Paying for College as an Adult: Financing Options

You haven't finished college and have been working for years. Now it's time to complete your bachelor's degree or earn a graduate degree. The good news is that financing options for adults returning to school are available. Although scholarships and grants are frequently based on financial need, adults returning to school may qualify for federal and private student loans. Your school's financial aid department can help you determine eligibility for student loans and financial assistance programs.

Financial Aid Department and FAFSA

Contact your school's financial aid department to learn which options may be available to you. In addition to federal and private loan programs, you may qualify for additional aid based on your academic performance, major and community or industry-based programs for students majoring in specific disciplines and professions. Ask about financial aid programs for nontraditional students, which is a term used to describe college students over the age of students typically attending college. Private and public schools recognize that adults returning to school face challenges such as balancing work and family time, and also face additional responsibilities when attending college while raising a family.

Your school's financial aid department can also help you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. According to the U.S. Education Department, the FAFSA is a universal application used to determine eligibility for private, federal and local student aid programs. The Department of Education advises students not to pay for completing a FAFSA or other student aid forms; the FAFSA form is available free of charge.

Employer-Based Financing Options for Adults Returning to School

If you're pursuing a degree related to your career, your employer may provide educational assistance. These programs typically require that you complete a degree or certification program with a minimum grade point average. Check with your company's human resources department for details. Your supervisor may also know if taking classes or completing a degree program can be connected to your career plan.

Career-related scholarships and grants may also be available. Check with your school's financial aid department and professional associations related to your current line of work to learn more about financial aid and student loans.

Student Loans: Private and Public Options

You can apply for public and private student loans using the FAFSA form. Check with your financial aid advisor to determine which federal direct programs and private education loans are available. You can also ask your bank or financial institution for information on education loans. Education loans are also available online; request multiple loan quotes for review and compare education loan options and terms.

Federal student loans are available without extensive credit requirements; private lenders may have more strict credit standards. Your financial aid advisor can direct you to financing options for adult students that are best suited to your circumstances. While federal student loans are easy enough to get, requirements for loan forgiveness are strict and are not generally eligible for relief through bankruptcy court.

Private student loans may offer preferable interest rates based on your good credit and may be discharged through bankruptcy if you cannot repay your student loans. When shopping for student loans for adults, private lenders may offer a wider range of options if you have established good to excellent credit.

Congratulations on returning to school! Let us find you a lender so you can focus on your studies.

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