College grants and scholarships can help pay for continuing education.
Funding your education is never easy, but it can be more difficult if you return to college later in life. You may have a mortgage to pay or a family to support. Many people assume they can’t afford to go back to school, but there are plenty of possibilities for tuition assistance—from government programs to continuing education scholarships—that can help make it happen. Options are available whether your plans are continuing education with online courses or attending classes on a campus.
[You can get ahead by documenting your experiences for college credit, too. It doesn’t cost a thing!]
401k or IRA
Retirement plans usually allow you to withdraw money for continuing education expenses. For example, borrowing from your 401k or withdrawing from your IRA. However, you should take into account the penalties and interests you may incur. It may make more sense to look into other options, such as a FAFSA school loan, financial aid package, or a college private loan. In many cases, the interest on an education loan will be less than the lost earnings from the retirement plan.
Continuing Education Scholarships
Too few are aware that college scholarships are available for continuing education online courses. You just need to know where to look. ScholarshipAdvisor is a free resource listing thousands of scholarships that could help fund your education.
Federal Student Aid
Did you know that The US Department of Education offers free college money? They provide financial aid that doesn’t need to be paid back. Grants are typically need-based, while scholarships are merit-based.
Employee Education Benefits
Many companies offer tuition assistance and professional development packages that can help finance your education. Check with your Human Resources department.
Various government benefits, loans, and education assistance packages can help you find money for college, and they may or may not need to be repaid.
More and more individuals are returning to school upon losing their job or because they want to advance their career. If your job was terminated you may be eligible for severance pay that could help fund your continuing education. It will depend on the agreement you made with your employer.
Tax Credits and Deductions
Education credits can make a difference at tax time and help compensate for the cost of continuing education.
Unemployment Compensation (UC)
Students may be eligible for unemployment compensation, but it depends on the eligibility criteria of the state in which you live. Check with your local Department of Labor, as eligibility varies from state to state.
The Department of Veteran Affairs offers a variety of education benefits programs, such as:
- The Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Montgomery GI Bill—Active Duty (MGIB-AD)
- Montgomery GI Bill—Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
- Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)
- Educational Assistance Test Program (Section 901)
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
- National Call to Service Program
- Veterans Retraining Assistance Program
You may be eligible for free grants for college and up to 100% in tuition assistance.
[Did you know your military experience can count for up to 70 credits towards an associate’s degree? Read more.]
What was your experience getting funding for college?