Paying for education is a major factor when considering going back to school. Some adults let the expense of going back to school get in the way of them pursuing their dreams. With tuition prices increasing and no guarantee of a job after graduation it is easy to see why these fears manifest themselves.
The good news is that many online schools are less expensive than traditional schools because you save so much on ancillary costs and are usually able to keep working your full-time job. If you have never paid for schooling on your own it can seem like a daunting task. There are no rules. You can get as creative as you want to try and come up with the money. Let’s take a look at tips to funding your online education.
1. Fill out the FAFSA
This is the main financial aid form. It costs nothing to fill out. You can select up to six schools to send this to without committing to any of them. It will qualify your for loans, grants, and work study depending on your income. Federal student loans are great to apply to because they have lower interest than private loans and very flexible repayment options.
2. Go directly to your state board
States set aside millions of dollars for education funding. Many times it goes unused and gets funneled back into the state coffers. You could get access to thousands of dollars worth of free funding.
3. Ask your employer
Many employers have tuition reimbursement plans or will even pay the tuition up front. Be aware that if they pay for your schooling you may be obligated to earn certain grades and work for them for a specific period after your graduate.
4. Private or Public organizations
Many churches, civic, union and trade organizations set aside scholarship monies for students. A lot of students do not go the trouble to find out, but it could result in thousands of dollars. What if your one hour of searching netted $1,000? That’s a rate of return of $1,000 an hour. Not bad!
5. Lifetime Learning Credit
Tax credit for undergraduate and graduate students can be used for up to $2,000 of educational expenses.
If you served or a family member served in the military there is the REAP and SDEA programs that provide aid.
Grants are great because you do not have to pay them back. There are federal, state and local grants. Check with your financial aid office first.
8. Research multiple college financial aid packages
Not all colleges give the same amount of financial aid. Schools have endowments that they can tap into to give additional money to students.