Contrary to common belief, there are millions of adult students out there that would like to go back to college, but they are having difficulty finding funding and creating compatible schedules.
Unlike the students that go to college right out of high school, adult students have a different set of challenges because they often have family and work obligations and more limited funding opportunities.
However, despite the challenges, there are still a lot of opportunities for adult students out there, but it does take some time and effort to find them.
Although you may already have a job, it will still be difficult to pay for college because college in general is expensive. Most universities cost upwards of $10,000-$20,000 on average.
The first thing you should do is look for a school that has a more affordable tuition rate and offers more flexible class options like distance learning courses, online classes, and correspondence classes. Community colleges and online universities are great places for adult students because they are more affordable and they offer better schedules that will accommodate people that work and have outside obligations.
The next thing to do is contact the office of financial aid and ask if they have any special scholarship programs or institutional grants. If the college does not offer enough funding for you to attend, that is when you have to look for outside funding sources like grants and scholarships from employers and nonprofit organizations.
Loans can still be an option as long as you feel like the amount is tolerable and if you know that you can pay it off in a reasonable amount of time. The problem is that loans are very risky in this economy and many student loan lenders are not giving out as a much money as they used to, so dealing with loans will probably not help you that much.
As an adult student you will have the option of exploring both outside grants and scholarships as well as employer tuition reimbursement programs. If you work for a major company, chances are that they have an employer tuition reimbursement program where you will pay for the tuition bill, but the employer will reimburse you for up to 50%-80% of the cost.
Every employer does it differently, so you will have to obtain specific details from them about how much they will cover. Usually, the amount that they will reimburse you for depends on the grade that you receive for each class. For example, they may reimburse 80% for an A, 70% for a B, and so on. Other companies may pay a portion of the total bill at the end of the semester based on the GPA.
Although the employer will not cover all of the costs of attending, it does make things more affordable because every little bit helps. If your employer does not offer a tuition reimbursement program, then you will have to search for outside funding in the form of grants and scholarships. Here are some options about grants for adult students.
The Federal Pell Grant is one of the most common grants that students receive to attend college. It is accessible to all students regardless of age, grads, or income, so all are encouraged to apply.
The Pell Grant is for people that are completing their first degree program, so it will not apply for graduate school programs. It will provide up to $5,550 at the maximum and the amount that they give is based on the amount of financial need that the student has.
Once the application has been completed, you will receive a number that is called the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, which tells colleges and universities how much money you will be expected to contribute to attend.
In order to apply for the grant, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available online on the website or you can pick up a paper application from any local college or university.
The Federal Supplemental Opportunities Grant (FSEOG) is a grant that is given to students that have an exceptional financial need. Adult students can obtain this grant, but they must be considered low income and have a very low EFC.
There is no way to apply for the FSEOG directly. Instead, you must complete the FAFSA and then you will notified if you are eligible. They will generally provide an amount between $100-$4,000 depending on the cost of the institution and the amount of need you have.
The only thing to remember with this program is that if you receive the grant, then you are obligated to teach in underprivileged communities in inner cities or rural areas for at least 4 years. If you do not fulfill the obligation, the grant money that you received in college will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan that you must pay back with interest from the date when you received the grant. You can obtain this grant by completing the FAFSA.
The Federal Work Study Program is another aspect of the US government’s education grants program. When you complete your FAFSA application, the government will notify you if you are an eligible candidate for work study.
Work study basically means that you will work a small job on campus for a wage that college will pay, but it is designed for you to pay for your educational expenses. The wage must be at least the federal minimum wage, but sometimes the wage will be above that rate.
The jobs tend to offer very flexible schedules, so you will be able to do something simple that will work for you. Jobs vary depending on the school, but you could be a secretary, an assistant, a tutor, or something like that on campus. There is no way to directly apply for the program, so you must complete the FAFSA and see if you are eligible.
The Harriet B. Storrs Fund offers grants to nontraditional students that live in Painesville, Ohio.
Applicants must reside in the 44077 zip code and they must have had at least a one-year interruption in their education. They must be eligible for the Pell Grant or have an annual income of less than $60,000. They should have at least a GED or high school diploma and they should be pursing an associates or bachelors degree program.
The grant amount is $3,500 and it can only cover tuition costs because the check will be awarded to the college or university that you attend. The application is available on their website.
The Illinois Veteran Grant Program pays the tuition and fees of service members that have completed at least a year of federal active duty service with the US Armed Forces.
Applicants must attend a public college or university in Illinois and they must have honorable discharge from the service. The student should maintain the minimum GPA required by the institution and be a legal resident of Illinois. Interested applicants can download an application from the website.
The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant is also known as the National SMART Grant. It is a grant offered by the government that is designed to provide training and education to future teachers.
There is no age requirement, so nontraditional students may apply as well. The program offers up to $4,000 depending on the amount of financial need that the student has. Students must be eligible for the Pell Grant and they must complete the FAFSA.
Students must be enrolled at least part-time at an accredited US institution and they must major in mathematics, computer sciences, physical life, engineering, or foreign languages. The applicant must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and they must be in their third or fourth year of a bachelors degree program.
