Yes! You can afford college!
You’re not a traditional student, so chances are, you may not have access to some of the traditional means to pay for school, such your parents or all those scholarships offered to high school seniors or star athletes. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options available for you, if you do a little work.
What can you do??
- Download the Federal Financial Aid Guide. Always a good place to start, this publication has a ton of information about grants, loans and work-study.
- Ask your employer. Many companies will pay full or partial tuition reimbursement upon successful completion of a college course. These programs vary widely from employer to employer in that some cover only courses directly related to your field of work, while others may have a complete degree reimbursement program.
- Check out what your state offers. Here’s a list of state scholarship offices (scroll down). Some may have web presences — so search the web on the department name for your state.
- Take a loan. At some point, inevitably, you will probably need more money than you have. Colleges financial aid offices have information on lenders, but beware if they try to steer you to only one or two choices. (Recently, several college loan offices have come under scrutiny for taking kickbacks from lenders. Fortunat ely, Congress has taken notice and these practices should be ending). Your loan may be a federally backed student loan, or from a private lender, or even from your neighbor: an offbeat loan resource is Prosper.com. Here you can put in a loan request and see if anyone bites. Another alternative loan site is Zopa.com.
- Study an unpopular subject. Several careers just don’t draw enough job applicants so employers need to offer special incentives to attract and keep employees. Let’s see, teachers and nurses are perpetually on top of that list, as well as electricians, long-haul truck drivers, heavy equipment mechanics, medical technicians, and surprisingly many more occupations. Often, training assistance (tuition reimbursement), relocation expenses and other incentives are available. Your college’s career center should have an idea about what are the hard to fill jobs in your location and/or elsewhere.
- Play the numbers game. The biggest tip we have to get financing for college is to apply, apply, apply. For scholarships and grants (both “free money”–not needing to be repaid) try FastWeb and FinAid first to find scholarships you may qualify for. Find obscure ones offered locally or regionally. Sometimes, small local groups have scholarships that go unawarded for lack of applicants, so apply for ones that you may not completely qualify for and you just may be surprised.
- Go slow. Maybe you started out with a bang, school full-time, work part time and things were great. Then that appendicitis hit or the kids need braces and poof, your college fund/dream is gone. What now? Well, recoup and change your tactics. Keep your goal, but allow yourself more time to complete it. Instead of attending classes full time, go part time. Instead of part time, take one class a quarter. Like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.
Other Sources of Help
Welfare Parent Helps Find Funding for Others
Diana Spatz was a single mother on welfare. She encountered many barriers when she tried to get an education to become self-sufficient, but she found ways to overcome them. She now works to help other parents on welfare gain access to funding that is available for their education. Read her story and how to contact her.
See Chapter Three in The Adult Student’s Guide to Survival & Success, 7th Edition for more information on financial aid help.
Our one piece of advice for finding financial aid is DO NOT PAY ANYONE to search for scholarships.
There are too many ways and people who will help you do this for FREE!!!