Scholarships for Students With Deceased Parents

by Maria Magher
Smiling college graduate waiving her diploma in the air.

The loss of a parent can be emotionally devastating no matter how old you are when it happens. If one of your parents dies while you are still living at home, your family may experience significant financial hardship in addition to emotional distress. Your family may have few resources to help you pay for your college education. Numerous institutions and organizations offer scholarships that can help relieve that burden and ensure that you have the means to continue your schooling.

Location-Specific Awards

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers the Aretta J. Graham Scholarship for students who have one or two deceased parents, who live in a single-parent household or who are single parents themselves. The award varies each year according to the funding available from the estate of Aretta Graham. The University of North Texas offers the David J. Ewing Scholarship for students who have lost a parent. The award is sponsored by PepsiCo in honor of a deceased director of human resources. The award varies each year. To qualify, students must be enrolled full time and maintain minimum academic standards.

Loss Due to Disease

The MaryEllen Locher Foundation offers scholarships to those who have lost their mothers to breast cancer. Eligible students must write an essay about their experience and attend a school within 50 miles of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Community service, grades and financial need will also be considered. The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults sponsors the Vera Yip Memorial Scholarship for students who have either suffered from cancer themselves or have lost a parent to the disease. Applicants must be younger than 35, have financial need and have a strong record of community service or leadership. Applicants must also live in or attend school in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. At the time of publication, the awards were $2,500 per year.

Military and Civil Service

The American Legion awards the Legacy Scholarship for students whose parents died while performing military service. High-school seniors or graduates who will enroll in an accredited undergraduate program are eligible. Award amounts vary according to the funding available. The International Association of Firefighters provides the W. H. "Howie" McClennan Scholarship for the children of firefighters who were killed in the line of duty. At the time of publication, awards were $2,500 per year and renewable for up to four years. Financial need and academic achievement are considered in the selection process.

Trauma and Accident

Kids' Chance is a foundation committed to helping the children of workers injured on the job. Several state chapters sponsor scholarships for students whose parents were insured by Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Company and who died or were seriously injured at work. For example, the Maine chapter has the Harvey Picker Horizon Scholarship for up to $5,000. The Families of Freedom Foundation provides scholarships for students whose parents died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Funding is available for study at community college, trade school, a four-year college or graduate school. Financial need is used to determine eligibility, and awards are available for the full cost of tuition.

Other Awards

The Life Lessons Scholarship Program from nonprofit organization Life Happens is available to students whose parent has died for any reason. Applicants must write an essay or make a video about how the loss of a parent has affected their lives. Multiple scholarships are awarded, from $5,000 to $15,000. Foster Care to Success sponsors the Casey Family Scholars Program for students who have been orphaned for at least a year before turning 18, have been in foster care for 12 consecutive months or have been adopted out of the foster care system. Awards are available for up to $6,000, and the program also provides mentoring, internship opportunities and academic coaching.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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