There are plenty of reasons why people may return to college well after their ‘normal’ college years are behind them. A lot of people go and begin working after high school because they may feel it’s a better option for them or don’t quite know what their interests happen to be with regard to a career. Others begin a family and have to give up their college education or other dreams, at least for a period of time.
No matter what the reason, as a ‘returning’ college student, being able to afford college can still be challenging. With the cost of an education increasing 20 fold during the past 40 years, it has become more and more difficult for many people to go back to college.
Whether you’re going back to college to pursue your first bachelor’s degree, you’re planning on continuing your education to earn a Masters or PhD, there are plenty of options with regard to financing. Whether or not you have a regular and steady income, getting a college education can open new doorways to increased opportunities. For example, many corporations encourage their employees to continue their education when they are seeking to climb the ‘corporate ladder.’ In order to move from one particular level within the department to a managerial, supervisory, or executive position, an advanced degree may be necessary.
As for scholarships for returning students, there are so many different scholarships from which to choose that it’s difficult to list them all in one place. That being said, there are no specific scholarships that are set aside just for ‘returning students.’
One of the best things anyone can do before they begin actively looking into returning to college is to be aware of the different financing options, costs, and more.
What to consider when going back to college in your late 20s, 30s, 40s, or even later.
It’s never too late for somebody to go back to college and get an education or further their education. There have been reported cases of people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and even older earning a college degree. While people in their Golden Years aren’t likely to be pursuing a college education for their career or for a job, many others are.
One of the most important first things anyone can do when looking to return to college is understand the cost of tuition, books, and supplies. Most of these returning students will likely be living at home and are going to be moving into a dorm or apartment right near campus. They will be considered commuter students. It doesn’t matter which college or university they choose to further their education; they will be commuting and that may increase the cost because of parking, gas, and more.
It’s also important not to get overwhelmed by sticker shock when you begin looking at furthering your education. The cost of education today is a lot more than it was just 10 years ago. For those who graduated high school in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, that kind of sticker shock can cause them to second-guess themselves.
It’s not just the tuition that’s more expensive, either. It’s also the books and supplies. Some college textbooks can cost several hundred dollars each. So scholarships for returning students may seem like a great idea.
Make no mistake, there are plenty of scholarships that these students can focus on. Most general scholarships are not limited by age, though there are some in which applicants have to be a certain age in order to be considered.
While a returning student should be encouraged to apply to every single scholarship they may be eligible for, as long as they are not limited by age, there are a number of other financing options available.
The most significant for returning students is student loans. A returning student can take out a private loan from a financial institution or fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will help make a determination about whether or not the student can qualify based on their income and other assets.
They may be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant or a federally backed student loan from a financial institution. These federally backed student loans are low interest (one, two, or usually at most 3%), will not need to be paid back until the student completes his or her degree program, and can be used for tuition, books and supplies, and other basic living expenses.
Those returning students who are actively employed by a major company may also be eligible to have the company cover the tuition and education expenses. If there pursuit of a degree is going to benefit their job, especially their employer, then those companies often provide assistance and support to those employees looking to return to school.
Sit down with somebody in the human resources department or your direct supervisor to find out what you need to do to continue your education.
Even for those returning students who had been denied federal student loans, the Federal Pell Grant, Stafford loans, or other financial assistance in the past because their parents earned too much to qualify, they may be eligible now because they would likely be considered ‘independent” students.
As long as nobody can claim you as a dependent on their taxes you are considered an independent student and therefore may qualify for some of those student loans you may not have been eligible for in the past.
As for those returning student scholarships, sit down and speak with the college or university you’re interested in attending or the department where you will be seeking your degree to find out what specific scholarships may be available to you and take full advantage of this incredible opportunity.