Best Scholarships for Non-Traditional Students

Times change. The definition of “student” once was “one who studies something”. Today it can mean merely “one who attends a school, college or university”. This modern definition doesn’t even suggest that the person does more than “attend”. 

College and university professors still use the first definition, and schools have ways such as course requirements, exams, and grades) to attempt to ensure that those who attend will also study and learn something. 

From time immemorial, higher education has been quite expensive. However, recent, there seems to be a constant high in education. 

Non-traditional students are not left out. In this article, the best scholarships for non-traditional students would be highlighted. Keep reading.  

Who are Non-Traditional Students

A student who did not receive a standard high school diploma, but reported completing high school either through passing a General Education Development (GED) exam or another equivalency exam or receiving a certificate of high school completion was considered a nontraditional student.  

There is no clear definition of who a non-traditional student is. However, they have mostly been captured using their age as a surrogate variable that captures a large, heterogeneous population of adult students who often have family and work responsibilities as well as other life
circumstances that can interfere with the successful completion of educational
Their background, residence, level of employment, and occupational programs are also a factor.  

Why Become a Non-Traditional Student?

There are certain reasons persons become non-traditional
students. Some of them are 

· As a non-traditional student, you can maintain the flow of education and learning and continue to higher education without losing momentum 

· As a non-traditional student, you would have work experience for further clarity on your course choice, getting ahead when applying for job roles, and helping you apply theory to practice in your course. 

· As a non-traditional student, you would have access to life experience which includes increased resilience, skills, and confidence.  

· Most non-traditional students have work experience. This helps them a lot even while applying for jobs because they can easily put in the theory of what they have studied.  

· As a non-traditional student, you would have the benefit to earn while you learn 

· As a non-traditional student, you have higher motivation because you chose the path yourself and because the education is flexible. You can study when, where, and how you want. 

· As a non-traditional student, you would not need to put your life on hold. 

Do Non-traditional Students always Get Scholarships?

Although many schools restrict eligibility for the school’s own financial aid programs to the first Bachelor’s degree, some schools will waive the restrictions when the student is an adult returning to school to earn a second degree to prepare for a career change. 

According to data from the 2015-2016 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), non-traditional students are more likely to receive the Pell Grant than traditional students, but less likely to receive private scholarships. 

Non-traditional students are more likely to be pursuing a Certificate or Associate’s degree than traditional students, and less likely to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. A little more than a third (35.8%) of non-traditional students are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, compared with nearly
three-fifths (58.6%) of traditional students. 

Many colleges offer free tuition to senior citizens who wish to audit classes and significantly reduced tuition for classes taken for credit. 

The senior citizen must be a state resident and meet age thresholds(usually 60+, 62+ or 65+). In some cases, there may be income limits. Free tuition for auditing classes is usually only on a space-available basis.  

States which offer statewide tuition waivers at public colleges 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, Virginia, and Washington DC. 

Sometimes, the free tuition is only available at specific public colleges or only at community colleges. Fees may or may not be waived. The student must still buy his or her textbooks. 

People age 55 and older who volunteer may receive education awards of up to $1,000 for 350 hours of volunteer service through the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. 

These awards may be used for the volunteer’s education or transferred to a child, foster child, or grandchild. 

Even though non-traditional students may be eligible for increased loan limits, they should avoid over-borrowing. Do not borrow more than your expected starting salary after you graduate. It may tempt you to borrow more for your living costs, but this will make it more difficult for you
to repay the debt after you graduate. 

Best scholarships for non-traditional students

The best scholarships for non-traditional students are-  

Google SVA Scholarship 

Amount: $10,000 

The google SVA scholarship is one of the scholarship programs for non-traditional

The scholarship aims to inspire and help students become future leaders in computing and technology by breaking down the barriers that prevent them from entering these fields. 

To be eligible for this scholarship, you must intend to be enrolled in or accepted as a student into any university in the United States. 

You must have and must have maintained a strong academic performance, you must have also exemplified leadership and showed a passion for computer sciences.  

The application process would require your general background information, your resume or CV, your academic transcripts, and, of course, two letters of reference. 

