Helping Women Pay for College

Expert Advice to Finding and Securing Scholarships, Grants
and Financial Aid for Current and New Students


With options ranging from institutional scholarships and federal loans to organizational grants and work-study programs, women pursuing post-secondary education can often secure funding from multiple sources to finance their collegiate experience. For many female students, however, the problem is finding scholarships catering specifically to their interests and goals. The guide below makes this process easier by highlighting the type of women’s funding programs available, providing insight on how to find and apply for scholarships, and giving advice on how to seek out unconventional funding sources.

Financial aid doesn’t always come from large-scale companies or organizations. Many sources of scholarships are small, local-based companies looking to help those in their communities. Some scholarships are very particular, and some much more broad in their requirements, with something available for nearly every skill or demographic. Discover scholarships – just for women, in a variety of fields and degree levels – below.

Scholarships for Women

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Zonta International

Amount: $1,000-$7,000

Application due date: July 1

Awarded to women enrolled in a business or business-related field that live in or study in a Zonta district or region. Applicants must demonstrate potential in the field.

C200 Scholar Awards

Sponsoring organization:The Committee of 200

Amount: Up to $10,000

Application due date: Spring

This scholarship is awarded to female students pursuing an MBA degree at a school that hosts C200 Reachout sessions. Candidates must exhibit strong leadership and an interest in entrepreneurship.

Forte Fellows Program

Sponsoring organization:Forte Foundation

Amount: Varies

Application due date: June 1

This fellowship program seeks to encourage more women to take part in MBA programs by offering fellowships to students attending a participating school. While the majority of awards are offered to full-time students, numerous part-time awards are also available.

Legacy Scholarship in Honor of Susan Zweimiller

Sponsoring organization:Stephen Bufton Memorial Education Fund

Amount: $5,000-$10,000

Application due date: May 15

These scholarships are open to women pursuing a business or business-related degree who are in at least their junior year of study. They are required to be enrolled at the Kansas University School of Business.

The WIIT Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization: Women in International Trade

Amount: $1,500

Application due date: March 15 and July 15

This scholarship is awarded to female graduate and undergraduate students with a demonstrated passion for international business and related activities. One award is given at each academic level per year.

Women in Marketing Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Blue Soda Promo


Application due date: July 1 and October 31

This scholarship is open to women who are pursuing degrees in marketing or advertising who have already competed at least 60 credit hours toward their undergraduate degree.

Asian Women in Business Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Asian Women in Business


Application due date: October 1

Recipients of this award must be female and of Asian descent. They must be able to demonstrate previous leadership experience or a prior entrepreneurial endeavor. All applicants should have completed at least one semester of post-secondary work at the time of their application.

Women in Public Finance Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Women in Public Finance

Amount: Varies

Application due date: August 1

Open to female high school students that are preparing to enter college and study finance. Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA, demonstrable skills in leadership, and an interest in pursuing a public finance-related career.

Laurels Fund Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting


Application due date: May 15

This award is presented to female PhD students undertaking degrees in accounting. Eligible applicants must show significant academic achievement, financial need and a commitment to serving others.

Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Google

Amount: Varies

Application due date: May 1

Available to female students who aspire to be leaders in the computing and technology sectors. Students at both graduate and undergraduate levels are chosen, and awards are made based on the academic achievement and leadership skills.

HP Helion Openstack Scholarship for Women

Sponsoring organization:Hewlett-Packard

Amount: $10,000

Application due date: September 30

The HP Helion Openstack scholarship is available to women pursuing undergraduate or graduate study in information systems or computer science. As part of the scholarship requirements, recipients will be asked to develop a project using Openstack technology and/or Cloud Foundry.

The National President’s Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: The Stephen Bufton Memorial Education Fund

Amount: $10,000

Application due date: May 15

The National President’s Scholarship is awarded to female students in their junior or senior year of undergraduate study. They must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and be pursuing a degree in computer science or computer information systems.

