Congratulations! You’ve made an important decision to change your life for the better. You are going back to school! That decision will be the best you’ve ever made! It’s a big deal! But, then what? Going back to school is not cheap and if you are like most, you are not independently wealthy. That means you are going to have to find a way to pay for it. But how? There are plenty of people here to help.
Where do you start?
In a word: FAFSA. FAFSA stands for Federal Application for Financial Student Aid. No matter where you want to go to school, or what degree you decided on, your journey begins here. This is the application you fill out to determine your financial aid eligibility. Once a tedious form to filled out by hand, it is now available on line. A quick web search will direct you to the web site where you can fill out the form and find out what kind of aid you qualify for. You can even have it sent to any schools you are considering!
Scholarships are financial awards given to students based of various criteria: financial need, grades, ethnicity, etc. If you have the grades, you may qualify for that kind of scholarships, but don’t fret! There are a host of other scholarships available as well. They may be large or small, and can come from your local rotary club, any social club or organization you are a part of. Ask around! Many don’t do a good job of advertising the scholarships, so a bit of research is in order.
Many employers will reimburse employees for the cost of college tuition, provided they maintain a certain grade point average and that the degree is related to their job. Each employer has certain rules and restrictions regarding tuition reimbursement, so be sure to contact your employer’s human resources department.
Community colleges may not be the most glamorous option, but they can help you pay for college in two ways: 1) They costs a lot less than a typical four year institution, thus lowering the cost of your education and 2) They can help you get the grades needed to get a scholarship from a big name four year institution.
Student loans are often considered the last resort for many, but they shouldn’t necessarily be considered a dirty word. If they can help you get the degree that will increase your earning power, and you can pay them off in a timely manner.
Many colleges have an option for students to earn a portion of their education by working on campus. For a single mom, that may seem like a lot but anything you can do to lower the cost of your education and reduce any debt you may have to incur to obtain your college education is a good thing. So yes, it may require a bit more elbow grease and yes, you may lose a little sleep, but it’s more than worth it.
The federal government often offers grants for certain professions, say nursing or teaching, where they will pay for your education provided that you spend a few years teaching in underprivileged areas. If you’re in the market for one of those degrees this can be an amazing opportunity to get your degree for free and make the world a better place!