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship 

Amount: Varies  

Jeannette Rankin Foundation provides unrestricted Scholar Grants to students who identify as women or nonbinary, are 35 and older, and show financial need.

Inspired by Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress, the Jeannette Rankin foundation transforms futures through education.

Their vision is simply to inspire a better world by empowering women through

Jeannette Rankin women’s scholarship aims to make financial awards to people who self-identify as women without regard to race, creed, religion, color, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression, national origin, or physical and cognitive disability. 

It is one of the best scholarships for non-traditional students.  

American Legion Auxiliary Scholarship for Non-traditional students 

Amount: $2,000 

The American Legion Auxiliary scholarship is a non-traditional scholarship that helps people who are part of the legion family to pursue a college degree later in life or allow them to pick up where they left off when their studies were interrupted.  

To be eligible for this scholarship, you must be a member of The American Legion, Auxiliary, or Sons of the American Legion, your dues must have been paid for the two preceding years and for the calendar year in which the application is made and you must be pursuing training in a certified, trade, professional, or technical program, or a two-year or four-year degree program. 

Ford Opportunity Program 

Amount: Award covers 90% of unmet college costs (50 are awarded!) 

  • Hallie E. Ford (1905-2007), a founder of The Ford Family Foundation, originally established the Ford Opportunity Program to assist single parents in obtaining a college degree. The program has expanded to include all parents of any age and other adults over the age of 25. To be eligible for the Ford opportunity program as a non-traditional student, you must:
    Be a resident of Oregon or Siskiyou County, California, 
  • A parent of any age, 
  • An adult learner over the age of 25 as of March 1 of the application year,
    A student seeking an associate or bachelor’s degree at an eligible public or private (nonprofit) college, or a student with at least one year remaining in their degree program.  

Get Educated Online College scholarship  

Amount: $1,000 Deadline: March 15th or October 15th of each year  

The Get-educated online college scholarship is an online degree financial aid program that is funded and maintained by the distance learning experts at as a part of the mission to help cut the cost of online college. 

Awards are based on both merit and financial aid need. You can use your free grant money to attend any accredited online school of your choice. 

To be eligible for financial aid, you must be a U.S. citizen enrolled in an accredited online degree program located in the USA with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. 

To apply for the scholarship, you would be required to download an official application, write a 500-word essay: “What an Online College Degree Means to Me”, attach a copy of your most recent grade transcript, and attach a copy of your most recent FAFSA (or your 1040 tax return) 

Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship 

Amount: $1,000; Deadline: July 31, 2022 

The Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship is a merit-based program that helps students fulfill their dreams of higher education. 

The scholarship is named for Gen and Kelly Tanabe, best-selling authors on education, whose generous donations fund this program. 

A committee, which bases its decision primarily on the submitted personal statement chooses winners. The first-place award is a $1,000 scholarship. 

The award can be used for tuition, room and board, required fees, or any educational expense.  

To be eligible for this scholarship, you must be a legal resident of the U.S. and must be currently in school or planning to start school within the next 12 months. 

The Walmart Associate Scholarship  

Amount- from $500 to $1500 per degree course 

The national retail chain supports this scholarship. It provides encouragement and financial aid for Walmart employees who are looking to return to college to improve their career opportunities. 

The scholarship is open to all employees with a high school diploma or GED. 

The process to renew the Walmart Associate Scholarship is flexible, allowing scholars the opportunity to request funds anytime within the Walmart Fiscal Year (Feb. 1-Jan. 31) when it works with their institution’s schedule, up to the yearly funding cap for their chosen
degree or certificate program. 

The Marius “Gabe” Degabriel Scholarship 

This scholarship opportunity is for U.S. citizens who are graduate student members of the Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE). 

To be eligible, you must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. 

The application requirements for the Marius “Gabe” DeGabriele Scholarship are- recommendation letters (2), application form, personal statement, and an official transcript.  

The Kazimour Scholarship  

Amount: $500 minimum and up for each scholarship 

The Kazimour Scholarships are awarded to non-traditional students who demonstrate strong academic achievement. 

