Hardship Grants for Single Mothers: Free Money To Pay Bills

The government does not provide grants directly to single mothers or fathers for personal use as the money flows from federal agencies to state departments, non-profit organizations, and colleges.

However, a world of opportunity awaits when you employ a modest poetic license to redefine grants as free money to help pay bills or deal with financial hardship.

Single moms often earn very little because they must balance work and childcare duties without a partner. Meanwhile, many government programs base eligibility on the federal poverty guidelines.

In other words, applying for benefits designed for low-income families is the key to success. Find fifteen resources on this page.

Single Mom Hardship Grants

You will not find hardship grants for single mothers as the government does not provide funding directly to individuals for personal use. However, solo parents facing financial adversity often qualify for debt relief or income support benefits.

Borrowing Money

Hardship loans for struggling single moms usually aren’t worth it. They are not grants. You must pay the money back with interest and may face dire consequences if you don’t.

Lenders see applicants as too risky when times are tough. They consider three underwriting criteria most likely to lead to rejection or predatory terms.

  1. Respectable credit scores
  2. Decent debt-to-income ratio
  3. Verifiable employment

Emergency loans for single mothers with financial hardship are typically short-term cash advances. You must repay the total balance within a single payroll cycle: one to two weeks.

Think twice about taking out loans during a crisis. Don’t borrow if you can’t pay it all back fast. Fees get expensive quickly if you roll over the obligation.

Debt Relief

Several debt relief programs can act as hardship grants for single mothers struggling to stay current with overwhelming obligations. Specific government-enacted rules sometimes help in unforeseen ways.

Unsecured Debt

Unsecured debt relief programs can help single mothers through financial hardship who become delinquent on their monthly payments for credit cards, personal loans, and medical expenses.

In this case, the government-enacted bankruptcy statutes come to the rescue. Creditors are often motivated to settle any outstanding unsecured debt for pennies on the dollar when they fear getting nothing after the person files for Chapter 7 or 13.

Unsecured means you do not pledge collateral that the lender can repossess after default, such as a house, car, boat, or jewelry.

Student Debt

Student loan debt relief can help single mothers navigate financial hardship by lowering the amount owed every month or forgiving the balance.

Several Department of Education programs become relevant again if graduates struggle when their monthly payments resume.

  • Income-driven repayment plans
  • Deferment or forbearance
  • Public service loan forgiveness
  • Teacher loan forgiveness
  • Closed school discharge
  • Total and permanent disability discharge

Mortgage Debt

Mortgage debt relief can help single mothers behind on their home loans due to financial hardship. A temporary pause or reduction lasting three to six months can help you get back on your feet.

Mortgage forbearance might give you extra breathing room if a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE – FHA, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac) backs your home loan.

Income Support

Several government income support programs can act as hardship grants for single mothers struggling with wage gaps. Earnings interruptions make feeding, clothing, and housing your families more arduous.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment compensation sometimes helps single mothers face financial hardship because of job loss. The income support might come immediately or after a delay.

Apply for medical unemployment after recovering from your illness or once the caretaking duties for a sick child cease. Not all states include these situations as a “good cause reason.”

Apply for unemployment benefits immediately if laid off because of economic conditions or lack of work.

Disability Benefits

Single mothers experiencing financial hardship because of a temporary or permanent disability have up to four places to turn for income support.  

Apply for temporary disability benefits through Social Security if you cannot work because of an accident or illness while under the care of a licensed physician.

  1. Seven states have mandatory temporary disability programs that replace a portion of income while you are unable to work for a covered medical condition
  2. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays a cash benefit to workers across the country when a medical condition prevents them from performing job duties for at least twelve months
  3. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) supports low-income individuals with few resources who never earned money via employment
  4. Workers Compensation Insurance replaces a portion of income and helps with medical bills after on-the-job accidents


Single mothers experiencing financial hardship can find additional income support through a third public program: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Apply for TANF cash assistance by contacting the appropriate state, county, or tribal agency. You might find help with other needs as well.

The TANF program provides monthly cash payments to low-income families with children to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Free Money to Pay Bills

The government does not provide free grant money to single mothers to help them pay bills, as the funding flows from federal agencies to states, universities, and non-profit organizations.

However, solo parents often have low incomes because juggling work while raising children alone is arduous, making them eligible for many needs-based benefits for specific personal expenses.

Infant Formula

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides free money to help single mothers pay their infant formula, baby food bills, and other related expenses.

Apply to be a WIC participant by contacting your state or local agency to schedule an appointment.

 “The WIC program aims to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.”

Grocery Costs

The Department of Agriculture provides free grant money to state agencies that, in turn, use the funding to help single mothers and other low-income families pay grocery bills.

Apply for SNAP in the state where you live.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps) provides nutrition benefits to augment the food budget of needy families to purchase healthy fare at grocery stores.

Childcare Expenses

Several childcare assistance programs established at the federal level provide free grant money indirectly to single mothers to help them pay bills for daycare, early learning and development, and prekindergarten.

Apply for childcare assistance by identifying the regional agency responsible for each program in your state. Complete the required paperwork to see if you qualify.

Home Repair

Various resources indirectly offer money to single mothers to help them pay home repair bills. Charitable organizations and government programs designed to promote energy efficiency offer assistance in fixing up residences.

Free home repair for low-income households can make improvements to your fixer-upper more affordable. For instance, when warranted, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) supports replacing windows, appliances, HVAC equipment, and roofing.

Medical & Dental

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) block grants provide free money to the states to support programs that help single mothers pay their medical and dental bills (sometimes). These benefits make taking care of your physical, mental, and oral health more affordable.

The dental services covered by Medicaid for adults depend on the state where you reside. The benefits are not uniform as with the healthcare component. Therefore, research what your plan covers before making an appointment with the dentist.

  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides coverage to uninsured children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid yet too low to afford private coverage.
  • Medicaid provides health insurance coverage to low-income families with children and pregnant women, with eligibility rules determined by each state based on the federal poverty level.

Home Energy

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indirectly provides single mothers with free grant money to pay their home energy bills (electric and gas). The funding helps them stay warm in the winter and cool during the summer affordably.

Apply for LIHEAP benefits through the online clearinghouse run by HHS. Please find the links to the appropriate resources in your state and follow their instructions.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides federally-funded financial help with three types of costs.

  • Home energy bills
  • Energy crises
  • Weatherization and energy-related minor home repairs

Water & Sewer

HHS also provides free grant money to state agencies that distribute the funding to single mothers to help them pay past and future water and sewer bills.

Find a local LIHWAP agency by following the online map published by HHS.

The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) helps low-income households pay the cost of water and sewer services. HHS provides up to $5,000 per family and can help with past-due bills.

Housing Costs

The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) sends free grant money to state housing agencies. These entities then distribute the funding to single mothers to help pay private apartment rental bills.

Apply for Section 8 vouchers at your local Public Housing Agency.

HUD administers the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), subsidizing monthly rental charges for qualifying low-income families.

Phone Line

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides free grant money to companies to help single mothers (one person per household) pay their phone and internet service bills.

Apply through the online Lifeline National Verifier to connect with a certified supplier.

The FCC administers the Lifeline program, which makes communication more affordable for low-income consumers. You might be eligible to receive $9.25 per month ($34.25 if you live on tribal land) towards cellular services.