Finding Adult Financial Aid for College
If you're unemployed, underemployed, or just burned out on the job, it's never too late to return to college and train for a job you'll love.
While many people in their 40s and 50s mistakenly assume that they are too old to qualify for financial aid, independent adults often have an easier time getting help from the federal government than their teen counterparts.
Midlife students also have access to specialized scholarship programs, cash reserves and alternative awards that younger students don't, according to this post at Bankrate.com, which suggests places for adults to look.
Here are few ideas to start looking for college cash:
1. Scholarships. The Nancy Talbot Scholarship Award was specifically designed for those seeking a degree later in life. There also are more than 230 award programs created for candidates 25 or older available on the Fastweb.com scholarship search engine.
2. Single-parent programs. A handful of two- and four-year colleges offer financial aid, and in some cases even special housing, for single parents. More information on these programs can be found here.
3. Pell grants. More nontraditional, older students with low incomes are getting federal Pell grant money, according to statistics on this post at FinAid.org, a financial aid information site. Pell grants can provide lower-income students with an award of up to $5,550 per year for a bachelor's degree (or a second bachelor's degree), according to the Federal Student Aid website.
4. Loans. More life experience also means bigger Stafford loans for college -- $45,000 over four years, versus $27,000 for fresh-faced teens, according to Bankrate.
To qualify for government aid, students need to fill out a free application to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
5. Future teachers. If you're interested in a second career in elementary or secondary education, you could qualify for a $4,000 Teach Grant.
[Related: From Cubicle to Classroom]
Other places to look for tuition money include your employer and community and professional associations. Unemployed workers also should check with their state Department of Labor to inquire about tuition awards or incentives aimed at workers going back to college to train for new jobs.
Job hunters might also want to look for a job at a college or university. Many offer free tuition for employees and their dependents, so you can earn and learn at the same time.
You can use financial aid calculators like this one at FinAid.org to calculate your likely eligibility for financial aid.
SecondAct asks: Have you gone back to school with the help of financial aid? What tips would you add to this list?
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