Women in Technology Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Procurify


Application due date: August 15

This scholarship is open to female students pursuing degrees in business, computer science, engineering or design. Eligible recipients must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate.

UPS Scholarship for Female Students

Sponsoring organization:Institute of Industrial Engineers


Application due date: November 15

Awards are made to female undergraduates who are enrolled in a full-time four-year program for engineering or technology. They must also be affiliated with the Institute of Industrial Engineers.

MCWT Foundation Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Michigan Council of Women in Technology


Application due date: May 21

This scholarship is awarded to both undergraduate and postgraduate female students pursuing a degree in technology or a closely related field. Students must be attending a Michigan university.

Women in Technology Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Palantir

Amount: $1,500-$10,000

Application due date: August 31

Created to support women undertaking degrees in areas of technology who have completed at least one year of study, applicants can be enrolled in a computer science or STEM-related field to be eligible.

Delphix Technology Scholarship for Women

Sponsoring organization: Delphix Technology

Amount: $5,000

Application due date: November 15

This scholarship is open to women enrolled in full-time education at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. Students should be pursuing degrees in computer science, mathematics, information technology or electrical engineering.

Women in Technology Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Visionary Integration Professionals

Amount:Up to $2,500

Application due date: March 9

Awarded to women pursuing degrees in areas of computer science, information technology, management information systems, or computer engineering. Students must be attending a two or four-year institution.

ESA Foundation Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization: Entertainment Software Association Foundation

Amount: $3,000

Application due date: Between March 12 and May 29

Designed to assist women and minority students pursue careers in computer and video game arts, this scholarship is granted to up to 30 students each year. Applicants must have a 2.75 grade point average or above, be a U.S. citizen and be enrolled in a full-time undergraduate program. .

Teacher Education Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:American Montessori Society


Application due date: May 1

Eligible applicants include women who are currently or will soon be enrolled in an AMS-affiliated education program. Awards are made based on financial need, letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Community Action Grant

Sponsoring organization:American Association of University Women

Amount: $2,000-$10,000

Application due date: January 15

The CAG program awards funds to applicants able to show a commitment to furthering education and equality for females. Those who are focused on K-12 and community college areas are given special consideration.


Sponsoring organization: Federal Student Aid

Amount: Up to $4,000 per year

Application due date: Rolling

The U.S. Department of Education offers this grant, which promises funding to those who are willing and able to take certain types of classes while in education and to teach for a certain amount of time after completing their degree.

Barbara Lotze Scholarships for Future Teachers

Sponsoring organization:American Association of Physics Teachers


Application due date: December 1

Available to women who aspire to teach at the high school level, this scholarship is open to those who are enrolled in physics teacher preparation courses. The award is available only to undergraduate students who can demonstrably show they are moving toward a physics education career.

KSTF Fellowship

Sponsoring organization:Knowles Science Teaching Foundation

Amount: Up to $4,000

Application due date: November 1

The KSTF Fellowship is available to women who aspire to teach science or mathematics at the high school level. Most awards are five years in length.

Loreen Mohler Dorsey Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:University of Missouri


Application due date: May 1

This scholarship was created to provided financial assistance to women pursuing a teaching degree from UM’s College of Education, and who aspire to teach first grade.

A Gertrude Anthony Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: University of Wisconsin


Application due date: Late March

This award is open to junior or senior female undergraduates who are planning for careers as teachers. Candidates must have completed at least 24 credit hours at the Madison campus.

AAUW, Amarillo Branch: Ruby Lee Smith Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:West Texas A&M University

Amount: Varies

Application due date: May 1

Open to full-time junior or senior females enrolled in an education program. Students must have completed one semester at WTAMU and a fundamentals of education course.

AASA Educational Administration Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:The School Superintendents Association


Application due date: September 30

This scholarship is open to female graduate students who are studying school administration with the goal of becoming a superintendent.

Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Microsoft Research

Amount:$15,000 for one year

Application due date: May 1

Open to female graduate students in their second year who are pursuing studies in engineering, computer science, mathematics, or bioinformatics/information science. Their university or college must nominate applicants.

