Scholarships and grants for women are essentially the same thing: they are college loans that do not have to be repaid. However, scholarships are usually merit-based, while grants are need-based. In other words, scholarships are awarded based on your individual achievements. Grants are awarded based on financial needs. Grants are often funded by the government, either at the state or federal level. In order to apply for these grants, you must submit a FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Other grants are privately funded. Women may be able to find grants through their college or university, corporations, or nonprofit organizations. Depending on the source, some grants for women may also come with merit eligibility requirements. Qualifications for these types of grants can vary, as private organizations are free to establish their own terms.

Eligibility Requirements

As you might expect, eligibility requirements for women have at least one thing in common: applicants must be female. However, other requirements can vary considerably. Some grants require that you be a single parent, be returning to school after a long detour, live in a low-income household, or be pursuing a specific field or profession. Government grants for women usually require documented financial need. Private grants for women usually have unique requirements and may or may not focus on financial needs. In general, grants that can be applied to graduate studies are competitive. The grants listed below illustrate the different types of grants you may encounter in your search.

Types of Women’s Grants

  • AAUW Career Development Grants: Women with a bachelor’s degree who are interested in another undergraduate degree, an advanced degree, or career development opportunities are invited to take advantage of this program.
  • AAUW Selected Professions Fellowships: Women enrolled in master’s degree programs in architecture, engineering, computer science, and math may win one of these grants from the American Association of University Women.
  • AWM Travel Grants: These travel grants are awarded on a competitive basis to women pursuing post-doctoral research in mathematics. The awards are specific for international travel to conference in the field of mathematics.
  • Barnard College Alumnae and Donor Sponsored Internship Grant Program: Students of this women’s college who land unpaid internships are able to participate in this program in the spring, summer, or fall. Awards run from $800 in the fall and spring to $2,000 in the summer.
  • IWF Fellows Program: Harvard Business School offers this 20-day program in cooperation with INSEAD to help women polish their organizational leadership skills.
  • PEO Grant for Women Returning to College: The PEO Grant at Illinois State University is only for women whose educational endeavors were interrupted for at least two years and would like to return to college to finish their degree.
  • Smith College Quigley Research Fellowship: Smith women and gender studies majors may receive $1,000 in research assistance for their junior year through this fellowship.
  • Stephen Bufton Memorial Educational Fund: The American Business Women’s Association distributes grants and scholarships through this fund to women pursuing post-secondary degrees while maintaining professional careers.
  • Wellesley College Travel and Research Grants: This women’s liberal arts college provides funding for students to travel to academic conferences and to conduct research in collaboration with faculty members.
  • Women in Engineering and Computer and Information Science Awards: The National Science Foundation sponsors this fellowship program for women interested in entering graduate STEM programs.