The college admissions process can be a daunting endeavor for most students, but for those who have lost a parent, it can be even more challenging.
The devastating loss of a parent can cause both financial and emotional strain. For students, this can result in more responsibilities that may put their futures in jeopardy. After losing a parent, it's not uncommon for students to take on additional duties, like caring for siblings or taking on jobs to help support their families. All things combined can take a significant toll on students - emotionally, academically, and financially.
Fortunately, many organizations and institutions are fully aware of the difficult balancing act students often experience in the wake of losing a parent. In turn, these entities offer bereavement scholarships that are created specifically for students with a deceased parent.
According to an article on USNews.com, there are two primary categories of scholarships for students with a deceased parent: scholarships from nonprofit organizations and scholarships from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for children of members of the military.
One example that's available to college-bound high school seniors and current college students is the Life Lessons Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the Virginia-based nonprofit Life Happens. Over the course of the year, this program awards $200,000 to students who lost a parent and whose families lacked adequate life insurance.
Another nonprofit-sponsored scholarship is the MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Foundation, which is tailored to help students whose parent died from or is a survivor of breast cancer, or is in treatment for breast cancer. This scholarship is specifically for high school seniors and current college students within 50 miles of Chattanooga, TN.
As for the bereavement scholarships available to military families, Veterans Affairs offers a Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance program that provides financial aid to children of members of the military who meet certain criteria, including those who were killed while on active duty.
Similarly, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is a nonprofit that provides scholarships to help students bridge the gap in funding between available financial aid and the total cost of college. This financial aid is also meant for children of a member of the military who was killed in the line of duty.
Although losing a parent can be both financially and emotionally draining, experts encourage students to continue forward with their college plans when they're ready.
"When you think about a student wanting to pursue his or her dream and them having lost a parent, either somewhere in their childhood or in this important transitional process in their lives, all too often it's such a shock," says James Lewis, president and co-founder of the NSHSS, in the USNews.com article.
"Go on search engines and type in whatever the passion or interest or circumstances the student finds themselves in, and they're going to be surprised at the scholarships that are available," Lewis says.