Ada I. Pressman Memorial Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Society of Women Engineers

Amount:$5,000 and renewable for five years

Application due date: May 15

Open to female students pursuing engineering or engineering-related subjects at an ABET-accredited institution. Students their second, third or final years of an undergraduate program may apply, as well as graduate students.

Anne Maureen Whitney Barrow Memorial Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Society of Women Engineers

Amount:$7,000 and renewable for a maximum of five years

Application due date: May 15

This scholarship is awarded once per renewal cycle and open to female students in their freshman, sophomore, junior or senior years of undergraduate study. Eligible fields of study include all types of engineering programs.

Rings of Excellence Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Alpha Omega Epsilon National Foundation


Application due date: February 15

Offered to AEO members or the child or grandchild of a member in good standing with the sorority. Applicants must be female undergraduates studying engineering or technical science.

Engineering and Technical Science Achievement Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Alpha Omega Epsilon National Foundation

Amount: Varies

Application due date: February 15

Applicants must be female and enrolled in an ABET-accredited undergraduate program, studying engineering or technical science.

Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization: The GM Foundation

Amount:$25,000 per year up to four years

Application due date: February 27

Open to high school seniors or graduates, or current undergraduates students enrolled in full-time education, with a focus on engineering or technology. Students must show an interest in automotive engineering or related industries using these skill sets.

Auxiliary Legacy Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:National Society of Professional Engineers

Amount: $2,000

Application due date: March 1

This scholarship is awarded to female undergraduates in their third year of study who are pursuing an ABET-accredited engineering degree. Awards are based on GPA, extracurricular activities, recommendations and an essay.

Susan E. Stutz-McDonald Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Susan E. Stutz-McDonald Scholarship Foundation

Amount: Varies

Application due date: May 15

To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants must be female engineering students with a passion for solving global water problems.

BK Krenzer Memorial Reentry Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Society of Women Engineers


Application due date: May 15

This scholarship was designed to assist female students who are either re-entering education or are non-traditional students. It is open to all students pursuing an engineering or engineering-related degree at any postsecondary level.

Interek Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization: Interek

Amount:Up to $10,000

Application due date: February 6

Awarded annually to up to five students pursuing an engineering degree, this scholarship is also paired with an internship at Interek. Eligible areas of study include science, technology, engineering or math topics

The Velma E. Stuit Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: The University of Iowa

Amount: Up to $2,500

Application due date: February 2

This scholarship is awarded to female UI students enrolled in mathematics, statistics, physics or chemistry programs. Candidates must be in their sophomore, junior or senior year of undergraduate study.

STAR Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Philanthropic Education Organization


Application due date: 30 days after application is published

Open to female students in their final year of high school who plan to attend an accredited postsecondary institution in America or Canada. Applicants must demonstrate leadership, academic excellence, extracurricular activities and community service.

The Bufton Family Memorial Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: The Stephen Bufton Memorial Education Fund

Amount: $10,000

Application due date: May 15

This memorial scholarship is open to females pursuing a degree in a STEM subject, including science, technology, engineering or math. Students can apply beginning in their sophomore year of undergraduate study. It is also available to graduate students.

Horizons Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Women in Defense

Amount: Varies

Application due date: July 15

This scholarship is available to females in at least their junior year, including those at the graduate level. It is designed for those aspiring to careers in defense or national security, with priority given to women majoring in mathematics, physics, engineering, computer science or economics.

Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Award

Sponsoring organization: Association for Women in Mathematics

Amount: Varies

Application due date: October 1

This award is available to undergraduate females who have demonstrated excellent work in mathematics during their academic careers. Candidates must be nominated and include their transcripts and other materials supporting their eligibility for the award.

ESA Foundation Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:Entertainment Software Association


Application due date: May 29

Awarded to female or minority students pursuing careers in video game development. Students must be full-time undergraduates in the United States.

Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: American Statistical Association


Application due date: February 23

Open to female students who are in or starting graduate training in statistics. Applicants must be residents of America.

