What You Need to Know about Non-Traditional Scholarships

Are you heading back to school after your original education was interrupted? Or are you considering studying abroad? Some students fit the mold of “non-traditional.” Finding scholarships and grants may prove difficult for these types of students, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips, tricks, and information you need to know if you are looking for non-traditional scholarships.

A student at home on their laptop.

Who are Non-Traditional Students?

When most people talk about about college students, they’re usually thinking about adults between the ages of 18 and 22 who are attending undergraduate school. However, this does not include everyone attending college, of course. Students who don’t fit this exact definition can be defined as “non-traditional.” These include students who are:

  • Studying abroad
  • Adults who had their original degree interrupted and are returning to school
  • Older adults who are attending for the first time
  • Of certain ethnic groups or regions
  • Single parents
  • Studying a niche major
  • Attending graduate school

What are Non-Traditional Scholarships?

Although a majority of scholarships are based on grades, merit, athletics, or financial need, not all of them are. Non-traditional scholarships can be difficult to find, but they are out there. These tend to have very specific requirements on who can and can’t apply. A few examples include

The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund: This award requires a single parent to have at least 50% physical custody of a child and have a specific household income, among other qualifications.

The Walmart Associate Scholarship: This scholarship is for adults looking to return to college to advance their career or attend for the first time, but you must be employed by Walmart. Financial need can also be a factor.

The Betty Barrick Non-Traditional Student Scholarship: Based in Kentucky, applicants must be in a major that is agriculture or natural resources related and be at least 25 years old.

How Do You Find Non-Traditional Scholarships?

There are a few ways to find non-traditional scholarships, but it will take time to uncover them. Some ideas include

Use a Scholarship Database

Scholarship databases allow you to put in specific information regarding yourself, your education, your career, your major, locale, and other details. It will then give you specific scholarships that you qualify for. This will turn up quite a few traditional scholarships, but there will be some non-traditional ones in the mix.

Use Google

One of the best ways to find non-traditional scholarships is to actually turn to Google and search “non-traditional scholarships.” Many organizations have put lists together dedicated to these types of awards and students. You may also want to add your major, “single parent,” or other aspect that makes you a non-traditional student to the end of your search to narrow down the results.

Talk to Your School

In some cases, colleges will offer scholarships, aid, or grant options to their non-traditional students. They may also have additional resources for you to take advantage of on your search.

Discovering Non-Traditional Scholarships

Non-traditional scholarships are out there, but you do need to devote research into finding the ones that  fit you. You may also still qualify for traditional scholarships so you don’t want to rule those out completely either.

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