So, you’re thinking about going back to college. One of the biggest hindrances for potential students returning to college is money. They think they can’t afford to go back to school, so they don’t even begin looking into their options. There are, however, many options that make it so that those who are thinking about returning to college are able to afford to do so.
Financial aid is available to so many individuals based on a countless number of criteria. Understanding financial aid and what options you qualify for and can apply for will be critical in helping you get the most financial aid possible. The first thing that will help you in your return to college is that you will be applying under Independent Student Status. Students who qualify must be 24 years of age or older and married or have children. College students that are considered independent are more likely to qualify for Pell grants, and they are also able to receive larger amounts of Stafford loans. What financial aid you are eligible for will be determined by the government when you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FASFA.
If you are laid off of work or unemployed and collecting unemployment benefits, check with your colleges and universities to see if any of them offer tuition waivers. Many times these opportunities will have strict requirements such as maintaining a certain GPA. This could be a great opportunity, though, for someone who couldn’t otherwise afford to go back to college. Tuition waivers vary from school to school, as well as from state to state, so make sure you are checking through your state laws and with the administration of the school you are hoping to attend.
Another option includes state financial aid. Your state government may be able to offer assistance for you, as well. Certain states offer retraining financial aid for adults looking to go back to a community college or training program. Check with your local government to see if this is something they provide as it is becoming more common.
Many students consider scholarships to help them afford college, but it’s important to note that scholarships are also available to returning students. These do take time to apply for, however, scholarships alongside financial aid can greatly reduce the cost of tuition for a prospective student.
Also make sure to keep in mind what kind of career path you are wanting to take. Many options are available to students pursuing a specific job, i.e. engineering students or future teachers.
If you are currently working and wanting to return to school, check with your employer! Certain employers offer tuition assistance to their employees. Like scholarships and other sources of financial aid, this may not cover the entire tuition, but it will make great strides to help you better afford it!
If you are wanting to go back to school and can’t afford it right now but may be able to once you graduate and get a job, student loans are also available. Other types of loans are available, for instance, if you’re an adult who owns a home, you may qualify for a home equity loan. These typically have a much lower interest rate than student loans, so that may be an option to consider, as well.
In thinking about going back to school, you really need to look at the specific school to which you are wanting to apply. Scholarships and aid may vary from school to school. Eagle Rock College out of Los Angeles, CA, for example, is a school that offers great financial aid options for students. They offer a wide variety of options, including aid for veterans, Pell grants, independent students, as well as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Private Rehabilitation Benefits. Eagle Rock does a great job in helping its students be able to afford to return to school.
The decision to go back to school can be overwhelming, but with so many financial options available, money should never be a hindrance. Make sure to thoroughly check out the options available to you through the federal and state government, as well as the school and career path you are hoping for. Apply for those scholarships, and you are well on your way to being a returning student.