Legacy Scholarship in honor of Nina Bell Reddick

Sponsoring organization: The Stephen Bufton Memorial Education Fund

Amount: $5,000

Application due date: May 15

Awarded to females who are pursuing a nursing degree, all undergraduate students in their freshman or sophomore year are eligible to apply. Recipients will have a GPA of at least 3.0.

YWAF Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Young Women’s Alliance

Amount: $3,000

Application due date: March 1

Awarded to females in the Austin, TX area who demonstrate a commitment to giving back to their community and showing leadership skills. Recipients are required to complete 40 or more hours of service.

Adeline Barth Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Delta College

Amount: Varies

Application due date: March 1

This scholarship was created to encourage women from Saginaw County to pursue further education in areas of nursing, social work, teaching, or liberal arts.

Future Care Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Tylenol


Application due date: June 30

Created by Tylenol to help students pursuing careers in healthcare, female undergraduate and graduate students are able to apply. Preferred programs include public health, health education, med school, nursing or pharmacy.

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Amount:Covers all tuition, fees, costs and includes monthly stipend

Application due date: May 21

The Nurse Corps scholarship program is open to all female students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate level nursing degree programs. In exchange for full funding, students agree to work in a facility on the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) list for at least two years.

Graduate Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Practice

Sponsoring organization: American Cancer Society

Amount: $10,000 per year, two years

Application due date: February 1

Awarded by the ACS, this scholarship is available to female nursing students pursuing graduate level degree programs. Eligible areas include a master’s program in cancer nursing or a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP).

Career Mobility Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:American Nephrology Nurses’ Association


Application due date: Varies

Female nurses pursing a bachelor’s level or advanced degree in nursing are able to apply for this scholarship. To be eligible, candidates must be members of ANNA.

HOSA Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:HOSA-Future Health Professionals

Amount: Varies

Application due date: April 1

This scholarship was created to help high school seniors or collegiate level HOSA members who are planning to focus their studies in health profession topics. Priority is given to those who are specifically in nursing programs.

Bachelor’s in Nursing Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Oncology Nursing Society Foundation

Amount: $3,000-$5,000

Application due date: February 1

The ONSC awards this scholarship to students in their final year of a baccalaureate nursing program who seek to work in the field of oncology. Eligible candidates must be attending an NLN or CCNE accredited school.

Graduate Nursing Scholarships

Sponsoring organization: March of Dimes

Amount: $5,000

Application due date: January 14

Female registered nurses who are currently enrolled in a graduate level degree program are eligible to apply for this scholarship, provided they are members of one of the approved professional organizations. Students must also be focused on maternal-child nursing within their degree program.

The Priscilla Carney Jones Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: American Chemical Society

Amount:Minimum of $1,500

Application due date: May 1

A one-time award based on need and merit, this scholarship is open to undergraduate women in their junior or senior year. They must be enrolled full-time in a chemistry or chemistry-related program, but not intending to go to medical school.

Overcoming Challenges Award

Sponsoring organization: Women Chemists Committee

Amount: $250 plus up to $1,000 for travel expenses for the ACS Fall National Meeting

Application due date: April 1

Recognizes a female undergraduate who has overcome hardship to pursue her education. Open to undergraduates enrolled in a two-year chemistry-related program or those in a four-year chemistry program at a school that does not have doctoral level chemistry degrees.

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:The National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Amount:Up to $42,000 annually

Application due date: April 1

Supports graduate level study and research for women and minorities enrolled in programs such as oceanography, marine biology or maritime archaeology. Selection is made after considering academic history, letters or recommendation, previous research and level of need..

Selected Professions Fellowships

Sponsoring organization:American Association of University Women


Application due date: January 10

Awarded to women pursuing full-time education at an accredited institution during the fellowship year. Areas given special consideration include those where women are traditionally underrepresented, including science.

M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship

Sponsoring organization:APS Physics


Application due date: June 1

Created for learners returning to physics after having taken time off, this award is open to all American female students. Eligible candidates should have completed some work towards a PhD at the time of application.

