specific grant program aimed at the single parents on low incomes who are state residents, which offers far more than just monetary aid.

The One Family Scholar program which is open to single parents in Massachusetts is designed to support low income single parents through higher education. The programs aim is to break the cycle of poverty which single parents can find themselves trapped in, and in the last academic year the program sponsored 75 scholarships.

In order to be eligible for the One Family Scholar program applicants must be the head of a single adult household with dependant children under 18, and either have been homeless or live on a low income which is defined as 200% below the federal poverty level. Eligible students must be enrolled at a Massachusetts institution of higher education and have a clear plan concerning how they intend to enter a family sustaining career using their degree. 

The scholarship provides financial assistance for both tuition and living expenses, combined with financial education and career mentoring. Scholars are supported in college success and career success so they can become role models to their children and provide a stable foundation for them. The program also offers a One Family career mentoring program to support the scholars and encourages businesses to offer internships. It is one of the most comprehensive programs aimed at single parents and goes beyond just providing a financial stipend to help them by.

In addition to the One Family program the state of Massachusetts provides full details of other grants and scholarships available on the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education website. There is a comprehensive section under the Office of Student Financial assistance which shows how highly the state values secondary education.

Naturally all single parent students within the State should still apply for federal state loans and grants through the FAFSA. Those on low incomes may well qualify for the federal Pell grant which is means tested and for the federal Stafford subsidized loan. It is difficult to assess if further funding will be needed if one qualifies for the One Family program as the amounts it awards are not disclosed in advance of application, so it is important to have the FAFSA submission in place.

The level of financial aid on offer within Massachusetts which the single parent may well qualify for is excellent, and should certainly ease the burden of college costs for single parents who are on low incomes. It would be recommended that potential students read through all the available grants and scholarships on the department of education website to see which, if any, they may be eligible for.