With the exception of scholarships for military dependents, few student aid programs offer funding specifically for widows with children. However, you might be able to obtain money for college through programs for single mothers, scholarships specifically for women or need-based government student aid programs. Certain women's programs might limit applicants according to age or income, and others might offer funding only for students who are residents of a particular state.
Scholarships for Mothers
You might qualify for scholarships specifically for mothers that certain nonprofit organizations offer. The Patsy Takemoto Mink Foundation, for example, sponsors the Education Support Award, which offers maximum scholarships of $2,000 in 2011. The Mink program awards grants to low-income women age 17 and older who have at least one minor child. You can use the Education Support Award to pay for skills training programs or to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree. Soroptimist offers scholarships for women who are the main income earners in their families. You can use Soroptimist awards to attend vocational schools or four-year colleges.
Certain programs offer scholarships specifically for nontraditional women students. For instance, the Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund sponsors scholarships for low-income women age 35 and older. Established in 1978, the Rankin program offers funding to attend vocational or technical schools, or to pursue bachelor or associate degrees. Emerge boasts more than $100,000 in scholarship awards since its establishment in 2001. You must be age 25 or older to qualify for an Emerge scholarship of up to $5,000, as of June 2011. The program bases awards on financial need, personal goals and community service history; candidate attending schools in Georgia are preferred.
Scholarships for Military Dependents
If your spouse died as the result of military service, you might qualify for scholarships offered specifically for military dependents. For example, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education sponsors the Military Dependents Scholarship, which offers funding for military widows pursuing certificates and bachelor degrees. The program's awards can be used at public, post-secondary institutions in Arkansas. The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs offers student aid through the G.I. Dependents Scholarship Program. To qualify as a military widow, you must still be unmarried and your spouse must have held residency in Alabama or entered military service in the state.
Government Need-Based Student Aid
Need-based student aid programs sponsored by federal and state governments extend eligibility to all qualified individuals who need financial assistance to pursue their education goals. The federal Pell Grant program, for example, offers awards up to $5,550, as of June 2011, and allows you to receive up to two grants per school year. The Pell Grant program typically pays only for undergraduate studies but allows you to also receive funding from other federal need-based student aid programs. The Florida Department of Education awards need-based student funding through the Florida Student Assistance Grant Program. You must reside in Florida to qualify and can use the award only to attend schools within the state.