Scholarships For Non-Traditional Students

By Ashley Paskill on September 26, 2019

Receiving an education can be a crucial step for advancing your career and learning the ins and outs of your field. While many people receive their Bachelor’s degrees right out of high school, some do not have that option, whether it is because of finances, a family situation, or one of the countless other reasons. However, once things get straightened out, they may decide that they want to pursue their degree. This can be a huge financial burden, especially if they now have a family or other responsibilities to deal with. Luckily, scholarship givers are aware of this and offer a variety of funding to help ease the burden. If you are a non-traditional student, be sure to check these out and apply for the ones you qualify for.

Though this list is by no means a comprehensive list of every scholarship applicable to non-traditional students, they are ones that are not school-specific. Your school may have scholarships for non-traditional students, so be sure to contact your school’s financial aid office. Also, look into joining scholarship databases to keep up to date on any new scholarships that arise. Award amounts may vary from semester to semester and may change after the publication of this article.

Who is a non-traditional student?

According to Best Value Schools, non-traditional students are those who do not fit the mold of going to college right after high school. They tend to be 24 or older and often have other responsibilities outside of the classroom. These students tend to face challenges that traditional students do not have to face, such as being a parent or holding a GED instead of a high school diploma. Many times, these challenges bring about financial problems that make getting a college degree even harder. Luckily, there are plenty of scholarships geared towards non-traditional students that allow them to ease the financial burden of going back to college.

P.E.O. Program For Continuing Education

This scholarship is available to female students in the United States and Canada who are at least 21 years old and who have spent at least 24 consecutive months as a non-traditional student and are within 24 months of completing their degree. It is offered to students who are college juniors through their third year as a graduate student. Those who are in doctoral or professional degree programs are not eligible.

Emerge Scholarships, Inc.

Like the scholarship above, Emerge Scholarships are geared towards women. Applicants are required to be women who are at least 25 at the time of their application, be attending or have been accepted by an institution, and have financial need. There are more than 70 different scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

SeniorAdvice Caregiver Scholarship

Many times, non-traditional students are such because they have had to help take care of an adult family member or friend. If you are a caregiver for a family member or someone in your community, you are eligible for the SeniorAdvice Caregiver Scholarship. This scholarship is not solely for non-traditional students, but many non-traditional students may be in the position where they are eligible to apply. Winners in both the caregiver for a friend and a caregiver for a family member categories will receive $1,000 to apply for books.

GrahamMe App

While most scholarships have a formal application and are based on merit, GrahamMe is different. It is an app that allows students to play for daily cash prizes and scholarships. The app also allows non-students to play for cash prizes. For now, the app is only available for IOS users.

“It’s unfortunate how many hardworking and intelligent nontraditional students that deserve an education, yet there is very little or no financial relief for all these students,” said Tanner Case, the founder and CEO of Grahame. “If people want to change their lives through education, there have to be scholarships available for everyone regardless of their circumstances.

The Conservation of Natural Resources Scholarship for Non-Traditional Students

Like other scholarships, many scholarships for non-traditional students require applicants to be within a particular major. This scholarship is no different. It seeks applicants who are 25 or older who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in agriculture or a related natural resources field. Applicants are asked to write an essay, which will have a strong impact on who is selected for the scholarship.

Osher Reentry Scholarship Program

Many non-traditional students have large gaps in their education for several reasons. The Osher Reentry Scholarship Program takes notice of this by encouraging those with a cumulative gap of five or more years to apply for their scholarships. The scholarship is open to undergrad students who are going for their first Bachelor’s degree. Applicants must also demonstrate financial need, show that they will participate in the workforce subsequent to graduation, and show academic promise and a commitment to completing their degree of choice.

Walmart Associate Scholarship

Employers understand the need for their employees to better themselves and further their education. Walmart’s Associate Scholarship helps employees and their dependents get an education. While this is not specifically a non-traditional student scholarship, non-traditional students may apply. Those who have been Walmart employees for six consecutive months and have their high school diploma or equivalent may apply. Applicants are also required to demonstrate financial need and may not have other funding that completely covers their expenses. The scholarship is open to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States and must meet all of the eligibility criteria to apply.

Image: Sharon McCutcheon via

The Association for Non-traditional Students in Higher Education

This organization supports and encourages adult learners to pursue degrees in higher educations by providing funding through three scholarship programs. The scholarships are open to full-time undergrad students who are at least 23 years old and are attending an accredited university. Applicants must also meet one or more of the following criteria: be a parent, financially independent, low-income, a single parent, a minority student, be employed part-time or full-time, or a veteran. The application requires letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and other information.

