Authored by Stephanie Urich in Financial Aid
Published on 08-09-2009
It turns out that back-to-school isn’t just for children. Many adults are making the decision to head back to school, whether to complete an unfinished degree or seek higher education. In today’s workforce, it has become necessary to have an edge over other job seekers. How can you afford to go back to school while shouldering all of the responsibilities of adulthood? Here are some tips for financing your education:
Submit a FAFSA.
Perhaps you remember filling out this form when attending college the first time. It’s still the standard procedure to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid.
Investigate your options.
There are three main types of aid: work-study programs (working while in school), student loans (money you’ll have to pay back), and scholarships and grants (free money). Federally funded work-study programs and student loans will be awarded based on need when you fill out the FAFSA. These include loans like the Stafford and Perkins loans and usually do not have to be repaid until after you’ve graduated. You also have the option of obtaining private student loans through any number of financial institutions. Check with your banker to find out current rates and terms on their education loans.
Scholarships and grants are the best kind of college aid to receive, as you do not have to repay it. Federally funded grants are also awarded upon completion of the FAFSA. You can find other grants and scholarships by doing a little research. Try visiting bulletin boards outside of local college and university financial aid offices, or doing a search on the internet. You can also check the reference section of your public library for guides to financial aid. The United States Department of Education and your state department of education are valuable tools in finding additional grants and scholarships available. Don’t overlook foundations you support, religious & community organizations you belong to, organizations related to your field of interest, or ethnicity based organizations, as some of these may award annual scholarships.
You may also check with your employer. Many large companies offer tuition assistance for employees who meet their criteria. Place a call to your human resources department to find out what the details are.
Another avenue to explore is the opportunity for loan forgiveness. Depending on your course of study, some programs offer to repay all or a portion of academic debt in exchange for volunteer work, public service, military service, or work in a certain field. Current examples include TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education), a grant program for students who teach in an elementary school that serves low income families. The United States Department of Health and Human Services also provides scholarships, grants, and repayment programs for students in health professions.
These are a few of many options for nontraditional adult students to finance their education. If, after searching, you are still coming up short, try to ask the financial aid office for a review. They can help you figure out how to make it work, so you can get started on continuing your education.