Budget and pay for college. Some good advice from the Financial Aid Director at Des Moines Area Community College, found in The Des Moines Register. Unfortunately, I wish the news was better and the options greater.
How to pay for schooling as an adult
What is the biggest mistake adult learners (and many others) make when budgeting?
So many students only focus on the direct cost of education, like tuition. There are also indirect costs, like transportation, room and board, and books. We want students to address those not only on an annual basis, but monthly. With a good, solid plan, they should be able to make it through.
For an adult learner, what type of financial aid is available? Where should they look first?
The first place the student should look primarily is the college they're attending. Contact their financial aid office and look at their financial aid webpage. Follow the steps offered there, which will lead students to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA automatically opens access to federal grants, loans and work offerings on campus like campus-based aid. The second step when filling out the FAFSA is at the end. It will give students the option of an in-state option for student aid and it is important to complete that. Complete these early; there are deadlines.
What happens after the FAFSA is completed?
Wait until they come back with a number of loans available, both subsidized and unsubsidized. Then students should follow up with their school and determine scholarship opportunities. Most schools have a foundation and the foundation will usually go out and find individuals that can be partners that provide funding for scholarships. Apply for those early, but you're not competing nationwide, which gives students a better chance. There are some great online free resources for scholarship databases, but most of the time you’re competing against students from all over the country.
What if the adult learner has exhausted scholarship options and doesn’t want to take out a large amount of federal loans?
When you've exhausted all of the grants and working opportunities and other things, adult learners should talk with their current employer. Depending on where they are employed, they may be able to be reimbursed after earning their degree.