When it comes to higher education, women are outpacing men. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 57% of enrolled students in 2021 were women. However, women still face significant hurdles as they enter the workforce:
- They’re underrepresented in several high-paying fields, such as engineering and technology.
- Women hold about two-thirds of the nation’s student loan debt
- Women earn only 81% of what men earn after graduation
To help combat these issues, many philanthropic groups are focused on helping women fund their educations, especially in STEM fields. Additionally, many organizations offer college grants and scholarships for adults returning to college.
By taking advantage of these programs, you can lower your education costs and graduate with less student loan debt. More women can enter different industries and earn higher salaries.
Below, learn where to find these opportunities and how to get a scholarship to offset your education costs.
Scholarships for Women
While student loans must be repaid with interest, scholarships are a form of gift aid and don’t need to be repaid. They’re usually based on merit and other special traits or talents, such as field of study, writing ability or belonging to certain ethnic groups.
To promote the interests of women, many philanthropic organizations and professional societies offer scholarships. They can range from small awards that cover the cost of textbooks or classroom fees to large opportunities that cover the majority of your tuition.
- Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund: Designed for low-income women, the Jeannette Rankin scholarship is for women 35 and older pursuing an undergraduate school or trade school certification. Award amounts vary by year and need.
- Stephen Bufton Memorial Educational Fund: Female college students can qualify for scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 through the Stephen Bufton Memorial Educational Fund. All majors are accepted, but students must be college freshmen or sophomores.
Scholarships for Women in STEM
Women make up the majority of the U.S. workforce, but are the minority in STEM. In fact, men are in 73% of STEM jobs.
STEM scholarships for women are created to encourage women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). For example:
- Women in Technology Scholarship: Buildium’s Women in Technology Scholarship is for women pursuing STEM careers. You can receive up to $2,500 by submitting an essay.
STEM scholarships for women are usually awarded on an annual basis, so if you miss the deadline, check back in a few months or set a reminder on your calendar.
Scholarships for Women in Science
Marie Curie. Rita Levi-Montalcini. Chien-Shiung Wu. Dr Patricia Bath. All of these women made substantial contributions to the scientific community, but women scientists are still scarce. Less than 30% of the world’s scientific researchers are women.
To increase the number of women in science, many organizations offer scholarships to female undergraduate and graduate students. For example:
- Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship: Undergraduate students studying the biological or physical sciences can receive up to $3,000 through the Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship.
Scholarships for Women in Tech
Women make up just 25% of the computer science workforce. To reduce the gap, organizations offer scholarships like:
- Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship: Female undergraduate and graduate students studying artificial intelligence, data science, computer science, or mobile or web development may qualify for this award from Adobe. Qualifying students will receive up to $10,000, a free Cloud Creative one-year subscription, and the opportunity to interview for an Adobe internship.
- Women in Defense Scholarship: Provided by Women in Defense, this scholarship is for women pursuing a career in national security or defense. Preferred fields of study include computer science and cyber security. Awards are issued based on academic performance, work experience, and an essay. Scholarship amounts vary by year.
Scholarships for Women in Engineering
Only 13% of engineers are women, partially due to the heavy demands of the coursework that make it difficult for women to provide childcare or work while in school. To reduce women’s costs, some organizations offer scholarships to cover their educational expenses.
- Ada I Pressman Memorial Scholarship: College sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students that are studying engineering may be eligible for this award issued by the Society of Women Engineers. Qualifying students can receive up to $5,000 per year for up to five years.
Scholarships for Women in Mathematics
While women are often talented at mathematics, there are few women in math-related fields. By offering scholarships to reduce the need for student loans, professional organizations are hoping to change that.
- Gertrude M. Cox Scholarships: Designed to encourage women to enter statistically-oriented positions, the Gertrude M. Cox scholarship awards $1,000 toward their education. To qualify, you must be enrolled in a graduate-level statistics program.
Scholarships for Women in Business
Whether you want to launch your own business or are pursuing a master’s in business administration to accelerate your career, there are scholarships available for women in business:
- Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship: With this award from Zonta, eligible women can receive $2,000 to $8,000 to pay for their education. To qualify, you must be a college sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate student studying accounting, economics, finance, business management, international business, or human resources management at an accredited school.
Scholarships for Hispanic and Latinx Women
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, college enrollment among Hispanic and Latinx women was on the rise. But the enrollment rate dropped during the pandemic as women’s income was significantly affected.
To combat this issue, some organizations and professional associations offer scholarships for Hispanic and Latinx women. For example:
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund: The Hispanic Scholarship Fund awards more than $30 million in scholarships each year. Hispanic Scholarship Fund scholars are eligible for scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000. They also can take advantage of benefits like mentorship programs, professional conferences, and internship opportunities.
- La Unidad Latina Foundation: The La Unidad Latina Foundation offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000 per recipient. To qualify, you must be an undergraduate or graduate student.
Scholarships for Black and African American Women
While enrollment rates for Blacks and African Americans is improving, it’s still lower than the rates for white and Asian American students. To encourage more Black women to attend college and complete their degrees, the following scholarships are available:
- NAACP: Issued by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship provides scholarships of $2,000 per year for up to four years. To qualify, you must be a high school senior, first-year college student, or transferring to an accredited college. Your family’s combined income cannot exceed $65,000.
