There really is a need for scholarships for women over 40. And not always for the reasons you’d think.

The most likely recipients of scholarships for women over 40 are moms who just sent their last child off to college. Or maybe they still have children at home, but are looking for an opportunity to take their career to the next level and to make more money. Scholarships for women over 40 can help them do that.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects traditionally have been male-dominated arenas. Because of this many organizations actively recruit talented women whose skill-sets fit these areas of expertise. Most programs are more than willing to provide those scholarships for women over 40.

One such organization is the Society of Women Engineers. They have been known to be especially generous with women wanting to pursue engineering careers.

The AAUW Fellowships and Grants are available to all women students including those over 40. This organization provides over three million dollars a year for two hundred scholarships for women. It especially likes to help women planning on attending graduate school.

Many believe it is beyond the time when women should be provided with special help in college funding. After all, aren’t they already fifty eight percent of the college student body? And their grades are higher. Plus they are graduating more often. We can’t disagree with any of these statements because they are all true.

Scholarships for women over 40 fill a special need, though. These are often women who have sacrificed most of their adult lives taking care of children or supporting a spouse’s career.

Some of these women have the desire to go to college, but not the means. And sometimes older students make the best students—they are motivated, disciplined, with half a lifetime full of experiences.

The AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship program has helped over five hundred women over 40 since 2007. They awarded $450,000 to be split among 125 women in 2010. The money goes directly to the school to pay for books, tuition, and other fees.

This foundation gives priority to women who are raising children of another family member. It also gives special consideration to those women who’ve been out of the workforce for over five years or have a low-paying job without retirement or health benefits.

The AARP really does its homework too. They factor in the basis of your financial need. In other words, if you maxed out your credit cards in Las Vegas, well, that’s probably not a good reason to have a financial need. If, however, you are raising your brother’s kids after he died in a car accident that is definitely legitimate.

Another important factor with the AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship program is the likely impact of the scholarship. Will it eventually help provide a sustainable income? Will it benefit the woman’s family to the extent that it can make a real difference? What impact will it have on the community as a whole?

These scholarships for women over 40 are often meant to help women who have lived quietly heroic lives. It is hoped that, with the help of a scholarship, fewer women will have to give up the dreams they once had.

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