Single Parent

Loans for Single Parents Headed Back to School

Until recently it has been tough for single parents to resume their education after taking a break to have and raise children. But now, the picture of the traditional undergraduate is not the norm, and options for single parents are growing at traditional colleges and universities, online universities, and institutions that offer programs that combine distance and traditional learning. The financing options are expanding, as well.

Federal Student Loans for Nontraditional Students

Federal student loan programs should be your first stop in figuring out how to get money for school.  To apply for all federal financial aid, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). That is all you need to do to apply for federal loans and work-study, but you must do it. If you do not, all these programs are unavailable to you for the coming school year.

The most popular federal loan is the Stafford Loan. Credit is not a factor in getting this loan. The only requirement is that you be enrolled in college at least half-time. A Stafford Loan can be subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on your financial situation. Like all federal student loans, the Stafford Loan is inexpensive, easy to get,  and it has flexible repayment terms. Unfortunately the awards are not even close to enough to finance a year at most colleges, but it is an essential start.

You may also receive a Perkins Loan. With the Perkins, the student is given the money directly from their school, and the funds are a combination of federal funding and funding from the school. Unlike the Stafford Loan, financial need is a consideration in who gets a Perkins Loan, but credit is not. it is important to file your FAFSA early in order to get the largest Perkins award you qualify for. The colleges award these loans on a first-come, first-served basis, so it pays to apply sooner rather than later.

Private Student Loans for Adult Students

Before turning to private loans, make sure you have exhausted all grant and scholarship opportunities at your school and through organizations. Numerous organizations both national and local support adults, particularly women, returning to their education. If, after applying for federal aid and applying for every grant and scholarship you might be eligible for there is still a budget shortfall, it is time to start exploring private loans.

Virtually every bank and credit union offers student loan products, and some of them are tailored to adults returning to school with family responsibilities. The following are a couple of lender with products that are particularly well-suited to single parents and adults returning to school.

  • Sallie Mae ( offers Career Training Loans and Continuing Education Loans that are aimed at students who are studying for a technical or online degree and for those who can only attend classes less than half-time.
  • The Chase Education One Loan ( is for students who can only study part-time.

Both of these programs are credit-based (as is every private program) but applicants with a credit-worthy co-signor can usually qualify.