Tuition and living costs increase every year. As costs rise out of many people’s reach, more and more people find that their goals and aspirations may be limited because of finances. Loans are readily available to make ends meet, but they must be paid back with interest. Luckily, there are other options to fund education, research and other endeavors.
Scholarships and grants are designed to give opportunities for education and advancement that would otherwise be out of their reach. Every year in the United States, millions of dollars in scholarships and grants are given out to worthy applicants. Many of those grants are specifically ear marked for Christian women.
The types of scholarships given to Christian women are more varied than most applicants guess when they first begin looking. Many applicants imagine that most scholarships available to Christian women are reserved for devout Christians, future ministers or other devotees. But there are scholarships and grants available to Christian women in all walks of life. From transgender women to those that can recite the tenants of faith, there are scholarships and grants waiting for Christian women from all walks of life.
All Majors are Welcome
Women entering seminary or bible college and women pursuing religious studies are most likely to seek out scholarships and grants for Christian women. But Christian women pursuing other, secular courses of study have lots of scholarship and grant opportunities available to them. In fact, the majority of scholarships are available to applicants studying a variety of subjects at religious and secular schools. Often, identifying as a Christian and a relationship with a church is enough to merit a scholarship or grant to support your pursuits.
Take, for example, The United Church of Christ Undergraduate Scholarship. This scholarship is given by the United Church of Christ through their Undergraduate Scholarship Endowment Fund. The fund was established in 1994 by a gift from the members of the Society of the South Congregational Church of Brooklyn, NY. Every year since the fund’s establishment, a small monetary award has been given to worthy applicants.
The United Church of Christ Undergraduate Scholarship is restricted to members of the United Christ Church. However it is available to United Church of Christ members majoring in any undergraduate subject. The courses in question must be taken at an accredited 4-year university. Applicants for the United Church of Christ Undergraduate Scholarship must be entering their sophomore, junior or senior year.
The United Church of Christ Undergraduate Scholarship is somewhat merit based. Applicants must provide a sealed, official undergraduate transcript containing their grade history up to and including their most recent semester or quarter. To qualify for the scholarship applicants must have at least a “C” average entering their sophomore year. Applicants entering their junior or senior year must have at least a “B” average. Only applicants under 25 years of age may apply.
In addition to transcripts, applicants must also provide a letter of recommendation from the Dean or Academic Advisor of their school and your local United Church of Christ pastor or youth counselor. Applicants must also provide a 500 word essay based on the question provided in the application.
On average, each student receives between $500 and $1,000. But the award is only given to students who can prove their personal financial need through a FAFSA form. The deadline for turning in the applications is on May 18th of each year. If that date falls on the weekend, the application must be received by the business day following the application.
Christian women pursuing secular courses of studies hurt themselves by assuming that only religious studies are supported by churches and organizations. Many scholarships and grants are available for all undergraduate or graduate students who qualify. Some are even specific to certain secular courses of study.
Smaller Denominations have Scholarships Too
Before you write your small denomination off, it pays to do an internet search. Many small denominations have scholarships available for their members. Even churches without central organizations or leadership offer funding.
Can’t find anything on the internet? Talk to your church leader. There may be scholarships available that are not listed on any website. Or your inquiries may inspire your church leaders to institute an annual scholarship that you and others can use later in your educational career.
You Don’t Have to Be College-Aged
Students fresh out of high school are the most likely to seek scholarships for their education. But older students often suffer the larger financial burden. These students often think that their only option to pay for school is to work extra hours or take out high-interest loans. However, there are many Christian scholarships available to women who are older than the typical college age.
The Antiochian Women’s Scholarship, for example, is reserved for Eastern Orthodox women who are over 26 years of age. The scholarship not only supports undergraduate and graduate schools but other trade and educational programs in non-traditional settings.
The Antiochian Women’s Scholarship primarily targets women who have the time to further their education but not the resources. To apply, applicants must simply fill out a form that lists the immediate costs of your education including tuition, books and fees, and housing. Applicants do not need to provide a transcript, but they must provide a letter or recommendation from their Eastern Orthodox parish priest
The Antiochian Women’s Scholarship Fund targets older women with the drive and purpose that often comes with maturity. Applicants must write a short essay about the course of study they are taking and how that education will benefit themselves, their families or the world. Applications are due June 1, 2012.
