Financial assistance for single mothers is possible through a variety of government initiatives and private financial aid programs. This post, we’ll take a look at some of the specific programs as well as a general introduction to financial assistance. I try to offer as much relevant and real information in this post as possible, considering most of the articles I’ve seen on this topic are absolute garbage and don’t provide any real help.
Ok, first off, the primary financial assistance programs available comes down to the following: grants, scholarships, loans, and government (welfare) programs. But this list is by no means comprehensive. This article will try and cover all the major financial help for single mother options, though by no means is the information all inclusive.
We’ve updated this for 2015
Government Financial Help Programs for Single Mothers
No doubt as a single mom, you are looking for some concrete financial aid programs that you can apply for. There are a lot of websites out there that just give fluff information that doesn’t help you get the help you need. Now, are there some legit government aid programs? The answer is yes, the government makes available some aid programs for the needy. The thing is, many of these programs are scattered around and it’s up to you to find one that you qualify for. There is no one stop financial help for single mothers application you can just fill out and get home assistance, food assistance, and monetary assistance (in the US…Canada has the welfare program which covers the basic financial and housing needs of every person…),
Food Stamp Program
This is the cornerstone of America’s unofficial welfare program. Each year, millions are given out in food stamps to financially needy families. Chances are, if you are a single mom in need, you will qualify for food stamps from the government.
Note these are only some of the government financial help programs out there. You can find out how to apply for these programs at your local Department of Human Services office. Note that each state has their own DHS website.
Families First/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
A very popular program that gives out small cash funds to families who are in need of money. The program specifically targets families that are struggling to make ends meet. Families that qualify usually have children. Keep in mind that this is not just “free money.” A parent must either work or train for a job for at least 30 hours each week and kids must be put into school and receive all the usual vaccinations kids at that age receive. So you might think of this program as a sort of supplement income for struggling families.
Stands for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is a government insurance initiative to provide insurance for every child in every US state. The program is really designed for parents who simply lack the financial resources to pay for medical insurance for their children. The CHIP provides dental, vision, and medical coverage for kids. You pay a very small fee or no fee at all, depending on the situation.
Free or Reduced Meals Program
A large percentage of children only ever eat a properly nutritious meal at a school lunch. The government recognizes this and has developed a meal program to ensure kids get the proper food they need – even if they don’t get it at home. If a family makes less than a certain figure each year, they may qualify for this program. Children of qualified families will get either free or greatly price-reduced meals at lunchtimes.
The Women, Infants, and Children program is one of the more popular and successful government funded programs out there. This program targets financially needy moms. The way the program works is each month, coupons are given out for free items. These coupons can be traded in for basic necessities that children and pregnant/nursing mothers might need. The government backs this program with more funding than most other programs, so it’s easier to qualify for the WIC than other programs.
You may also find more financial help programs at the official government help website. Most of these programs will require you too look at your state assistance website to apply. I’ll try and post a list of state assistance contact info later, but for now, you’ll just have to google for your state’s state assistance info.
Private Financial Help Programs
If you’ve exhausted your government supply of financial help, it’s a good idea to look at what the private sector can offer you. I want to make this clear: you are far more likely to get “aid” in the form of goods and not money. It’s rather unlikely that you are going to find a private organization that’s just going to hand you a wad of cash. It may be possible through some sort of private grant for single mothers, but don’t bank on this. It’s far more likely that you will get food items, clothing, counseling , job-training, and maybe even a temporary place to stay while you get your life on track. But direct cash? Unlikely.
Here are some potential “private” aid sources you can seek out.
I talk a lot about these because it’s a legit way to get some “free stuff.” Now to be clear here, many of the websites that offer something for free are doing so because they eventually want you to buy something. That’s fine, but you can certainly sign up and get the free stuff and not buy anything. I’ll update this article to list some of these programs, but they are ever changing. You are best off doing a search on google because anything I list will be outdated shortly.
