Zina Kumok Image Written By: Zina Kumok | Edited By: Kevin Ladd | Updated: July 24, 2024

Scholarships for Women

Female students make up the majority of college coeds, but many still struggle to afford tuition. In fact, research shows that women borrow about 10% more in student loans than men do. And with the gender wage gap still around, it’s even more important for women to minimize their student loans.

That’s where scholarships created just for women can be helpful. These scholarships can help female students finance a college education so they don't have to rely on student loans. But finding these particular awards can be a challenge - especially if you have no idea where to look.

Read below to learn how scholarships for women work, where to find them and how to apply.

What are scholarships for women?

Scholarships for female students can be used for tuition, room and board, textbooks, transportation and other related expenses. They may even be available for study abroad programs, internship opportunities or other enriching activities. Some scholarships may only be given for one year, while others can be renewed for several years.

If a scholarship can be renewed, there is usually a catch. Students must usually maintain a minimum GPA, take a certain number of credit hours and be working toward a major. Some scholarships are only given to those with a particular degree. If you change degrees, you may lose that scholarship.

Scholarships may be available for undergraduate and graduate school. Some scholarships may also be available for community college or vocational school.

Many scholarships that are only available to women are for students in a particular field, often one that has been historically male-dominated.

For example, the W.I.S.E (Washington Women in STEM Excel) Scholarship is available to a woman from Washington who is interested in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). This scholarship is worth $3,500. Winners can use the funds for education-related expenses.

There may also be scholarships only for women from particular racial or ethnic minority groups. For example, the Esther Ngan-ling Chow and Mareyjoyce Green Scholarship is given to a female student who is also part of a marginalized racial or ethnic group. You must be in your final year of writing a dissertation to qualify.

Only students with demonstrated financial need are eligible. This scholarship is worth $18,000. Winners will also receive free membership to the Sociologists for Women in Society organization. This scholarship is available to both U.S. and international students.

Other awards may focus on women in difficult circumstances, like single moms or women who are the first in their family to attend college.

The Women's Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) supports women who have survived domestic abuse and who are attending community college, vocational school or undergraduate school. To qualify, you must have a non-profit that you have worked with for at least six months and is willing to act as a sponsor for this scholarship.

Only U.S. citizens, permanent residents and anyone else who is eligible to complete the FAFSA can apply for this scholarship. You must have already applied to or been accepted to an accredited U.S. school. Both part-time and full-time students are eligible, and you must have demonstrated financial need.

The scholarship amount ranges from $500 to $2,000. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible, but preference will be given to students getting their first degree.

How to apply for scholarships for women

If you're looking for scholarships for women, make sure to widen your search as much as possible. Use directories like Scholarships.com to find potential awards, which are divided into certain categories.

You can also create an account on the site so you’ll receive a complete list of scholarships that you’re eligible for based on your interests, academic major and more. Make sure to complete your profile as much as possible. The more information you provide, the more specific scholarships you’ll find.

Once you have a list of potential matches, you can go through and mark the ones that you’re most interested in. There are many general scholarships available for female students, but you should focus on finding awards that match your unique interests, talents and skills.

The key to winning any kind of scholarship is to find an award that you’re a good fit for and follow all the requirements. Make sure to read through the eligibility rules and materials at least a couple of times to ensure you understand everything. If you’re confused at any point, email the scholarship program coordinator.

Students often miss out on scholarship opportunities because they don’t take enough time to complete the essay, ultimately turning in a sub-standard application. The essay is your one chance to show how special you are - so don’t pass it up.

Even if you hate writing, make sure to allocate plenty of time to the essay portion of an application. Have someone you trust, like your English teacher, help to brainstorm your answer and outline a draft. Then, ask them to read through your first version before submitting it.

Also, deadlines are another easy way to lose a scholarship. If you don’t submit the application by the deadline, you won’t be considered.

Where to find scholarships for women

To win scholarships, you need to be proactive. Start by creating an account at Scholarships.com and completing your profile to receive a personalized list of scholarship matches. In your profile, specify your character traits, including ethnicity, religious affiliation, and other demographics. Be sure to include your interests, hobbies, and skills as well.

You can also ask high school guidance counselor for advice, particularly for local awards. You should also make a list of local organizations and see if they offer scholarships for female students.

If you’re already in college, you can talk to the financial aid department about maximizing your scholarships. Make sure that you’re being considered for department-specific awards, if you’ve already declared a major.

You should also search for scholarships for organizations designed for women. For example, if you’re interested in journalism, find a list of journalism societies that focus on women and see if they offer awards.

Also, don’t just apply to major scholarships, awards that offer a full-ride or easy scholarships that don’t require an essay. Those awards receive so many applicants that it’s almost impossible to stand out.

