The government is providing assistance to single mothers to help them tide over tough times. The assistance, which may be in the form of cash benefits, food coupons, low interest loans, or grants for single mothers, is of a temporary nature and aims to help women become self-sufficient parents.
Fiscally Compatible Provisions for Single Mothers
Temporary Assistance To Needy Families (TANF)
This program is administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. TANF has been designed to provide cash benefits on a monthly basis for food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials. Families, where all members are US citizens but children do not have both parents residing under the same roof, are eligible for assistance under TANF. Hence, a single mom with children under the age of 19, can easily qualify for this program provided her family's gross income is less than the specified percentage of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The income ceiling is lower for women caring for disabled children and infants. As a parent, a woman will be expected to participate in the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) to ensure the well-being of her children. TANF provides once in a lifetime assistance that is restricted to a period of 60 months. The aim of this program is to ensure that at the end of 60 months the woman learns to take care of herself and her loved ones. A woman need not opt for this assistance for the entire 60-month period. She is free to exit the program when she chooses.
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is meant for pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5; provided the applicants' gross income lies below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and that they are individually determined to be lacking in nutrition as determined by a health professional. The eligible participants receive checks or food coupons so that they can purchase foods rich in one or more nutrients, viz. protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
Providing Monetary Benefits for Single Mothers Wanting to Attend College
The following programs are not strictly meant for single mothers. Assistance is provided to anyone who intends to attend college but is unable to do so on account of financial constraints.
Federal Pell Grant has been designed to encourage people with financial constraints to get their college degree and move on to lead better lives. A single mom can apply for this grant since it may help her get a college degree. Single moms who are enrolled in postgraduate programs that will help them obtain a teacher certification may also be eligible to apply for the Federal Pell Grant. Students receive a check on a regular basis to help them fund their education.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is offered to undergraduates in dire financial need. Federal Pell Grant recipients are generally given priority over other applicants.
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is meant for eligible students who have already enrolled full-time in school and are in their first or second year of academic study.
Federal Perkins Loans is a direct loan that is granted by the government to students enrolled in schools either full-time or part-time. Unlike grants, these loans need to be repaid by the students to the schools participating in the Federal Perkins loans program. A nominal rate of interest is charged on the student loans and the terms of repayment are favorable to the borrower.
A single mother has the enormous responsibility of fending for her family. The task, though formidable, is not insurmountable. Financial aid programs for single mothers can help a woman work towards becoming self-reliant. A college education can go a long way in helping a woman become financially independent.