Many scholarships and grants available to Christian women are ear marked for women who are above a certain age. Applying for these scholarships and grants take these women out of the general applicant pool and place them with their peers. This increases the chance that they will be chosen and often means larger scholarships and grants because the pool is divided amongst fewer applicants.
Your Home State May Have Added Benefits
Many women’s scholarships and grants are given out on a national level. Certain states, however, have scholarship and grant opportunities that are unique to the state that the funding church or organization resides in. This restriction stretches out limited resources and affords organizations a closer relationship to their wards.
The Diamonds in the Rough Ministry International Scholarship, for example, reserves their scholarships for women who are seniors in high school in the state of Texas. Because the applicant pool is limited to women in one state, the chance of getting an award are greatly increased.
In addition to state restrictions, The Diamonds in the Rough Ministry International Scholarship is reserved for women who have exceled in some areas of their life. High academic achievers, leaders in their community or volunteer organizations and accomplished athletes are encouraged to apply. The scholarship is available to women of any denomination.
Applicants must have a high school GPA of at least 2.5 and must submit official transcripts along with their applications. By the time the application is submitted, the applicant must be enrolled in a college or university. No proof of enrollment is required at the time of application. It must, however, be provided before the scholarship is awarded. In addition to transcripts, applicants need a letter of recommendation from a current teacher, minister or mentor. The application deadlines are February 1st and August 1st.
Searching by state is a great way to find opportunities with a smaller applicant pool and more concentrated resources. Applicants awarded scholarships and grants in their home state are also more likely to be awarded the scholarship year after year and obtain support for their entire educational career. Applicants looking for a personal, long-term relationship to their benefactors will benefit most from awards from local sources.
Schools are Great Resources
When searching for potential universities to attend, Christian students would do well to research the scholarships available through those institutions. Certain universities have relationships to funds and organizations that donate money earmarked for scholarships. Many of these scholarships and grants are reserved for Christian women already attending these universities.
One large scholarship of this kind is the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship. This scholarship is available to Christian women currently involved undergraduate programs in a variety of schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The list of schools is available on the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship website. The list includes a number of reputable 4-year accredited universities.
To be eligible applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0. All majors and concentrations are welcome. However, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship is most often awarded to students who major in health-related subjects like nursing.
The Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship is awarded to roughly 200 students per year. Each chosen student is awarded between $500 and $2500. The award is renewable, but students must re-apply each year that they are in college. The application deadline is March 15th every year.
Many other organizations like the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation give grants directly to universities to be earmarked for Christian students. It pays to research. Ferreting out these school-based scholarships are a great way to compound other scholarships to increase the amount of money available for education.
Missionaries Have Access to Special Scholarships
Christian women who do missionary work are often eligible for special scholarships and grants. Many of these scholarships and grants are even available to applicants who promise or intend to do missionary work in the future. In exchange for a few years of missionary work, applicants may find funding for their educational endeavors.
The Women’s Missionary Union is a Baptist organization that gives a considerable amount of money to current and future missionaries. They have several scholarships and grants for undergraduate and graduate students who want to share their faith.
- The Women’s Missionary Union’s Hocutt Memorial Scholarship is available to women who are undertaking “academic preparation, internships designed to develop a person’s abilities to serve in the chaplaincy or missions field or for formal Continuing Education programs related to the chaplaincy or missions. “. Undergraduate and graduate university programs, apprenticeships, and certification programs are all eligible. The application deadline February 1st.
- The Juliette Mather Scholarship is another program available to missionary women throughout the Women’s Missionary Union. This program is only available to undergraduate students attending 4-year accredited University programs. All applicants must plan to go into a Christian ministry or enter a field that will help to prepare Baptist leaders. The application deadline is March 1st.
- The Women’s Missionary Union also organizes the R. Keith Parks Scholarship Fund. This fund provides scholarships for women who are entering or taking post-graduate course works in preparation for missionary work. To be eligible for the R. Keith Parks Scholarship Fund, applicants must plan on undertaking missionary work in a foreign country. The application deadline is March 1st.