Financial Help for School Programs
If you want to go back to school, it is possible. It’s going to be hard as a single mom to go to college, but if you are willing to put in the work, you can do it. Realistically, as much as we’d love to just say there’s a sure-fire way of getting financial help to pay for ALL of your school, there really isn’t. You are going to probably have to get student loans, government financial aid, work a part time (or full time job), and apply for every scholarship under the sun.
A good place to start is the government financial aid website. Here are a couple useful links to help:
One possible alternative is to look at getting a degree online. I’m not talking about those bogus degrees where you pay money and get a “degree”, but a real, accredited online university. You can do your coursework from the comfort of your home (at more flexible hours) and it’s MUCH cheaper than attending a regular college. If you are a single mom, you should look into this. We recommend looking at Classes and Careers to help you find an online school. They also offer possible financial aid assistance for students too.
Food Banks for Single Mothers
If you need food and don’t have the cash, you don’t have to starve. One certain way to get some food as a single mother is to visit your local food bank. What is a food bank? It’s basically a center where people donate food. That food is given for free to people in financial need — people like yourself. These are a great resource for moms who need to feed a hungry family. Where to find a foodbank? I’ll compile a list in the future, but for now, you can go here to search for a local foodbank.
Charities for Single Mothers
There are a number of private charity programs. These programs aim at lending a helping hand to the needy — be it in the form of food, clothing, or advice. Many are religious-based.
- Catholic Charities USA
- Salvation Army USA
- The Nurturing Network (Pregnancy Assistance)
- Angle Food Ministries (buy foods for discounted price if you are in financial need)
This list is not exhaustive but rather gives a good overview of some of the more popular charity programs.
Your Local Church/Religious Organization
Many church organizations do offer assistance in the form of women’s shelters, charity aid, free foodstuff and so on. You should do a search in your area for churches and contact them (phone or website) to see if these services are offered. Don’t be too proud to seek out help! These places are a good way to get a helping hand when you need it.
Our Resource List
We have compiled a seriously HUGE resource list for mothers (and single parents) including things like healthcare, food, daycare, and charity that you will no doubt find useful.
A Quick Look at some website giveaway programs of interest
There are some other “private” online programs that you can sign up for a chance of getting some help, a chance at winning prizes, or to get free information about finding assistance.
The way these programs worth is to get the “free stuff” you might have to register on a form or fill out a quick survey for a website; if you do so, you will be entered into a draw for some prize. If you have a bit of time, here are some “mom-related” giveaways you can take advantage of:
Grants for Single Mothers
This topic has quite a bit of misinformation written about it. Grants are considered need-based awards. This means they are given out to people or organizations with financial need. Now first off: most government grants are given out to organizations and not to individuals. Government grants for individuals, at least from the federal government, are unusual, the exception being school grants and business grants.
If you are looking for business grants (which you may, if you are trying to start a business as a single mother), you may want to visit the government business website. You can also view a list of some of the government grants here.
Government grants, as stated, are usually for businesses, organizations, or students. You may be able to find state grants that are given out as financial assistance.
How to Apply for Government Grants
This is a topic that merits a post itself.
Well here is the basic process:
- Find a grant you qualify for and is still currently available
- Fill out the grant application, providing all request information and any supplemental information required (you sometimes may be required to write a proposal or essay about what you will do with the funding, etc). You should buy a book on grant writing to help guide you through this process.
- Send out the grant proposal and wait.
- Repeat steps 1-3 with other grants you may qualify for
And that’s how you apply for a government grant. Now the main questions people ask here is WHERE to apply for a grant. Good questions indeed.
Here are a few sites to start with:
- Grants.Gov (THE place to go for government grants for organizations and business. Not for individuals though)
- http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ (The source for government student grants)
- http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/grants.jsp (Another source for student aid grants)
- Free Grant Approval Guide (sign up for a free (yes) guide that will help you find grants)
How to Apply for Private Grants
Private grants are harder to find, but potentially more lucrative in that they are given out to individuals. Your best bet is to do a web search for some of the private grant programs. I’ve already mentioned a few private grant programs like the 10k Scholarship for Moms. You also might try looking at a scholarship searching website like scholarships.com or grab a list of scholarship programs for a college financial aid office.
