According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment opportunities for registered nurses are expected to grow faster than any other occupation through the year 2018. Different nursing programs offer associate, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. Scholarships help with the financial burden with returning to school. As a woman over 40, you qualify for different types of scholarships; scholarships for women, scholarships just for nursing programs, scholarships for mature students and general scholarships.
Scholarships for Women
Instead of looking for scholarships specific for women over 40 in a nursing program, break down your specialized attributes for a wider range of scholarships. The College Scholarships Foundation Women's Scholarship makes awards to women who are U.S. citizens and have at least a 3.0 overall GPA. The Calgon Take Me Away Essay Contest is another scholarship for women accepted in an accredited institution. Your state or institution may have their own scholarship programs just for women, especially if you are attending a women's college. The Agnes Scott College for women in Decatur, Georgia, has a nursing program and a list of scholarship programs for its students.
Since nursing is a high-demand occupation, scholarships are used to entice more people to get trained to fill the need for nurses. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Nursing Scholarship Program to help alleviate the need for nurses in critical areas. The scholarship pays tuition, fees, books, clinical supplies/instruments and uniforms and provides a monthly stipend. Local and state governments may have similar nursing scholarship programs. Check with your state's health department to see if more scholarships exists in your area.
In recent years, more scholarship programs were developed to help mature adults return to school to change their current field or reenter the work force after some time. Many of these scholarships do not stipulate a particular program of study, so they can be used for nursing. Age scholarships are rare for 40-year-old women, most of them have a minimum age requirement of 50. The AARP Foundation Women's Scholarship Program is for women over 40 with a financial need. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarship awards scholarships to women 35 and older.
Look for general scholarships that you can qualify for that aren't specifically for women over 40 in a nursing program. These scholarships can be based on exceptional academic merit, financial need, location or other special attributes. Go over your circumstances with your financial aid officer to see all of the scholarships for which you are eligible. Another source of funding for your college education is government grants. The Pell Grant paid up to $5,550 a year in 2011 to low-income students. Visit the U.S. Department of Education's website for other grant programs and to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to qualify.