- Christian women pursuing a post-graduate degree and domestic missionary work should apply to the Carolyn Weatherford Scholarship Fund. The application deadline is March 1st.
Access to each one of the Women’s Missionary Union’s scholarships is available through their website via a single application form. Along with an application, applicants must submit three references. One reference must be from a recent teacher or professor. The second reference must be from a pastor or church leader. The third reference must be from a Women’s Missionary Union leader or a principal member of a volunteer organization that you are a member of. The application forms must attest to current missionary work or intent to engage in missionary work after graduation. In addition to reference letters, applicants must include a list of your major accomplishments and mission activities.
There are a number of churches and other organizations who similarly award Christian women who pursue missionary work. Often, Christian women who were not previously considering missionary work decide to invest the time in exchange for several thousand dollars in educational aid.
Christian Scholarships for Transgender Women
Once upon a time, Christian communities closed their doors to members they did not approve of. Luckily, times have changed. Christians women who identify as lesbian, intersex, transgender and bisexual are not only welcomed in many churches but also eligible for scholarships and grants.
One of the most notable of these scholarships is the Lee Frances Heller Memorial Award. This scholarship was established in the memory of Lee Frances Heller. Heller was a minister from 1965 to 1985. After Heller retired, she came to terms with her transgender identity. She spent the last 15 years of her life ministering to transgendered men and women.
To honor her memory, the Lee Frances Heller Memorial Award is offered through the Transgender Scholarship and Education Legacy Fund. It is awarded annually to Christian transgender students who intend to take religious studies. The scholarship may be applied to religious studies at any college, university, seminary or bible school.
The application process for the Lee Frances Heller Memorial Award largely centers on the applicant’s experience as a transgender woman. Applicants must have demonstrable experience in a leadership role in their church, a volunteer organization or another organization. The application must also include an essay that discusses the applicant’s experience as a transgender woman and their relationship with their church.
The application deadline is January 10th. Only one applicant is chosen every year and awarded $1500. Present the application through the Transgender Scholarship and Education Legacy Fund.
Organizations that offer Christian scholarships for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex students often have small applicant pools and large awards. Not all scholarships require the student to major in religious studies. However, the scholarship awards often require that students become active in their respective communities and are a great head start to activist work during an academic career.
Certain Scholarships Grants Cater to Women with Unique Experiences
Christian scholarships and grants aren’t always only based on beliefs. Certain organizations, churches and foundations establish scholarships for Christian women with specific background or experiences. This category of scholarships is often overlooked, but there are many resources available for women who have grown up in foster care, suffered abuse or surmounted other difficult obstacles in their lives.
Inspire Women is an organization that gives scholarships and grants to Christian women pursuing their education. Sixty percent of their scholarship awards go to women that come from backgrounds of abuse.
Inspire Women scholarships largely go to women with a desire to go to a seminary or other specialized religious program but have limited financial means. Applicants must be accepted to a seminary or biblical college. The award is meant to be added onto university or government financial aid and is only awarded to students who are also receiving another type of financial aid.
Inspire Women also gives grants to ministry leaders who run an IRS-approved non-profit church or Christian organization. The grants must be used to educate members, fund mission trips, produce CDs or books or spread the word of God.
Finding scholarships that cater to women with unique experience requires a considerable amount of leg work. However, there are significant benefits to be gained. The applicant pool is small and a powerful personal essay carries more weight than academic performance.
The great thing about grants for Christian women is that there are several available to women who are undertaking post-graduate studies. Like scholars in other fields, Christian scholars and researchers can obtain grants to help fund their research in certain areas. They are designed to pay for rent, food and other basic necessities to free up the scholar’s time for research.
Large organizations and churches like the United Methodist Church give large awards to historical studies and publications. The United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Archives and History regularly gives sizable grants to scholars that research the history of the United Methodist Church.
Many of these grants are available only to women or scholars who study the history of women in the United Methodist Church or any of the churches and organizations that gave birth to the United Methodist Church. Larger sums are available to scholars who publish original manuscripts on the subjects. Once every four years, a sizable grant is given to scholars who publish book-length monographs on subjects related to Methodist history. The awards are given year-round and the amount of each grant is determined by the size and scope of the research project.