Instead, focus on awards that have several different types of criteria. Don’t worry if those scholarships are only worth a couple of thousand dollars - those will add up over time.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 Scholarships for Women with Approaching Deadlines

Frequently asked questions about scholarships for women

When you’re looking for female-focused scholarships, there are so many things you need to consider. Here are the most common questions that students have:

There are several scholarships for women that will cover a large percentage of the cost of attendance.

For example, the Cards Against Humanity Science Ambassador Scholarship offers a full-tuition scholarship for up to four years of undergraduate study. To enter, female students must record a video showing why they’re interested in STEM. This three-minute video should explain a STEM-related topic of their choice.

Only full-time students are eligible for this award. You must also be planning to major in STEM; minor degrees will not qualify. Only one winner will be chosen.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the federal form that students must submit to be eligible for federal student loans, work-study and grants, including the Pell Grant.

The FAFSA relies on details about your and your parent’s finances to determine if you have demonstrated financial need. This information can then be used to decide if you’re eligible for need-based financial aid, including some scholarships.

Private scholarships given by for-profit or non-profit organizations may not require that students complete the FAFSA to qualify. However, individual schools almost always require that students submit the FAFSA before they can be considered for internal scholarships and grants.

Even if you're not required to complete the FAFSA for a private scholarship, you should still submit it to qualify for other types of financial aid. The FAFSA is free to submit and must be completed every year that you’re in school, if you want to receive financial aid.

To boost your chances of receiving the maximum amount of financial aid, make sure to send in the FAFSA by the school’s financial aid, as well as the state’s deadline. These deadlines may be different so make sure to complete the FAFSA by the earliest deadline.

While there are many different kinds of scholarships for women, the most common tend to be for female students majoring in STEM, business or education. For example, the ESET Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship is available for both undergraduate and graduate female students who are interested in cybersecurity.

If you have a major outside of those areas, just be aware that it may be a little harder to find applicable scholarships. However, you can still find plenty of scholarships that are based on your other hobbies, extracurricular activities and academic pursuits.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the biggest scholarship provider for women is the Miss America Scholarship Foundation. If you are interested in competing, you will likely have to start at the local pageant level. These smaller pageants may still offer cash prizes that you can use toward tuition and other expenses.

If you're a female student who is also part of a minority group, you may be eligible for special scholarships.

For example, the Geoscience IDEA Scholarship is given to a female student who is also part of one of the following groups:

  • Asian/Asian-American/Pacific Islander
  • Black/African-American
  • American Indian/Alaska Native
  • Latin/Hispanic

Students must also be studying earth science or geoscience. Only undergraduate students are eligible for this award. Three students will receive a $2,500 scholarship, while one will receive a $500 scholarship.

To find more potential scholarship ideas, try searching for your particular racial, ethnic or other minority characteristic and the word “woman scholarship” on Google. For example, if you’re a female Hispanic student, search for “female Hispanic scholarships.” You might be surprised at how many results come up.

Also, don’t forget to look at minority scholarships that aren’t only for women. You may still have a good shot at winning one of those. And make sure to think about any other attributes you have that make you stand out.

For example, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) provides several different types of awards. Their First-Generation College Student Scholarship is given to a female student who is the first person in her immediate family to attend a four-year school.

Nowadays, many students try to lower the cost of attendance by getting their prerequisites at a community college before transferring to a four year school. And while the cost of community college is lower than a traditional college, you should still try to find scholarships.

Fortunately, there are organizations that support female students who are attending community college. For example, the Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation is given to female students with demonstrated financial need. Only students who are attending Cabrillo, Hartnell, or Monterey Peninsula College can apply.

Winners can receive up to $20,000 in total. Students must also be planning to transfer to a University of California school for their junior and senior year of college. Only California residents can apply.

Are there scholarships for women in graduate, doctoral or professional school programs?
While undergraduate students are eligible for the largest number of scholarships, they’re not the only ones who can apply. Graduate and professional students can also qualify for scholarships, and there may be some only given to female students.

For example, the AWIS Distinguished Doctoral Research Scholarship is given to a pre-doctoral student who plans to study in one of the following fields:

  • Life Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering

If you have yet to enroll in a graduate program, take the time to look for scholarship opportunities from the institution. Each school has its own scholarship inventory which can vary from bleak to generous.

Since the advent of Title IX and the rise in popularity of women’s sports, more and more female students are able to find special scholarships that celebrate their physical accomplishments.

For example, the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association Foundation Scholarship is given to a female golfer who lives in New York City or on Long Island. Several winners will be chosen for this scholarship.

Only students with demonstrated financial need will qualify for this award; students must submit the FAFSA and their parent’s tax returns for this portion. Both two and four-year schools are eligible, as long as the school is accredited. Students must live within Long Island or the 60-mile radius of New York City limits.

If you're a female student-athlete, look for scholarships for those in your sport, as well as general athletic awards. Also, try to find schools that give out athletic scholarships.