- United Negro College Fund: Through the Frederick Douglas Bicentennial Scholarship Program, eligible recipients can get up to $10,000 to cover their college costs. Each year, the United Negro College Fund chooses two exceptional students: one male, and one female.
Scholarships for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women
While Asian and Pacific Islanders outpace other ethnic groups in enrollment, they still face significant challenges, especially first-generation students. For example, the American Council on Education reported that 37% of Asian Americans that take the GED test do not pass.
To help these students, many organizations offer scholarships specifically for Asian American and Pacific Islander students:
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Association: Students of Asian American or Pacific Islander descent may qualify for the Asian Pacific Heritage Association Scholarship. Selected students will receive at least $1,000 to put toward their education. Scholarship recipients are selected based on leadership abilities, civic and community contributions, and financial need.
- Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholars: This organization operates the Asian and Pacific Islander Scholarship Program. Eligible students can receive $2,000 to $20,000 to pay for college. Students are selected based on financial need, academic achievement, and community service and leadership abilities. Special consideration is given to first-generation college students.
Scholarships for Native American Women
Native Americans face substantial challenges when pursuing higher education. Just 19% of Native Americans between the ages of 19 and 24 are enrolled in college, a significantly lower enrollment rate than the general population. Worse, the median household income for American Indians is approximately $20,000 less than the median household income for non-Hispanic white households.
To help Native American women earn their degrees and enter high-paying fields, the following scholarships are available:
- American Indian Education Fund: Through this scholarship program, the American Indian Education Fund awards $2,000 in scholarships to qualifying students. To apply, you must submit an application, documentation of tribal enrollment, and academic transcripts.
- Daughters of the Revolution: The American Indian Scholarship gives eligible students up to $4,000 for college. It’s awarded to Native American students based on financial need and academics. Students must submit proof of their ancestry, such as a letter verifying tribal membership.
College Grants for Women
While scholarships are usually based on merit, college grants are awarded based on financial need. With the average cost of college at an all-time high, these can be extremely beneficial for individuals who may otherwise have difficulty covering their educational expenses.
If you are low-to-moderate income, you can use grants to reduce your college costs and limit the need for student loans. They can be combined with other grants and scholarships to offset your education expenses. For example:
- 1,000 Dreams Fund: This award issued by the 1,000 Dreams Fund is for women with financial need that are attending a two- or four-year college. Eligible students can receive up to $1,000 to pay for textbooks, graduate exam application fees, instructional programs, or educational conferences.
College Grants for Mothers
If you’re a mother, it can be incredibly difficult to juggle school work, employment, and caring for your children. There are grants for low-income women available that can make things a little easier:
- Patsy Mink Education Support Award: This grant gives low-income women with children up to $5,000 to pay for college. You must have minor children and pursue a first postsecondary degree. You must be enrolled at a non-profit accredited college, and meet the program’s income restrictions.
- Wealthy Single Mommy: Wealthy Single Mommy is a personal finance blog for women. Each month, the blog chooses one single mother to receive a $500 grant. It can be used for any necessity expense, including educational costs.
College Grants for Women Returning to School
If you took time away from work to raise your children, care for your family, or focus on your career returning to school can be challenging. To make the transition easier, some organizations have scholarships specifically for women returning to college. For example:
- Michele L. McDonald Memorial: Awarded by the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting, this award is for women returning to college and the workforce after raising their children. Grantees will receive $1,000 to pursue a degree in accounting.
College Scholarship and Grant Resources
The scholarships and grants above are just a small sampling of the available awards. You can use these tools to find other financial aid opportunities:
- The College Board: The College Board’s scholarship database has over 2,200 awards listed, totaling over $6 billion in available aid.
- FastWeb: FastWeb is a database of over 1.5 million scholarships ranging from $250 to $50,000. You can create a profile and get automatically matched to relevant awards, or you can manually search for scholarships.
- Scholarships.com: Scholarships.com is a database of millions of scholarships and grants. Like Fastweb, the site allows you to create a profile and matches you to potential awards. Or, you can manually search for relevant financial aid opportunities.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Career One Stop is a free scholarship search tool provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. You can search for undergraduate, graduate, and certificate program scholarships and grants.
- Colleges: Your college can be a valuable source of aid. You may be eligible for institutional grants, scholarships, loans, or work-study programs.
Private Student Loans for College
If you’ve completed the FAFSA and applied for all of the scholarships, grants, and federal financial aid you can, you may find that you still don’t have enough cash to cover the total cost of attendance at your selected college.
If that’s the case, one option to cover the gap is to apply for private student loans. With ELFI’s private loans, you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance at competitive interest rates.** There are no origination fees, application fees, or prepayment penalties, and you can have up to 15 years to repay your loan.
You can get a rate quote without affecting your credit score with ELFI’s Find My Rate tool, and you can meet with one of ELFI’s Personal Student Loan Advisors to discuss your options and get personalized assistance.
Plus, following graduation, you can also explore student loan refinancing, which may help you earn a lower interest rate and save money over your repayment period.