Christian women who plan to study, write or research the history of a church or religious organization or the history of women’s roles in said churches or organizations would be wise to contact those churches or organizations to obtain information about available grants. Even if grants are not readily available, council or clergy members may be encouraged to establish grants to add to the existing scholarship surrounding their denomination.
Work with Women
Grants and scholarship aren’t only limited to Christian women pursuing academia or a future in the clergy. Many grants for Christian women are ear marked for those women who do work in the community to empower other Christian women.
Church Women United is such an organization. They give scholarships to local or global organizations that are run by women or engage in activities that empower women. No extensive written application is necessary. Instead, applicants must present their case in person in front of a committee made of Church Women United members.
Church Women United gives roughly $250,000 worth of grant money per year. Individual grants are commonly between $250 and $5,000. The deadline for in person applications is August 1st.
Christian women who spend time inspiring or uplifting other women will find that there are a number of grants available to them. Those grants may be used to start an organization, fund excursions or pay bills. Scholarships may also be available for women who wish to further their education to continue their inspirational work.
Community Work Counts
Scholarships for Christian women are often awarded on the merit of deeds more than on the merits of academic achievements. Potential applicants with strong presences in the community or in volunteer organizations often find more options in Christian women’s scholarships even if they do not earn the top grades in their class.
The College for Christian Leaders, formerly known as The Eckmann Foundation, is a non-profit organization founded in 1988. Every year they give a scholarship to reward leaders in the Christian community. And although the scholarship is awarded to a variety of students, special consideration is given to minority students. The scholarship is given to students of any Christian denomination.
To evidence their Christian community leadership skills, applicants must have a ministry reference from someone in their church. Applicants must also write a 100 to 200 word essay on Christian testimony. A second essay must be submitted on the subject of a person who lived in the last century that the applicant would like to spend the day with and why.
Applicants must be entering or currently enrolled in graduate or undergraduate courses in California, Oregon or Washington. The minimum acceptable GPA for applicants is 3.0. To qualify for the College for Christian Leaders scholarship, students must also provide proof of their need.
The combined income of the entire family, the parents and the student, has to be below $75,000. This includes parents, step-parents and the income of any working students in the household. You will have to provide copies of the tax returns for the past two years from all family members. Once selected, applicants must submit to a personal interview by a panel of College Christian Leaders. The application deadline is May 23rd each year.
Christian women with strong ties to their community will find a number of scholarships and grants at their disposal. These types of scholarships are a great way to supplement mediocre academic performance that might exclude them from other types of scholarships and grants.
Put Your Religious Knowledge to Work
Part and parcel of being a Christian is learning and often committing to memory the tenants of your religion. Certain churches, organizations and funds reward students who retain that knowledge. Simply being able to recite and understand a prayer or concept may give you several thousand dollars in scholarship money.
The Samuel Robinson Award, for example, offers a scholarship to Presbyterian students who know how still remember the answers to the Westminister Shorter Catechism.
Applicants must be full-time college students preparing to enter their junior or senior year at one of the 69 colleges the Samuel Robinson award has a relationship with. The application must include a 2,000 word essay on the Catechism. Different topics are provided to applicants each year the scholarship is given.
Students chosen for an interview must recite the answers to the Westminister Shorter Catechism in person. Twelve students are chosen each year. The typical award is between $2,000 and $5,000 per student. Applications must be post marked by April 1st.
Something as simple as a commitment to the tenants of faith may result in big dividends. Leaving no stone unturned is the key to maximizing scholarship money. Making a list of the tenants of faith and Googling each of them may turn up surprising scholarships and grants.
Denomination Doesn’t Always Matter
There are many denominations of Christianity and the availability of scholarships for Christian women reflects that diversity. Because these denominations represent the majority of Christians in the United States, Protestant, Catholic and Baptist scholarships make up the majority of Christian scholarships available. But there are many non-denominational scholarships available to Christians of all types all over the United States.
There are a wealth of Christian scholarships and grants available in the United States. The best way for Christian women to search is to think beyond church attendance and volunteer work. There are scholarships for Christian women in all walks of life. Applicants do well to think about what makes them unique and use that to narrow their search. Scholarships and grants provide the most support when they are only offered to a few Christian women with unique or specific qualities.