Going Back To School? Get Financial Aid!
Scholarships, tax incentives, grants and loans are all available for aspiring students of all ages! Here is detailed information about many programs available today!
Are you thinking of going back to school? You're not alone. A recent study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that 38% of college students are over the age of 25. A large number of college students are working adults. Online classes, night classes, and other alternative education forms make up the bulk of how adult learners are earning their post-secondary education. Many of them are getting advanced degrees and certificates, but a substantial number of adult college students are first timers. There is a good reason for that: a degree dramatically increases your employability and earning potential.
Whether you're an adult setting out to earn your first degree or you're finishing one you started some years ago, finding the time--and the money--can be challenging. After all, part of the reason you waited may have been because you lacked the time or resources immediately after graduating from college. New technology makes it easier for adult learners to gain access to high-quality education and earn a degree, but that doesn't mean it's going to cost any less. With a family, bills and other responsibilities, how does an adult pay for education?
Many adult students answer that question with an array of grants, scholarships, loans and tax incentives. Scholarship money is not just for recent high school graduates. Adult learners can find help to support their career advancement through a college degree program.
Grants and Loans for Adults
Your search for financial aid will start in the same place where most high school graduates start: you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Fake websites will attempt to make you pay for filling out this form. The FAFSA is, and always has been, completely free to fill out, so if you're on a site that asks for money, move on!
Federal Pell Grants are available to anyone earning an undergraduate college degree (bachelors) or a professional degree. Pell Grants are designed for those who have exceptional financial need. The award amount for 2019-2020 is $6,195. Since this is a grant, and you don't need to pay the money back.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). These grants assist undergraduate students with significant financial need. The FSEOG award amount can range from $100 to $4,000. This grant is given out first to those who may also qualify for a Pell Grant. As this is also a grant, you don't need to pay back the money.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. This grant is designed for those seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree required to begin a teaching career. TEACH does not apply to teachers who are already in the profession and who are trying to earn a more advanced degree. Grantees must agree to teach for four years in a qualifying school to receive this grant. The maximum award is $4,000, which does not need to be paid back if you meet the requirements.
Federal Work Study allows you to complete work at your institution for money. There is no minimum or maximum amount, as the details worked out are entirely dependent your institution. Undergraduate and graduate students who have financial need will qualify.
Federal Loans. You also have the opportunity to borrow money from the government in the form of subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans have a maximum amount determined by your school, and cannot exceed your financial need. The federal government takes care of the interest on these loans while students are enrolled at least half-time and for six months after graduation. Unsubsidized loans do not have a financial need requirement. The amount borrowed is determined by the school you attend, but it means you can borrow more than what you may need. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest while you are in school. Both loans have a fixed rate interest for the life of the loan.
Tax Incentives for Adults
Do you know that you can write off your college tuition on your taxes? Tax Incentives are an extremely valuable way for adult learners to recoup some of the cost of earning a degree.
American Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit allows you to write off up to $2,500 per eligible student. Adult students can write off $2,500 for themselves and for a child if needed. You can take this credit once per year as well, meaning you can save $10,000 on a four-year degree. You can also get a sizable refund for your taxes. If your tax credit brings your owed taxes to zero, you can receive up to $1,000 of the remainder as a tax refund.
Lifetime Learning Credit. This tax credit allows you to write off up to $2,000 in qualified education expenses. This credit does not require you to be enrolled for at least half-time as a student, a significant benefit for those taking occasional courses.
State Level College Tuition Tax Credits. Many states support adult learners by offering tax credits on tuition paid out of pocket. You will need to determine your state's policies before tax season arrives. The amounts are typically smaller than the American Opportunity Tax Credit but can be used alongside the federal credit. New York and Kentucky are two examples of states that have such a tax credit.
Scholarships for Adults
There are a lot of scholarships available to students of every background. Adult learners seeking to complete or start degrees will also find scholarships readily available. Here are a few helpful tools to use when searching for possible scholarships:
Department of Labor Scholarship Database
College Board Scholarship Database
CollegeNet Scholarship Database
If you want to go back to college to finish a degree or begin one, don't let the cost deter you. Help is out there. The many grants, scholarship, loan and tax incentive programs available make it easier and more affordable than ever.