Although women over 60 may have reservations about keeping up with younger students in college, they also have some advantages according to an NPR article. They possess a stronger drive to succeed and fewer distractions such as excessive partying and romantic entanglements that sometimes hinder younger undergraduates. Linda Knight, who received a scholarship and graduated from Wellesley at age 64, said she had two words for someone considering going back to college at her age. "Do it."
Tution Waiver Scholarships
Almost two dozen states offer free tuition for seniors who wish to audit classes and free or reduced tuition for seniors who wish to earn college credit. The states differ in the age threshold, with most at either age 60, 62 or 65, and in some cases, income limits apply. The tuition waiver scholarships only apply to state and not private colleges, but private colleges may offer their own scholarships. States offering tuition waiver or reduction scholarships for senior women include Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. Also offering these scholarships is the District of Columbia.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Women's Scholarship Program provides 500 annual scholarships for women over age 40. Eligibility for the scholarship includes financial need and pursuit of an associate's or bachelor's degree. Seniors who are caring for children of a family member, have been out of the workforce for the past five years or have a low-paying job are given preference.
Since 1997, the Talbots Scholarship Foundation has awarded over $1 million to women who range in age from their 20s to their 60s. This program is designed to enable women to pursue their dream of a college degree. Talbots awards scholarships to women who are residing in the U.S., have not yet earned a bachelor's degree, and intend to return to school full-time. Six women receive scholarships of $10,000 and 60 women receive scholarships of $1,000 each. Scholarships are awarded to women who received their high school diploma or GED at least 10 years ago, and they are based on financial need and previous achievements.
Jeanette Rankin Scholarship
Jeanette Rankin awards scholarships to low-income women 35 and older, with the goal of providing educational opportunities to break the poverty cycle. Each scholarship recipient must express her vision of how education will help herself, her family and her community. Rankin scholars come from diverse backgrounds, but all demonstrate a commitment to success through education.
Many scholarship programs have limited time windows for applying each year, and while applications may be closed for one year, the opening for the next round of applications will be listed on the website. Contact the college financial aid office for institution-specific scholarships. Remember that many scholarships and the Federal Pell Grant have no limitation on either gender or age.