NOTE: BEWARE OF GRANT SCAMS. There are a hideous amount of grant scams out there that take advantage of the desperate. I want to make this clear: there are no such thing as OBAMA GRANTS. There are government grant programs that are legit, but as stated, most federal grant programs target businesses and non-profit organizations, not individuals. So be very wary of any website or organization offering you some type of government grant. Very very few federal grants of this nature actually exist. Any website asking you for MONEY to apply for a grant or claiming to offer guaranteed grants is flat out lying! You’ll simply lose the money you pay out for this “grant.”
One of the biggest scams is to get you to sign up for a grant program (which really offers you nothing you can’t get for free or do yourself), then get rebilled 50-100 bucks a month. While these are not really “scams” in that you don’t get ripped off, you are paying for something you don’t need to pay for and if you don’t cancel, you end up paying each month.
Scholarships for Single Mothers
These are like grants in the way that they are free money that does not need to be repaid. They differ than grants, however, in the way that scholarships are given out. A scholarship in the truest definition of the word is a merit-based award. Grants are need-based. Now there may be scholarships that are a combination of need and merit based, but a traditional scholarship is given out for something like academic excellence. Scholarships are usually offered either by schools themselves (many colleges have entrance scholarships and high GPA scholarships for students) or by scholarship Foundations. Some corporations may give out scholarships to employees who want to go back to school too.
How to Apply for a Scholarship?
It can be tricky getting a scholarship. Basically, you need to fill out as many scholarship applications as possible. This can be time consuming, but potentially lucrative. You also need to (usually) have good grades. While you may be able to qualify for some scholarships without good grades, the vast majority of the traditional scholarships reward academic excellence. You should start by educating yourself how to properly fill out a scholarship application. There are web tutorials on the subject and there are countless books written on how to write a scholarship application. Indeed, do yourself a favor and buy “how to get a scholarship” book on amazon or check one out from the library. There is quite an art to applying for a scholarship; knowing what to do can do a great deal towards helping you qualify for one.
The one sure piece of advice I can offer to you moms looking to get a scholarship is that you need to apply for as many of them as you can. Don’t apply for a couple and thing you are going to be assured any money. You need to get your hands on as many applications and start shooting them off. You should be able to grab a list of current scholarships from any college financial aid office (call them or visit the school’s website). And don’t forget to try your hand at the web-based scholarship giveaways either.
Loans for Single Mothers
I generally advise single moms to stay away from loans unless they have a very specific reason why they are taking out a loan: starting a new business or going to school or some sort of temporary emergency. Outside of these reasons, you can land yourself in a world of trouble if you get a loan and don’t repay it. So beware.
Loans and Your Credit History: What’s the Relationship
Loans are also linked with your credit history. Basically the relationship between loans and credit history is this: if you have good credit, you can get hassle free loans with very good interest rates; if you have bad credit, you will (usually) have trouble getting a loan and/or your will get stuck with a very high interest rate. If you have any plans on getting a loan other then a payday or student loan, try,try,try to maintain a good credit score. Generally, good credit is considered a score of 640 and higher. A credit score of 620 is generally the dividing line between good and bad credit. If you don’t know your credit score, you MUST find out to see where you stand.
There are generally a few basic categories of loans out there.
These are a big one and popular. These are also called cash advance loans or paycheck loans. In principle they are to “tide” you over between paychecks. You usually write a post dated check to the payday loan company and the company cashes the check at that period. Sometimes you simply take out the loan and make the payment directly. Payday loans do have their place – you can take out a cash advance to pay for some emergency medical/dental procedure or fix up your car so you can go to work.