Golden Gate Section Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Society of Women Engineers

Amount: Varies

Application due date: March 27

Scholarships are awarded to female high school seniors in the greater Bay Area who plan to pursue degrees in engineering, physical sciences or other related topics. Awarded based on GPA, extracurricular activities, essay, reference letters and financial need.

WIFLE Annual Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:Women in Federal Law Enforcement

Amount: Varies

Application due date: June 1

This scholarship is open to students attending an accredited institution full-time who have completed at least one year of academic work. Awards are based on student’s intention to serve communities through law enforcement, with special consideration given to majors in chemistry, physics, social sciences, public administration, finance or computer science

APS/IBM Research Internship

Sponsoring organization:American Physical Society

Amount: Varies

Application due date: February 15

In partnership with IBM, APS organizes a paid research program for undergraduate women in an effort to encourage graduate level study. The program involves salaried summer research in a number of locations. Students must be females in their second or third year and majoring in chemistry, physics, materials science or engineering, computer science or engineering, chemical, electrical, mechanical engineering or biology.

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Amount: $42,000

Application due date: December 10

Women pursuing a graduate degree in oceanography, maritime archeology or marine biology are eligible for this scholarship sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The scholarship is a maximum disbursement of $42,000 and applicants must a 3.3 grade point average.

Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women

Sponsoring organization:The American Medical Association Foundation


Application due date: July 31

Female graduate students enrolled in a health-related field, such as public health, sociology or psychology, are eligible for this award. The scholarship is funded by the American Medical Association in association with the AMA Women Physicians Section and aims to promote women in the medical profession.

Harriet G. Jenkins Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Project

Sponsoring organization: NASA

Amount:Up to $24,000

Application due date: December 31

Graduating seniors or first or second year master’s students and first- through third-year doctoral students are eligible for these awards. Awards include $24,000 annually for PhD Fellows, $18,000 annually for Master’s Fellows, $8,500 offset tuition and $8,000 stipend for research. This fellowship financially supports women and minorities who are full-time graduate students in the STEM disciplines.

Association for Women Geoscientists Chrysalis Scholarship Fund

Sponsoring organization:


Application due date: March 31

Graduate women in the field of geosciences returning to their education after a significant interruption are eligible for this award. Recipients may receive up to $2,000 to cover the costs associated with completing a thesis or dissertation. They can use the award to pay education-related expenses not covered by research funding, such as dependent care, drafting fees, travel, or late-stage research analysis.

American Society of Women Accountants

Sponsoring organization:American Society of Women Accountants


Application due date: Varies

ASWA offers scholarships for master’s programs that are open to the public and scholarships designated solely for ASWA members. Scholarships vary according to need and scholastic aptitude. Nonmember accounting students enrolled in master’s programs can apply within geographical region chapters. Research scholarships for women in PhD programs are also available to ASWA members.

Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Graduate Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting


Application due date: June 30

The EFWA offers two graduate scholarships and one postgraduate scholarship to provide financial support for women pursuing a professional degree in accounting. The Institute of Management Accounts awards $1,000 to female graduate students, as well as a CMA Learning System kit, and a one-year student membership to the IMA. The Moss Adams Foundation awards $1,000 for minority women. Established in 1978, The Laurels Fund awards a $1,000-$5,000 scholarship to a woman pursuing a PhD in accounting and has completed comprehensive exams. Recipients are selected based on scholastic merit, service or volunteer work and financial need.

The Philanthropic Educational Organization Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:P.E.O. Sisterhood


Application due date: Varies

Female students at the graduate and postgraduate levels are eligible for the International Peace Scholarship (IPS), which provides scholarships to international women to attend graduate school in the United States or Canada. They are also eligible for the P.E.O. Scholar Awards (PSA), a merit-based award for U.S. or Canadian women pursuing a doctoral degree or participating in postdoctoral research. The P.E.O. Sisterhood is a group of six philanthropic programs that provide educational opportunities for women.

