Many people think of grants as free money, but they’re so much more than that. Grants and scholarships allow people from different walks of life to pursue passions they wouldn’t have been able to without financial assistance. With a little help from an organization or private donor, women, minorities, the disabled and those living in low-income households can receive an education and use it to build a better life for themselves.
If you’re a woman looking to further your professional or academic career by attending graduate school, you may be eligible for one of the following grants.
1. American Association of University Women Grants
The AAUW is one of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women, providing more than 245 fellowships and grants to women and nonprofits around the globe. The association offers four different kinds of grants, three of which may apply to female graduate students.
Their career development grants cover fees, supplies, books, transportation and even dependent care if you have children. International fellowships fund full-time study or research in the United States for women who aren’t citizens or permanent residents. Meanwhile, the selected professions fellowships focus on introducing women to law, medical, technology and science fields where men typically dominate the arena.
2. P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship for Women
The P.E.O. Sisterhood is a U.S.-based women’s organization that provides educational opportunities to female students. Their International Peace Scholarship Fund is just one small part of their efforts. This fund awards scholarships to non-citizens so they can earn their degree in the U.S. or Canada.
To qualify for this grant, you must be able to demonstrate a need for financial assistance. However, the sisterhood doesn’t intend for the scholarship to cover all academic and personal expenses. In fact, applicants must indicate additional financial resources to cover estimated expenses. The maximum grant amount totals $12,500, so you may receive less depending on your individual needs.
3. Women’s Architectural Auxiliary Eleanor Allwork Scholarship
If you’re a woman interested in furthering your career in architecture and happen to live in New York, this scholarship could make it happen. The Women’s Architectural Auxiliary Eleanor Allwork Scholarship annually grants up to $10,000 to students seeking a bachelor’s or master’s at an accredited university in the state of New York.
To apply for this grant, you must submit a portfolio containing three projects that demonstrate concept, artistry and skill. The dean or chair of your current university must also nominate you to apply. Moreover, graduate students are only eligible if their undergraduate degree is in a field other than architecture.
4. Gertrude M. Cox Grant for Women
The American Statistical Association Committee also encourages women to enter statistically oriented professions with the Gertrude M. Cox Grant for Women. This grant provides financial assistance to those who need it, especially women pursuing mathematics at the graduate level.
Each year, the committee awards two recipients with certificates and $1,000 each. However, ASA only accepts applications from women who are citizens or permanent U.S. residents who are studying full-time. Applications are due by February 23 each year and require a CV, personal essay, three reference letters, a headshot and all academic transcripts.
5. Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation Grant
Women with disabilities who are currently pursuing graduate degrees can take advantage of the Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation Grant. The foundation awards scholarships for $500 to $2,000 on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis.
To qualify for the award, you must be a female with a physical disability and a willingness to network with ELA board members and other scholarship recipients. You must also be active in a local, state or national disability organization and willing to update the ELA annually regarding your progress in your professional or academic career.
6. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grant
SARE is a competitive research and outreach program that promotes and advances sustainable farming practices. This program awards grants to graduate students interested in studying horticultural genetics, pest control and fertilization techniques. Successful grantees often become producers, researchers and educators that work to protect the land and sea. Since 1988, SARE has awarded 350 grants to those working on local and regional food systems.
Four regional offices administer at least three grant programs at different times of the year. Uses and restrictions on funds also vary by region and year. Therefore, it’s wise to consider where you plan to earn your degree, then apply for specific grants within that region. For additional information regarding deadlines and eligibility, contact your local SARE office.
A Word on Applying for Grants
As wonderful as free money might sound, it’s important to remember that grants are fairly competitive. You aren’t the only one applying for scholarships, so you must make your application stand out. Dedicate time, preparation and thought to your essay and other requirements before submitting your application. With a whole lot of effort and a little bit of luck, you might just win enough money to get you through graduate school — or at least start off strong.