8 Adult Scholarships for Adults Returning to School

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Can Adults Get Scholarships? 

There are scholarships for adults returning to college after a gap. Adult scholarships may offset the cost of tuition, fees, and books. Even childcare. 

These awards are for many types of adults. Ones who did not earn a degree. Or, are “independent” per federal financial rules. Some awards help adult learners by funding a two year or four-year degree. So, you may have past credits to use. Or none at all. 

Others are for adults who want to enter or reenter the workforce. These may help finance a certified trade, professional, or technical program. 

Many adult scholarships are for the nontraditional student. Or, an adult who 

  • Is 24 years and over
  • Earned a GED or certificate but not a high school diploma 
  • After high school, delayed going to college 
  • Has family and financial limits  
  • Works full time  
  • Attended college but part time

Most college applicants are high school graduates. Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) shows that the percentage of individuals aged 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 30% to 38% between 2012 and 2022. In 2021, the percentage ranged from 48% for Asians to 20% for American Indian/Alaska Native individuals. However, adult students often face financial challenges when returning to school, making loans less ideal. Scholarships are grants, meaning you don’t have to repay the money as long as you adhere to the terms. 

Types of Adult Scholarships 

Any scholarship comes with rules about who can apply. And adult scholarships are the same. Some awards are for adults who are also part of a group. Adult women in STEM, for instance. Or single parents. Others are set aside for specific ages, or stages of study. Like adults ‘over 35’.

Here are a few of these types of adult scholarships. What they award. And, how to apply. 

Federal Financial Aid for Adult Students 

Pell Grants are for undergrads with high need. So, while an adult, you may still qualify. To know if you are eligible, you submit a FAFSA. Or, Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The form becomes available on October 1st for the upcoming school year. It serves two purposes: determining your family’s income and comparing it to your college’s attendance cost. Award amounts may change each year, but until June 2024, the maximum is $7,395. 

Reentry Scholarships 

Reentry scholarships are designed to support adults who have taken a break from education and now wish to return to college. These scholarships often have specific eligibility criteria, such as an age range typically between 25 and 50 years old or a specific time frame of being out of school, such as two or five years. However, age is not the sole determining factor; applicants are usually required to demonstrate both academic promise and financial need to be considered for these scholarships.

Scholarships for Single Parents 

Numerous scholarship providers understand the challenges faced by single moms or parents – balancing work, finances, and raising kids. As a result, they allocate scholarships to those in dire need. A prime example is Helping Hands for Single Moms (HHSM), which assists low-income single moms in pursuing a college education to achieve financial independence and build a positive family legacy. 

Top Adult Scholarships for 2024 and Beyond

Here is a sampling of 8 scholarships for adult learners. Check out the criteria and apply before the deadlines.

1College Jumpstart Scholarship

College Jumpstart Scholarship is an annual merit award. It pays $1,000 and as a nontraditional student, you can apply. Winners can use the money for any accredited school. So, a two or four year degree. Technical or vocational school.


Deadline:October 17, 2023

Requirements: To apply, you must be a US citizen. You must also commit to use education to better your life. 

2Adult Skills Education Program

Imagine America Foundation offers a national aid program. ASEP, or Adult Skills Education Program. The program is available at about 400 career colleges. It offers a single tuition grant of $1,000. And you can use at partner schools to offset costs of job training.

Amount: $1,000


Requirements: Check site to see requirements for eligibility.

3PEO Program for Continuing Education

Each year the PEO Sisterhood offers awards to women. One is the PCE. Or, PEO Program for Continuing Education. The PCE is a need based grant. It pays up to $3,000 and the number of recipients varies. An aim of the PCE program is to help women go back to school. And gain marketable skills.  

Amount: $3,000


Requirements: Applying for the PEO awards doesn’t require PEO membership, but non-members need to find a chapter sponsor and meet award criteria. One of the requirements is demonstrating non-student status for 24 consecutive months.

4Osher Reentry Scholarships

Osher Reentry Scholarships are available at partner colleges. They are in 50 states and Washington DC. The awards help adults age 25 to 50 resume a bachelor’s degree. So, many have been out of school for 5 years or more. The number of Osher scholars changes each year. But the awards are renewable. And amounts go up to $50,000.

Amount: up to $50,000


Requirements: To get an Osher award, you need to show a mix of financial need and promise.  

5Executive Women International Scholarship

Founded in 1938, EWI brings women in business together. To do this, EWI partners with colleges and local chapters to offer scholarships. One is the ASIST scholarship for adults in transition. There are 13 such awards and they range from $2,000 to $10,000. Another is the EWISP scholarship for high school seniors. It awards over $2,000 in college aid each year.

Amount: $2,000 – $10,000

Deadline: Scholarship program will resume at the beginning of 2024 

Requirements: To apply, you need to find a local chapter. Like the one in Tampa, FL and apply. 

6American Legion Auxiliary Nontraditional Student Scholarship

American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) helps veterans, military and their families. To further this mission, they offer scholarships to members. The Nontraditional Student Scholarship is an annual award. It goes to a single recipient and pays $2,000.

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: March 1 

Requirements: To apply, you may either be pursuing a two or four year degree. Or, training in a certified trade, professional or technical program.

7ATHENA Adult Scholarships

The Chamber Foundation helps Hudson Valley residents pay for education. One of their programs is the ATHENA Adult Scholarship. It is an annual award and pays $1,500.

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: June 1 

Requirements: To qualify you need to be both female and live in Dutchess County. You also must be a high school or college grad, out of school for at least 5 years.

8Courage to Grow Scholarship

The Courage to Grow Scholarship is a $500 award. It goes to one person each month. And is easy to apply to. 

Amount: $500

Deadline: July 31

Requirements: To do so, you must explain in 250 words or less why you deserve to win. You also need to be a US citizen. Applicants can be either a junior or senior in high school or college student. But need a GPA of 2.5 or better. 

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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1 You must apply for a new loan each school year. This approval percentage is based on students with a Sallie Mae undergraduate loan in the 2018/19 school year who were approved when they returned in 2019/20. It does not include the denied applications of students who were ultimately approved in 2019/20.

2 This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to borrowers with new loans that disburse between May 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022. Borrowers are not eligible to activate the benefit until July 1, 2021. Borrowers who reside in, attend school in, or borrow for a student attending school in Maine are not eligible for this benefit. Chegg Study® offers expert Q&A where students can submit up to 20 questions per month. No cash value. Terms and Conditions apply. Please visit http://www.chegg.com/legal/smtermsandconditions for complete details. This offer expires one year after issuance.

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