The biggest gap in education is between indigent students and students from families with resources. Students of single parents are particularly affected as one in three families headed by single women and nearly one in five families headed by single men live in poverty, the National Poverty Center reports. While there are grants and scholarships for which any student may apply, some are exclusively for the indigent, which consists mostly of minorities, according to the center.
According to the National Poverty Center, the poverty threshold for single parents with two children was $17,285 as of 2009, and Federal Pell Grants generally are awarded to families that earn less than 20,000. To qualify, indigent minorities must complete the Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which collects data to determine if students are eligible based on financial need. Eligible students may receive as much as $5,550 for 2011.
Supplemental Government Grants
Indigent minorities who are eligible for Pell Grants, as determined from data on FAFSA, may be eligible for other need-based grants. One such grant for which they may be eligible is the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. This particular grant awards as much as $4,000 in 2011 to students with the lowest expected family contribution, which is the difference between financial aid and what the family can afford; only the neediest of students may be eligible.
In addition to government grants for the indigent, there are private foundations that award scholarships to indigent students. The Mayer foundation is one such organization. This nonprofit organization awards between $2,500 and $5,000 to students who are in dire need of financial assistance. The foundation awards scholarships to high school, undergraduate and graduate students.
The Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership is a federal program that provides funding to states that request it. States match the federal dollars and indigent college students, in turn, apply to the states for financial assistance. For example, Alabama offers indigent students the Alabama Student Assistance Program, which comprises a combination of federal and state dollars, but only students in the most dire of financial circumstances are eligible for as much as $2,500 per year.
Single Parent Scholarships
Inasmuch as single parent households were singled out at the onset, indigent students should research single parent scholarship programs. While there are many single parent programs, one such program is the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. The fund awards scholarships that cover tuition, school and personal expenses, including childcare costs, to impoverished students.