The Ways and Means of Women’s Financial Aid

According to the Institute of Education Sciences, women are more likely to receive financial aid than men are. During a recent survey, the organization found that 82 percent of females in higher education received some form of funding, compared to 77 percent of male students.

There are numerous types of financial aid available to women seeking assistance to pay for school. Financial aid usually comes from four different sources:


Every year, the U.S. Department of Education disburses approximately $150 billion in funding in the form of grants, work-study wages and low-interest loans. Students apply for these funds by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA® ) each year, which calculates financial aid amounts based on a student’s – or, in the case of high school students, her family’s – income.


Every state’s policies are different, but even if a student isn’t entitled to federal financial aid, she may still be eligible for state funding. Students may qualify based on a number of factors, including academic merit, financial need, specific career path and exceptional talent.


Many colleges have endowment funds used to award general or departmental scholarships. These can be awarded on factors such as need, academic merit or special talents, and the amounts provided can vary widely.

Private Organizations

Many companies and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships or incentive programs to help students pay for college. Popular sources include civic societies, foundations, religious groups, associations, clubs and businesses.

Each of these sources may offer financial aid in a variety of different ways, and with different stipulations depending on the type of financial aid earned:


This type of funding is typically awarded based on academic merit, special skills or talents.

  • Scholarships do not have to be repaid.
  • They can come from private organizations or institutions.
  • Amounts vary significantly; some cover partial or full tuition, while others are specific to textbooks, housing or study abroad programs.
  • They can be major-specific.
  • Some scholarships have requirements for maintaining funding, such as maintaining a certain GPA.

Grants, which are typically awarded based on financial need, do not need to be repaid.

  • Grants can come from federal, state, institutional or organizational aid programs.
  • An example of a federal grant is the undergraduate Pell Grant.
  • Grants-for-service typically exist in disciplines facing shortages and may require graduates to complete a term of service in the field as part of the funding agreement. Many private organizations offer grant packages in exchange for graduates working at the company for a set amount of time.
  • Many state-funded grants focus on assisting minority groups and women.

Loans provide immediate access to funding but must be repaid, frequently with interest.

  • Loans can come from federal, state or organizational aid programs.
  • Federally subsidized loans typically use a lower interest rate, which does not begin accruing until after graduation.
  • Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest immediately after disbursement.
  • Private organizations also provide funding but require a formal credit check.
Work Study/Employment

This provides employment opportunities in exchange for funding, allowing students to partially finance their education while still in school.

  • Funds are made available through federal financial aid programs.
  • Work can be on campus or at an approved location; popular school employers include student centers, individual departments, career services and athletic departments.
  • Pay rates and weekly hours vary by school and student.

Interview with an Admissions Expert

In order to understand the importance of women’s scholarship programs and to get the scoop on staying competitive during the application process, we interviewed a member of the application review panel from an organization providing funds for female education. Here’s what she had to say:

Why is it so important to have women’s scholarship programs and organizations furthering the interests of women in education and industry?

Women are dominating post-secondary education these days. Currently, nearly 60 percent of undergraduate students are female, yet they remain alarmingly underrepresented in many industries. Scholarship and grant programs are so important because they not only provide educational funding but also give women a sense of empowerment in industries where they can often feel outnumbered.

What is your best advice for female students applying for a scholarship?

Be passionate about yourself! As women, we must push for opportunities and grab hold of chances, and one of the best ways we can show devotion to our craft or career is to share our stories. We have a tendency to be modest when it comes to our skills and talents, but scholarship applications are meant for singing your own praises. Don’t be afraid to tell us exactly why you deserve this scholarship above other candidates.

What do you look for when reviewing an application?

I really want to see a clear path of progression. Students should be able to take an objective look at their professional and academic paths up until that point and identify what they are working toward and the steps that must be taken to get there. I guess another way of saying it would be sense of purpose: how can these funds help you carry out a specific goal you’ve set for yourself?

What is the worst thing a scholarship candidate can do on her application?

