Death of a Parent

Scholarships for Students Who Have Lost a Parent

Trying to navigate the college admissions process is a daunting task for most students, but for those who have lost a parent it can be even more difficult. The loss of a parent can shake a family to its core, causing both financial and emotional strain. For students, it can mean additional responsibilities that may place their futures in jeopardy; caring for siblings or taking on a job to help support their families can take a toll on students, both emotionally and academically. Thankfully, many organizations understand the complex balancing act students undertake when they lose a parent, and have stepped forward to offer their support in the form of college scholarships. Here is just a sampling of some of the scholarship programs with upcoming 2014 deadlines.

1. W. H. “Howie” McClennan Scholarship

The International Association of Firefighters provides scholarships to students whose parents were firefighters and lost their lives in the line of duty. Awards are valued at $2,500 each and may be renewed for up to four consecutive years. Deadline: February 1.

2. James F. Brynes Scholarship

South Carolina high school seniors, who have lost one or both of their parents for any reason, may be eligible for this $13,000 award ($3,250 a year). Applications are currently available, but should not be submitted before January 2.  Deadline: February 10.

Deceased Parent3. Marilyn Yetso Memorial Scholarship

Students who live in Howard County, Maryland and have lost a parent may be eligible for this $2,500 scholarship. The loss must have occurred between their 15th and 35th birthday. Students can apply for additional funding each year. Deadline: March 1.

4. Vera Yip Memorial Scholarship Award

Students who were between the ages of 15 and 35 when they lost a parent could receive $2,500 for college through the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Students must be permanent residents or attend college in one of the following areas: Maryland, Washington, D.C., or Virginia. Deadline: March 1.

5. LIFE Lessons Scholarship

High school seniors and current undergraduate students may submit an essay or video describing how the loss of their parent has impacted their lives. Several scholarships are available, ranging in value from $2,000 to $15,000 each. Applications are accepted beginning February 3. Deadline: March 3.

6. OFA/Casey Family Scholars Scholarship

Current college students, who are 25 or younger and have lost both parents, may apply for this scholarship, if they have never been adopted after the death of their parents. Between 50 and 100 awards are available, ranging in value from $2,500 to $6,000 annually. Scholarships may be renewed for up to five additional years. Deadline: March 31.

7. Diane Dawson Memorial Scholarship

Graduating high school seniors in the Sacramento or Denver area, who have lost a parent or legal guardian to cancer during their time in high school, could be eligible to receive up to $3,000 for college. Students must have a minimum grade point average of at least 2.5. Deadline: April 14

Military Dependent Scholarships8. American Legion Legacy Scholarship

The American Legion provides several scholarships annually to students whose parents have been killed while serving our country. The parent(s) must have died during active duty either on or after September 11, 2001. Current high school seniors or recent graduates may apply. Deadline: April 15.

9. Levitt Comninos Carlotti Foundation Scholarship

Three scholarships, valued between $1,000 and $4,000 each are offered through this program. To be eligible, students must be a current high school senior and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The parent must be deceased or currently battling a terminal illness. Deadline: May 15.

10. Children’s Scholarship Fund

The MedEvac Foundation International offers a $2,500 scholarship to students who have lost a parent due to an air medical or critical care ground support accident. The parent must have been either a ground or air medical transport crewmember or patient that lost his/her life during transport. Applications will be available in March. Deadline: June 30.

College is an enormous undertaking for many families. Students can sometimes feel as though there is no hope of attending or that it’s too much of a burden to place on the surviving parent, but there is help available. Many states provide War Orphans Scholarships to students who have lost a parent due to war or other armed conflicts. Ohio, for example, will cover up to 93 percent of a student’s tuition and general fees at a public institution. Students may also find that their college or university offers specific grants and scholarships to those who have lost a parent. Local charitable organizations and bereavement support groups may also provide assistance. Losing a parent is difficult enough; students shouldn’t have to give up their dreams of attending college, too.

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Tamara is the Social Media Coordinator and a regular writer for, and She enjoys helping students prepare for college. As a mother of four, Tamara has first-hand experience with many areas of education, including special needs (autism), the International Baccalaureate program and post-secondary education. She enjoys speaking at schools and mentoring others online. In her free time, Tamara enjoys volunteering and supporting her favorite football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
18 Responses to “Scholarships for Students Who Have Lost a Parent”
  1. chris hardy says:

    Hi tamara as a mother of three young men, I find it terrifying to think of what it will cost for my son to attend college so I find myself praying to God to put it on some college coaches heart to pick my younger son who is now a senior in high school , to give him a full scholarship! As a high school drop out I’m proud to say he ll be my 3rd child to graduate high school and make it to college . So I need help finding money to accomplish our goal ! Because if he s successful that would make so so happy considering we lost my husband/their father in 2007 it was tragic and very difficult to deal with I think that’s why his brother before him was not as successful . Brings me to tears to think about .So please any info or help you can give will be greatly appreciated. thank u so much

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Congratulations on your son’s upcoming high school graduation. Since college is only a few months away, he’ll need to start applying to as many scholarships as possible. Please have him talk to his guidance counselor about local available awards, as well as checking with his potential colleges for financial aid opportunities. In addition, he schould create a free account at, and try to apply to at least 1 to 2 scholarships each week. Be sure to complete the FAFSA (, as this will give him access to federal grants and institutional need-based aid. I would not rely on him receiving a full scholarship, as less than 1% of all college students receive a full ride. Instead, consider other options for reducing the cost of school, such as starting at a community college. He should also look into work-study opportunities that may help reduce his need for student loans.

