7 Scholarship Opportunities for Students That Have Lost a Parent – Free Money for College

April 28, 2014

If you have lost a parent, that’s hard enough for a young person to deal with – but what can make this even more difficult is the financial problems that often follow. Even if your deceased parent left life insurance arrangements, it may not be enough to supplement the lost income and finance your way through college – particularly if there are several children to try and get through school. Today we look at some scholarships and grants for students with a deceased parent.

Stone angel at cemetery

Students that have lost a parent have additional scholarship opportunities

#1 Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

Students who lost a parent as a result of injuries while in the Armed Forces anytime after September 11, 2001 in the conflicts in either Iraq or Afghanistan may be eligible for this grant. You must be ineligible for a Pell Grant due to income but otherwise meet Pell Grant criteria. Additional qualifications are that you have to be younger than 24 and already enrolled in college when your parent died. Grant amounts equal the maximum Pell Grant for that year. Currently, this is $5,645.

#2 Veteran Affairs Survivors and Dependent Assistance

Students who have a parent that is permanently disabled or that died on active duty or from a service-related condition can receive up to 45 months of education benefits from the VA. This totals up to $1,003 per month that you are enrolled full-time at an educational institution. These benefits can also be used for certain job training and certification programs.

#3 Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund

This fund assists students that either lost a parent or have a parent permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The amount of the award varies based on the income of your surviving parent and other factors. This calculation (click here for the web form) tallies the suggested parent contribution. This is then deducted from your school costs along with any other scholarships and grants you’ve earned. A percentage of this total financial need can be awarded. For 2014-2015, this is 58%, which can be a substantial award.

#4 Kid’s Chance Scholarship

This scholarship program helps students that have lost a parent to an on-the-job injury or that has a parent permanently disabled as a result of a workplace injury. 24 states have Kid’s Chance organizations that offer scholarships of various amounts.

#5 Scholarships for Those Who Lost a Parent to Cancer

There is a wide array of scholarships for students that lost a parent to cancer or have a parent currently battling cancer. This site lists quite a few but you may also want to Google for the specific type of cancer your parent had along with the word “scholarship,” because many special interest groups sponsor scholarships based on the specific type of cancer.

#6 Life Lessons Scholarship Program

Life Happens is a non-profit organization sponsored by life insurance providers that offers $175,000 in scholarships each year to students that have lost a parent. Funds can be used to cover costs of a college, university or trade school for students aged 18-24. You must share in essay or video form how the loss of your parent has impacted your life and discuss how life insurance planning could have helped your financial circumstances. Scholarships range in value from $2,000 to $15,000 and are paid directly to your school.

#7 State Based Programs

Nearly every state offers programs for students that lost a parent that served in the Armed Forces, police or firefighters. Some of these programs are quite generous and will waive tuition at state colleges and universities. Check with your college financial aid officer, high school guidance counselor and be sure to Google your state name and keywords such as “survivor” or “deceased parent.”

Final Thoughts and Tips

Typically, these scholarships can overlap and you may be eligible for more than one program, which can help lessen your out-of-pocket costs and your need to take out student loans. You may also be able to pursue additional grant and scholarship opportunities reserved for single parents if your surviving parent hasn’t remarried.

Because lower income students – a category which those that have lost a parent often fall into – are often hardest hit by student loans, it’s wise to take advantage of as many scholarship opportunities as you can. Also be sure to check out this recent blog about how your social media activities can impact your scholarship chances.

If you do have to borrow for school, be sure to sign up for Tuition.io’s free student loan tool to track your debt from your very first loan to the day you pay them off. Also check out our Student Loan Help Center to educate yourself on student loans so you can avoid financial missteps with school debt.