These days, it is not unusual to see adults in college. As a matter of fact, many of today’s colleges offer an array of alternative scheduling options and class formats to cater to the growing adult student community. However, as a mature adult, your situation might be a different from the situation of a young adult who has just graduated from high school. It is likely that you have an established career, and that you haven’t seen the inside of a classroom for years, or even decades. On top of that, you must figure out how to pay for college while juggling these other concerns. Need some advice? Here are some pointers for how to pay for college as a mature adult:
Financial aid. The first step you should take in procuring funds for college is with the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA). When you fill out this application, you have the option of applying not only for government grants, but also for student loans. Be sure to indicate that you are interested in both. This does not obligate you to anything, but it at least makes the most information possible available to you.
Use your career to your advantage. Sure, having to prioritize school somewhere alongside a career can be difficult and frustrating. However, it can also be an advantage. If you have your foot in the door of the career path you want to pursue and you’ve proven yourself to your employer, then you might be able to convince your employer to foot your education bill.
Look for special scholarships. There are many scholarship programs directed toward helping mature adults realize their higher education goals. You might be surprised to find what is available to you, just because you are a mature adult college student, and how much it can help financially. Make an appointment with your advisor to discuss these opportunities, and for guidance on creating compelling application packages. Also, be sure to search for applicable scholarships through the scholarship match function on the US Department of Labor website.
Use what you know. As a mature adult, you have many years of budgeting experience under your belt. You need to approach the task of paying for your college education as you would any other financial goal, from qualifying for a mortgage to contributing to a retirement savings account. Use your knowledge and experience to your advantage by sitting down to create a detailed college spending budget and a comprehensive plan for accomplishing your goal.
As a mature adult, you may feel that you are a fish out of water when it comes to entering the college world. However, that is simply not true. The truth is that you have a number of advantages that, if used appropriately, can help you reach your goal of a college degree. Follow these tips to pay for college as a mature adult.
About the Author: Francis McNamara is in her 3rd year of school – as a 50-year-old returnee. She often searches for financial aid, uses Slugbooks for textbooks, and cuts corners in an effort to graduate with as little debt as possible.