Stay at home mothers have a critical and gratifying job; raising their children to be responsible, caring, empathetic adults.

However, suppose you want extra cash to support your family, start a business, return to college, or become self-sufficient. In that case, it could prove challenging to find government benefits and grants earmarked exclusively for homemakers.

Instead of searching for clear, apparent labels, cast a wider net and sort through an array of financial assistance programs that connect with another aspect of your identity.

The SAHM community finds relevant opportunities every day, and so can you if you know where to look and how to find crossing points.   

Grants for Stay at Home Mothers

The federal government does not provide grants to any individual, including stay at home mothers. Instead, the funding flows to state agencies, universities, and charitable organizations to foster a public service or stimulate the economy.

However, homemakers can take advantage of this free government money by finding intersection areas, such as when starting a business or returning to college to sharpen skills for re-entry to the workforce.

It would help if you had patience.

Personal Loans

Personal loans can provide emergency cash while you hunt around for possible grants. Stay at home mothers can win approval by demonstrating sufficient income to handle monthly payments and enough history on a consumer report to have a good credit score.

These two critical underwriting elements can come from you or your spouse.

  1. Earnings from a side hustle such as freelancing enable a mother to apply under her name. If so, her consumer report’s history would generate the credit score used to make a lending decision.
  2. Wages brought in by your spouse then requires pairing data from his credit report to generate a score. Of course, the loan would be in his name rather than the mother.

Use the personal loan to fund urgent needs, or to infuse a startup business with capital – assuming you cannot find a grant – which is very common.

Starting a Business

Stay at home mothers looking to start a business can research grant opportunities targeting female entrepreneurs. However, begin with a realistic expectation of what you might find. Moms face numerous obstacles when trying to get an enterprise off the ground while caring for children at the same time.

  • Demand exceeds the financial capacity to fund most requests
  • Capital is more accessible after your endeavor is up and running
  • Foundations favor women who can devote full-time effort

Below is a sample of places worth exploring, with the above caveats.  

Back to School

Private and government grants for stay at home mothers returning to school require you to identify intersection points. Few, if any, opportunities exist exclusively for the SAHM community.

Federal Student Aid

A small expected family contribution is the key to qualifying for student aid from the federal government. Therefore, eligibility for home engineers hinges on two FASFA questions that affect the equation in opposite ways.

  • Negative: marital status includes your husband’s income and household assets
  • Positive: number of family members counts any person you support 50% or more
    • Children – even if they don’t live with you
    • Non-relatives living in the same home

Your FAFSA answers to these two questions help determine expected family contribution, which keys your eligibility for these government-supported back to school benefits.[2]

  • Pell Grants for household income below $30,000
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH)

Military Veterans

Both federal and non-profit organizations target financial help for active-duty military, retired personnel, and family members. Therefore, SAHM, who are veterans, can tap into many of these college funding resources and others.[3]

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)
  • VA Education Benefits for Dependents and Survivors (Chapter 35)
  • Hap Arnold Grant for Air Force families, reservists, and dependents
  • Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SEAP)
  • Spouse Tuition Aid Program (STAP)

Scholarships for Women

Homemakers seeking to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields can find many scholarships set aside for women since females are under-represented in these industries. Also, future nurses often find helpful resources.

Online databases can help you find scholarship opportunities that match your goals, skills, and situation.

Student Loan Forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness will be more challenging to accomplish because a SAHM often does not meet many of these programs’ work-related requirements. Only a handful of these opportunities do not tie eligibility to employment or volunteer service.[4]

  • Closed School Discharge
  • Total and Permanent Disability Discharge
  • Discharge in Bankruptcy
  • Borrower Defense to Repayment
  • False Certification Discharge
  • Unpaid Refund Discharge

Government Benefits for Homemakers

Stay at home mothers can qualify for a broad swath of government benefits provided they pay close attention to details and have the patience to complete plenty of lengthy paperwork.

Health Insurance

The federal government often provides benefits in the form of subsidies to stay at home mothers to help them afford health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses – even if her husband’s employer offers conforming job-based coverage.

Under the Affordable Care Act, many employers must offer a single plan to employees that cost no more than 9.78% of household income. However, the cost containment does not apply to dependent coverage: spouses and children.[5]

Therefore, homemakers can purchase individual health insurance for herself and or her children on the state marketplace and still possibly qualify for two income-based subsidies.

  1. Premium tax credits
  2. Cost-sharing reductions

Social Security

The Social Security Act gave birth to ten different programs[6], and sometimes stay at home mothers meet the qualifications for government benefits – and other times not. Research the criteria and rules for each of these initiatives to see if you are eligible.

Once again, finding the points of intersection is the key to unlocking helpful resources.

Permanent Disability

Homemakers could receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if they worked long enough, paid sufficient FICA taxes, and have a permanent impairment lasting at least one year.

Women who never worked outside of the house have two other options.

  1. Disabled Widow’s Benefit if over the age of 50
  2. Mother and Father Benefit is caring for a child of your deceased spouse

Temporary Disability

Temporary disability insurance falls under the Social Security umbrella, but each state must decide whether to support the benefit. As of 2020, only seven have an active program.

  1. California
  2. Hawaii
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New Jersey
  5. New York
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Washington State

However, most ladies of the house will not qualify to file a claim. Each program determines eligibility based on earnings from employment during a retroactive base period of twelve to eighteen months.

Workers Compensation covers occupational incidents exclusively, which rules out any women that do not work as an employee.

Unemployment

Unemployment compensation is a Social Security initiative for employees laid off from work. Most homemakers do not qualify because they do not earn wages from an employer that subtracts the state insurance premium from their payroll.

However, family managers who supplement their household income through a side hustle (freelancing, self-employment, independent contracting, and other at-home endeavors) could collect Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The CARES Act extends PUA benefits to gig workers unable to earn money due to Covid-19 until December 31, 2020.

Assistance Programs

Many other broad-based government assistance programs make up the final component of the Social Security safety net. Single-income SAHM families often meet the federal poverty guidelines because they have only one wage-earner.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
    • Food and Nutrition Assistance
    • Food Stamps
    • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for
    • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • National School Lunch Program
  • School Breakfast Program
  • Housing Assistance
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance
  • Earned Income Tax Credit

Specific Groups

Government support programs for specific groups also fall into the Social Security safety net. Homemakers who intersect with any of these communities should look into these options.

  • Veterans Benefits
  • Government Employee Retirement Systems
  • Railroad Retirement

Retirement

Homemakers are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits once they reach age sixty-two if they worked long enough and paid FICA taxes. Of course, the amount you receive will be reduced compared to if you wait until full retirement age.

SAHM senior citizens never worked outside of the home can collect widows’ benefits after age sixty based on your deceased husband’s work history. 

Footnoted Sources:  

[2] US Department of Education – Grants

[3] US Department of Education – Military

[4] US Department of Education – Forgiveness

[5] Healthcare.gov Employer-based Insurance

[6] Social Security Ten Programs