I would say there are two things. Firstly, grammatical or spelling errors are always a killer. When we are reviewing an application with the potential for giving a student a significant amount of money toward her education, we need to see that she cares as much as we do. By not taking the time to review her application, it tells us that perhaps this isn’t as important to her as it should be. Secondly, we really want to hear women’s stories. We want to know why they chose a particular career path, why they identify with our organization, and what they hope to accomplish as a female professional. Those who submit very generic applications are easily forgettable, unlike those who we feel we really get to know and have a sense of their passions and drive.

Resources and Support in Finding Aid

While the search for funding can seem daunting and time-consuming, there are many organizations that assist women in identifying grants and scholarships tailored to their goals and abilities. Many organizations focus on providing funding opportunities for women in industries where they are historically underrepresented, but there are resources available for women interested in popular fields as well. Some options for finding scholarships and grants for women include:

Online resources

Female students have many online resources at their disposal when seeking funding options. Many women-specific organizations highlight available grants and scholarships, while a number of general scholarship websites allow potential students to search for funding based on specific factors, including gender.

Some popular online resources for targeted scholarships are:

Capex FindTuition Fastweb FinAid Chegg

Women’s groups and organizations

Many local and national organizations are devoted to furthering the interests of women in the educational and professional arenas. In addition to advocacy and awareness activities, many also offer scholarship and grant opportunities to assist women as they pursue their career goals. Most have specific objectives, such as increasing the number of women working in STEM-related professions, supporting working mothers or contributing to the educations of female minorities. Well-recognized women’s organizations offering scholarships and grants to female scholars include:

Career centers

Many career centers keep an updated list of scholarship opportunities, most of which are locally or state-based, making them less competitive than national programs. Within these local listings, there are frequently scholarships and grants earmarked for female students. Potential students should meet with a career counselor to get advice on other financial assistance programs that may cater specifically to women. Aside from those covering tuition, a number of scholarships are available to women for skills building, offsetting the costs of unpaid internships or childcare.

College counselors

For female students graduating from high school and entering postgraduate education immediately, college counselors are a valuable resource for understanding educational financing options and finding appropriate funding sources. In addition to reviewing applications and helping students ensure they are putting their best foot forward, college counselors often have many resources for locating scholarships. High school students should seek out their college counselors beginning late in their sophomore year to ensure they understand application timelines. Counselors can also help students find local women’s organizations and private companies that have scholarship programs available for females seeking postsecondary education.

The Grant and Scholarship Application Process

Finding appropriate grants and scholarships tailored to individual needs is the first step for women seeking educational funding. After identifying potential sources, students will need to fully research and understand the application process and prepare appropriate documents. While application requirements vary based on source and type of funding, many components are similar.


Many applications require students to answer questions about why they deserve funding or what life events have led them to pursue a certain career. Students will need to pay close attention to what the organizations are asking, craft thoughtful and concise answers, and ensure all essays are free from mistakes. Asking a teacher or professional in the field to review essays is a great idea. Those applying for multiple scholarships or grants may find that some of their answers can be tailored to several different applications.

Letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a common requirement for scholarship and grant applications. They are usually provided by teachers, employers, mentors or other professionals who know the applicant well. Often, these can be used for multiple applications.

Transcripts and test scores

Grants and scholarships awarded based on academic merit will examine transcripts and test scores closely, but almost all applications will require proof of education and proper examination. It can take some time to gather these scores, especially for students who have already completed undergraduate degrees and must request transcripts from multiple educational providers. Students should begin aggregating this information early in the application process to ensure it is available before any scholarship or grant deadlines.

Financial information

The federal government administers financial aid such as the Pell Grant, using information provided on the FAFSA® form to assess candidates’ eligibility. Whether based off of the student’s information or her parents’, these documents will need to be gathered early in the process to ensure all relevant data is available as needed.

After gathering all information and documents, students can begin the process of identifying and applying for scholarships. Check to be sure you’ve covered all the bases:

Identify relevant scholarships and grants you qualify for.

