Many people are aware that financial aid exists for most colleges. There always seems to be a co-worker’s family member who got a full scholarship to an upscale university or a friend of a friend who got some textbooks for free. What may not be as well known is how much financial aid there is out there and how easy a lot of it is to get. With proper planning, attention to detail, and a little luck, almost any single mother can improve their lives and the lives of their children.
Paying For the School Itself
The cost of the actual classes is often the most daunting problem for a woman raising children by herself. Fortunately, the federal government figured out a long time ago that it is a better idea to pay for schooling for a short period of time for single moms, than it is to have them stay at minimum wage jobs with government subsidies for a long time.
There are several grants available to help single moms and other low-income family members pay for college and other higher education.
The Pell Grant is a grant that is provided by the Federal government. Like all grants, as long as you fulfill certain requirements, you will not have to pay it back. It is literally, free money to go to school with. As of August 2011, the following are some guidelines that you will have to meet in order to receive a Pell Grant.
The Qualified Recipient must:
1) Not be in default on any previous federal student aid for.
2) Be in school at least six credit hours for each period of time (semesters, quarters, etc) that you will be getting a Pell grant. This may vary for the different portions of academic measure for some schools.
3) Be a U.S citizen, with a valid Social Security number.
4) Maintain at least a 2.0 average with an acceptable attendance record AND not fail any classes. This is very important because poor grades or a spotty attendance record can adversely effect future financial aid.
5) Meet certain income requirements, which can vary tremendously based on the state of residence, annual income and family size. Many phlebotomy students receive the full amount of the grant, which is up to $5,550.00 for a full year.
6) A criminal history that does not include any drug charges for at least one year. People with multiple drug convictions for sale or possession of drugs may be declared ineligible for any funds or may have to go through a Drug Rehabilitation program.
7) Not have an education that has included a Bachelor’s degree thus far.
8) Students can only receive financial aid at one school at a time. That means that if a student is in school and receiving aid at one school, he or she would not be allowed to take extra classes at another school. This is true even for summer or internet classes.
The school itself may put additional requirements on their phlebotomy students and always has the right to require documentation of the information you gave when you applied. It’s also very important to know that there is not one particular application for the Pell Grant. Instead, there is one application for all of the federal grants and determination for federal loans. That form is called the FAFSA, and filling it out accurately, on time and in full, is probably one of the most important things that any single mother could do to begin the process of becoming a phlebotomist. For more information, and to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid), visit
After school starts, the school fees will be taken out of the awarded Pell grant. At that time, students may also be allowed to use the balance of your grant to pay for books and other necessary school supplies. However, some phlebotomy schools include the cost of your books in your tuition, so students need to make sure they understand how that is going to be handled. Any remaining balance (if there is one) is typically refunded to the students after the add/drop period for classes has gone by. In order to process financial aid, the phlebotomy school may require that prospective students apply to the school, with all of the appropriate documentation. Failure to do so could easily result in delayed processing, which could mean that a student does not have the aid in place in time to start school.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The SEOG grants exists to meet the exceptional financial need of certain students. The typical recipient might have a very low-income level, a large family, high education costs, or any combination of those factors. A student would have to meet all of the qualifications for a Pell grant, and have unmet financial need after receiving the Pell grant in order to receive SEOG funds.
The big difference is that each school has only very limited funds for the FSEOG. That means that it is even MORE important for an aspiring phlebotomist to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible. That may require submitting a Federal Income Tax Return early as well, because the numbers from a tax return are what goes into the decision process.
The FSEOG provides funds to qualified students in the amount of at least 100 but no more than 4000 dollars a year. If funds are available after all of the academic expenses, including books, have been paid, the remaining money will be sent to the student. Schools may choose to issue a check, put the funds on a pre-paid debit card or even to do a direct deposit to a student’s bank account.
Once a student receives those funds, he or she is free to use them in any way that benefits their education. Some students choose to use them for living expenses or to pay for gas and insurance to provide transportation to school. Others may choose to save it for the next semester, particularly if higher education costs are expected in the future.