In order to apply, you must first complete a FAFSA application and contact your financial aid office for more details if you meet the requirements.
Imagine America is an American nonprofit organization that provides grants to nontraditonal students. Their grant program is open to students who are 19 or older and they must have at least a GED or high school diploma. It is designed for people that are returning to school after some time working.
The student must attend an institution that is a participating member in the Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP). Upon acceptance into the program, the student must complete the NCCT Educational Success Potential Assessment. The program awards $1,000 to recipients of the grant. The application is available on their website.
The Walmart Foundation offers a number of scholarship and grant programs to people that are employed at Walmart or Sam’s Club. The amount ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the amount of the student’s financial need.
Applicants are selected based upon their level of community involvement and by demonstrating enough financial need to require additional funding to attend college. Applicants must be employed at a US-based Walmart of Sam’s Club store and they must be pursing a certificate, associates, or bachelors degree program. Their application is available online on their website.
The Arkansas Distance Learning Association offers the Gregory M. Hueberger Grant for Arkansas students enrolled in distance learning classes. The grant is $1,500, but it the amount will vary depending on how much the student really needs.
The program only accepts students that are legal residents of Arkansas that are attending an accredited Arkansas college or university. They must be enrolled in distance learning courses on a full time basis as well. Students must provide transcripts, recommendations, and an essay. The application is available on their website and it can be submitted online as well.
The Union Plus organization is affiliated with the AFL-CIO labor union that represents workers across America. They offer some scholarships and grants to members of the labor union. Their grant program is open to all current and retired members of the AFL-CIO as well as their children and spouses.
Applicants must reside in the US or Canada and attended an accredited US institution. They must have a strong academic background with at least a 3.0 GPA and community service, especially work surrounding the union.
The amount awarded depends on the amount of funding available, but it will between $500 to $4,000. Their application is available on their website and it can also be submitted online as well.
The Executive Women International is a nonprofit organization that supports the business endeavors of women across America, but they also offer a number of scholarships.
Despite the fact that is a female-centered organization, the Adult Students in Scholastic Transition grant program is actually open to both males and females. The program seeks out students that are returning to school after a number of years. It is designed to help students that may have several dependents under their care and may be struggling to make ends meet.
Applicants must the age of 18 or older and they must demonstrate financial need for the funding. The student must define goals for why they need the funding and complete an application and send transcripts, recommendations, and a proof income that verifies their financial need. The application is available for download on their website.
The AARP Foundation offers the Women’s Scholarship program that provides grants and funding to women over the age of 40 who are returning to complete their degree.
All applicants must be female, over 40, and enrolled in an accredited US institution pursuing a bachelors, associates, vocational, or technical education program. The amount awarded varies depending on the amount of need a student has, but they will receive about $500 to $5,000. The application is listed on their website.
The Talbots Charitable Foundation offers a grant to women who are returning to college. Talbots Charitable Foundation is affiliated with the Talbots store, which is a women’s clothing retailer.
Recipients of the grant will receive either $10,000 to $30,000 to cover the costs of school, a Talbots gift card, and a Reinvention Resume Plus eKit.
Applicants must be females that reside in the US or Canada and they must at least have a GED or high school diploma. They should be in the process of completing an undergraduate degree at an accredited institution in the US or Canada. The application is available online on their website.
Soroptomist is nonprofit organization that supports women all over the world. They offer a number of awards, grants, and scholarships to women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their grant is available for women that are the primary support for their family, so this is a good fit for women who are singe mothers.
The program actually welcomes women that have struggled against personal problems like poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, or domestic violence as long as they can show how they have grown from the experience.
All applicants must be citizens of at least one of the countries where the organization operates, which includes the US, Japan, Korea, Canada, Mexico, and many others. There is a complete list available on their website. The application requires references, transcripts, and an essay. The application is available on their website and it can be submitted online as well.
The Jeannette Rankin Foundation offers grants to women from disadvantaged backgrounds. All applicants must be females age 35 and over and they must be US citizens. The applicant must be currently attending or at least accepted to an accredited US institution.
Students can attend a vocational school, technical program or an associates or bachelors degree program. Applicants must also meet certain income requirements, meaning that they must fall under the low-income guidelines based on the Department of Labor’s Lower Living Standards chart, which depends on the size of the household and the total income.
Interested students must complete an application and submit transcripts, recommendations, an acceptance letter, and tax documents to verify income. The application is available on their website.
The Linda Lael Miller Foundation offers funds to working women in America. They provide scholarships to women over the age of 25 that reside in the US or Canada. They must be attending an accredited college or university in Canada or the US.
The funds are geared toward women who are single mothers, disadvantaged or dealing with some other type of adversity. The maximum amount awarded is $1,000, but it depends on the amount of funding available that year. The application is available on their website.
The Hispanic College Fund offers a grant program for Hispanic single parents that are returning to school. The program is only open to single parents that are of Hispanic descent and attending a US accredited institution full-time.
Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents and demonstrate a strong financial need. Applicants must also have a 3.0 GPA and be willing to appear in promotional materials. The amount awarded ranges from $500-$1,500. The application is available on their website.