Women’s Independence Scholarship Program

Women who are survivors of spouse abuse are eligible to apply for the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program. Applicants must have been separated from the abuser for one to seven years and have sought services for their past for six consecutive months. The service provider will act as a sponsor to help applicants handle funds should they receive the scholarship. The applicant needs to be a U.S. citizen of the United States, a permanent resident, or be an immigrant who is eligible for FAFSA. She should also demonstrate financial need, have a strong desire to complete their training or degree program, and have a concrete plan for using their degree or training to advance or change their career.

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund

Women who are 35 or older can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be low-income and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States. The student must be pursuing vocational training, an Associate’s degree, or their first Bachelor’s degree from an accredited, not-for-profit institution.

Mary Lou Manzie Memorial Scholarship

The Mary Lou Manzie Scholarship is open to non-traditional students who live in public housing. The applicant must demonstrate academic excellence and financial need.

Army Women’s Foundation – Legacy Scholarship

This scholarship is open to women who have served or are currently serving honorably U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, Army National Guard or the child of a woman who served honorably in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard. Applicants can be students working towards earning their Associate’s degree, a certificate, a Bachelor’s degree, or a graduate degree from an accredited institution. GPA requirements and award amounts vary between education type.

Tuition assistance from your employer

Many employers offer tuition assistance to help their employees achieve their goals and help further the mission of the company. In most cases, tuition assistance is only offered for classes or degrees related to the field the employee works in or where the employee hopes to advance to within the company. However, some companies offer it to all employees who are going to college, regardless of their future plans. Check with your boss or human resource department for specifics about receiving tuition assistance in your specific case.

Return2College Scholarship

The Return2College scholarship is open to all college students, including non-traditional students. Winners receive $1000 towards their education. Applicants must be 17 or older, but there is no maximum age, which is perfect for older students who are applying. All applicants need to do is to write a three-sentence response to the prompt on the application page.

Unigo $10K Scholarship

The Unigo $10K Scholarship is open to all college students, including non-traditional students. Applicants need to be legal residents of the United States and be enrolled or planning to enroll in an accredited post-secondary institution of higher learning. To enter, applicants must respond to the prompt in 250 words or less by setting up a free account on the Unigo website.

Image: Sabine Peters via

AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship Program

The AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship is open to low-income women who are 50 or older. The scholarship is geared to help women gain education, training, better employment opportunities, and financial stability for women and their families. Scholarship recipients should enroll in technical, Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree within six months of the award date. Award amounts vary depending on the applicant’s financial need and the cost of the program they are enrolled in. Applicants who are veterans, are in a low-income job with little room for advancement, are raising other family members’ children, or have been unemployed for more than a year are given special acknowledgment.

Tips for applying for scholarships

With these and the abundance of other scholarships available to you as a non-traditional student, it can be intimidating to sit down and actually start applying. However, your experiences can be your greatest asset in securing the funds necessary for going to college.

Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths can be jobs, community service, or qualities that make you unique. Your weaknesses can be things that appear to work against you. All of these things can set you apart and make you stand out as an applicant. Read the prompts and see how you can utilize your strengths and “weaknesses” to your advantage.

Be organized. Keep a spreadsheet of the scholarship name, the amount, the website, the due date, and a list of materials you need. As you go along, cross off the applications you have completed and the requirements you have obtained. This will help you stay motivated. Also, write due dates in your planner so you can see it, even if you do not have the spreadsheet available.

Start early. As soon as you decide that you want to pursue your degree, seek out any and all forms of financial aid, including FAFSA and scholarships through your school. Starting early gives you the opportunity to get all of the materials you need, including any necessary letters of recommendation.

Take advantage of volunteer opportunities that come your way. Although your life is busy, finding room in your schedule for volunteering can help set you apart on scholarship applications. If you have a family, get your kids involved to teach them the importance of giving back.

As an adult student, you have more responsibilities than the traditional student. This can make your schedule seem chaotic and that there is no time to apply for scholarships. In order to make sure you have the necessary time you need, set aside time each week to apply for scholarships. If you schedule a time to apply for scholarships like you would for any other task, you will be able to find time to get your applications finished, even in the midst of the craziness of your life.

It may seem like college life as a non-traditional student is impossible due to the financial burden, but there are plenty of scholarships out there with you in mind. Knowing where to look and setting time aside is key to applying for these opportunities. This list is not a complete list, so look on scholarship databases and talk to your school’s financial aid department to help you find more scholarships.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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