Student loans are a fact of life in many colleges and universities all across the United States. However, many people who are not yet in school don’t understand that student loans are not processed like most other loans are. They are needs based, so that means that needy students, who often have no or poor credit, can still get a student loan. That’s because, as of August 2011, a person’s credit does not matter when it comes to the determination of student loans.
The FAFSA that allows students to apply for grants also allows them to be considered for student loans. It does not, however, mean that students will get a loan because of the FAFSA alone. After The FAFSA is processed and a student is found to be eligible for a loan, he or she will have to then fill out a separate loan application. A phlebotomy school should have the necessary forms in their financial aid office to help students on their way.
The Stafford loan is available at some schools, while the Perkins is available at others. A few institutions make both available to their students. The Stafford loan is more common and both have low interest rates. Both loans do not have to be paid back while the student is in school, and at least six to nine months after graduating, dropping out or taking less than six credit hours per semester.
Although Federal student loans are relatively easy to obtain, they are still debt and will need to be paid back. It’s always advised to not borrow more than what is needed and to understand all of the payment terms. If the student loan is not paid back, the Federal government may garnish wages and freeze bank accounts. This is true even if the student has trouble finding employment after college or does not believe they received a good education.
Getting Your Books
As mentioned above, if you receive a federal grant or loan that leaves extra after tuition has been paid, you should be allowed to use those funds to pay for books. The most common way for schools to do that is to allow students to “charge” textbooks and other school supplies at a campus bookstore. Students may also be given a voucher from the financial aid office, which can be taken to the bookstore to pay for supplies. It is typical to have to register for classes before being allowed to use available funds for textbooks.
However, that is not always the most cost-effective way to buy books. The rising number of online sales and auctions may mean that it is possible to pay less for books, but people would have to have the money with which to pay upfront. That is not always possible for the low-income single mom, but might mean they could make more when it’s time to sell the books back after class is over.
Additionally, some students who have the same classes but at different times, may choose to share their books. Arrangements may have to be made during studying or finals, but if it works out it can be a great way to save quite a bit of money. There is also a textbook lending program being offered at some schools. This would give students the books they need, and they would just have to take care of them and return them by a certain date. The unlucky student who turned in a damaged book, or turned a book in late might be subject to fines or penalties. Unpaid fees, even ones like this or to the library, could be enough to prevent students from attending the next semester of classes, so it’s important to be careful.
Who Will Watch Your Kids?
Each state has some funding for child-care. The individual state also has the right to determine who receives those funds, and unfortunately, not every state considers a student to be the most important recipient. It’s important to call the state and find out who administers these funds, where to apply and how long the waiting list is.
More and more schools, including phlebotomy schools, are making childcare available to their students. It would definitely be worth a phone call to the financial aid office at the chosen school to see what is recommended. Chances are that the school has helped their students make childcare arrangements before and knows who to contact.
Employer Sponsored Training
Phlebotomy is a rapidly growing field of employment and it is rather obvious that more employees will be needed in the future. Many hospital, clinics and blood donation centers will pay for an employee’s training, with the understanding that he or she will work there for a period of time after graduation. This period of time may be anywhere from one to five years, and failure to do so could result in the institution demanding immediate and full payment. As with any form of financial aid for school, it is of the utmost importance to be willing to make a commitment to finish the program.
Miscellaneous Financial Aid
The financial aid office at the chose Phlebotomy school may also be able to administer funds for smaller expenses, like uniforms and appropriate footwear. This office has a lot of information available, so it’s important to ask them for what you need. They will also be able to help students apply for available scholarships and in general, help a single mom finish school.
Although the Financial Aid office will probably have a list of other sources of aid, http://www.fafsa.com/student-financial-aid/state-based-aid-programs, has a map of programs that are available by state.
Phlebotomy school is a big commitment, but the relatively short training periods and number of employment opportunities that are available in the field are literally helping single moms improve the quality of their lives every year in the United States. With so many ways to help pay for an education, the financial concerns should never be able to keep a single mom from starting her education.