7 Scholarship Tips for Single Dads

A college degree doesn't have to be financially out of reach for single fathers.

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Since the founding of our nation, parents have hoped their children would have a better life than they did. These days, the ability for parents to provide that better life usually requires education beyond high school. In fact, according to several sources, more than 60 percent of all jobs in the United States now require some form of college or training after high school. On top of that, more education means higher salaries—not to mention greater job security.

But for single dads, finding the time, energy, and financial resources to achieve a college degree often feels out of reach, especially when a simple online search for "scholarships for single dads" yields little of substance. There are some options listed in our piece about scholarship resources for single moms, which included seven scholarships available to single parents of either gender. Remember, though, you're more than just a single dad, so that shouldn't be the only criterion you use to search for educational scholarships. Here are seven tips to help kick off your search:

1. Expand your search: Look for scholarships related to your field of study—such as nursing, marine biology, astronomy, or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Are you planning to be a teacher, or would you like to be a rocket scientist? There are scholarships for that! Check out The Scholarship Coach archives for scores of potential opportunities based on a variety of career interests.

[Read 4 Do's and 1 Don't for Finding Scholarships.]

2. Check with your employer: Many organizations offer scholarships or tuition reimbursement to their employees, as part of their professional development or retention strategies.

3. Remember your military service: Did you serve in the armed forces? Veterans are eligible for a number of scholarship opportunities you may consider.

[Learn tips for veterans to succeed in college.]

4. Look at men-only options: "Just for Men" can apply to scholarships, too. A wide variety of awards are available just for your gender.

5. Consider church: If you're religious, check with your place of worship for scholarships.

6. Don't live in the past: If you are worried about a past criminal conviction, don't let that stop you from achieving your education dreams. Read our past post, Don't Let a Criminal Past Block Your Path to a College Future, on the topic.

7. Look to the unusual: Last but not least, if there is something unusual about you, from being a vegetarian to an amputee, there may be a scholarship opportunity for which you are eligible.

In addition to searching for scholarships related to your field of interest, remember that you may be eligible for need-based scholarships or grants, depending on your income. The colleges you want to attend may also offer great scholarship and grant packages to attract you; just make sure you fill out your FAFSA carefully and make appointments with financial aid directors to negotiate for the best possible financial aid package (including scholarships, grants, and loans).

[See a list of schools that claim to meet full need.]

Finally, compare private and public schools—although conventional wisdom suggests that private schools will always be more expensive, many private colleges offer financial aid packages that meet or exceed the awards from public schools.

Janine Fugate joined Scholarship America in 2002. She is an alumna of the College of Saint Benedict, in Saint Joseph, Minn., and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Fugate is the recipient of numerous scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate level.