Prioritize funding options based on best chances and earliest deadlines. Create a calendar of deadlines to ensure all packets are sent off in time.

Read instructions for each scholarship carefully to ensure all requirements are fully met. For instance, some applications may need to be mailed, while others can be submitted online.

Create draft versions of applications, leaving time before submission for advisors to review applications, provide advice and proofread.

Keep copies of all materials in case information goes missing and documents need to be quickly re-sent. To avoid losing an application in the mail, consider using certified mail or requiring a recipient signature.

STEM and Industry-Specific Scholarships and Grants

For over three decades, a majority of undergraduate students have been women, yet females remain minorities in a number of key industries historically dominated by men. Female professionals are underrepresented in fields such as engineering, business and the sciences, leading to the need for financial aid programs to encourage more women to pursue studies in these areas. As of 2015, only 12 percent of engineers were female; the percentage of women working in computer science has fallen from 35 percent to 26 percent since 1990.

The Society of Women Engineers was founded in 1950 to give voice to women working in the field, both by highlighting their successes and challenges and by advocating for increased opportunities. The organization requires scholarship recipients to attend undergraduate or graduate-level engineering, engineering technology or computer science programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Scholarships typically range between $1,000 and $10,000; in 2013, the organization awarded over 230 scholarships totaling $700,000.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career opportunities have increased in recent years, with more than 1.7 million jobs in engineering and computer science alone expected to be added in the next decade. The disparity between male and female graduates in some fields is beginning to level out, but women continue to be underrepresented in others. For instance, while females earn over half of all biological science degrees awarded at the undergraduate level, they earn only 13 percent of all engineering degrees.

A number of organizations are looking to turn the tide by encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM industries. Some of the most active organizations and scholarship programs for women seeking education in these arenas include:

Beyond the Scholarship: Other Sources of College Financing for Women

Aside from scholarship and grant programs, women can take advantage of numerous unconventional funding sources, such as employer tuition reimbursement, educational tax benefits, volunteer scholarships or funding programs that cover non-tuition expenses. Such options include:

Employer tuition reimbursement

Many employers offer tuition assistance opportunities in the form of reimbursement programs. The IRS allows employers to provide up to $5,250 in assistance benefits free from taxation each year. A prospective student should check with her current or future employer about any additional conditions, such as being required to undertake a specific degree or stay at the company for a certain period of time.

Educational tax benefits

The federal government offers multiple programs designed to alleviate costs female students incur while in school. Most of these are set up as tax credits, meaning students can deduct some of their expenses from their reportable federal income. Two of the best-known offerings are the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. More information about these programs can be found on the U.S. Department of Education website.

Scholarships for volunteering

A number of organizations have programs that incentivize people to volunteer by providing educational funding. Some use previous volunteering history as criteria for awarding funds, while others translate active service into educational grants. One example is AmeriCorps, a nationally recognized community service initiative that provides awards to those who spend a set amount of time working in a civically beneficial role. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program also erases any federal education loans for those who have been in full-time employment in the public service arena for 10 years.

Funding for non-tuition expenses

While tuition is often the most expensive component of an education, extra costs such as textbooks, housing, transportation and childcare can also add up. Many local community groups, professional associations and nonprofit organizations offer specialized women’s scholarships for these extra costs, and a number of universities also offer childcare assistance for mothers trying to complete their education. The Live Your Dream Education and Training Award is an example of a scholarship that can assist with all of these costs; last year, the fund disbursed over $1.6 million in educational grants to more than 1,200 female students.

Additional Funding for Special Groups

In addition to scholarships for women pursuing specific degrees or career paths, there are also many other funding options available to women. Some cater to minorities, veterans, those with disabilities, or single mothers. In recent years, there has been a large push to increase the number of African-American and Latina females receiving post-secondary degrees, which has led to an increase in scholarships and grants available to these populations. There are also many organizations devoted to securing funding for female students who have recently completed active military duty.

Resources for special funding can be found from the following organizations and scholarship funds: