I received a lot of questions from readers. One I received had a subject line of “Single Mom Needs Money To Pay Bills.” I looked into her question, which was “where can I find free money for single moms?” So other people benefit, I’ve compiled a list of housing, utility, and grant ideas that may help those who are one-income parents with children.
‘Help me get money!’
In the US, majority of the single-mother households are living in poverty. Federal and state governments have poured billions of dollars into welfare assistance programs for single moms and other low income individual and families.
Grants and assistance are in the form of cash, vouchers and food stamps, medical care, food, housing, education, employment referral, counseling, and many other services to alleviate suffering and encourage self-sufficiency.
These privileges are granted based on the levels of need of the applicants. Below are assistance programs and grants available for single mothers and their children.
The TANF or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
TANF is a front line welfare program of the government that addresses poverty. This program caters to families who live on income below the federal poverty level.
It grants a small amount of cash on a monthly basis intended for the most basic of needs – food, shelter, and clothing – for a maximum period of sixty (60) months.
This grant is available for unemployed single mothers with children below 19 years old. As their counterpart, the beneficiaries will need to devote a certain number of hours per week to join work activities.
The WIC or Women, Infants and Children Program
Mothers and children in need of nutritional support may avail of the WIC, a program funded by the federal government, which provides vouchers to qualified single, pregnant women and children under 5 years old.
The program is designed as a 6- to 12-month assistance. TANF recipients are prioritized. Entitlement to WIC is determined based on income and the household size.
SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Single mothers may avail of debit cards for food through SNAP. This income assistance program affords inexpensive healthy meals to families who have incomes below the federal poverty level.
The SNAP debit card can be used to buy grocery items from any of the participating stores in their area. To apply for this assistance, an applicant must fill out a form from the local SNAP office.
CCAP or Child Care Assistance Program
This state-administered initiative extends financial assistance to qualified families to pay for child care costs while they’re working, attending school, or training.
A portion of the child-care costs will be shouldered by the program, while the recipients pay their counterpart, based on the income and size of the family.
Each state prescribes its own qualification standards but, generally, the applicant’s income should not exceed the limits set forth by the state in order to avail of this program.
Section 8 Housing Program
Vouchers for housing are provided by the federal government to indigent families for them to afford safe and modest dwellings.
The assistance is granted to the neediest of families including single mothers and their children, persons with disabilities, and the elderly. This housing program covers a substantial portion of the house rental and utilities.
Housing assistance programs for single mothers offer eligible recipients a check to pay 70% of their rent including utility bills, while they pay the remaining 30%.
For applications, you may contact either the Public Housing Agency (PHA) in your area or the Office of Public Housing in your local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.
LIHEAP or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
Many moms need help help paying bills, and low-income single mothers can tap the LIHEAP. This program provides a one-time monetary assistance to eligible low-income families who cannot pay for their home cooling and heating bills.
The LIHEAP is specifically designed to help those who are highly vulnerable in the absence of heating or cooling systems in their homes: persons with disabilities, the elderlies, and low-income families with very young children. The Other aid may also include energy crisis assistance, energy-related home repairs, and weatherization of homes.
To get more information, call 1-866-674-6327 or contact the LIHEAP Office in your locality.
Medicaid (Health Insurance for the Poor)
Single mothers do not need to pay for health insurance if they qualify for Medicaid. For individuals with very low income and without medical insurance, this program may provide health coverage and opportunity to ease health-related woes, — from vision to dentistry.
Effective this year, US citizens earning 138% below the poverty level will qualify for Medicaid.
For individuals, this income limit is around $15,856. For a family of four, that would be approximately $32,499. Visit your local Medicaid office; eligibility guidelines and even the income limits may differ by state.
Out-of-work single mothers, who lost their jobs due to reasons that are not attributable to them, may seek assistance from the Department of Labor.
Weekly unemployment compensation of around 36% of the average weekly wage will be paid them for a maximum period of 26 weeks, to allow them to transition to another job.
Requirements and guidelines may differ between states, and it is best to visit their website or call the nearest state unemployment agency for details regarding application and claim.
Pell Grant and other education grants
Many single mothers see education as their best option to help them find better-paying jobs. Unfortunately, education doesn’t come cheap.
The Pell Grant is a need-based established to address that need, and provides a maximum of $5,645 to financially-challenged students. Fill up the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply.
Students who qualify for the Pell Grant may also apply for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or FSEOG as additional assistance. Visit www.fafsa.ed.gov for more information.
Academic Competitiveness Grant, or ACG, is designed for students in first year college (must have graduated in 2006) or second year college (must have graduated in 2005) and is based on merit. Application must be made thru FAFSA.
Another program, called the National SMART Grant is designed for third year and fourth year students enrolled in specified programs, mainly in the sciences and mathematics.
Aside from this federal grant, states do have their own education grants. CalGrants of California is one such program, which encourages financially disadvantaged people to seek higher education and improve their economic potential. Explore opportunities in your own state.
Student loan repayment grants are available for single moms through programs like “Raise the Nation.” These grants can be used to repay outstanding student loans; the beneficiary, on the other hand, is expected to give back to the community by extending their professional service for free.
The daunting responsibilities that challenge a single mother, or a single father for that matter, are twice in size, cost and intensity than what most regular parents (meaning, with partners) face on a daily basis.
Fortunately, there are programs by the government and by private organizations that aim to address this difficulty.
I hope this provides ideas to find free money for single moms, for bills, housing, and grants.
Update in 2019: This article is more than four years old, which means some of these programs may no longer be available.