To be eligible, you must be a non-traditional undergraduate student member of ANTSHE. You must have to show yourself to have contributed to the enrichment of their college and/or local community and show continued contribution to your college and community. 

They accept the scholarship applications through February of each year. The requirements for selection must show that you are a non-traditional student enrolled as a full-time student in a four-year program of study at an accredited college or university in an undergraduate program, and showed contribution to your college and community.  

The Osher Reentry Scholarship Program   

Amounts: Between $1,000 to $5,000; 

Osher Re-entry Scholarship funds can help cover tuition and mandatory fees only. 

The Bernard Osher Foundation provides scholarships for returning students they have interrupted whose college education is for a minimum of five years. 

Applicants must be between the ages of 25–50 and must attend a cooperating college or university. Award amounts vary and are determined by financial need. 

To be eligible, the student must be admitted as a first-time or transfer student pursuing their first undergraduate degree (Preference given to newly matriculated students), have a five-year absence from enrollment at a post-secondary institution, be between 25 to 50 years of age, preference for students that are eligible for need-based aid based on a current year FAFSA, must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), enrolled full or part-time. It is one of the best scholarships for non-traditional students.  

The Adult Students in Scholastic Transition Scholarship 

The ASIST program is supported by Executive Women International and is available to all adult learners who are returning to college for educational training to improve their career opportunities. 

Applicants may be single parents, displaced homemakers, or individuals entering the workforce for the first time. 

150 scholarships are awarded annually, ranging from $1000 – $2500. The Adult Students in Scholastic Transition (ASIST) Scholarship Program helps provide financial support to adult students in a variety of transitional situations. 

EWI believes that the ASIST Program will positively impact the personal life, employment, family, and community of the applicant. 

The ASIST scholarship is a non-discriminatory, educational scholarship program for the benefit of non-traditional students pursuing an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, or a certification program at an accredited educational institution. 

These include persons who are past high school age and who are entering a college, university, or trade school and/or the workforce for the first time, non-traditional students already enrolled in a college, university, or trade school, and/or the workforce for the first time, non-traditional students already enrolled in a college, university, or trade school program, or re-training due to changes in the workplace 


Scholarships provide an opportunity for people to earn an education. Without assistance from an outside source, students may have trouble paying for the degree.

Scholarships help students have more time to focus on their studies. If you are a non-traditional student, look through the list of these best scholarships for non-traditional students to help sort your fees.  

Frequently asked questions

How do non-traditional students get scholarships?

Non-traditional students are encouraged to contact the
financial aid offices at the college of their choice for information on further scholarship programs which may be supported by their college, university, or technical school. They may then go on to get those scholarships by applying. 

How do non-traditional students pay for college?

Non-traditional students should submit the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid just like younger students. Federal student aid generally does not have any age restrictions. The main exception is the Coverdell Education Savings Account, which requires the funds to be used by the time the beneficiary reaches age 30.

What is a non-traditional scholarship?

Non-traditional scholarships are scholarships given to non-traditional students. Non-traditional students fall outside of the preconceived norms for college-bound students. The scholarships are funded by a variety of sources, including corporations, professional associations, and colleges and universities.

Can non-traditional students get scholarships?

Yes! There are several scholarships for non-traditional students, many of which are in this content above.

Will I qualify for scholarships and financial aid if I am a part-time student?

It depends on the scholarship and the specific college or university. Different scholarship organizations and colleges will have different requirements about the number of credit hours that you need to qualify for scholarships. You should also know that some scholarships and financial aid programs also have an academic requirement that says you must maintain a specific GPA to remain eligible.

If I am a non-traditional student, will I need to submit SAT or ACT scores?

Some colleges will require all students to submit the SAT or ACT. However, there are a growing number of colleges that are test-optional and do not require any sort of testing for students. Some graduate programs, such as MBA programs, may also waive testing requirements for students with a certain amount of relevant work experience.

Can non-traditional students live on campus? ‎

Yes. Even though most non-traditional students have a job
and apartments of their own, they can also live on campus if they wish.



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