Women, Look to These College Scholarships

These sources of educational aid are geared toward women in unique circumstances.

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Today, March 8, marks International Women's Day, which has been observed since the early 1900s—a time when people's ideologies were drastically changing and many women began advocating for equal rights. In honor of International Women's Day, The Scholarship Coach brings you a handful of college scholarships for women in unique circumstances.

Are you a stay-at-home mom looking to return to the workplace? Do you want to return to college after an interruption in your education? Or perhaps you are a female veteran looking to earn your degree. Read below for more information on scholarships for women in unique situations, then turn to past Scholarship Coach posts that feature even more scholarship opportunities for women.

[See 4 overlooked ways to pay for college.]

Earning a college education can help break down barriers and open the door to better opportunities. The Women's Independence Scholarship Program was created in 1999 to help formerly battered women obtain an education, offering recipients a chance to secure employment, independence, and self sufficiency. The scholarships are available to full- or part-time students who are interested in attending accredited programs at a community or technical college or a four-year college or university.

Most recipients are single mothers with young children who are facing a huge financial challenge, and who want to gain work skills to support their families. The application process is lengthy, so we encourage you to get started soon, and submit your application at least two months before the start of your program.

"Educate a woman, and countless generations to come will benefit from the investment," believes New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael. It's because of this philosophy that Lael has established Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women. The scholarships are awarded to women over 25 who typically have a difficult time finding scholarships for which they are eligible.

Scholarships are not only intended to help cover the cost of tuition, but also can go toward books, childcare, transportation, and other expenses that are usually not covered by traditional scholarships. Applications are being accepted through September 4, 2012, and $10,000 in scholarships will be awarded to eligible women.

[Determine your net price of college.]

Launched in May 2009, The U.S. Army Women's Foundation Legacy Scholarship program offers financial support in the form of scholarships to Army women who are pursuing community college coursework and undergraduate degrees. Children of female veterans are also eligible for scholarships. The Legacy Scholarships are based on merit, academic potential, community service, and need. Scholarships are awarded in the amount of $1,000 for studies at community college, or $2,500 for tuition assistance at a four-year college or university.

The most important part of going to college is actually finishing college, but many women run into circumstances that prevent them from earning a degree, and often the last two years of college are the most difficult to afford. If you are within two years of finishing your bachelor's degree and are looking for financial assistance to help you finish, we encourage you to apply for the Business and Professional Women's Foundation Career Advancement Scholarships. BPW Foundation established the Career Advancement Scholarship Program in 1969 to provide assistance to financially disadvantaged women seeking to further their education.

Founded in 1869, P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) International has grown from seven Iowa women at Wesleyan College to almost a quarter million members throughout the United States and Canada. Its mission is to promote educational opportunities for women, and it does so through several scholarships geared toward women in varying circumstances.

Established in 1973, P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education provides "need-based grants to women whose education has been interrupted and who find it necessary to return to school to support themselves and/or their families," says its website. Recipients may receive up to $3,000 toward tuition, books, transportation, or childcare. Other scholarship opportunities, such as scholarships for graduate study and for high school senior girls, are also available.

Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.