Going back to school as an adult, whether you have been in the working world for a few years or a few decades, is very different from so when you are 18 and fresh out of high school. However, you will still face some of the same challenges as students much younger than you, including deciding what you want to focus on, finding time to study and paying for your education. Whether you are seeking an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, a certification or you simply want to take a few classes, there are several funding sources you can pursue.
One of the first places to look for financial support in returning to school is with your employer. Many employers will pay part or all of their employees’ tuition costs. While some employers may require that the schooling relate to your job, this is not always the case. If you work in any capacity for your state government, find out if there is any kind of tuition waiver available for you to attend state schools. If your employer does not have a tuition reimbursement program, you might be able to talk to them about introducing one. Do some research on the benefits and how it would help them with recruitment, present them with a proposal and see what happens.
Take Out Student Loans
The reliable method of funding your education with student loans still holds true today. You can start by filling out the free application for Federal Student Aid to find out what you are eligible for. There are even specially designed loans for parents that want to help aid in the efforts of their children going to college. You typically won’t need to make any payments on these loans until sometime after you graduate, which alleviates some of the burdens while you are trying to focus on doing well in school. However, if you find it difficult to pay with your current rates and terms, consider debt consolidation or parent plus loan refinancing.
Grants and Scholarships
The FAFSA can also alert you to eligibility for grants. One of the most common types is the Pell Grant, which is need-based. If you are an adult who is returning to school and who needs money in addition to the Pell Grant, you may qualify for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. You may be able to get hundreds or thousands of dollars. There are many different scholarship opportunities as well. You can research these opportunities using online search engines. Scholarships may range from a few hundred dollars to paying full tuition. Some have very specific criteria that only a few applicants may meet, and it is worthwhile seeking out as many as you are eligible for.
Tax credits may not provide direct money for college, but they can reduce the amount you owe in taxes, and you may be able to put savings or a refund toward classes. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is for your first four years of education and offers up to $2,500 in credit. You can take a Lifetime Learning Credit even if you are just enrolling in a class or two as long as the institution qualifies, and this is worth up to $2,000 in credit.
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