  2. Erica says:

    Hello, I just graduated from high school two days ago and a teacher of mine said there are scholarships for kids who have lost both of there parents, but i am not finding any. Any suggestions?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Erica. There are scholarships for students who have lost one or both of their parents. Unfortunately, the majority of them had deadlines in the early spring. Bookmark my blog post, ‘Scholarships for Students Who Have Lost a Parent’ and start working on your essays and other documentation now. This way, you’ll be all set when the 2015 programs open later this fall. In the meantime, register for a free account with and start applying for other awards that you may be eligible to receive. Summer is the perfect time to really crank out those applications.

  3. maged says:

    Dear Tamara ,
    i see you help students , you prepare them for colleges .
    Would you please help me !!
    I have lost my parents due a war in my country between Sunnis and Shittes in 2006.
    That time i was a student in medicine college in secontod year but i stopped going to college after their death and i had to take the whole responsibility to take care of my little brothers and sisters .
    Currently , my brothers and sisters have become adults and can take care of themselves and its time for me to be back to college but i cant cover my financial need for the college .
    Thank you for your attention

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unfortunately, our service is only available to U.S. students. I would encourage you to visit It has several resources for international students, especially those who may be interested in attending a college outside of their home country.

  4. Tiara Turnage says:

    Hi ,

    My father passed my senior year of high school and i’m now a junior a college my mom doesn’t make a lot of money so we have to take out loans in order to pay for tuition. My father had a Heart Attack are there any scholarships or grants available for that ?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      There are scholarships for students who have lost one or both parents. When you register for a free account with, be sure to indicate this when completing your profile. If you meet the eligibility requirements (age, residency, etc.), these programs will be included in your list of available scholarships. One of the bigger programs is the Life Lessons Scholarship.

  5. Kenzie Tay says:

    My mother passed away when I was 15 years old, now I’m trying to graduate high school and pursue the career I always promised her I’d have. To attain this goal, and go to college which she never got to do, I’m in need of some serious financial help. Is there any scholarships out there for people like me?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi, Kenzie. There are scholarships out there for everyone. If you are seeking specific awards for students who have lost a parent, those exists, but many are age-restricted (under 24). The best thing to do is register for a free account with and start applying for any and all you may be eligible to receive.

  6. John Foley says:

    Hi Ms krause,
    my daughter lost her mother to pancreatic cancer when she was a sophomore in high school. She has plodded though high school with a 3.8 average and a 23 ACT. She would like to pursue entomology with the long term goal of adopting Arthopod protein for animal feeds. This would be an Agriculture college. Is there any chance that there would be some grants or scholarships for her.

    thanks for your time.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi John.

      Yes, there should be many scholarships available to her, and not just those for students who have lost a parent. There are many merit-based scholarships for students with a 3.5 GPA and higher, and I’m sure she has others talents and skills that could help her earn a scholarship. Please have her register for a free account at, as this is the easiest way for her to find scholarships specific to her needs and skills.

  7. L. Coker says:

    Hi. I have my first Senior and he has had a very rough year. His dad (we were divorced) committed suicide a few months ago. My son is still struggling with it all as well as trying to make to college. Are there any scholarships offered that might apply to him? Thanks so much!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      I am very sorry for your family’s loss. There are probably many scholarships you son is eligible to apply to for college. Please have him register for a free account at Once he completes the profile, he’ll receive a list of awards that are tailored to his unique talents, skills and needs.

  8. Daniel Wilkinson says:

    Hello Tamara, I am looking for a scholarship to able to go back to college but am having a little trouble. My biological father died of a drug overdose when I was 3 years old and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 5, and later passed away when I was 9 years old. This had a very rough impact on me growing up and I struggled in school because of it. I am 25 now and looking to go to college and further my education but do not have the financial means to be able to. Any information or help you can give me would be much appreciated. I also have dyslexia and ADHD and have always struggled with school because of it. Thank you for your help!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Meet with a financial aid officer at your local community college. It’s a great place to get your feet wet and it’s less expensive than online or 4-yr colleges. Be sure to complete the FAFSA, as this will give you access to free federal and institutional need-based aid, like scholarships and grants. Finally, start applying for private scholarships. There are many available for adult learners.

  9. Lucy Ribeiro says:

    Hello Tamara
    My Son will be applying to College this coming September. His fresman´s year in college will be Aug 2016. I´m seeking for a schoolarship that my son might be eligible. He´s a straight A student who lost his father to suicide at the age of 6.The trick is he doesn´t know! He thinks his dad die of a different cause. Do you know of any scholarship that might help us? he will be appling to medical school. I´m a single parent with very limited funds. Than you

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Lucy. There are many scholarships available to high school juniors. Please have him register for a free account at and start applying asap. Be sure to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1, 2016, as he may also be eligible for free federal and institutional financial aid based on your income.


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