If you're looking for financial assistance for your education, your first step should be to fill out a FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to see how much aid you're eligible for from the federal government. If your child or children live with you or if you pay for more than half of their support, you can file as an independent student regardless of how old you are, which means that only your finances will be examined, not those of your parents. If you are going for a degree in education, you may be able to get a Teacher Education Assistance Grant if you agree to teach in a low-income school after you graduate; an SEOG (supplemental education opportunity grant); or CWS (college work study) money. More than 130 federal grants, scholarships, fellowships, and loans may be available [source: fedmoney].

Aside from federal financial aid, each state offers financial aid for single parents, such as the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF), which also pays for childcare; Florida's George Snow Scholarship Fund for Single Parents; Illinois' College of DuPage Foundation Single Parent Scholarship; and Minnesota's Mary Jane Young Undergraduate Scholarship for Re-Entry Women, which is open to single women who are at least 25 years old and who have children. IBM and Microsoft offer scholarships for women in the hope that they will apply for jobs at these companies when they graduate. Other companies base their scholarships on talent, need and specialty. Universities and private foundations, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, offer financial aid often based on need or merit.

If you look online, you'll see that some scholarships are targeted for women who are planning to go into leadership roles and some are for women who will join the health profession, enter previously male-dominated fields (engineering, computer science, etc.), or for women returning to work after being at home to raise the children. If you're 35 years of age or older, you may be eligible for a Jeanette Rankin Foundation scholarship if you can prove how a college education will help you, your family and the community.