Now, it’s imperative that you repay your payday loan as soon as possible. Payday loans have the highest interest rates out of any loans and if you miss payments, it only takes a few months for your interest to overtake the actual principal amount of your loan! If this happens, payday loan consolidation is about the only way you can get out of financial difficult here.
An alternative to a payday loan is to take out a credit card cash advance, which functions like payday loan. However you still pay high interest (usually 19-23 percent or whatever rate your credit card gives out).
The best solution is to usually take out a personal line of credit which has the lowest interest rate. But you ability to do this will often depend on your credit history and relationship with a bank.
These are loans you can get that will help you buy a car. You get these from an auto loan dealership, bank, or online auto loan company. Credit history here is pretty important since it will determine your interest rate on the loan. You can use a company like Quicker Auto Loans to apply.
Also called mortgage loans. It used to be easier to take out these kind of loans, but the 2008-2010 recession has made it extremely difficult to get a mortgage. These days, you need to have really good credit and a solid employment history to get a mortgage loan. There are options if you have bad credit, but very few. If you have good credit and a stable job, then your best bet is to talk to a bank you’ve had a relationship with about your loan options. It’s hard to get credit in this economy with the Great Recession still in full force, but loans are still possible if you meet the now strict requirements.
If you are a single mother seriously looking at a mortgage, we suggest you read our full blown mortgage guide for single mothers.
The only loans I suggest single moms get are student loans. This is because you don’t have to have any sort of credit history to get a federal student loan (in both Canada and the US). A student loan is also an investment in your education – you get a degree which will help you qualify for a better job and better support your children. Federal student loans have the lowest interest rates out of any loan and have a flexible repayment schedule.
If you are an American, you can apply for federal student loans by filling out the FAFSA application. If you are a Canadian, you can visit the Canada Student Loan Program to apply. There are also a host of private student loans you can apply for such as Signature student loans and Chase student loans (both in the US). Keep in mind, if you want one of these loans, you generally either need to have good credit history or have a cosigner with good credit cosign for you. US Federal Student Loans (and the Canadian version of them) don’t require good credit.
Work at Home Jobs
Another source of financial help for single moms is…the single mom herself. If you can supplement your income with a part time job of sorts, it can make a world of difference. Now, if you are working full time, you might not have time to get another part time job, but there are some work at home opportunities to bring in some extra coin. Here are some ideas:
- Web Content Writer — you write articles for websites. You can hire yourself out on places like Freelancer.com. It’s easy to build up a part time income if you write articles for web sites. If you are a good writer, you can build up a good list of regular clients. It’s freelance work, but you can pay the bills. Keep in mind when you start out, you are going to have to hustle for some work.
- Work At Home Programs (Paid surveys, Online businesses etc)– there are plenty of work at home programs out there that you can try out. Most are complete crap and scams, but a few are legit. I personally recommend looking at the Paid Surveys program. This is basically a program where you are hired online to fill out surveys. Each survey you fil out nets you a certain amount of money — the more you fill out, the more money you make. It’s not a passive income, but if you spend the time, it’s money. Be leery of anything else
- Website Development — this takes some training, but it’s possible to learn how to develop websites and work part time on the side. If you can’t go back to school or do night classes at your local community college, then consider an online university which offers more schedule flexibly than an ordinary school.
- Internet Marketing — this involves creating websites and marketing products of some sort on them. This is a growing field today with lots of information available online about the topic. It’s takes a lot of time and effort to generate an online income from websites, but it’s possible if you know what you are doing. Again, internet marketing requires some real work ethic and creativity on your part in many cases, but the payoff can be a new, lucrative career. There are a ton of such programs around, but frankly, most of them are crap and scams and you’ll never make a dime.
So there we go, probably the web’s finest and most comprehensive article on getting financial assistance for single mothers! I hope you moms found it useful! If you have any more suggestions as to work at home programs of financial aid programs, let me know! Be sure to check out some of the other helpful pages, such as the single mother resources page.