Adult and Continuing Education

"Adult and Continuing Education" submitted by SchoolGrantsfor Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 8th August 2011

Assistance for the non-traditional student (in terms of financial aid) works basically the same as for any other student. Clearly, however there exist certain nuances and considerations that can not be overlooked. Some examples might include, studying less than half-time and special scholarships for the adult learner.

For the most part, continuing education students seem to need reassurance that achieving their goals is possible. That notion is shared by all students and isn't any different when you choose to enter college as an adult for the first time or whether you are going back to college. Is it possible? Can I pull it off? Will I be able to keep up? and, most importantly, Can I afford it? are all questions you will find yourself asking. I can speak from experience when I tell you that it is possible and you will do better than you expect. Truth be told, non-traditional students outperform their college-aged counterparts, hands down. So, with that out of the way, what do you really have to worry about?

Well, you wouldn't be here if financing your education was not a concern. Sure, you may be financially more capable of meeting educational costs now that you are established... you are established and earning a decent income aren't you? No? Well, that's okay too!

A wise person once said, "when in Rome, do as the Romans." What that means to you is that you need to apply for financial aid the same as everyone else. If you qualify, you can take advantage of the same opportunities presented your younger counterparts.

The first step is filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. I strongly encourage you to file online using FAFSA on the Web. Aside from the basic programs offered by the federal government, you may be surprised to learn that there exist other programs to help you meet your college costs. Private (or independent) colleges often offer institutional grants or scholarships, some states also offer grants. Check with your local department of labor to learn about vocational educational grants and opportunities. Also, don't forget to avail yourself of the many free scholarship search services on the internet.

Finally, take a realistic look at what you wish to achieve, how much it will cost and how much you can afford to pay out of pocket. Once you have that basic snapshot of your goals and finances, take the time to sit down at your kitchen table and plan a budget -- whether it's for yourself or your entire family. Look for areas where you can make sacrifices. Do you need HBO? Do you need to have all your shirts laundered? What about call waiting? What about cutting back on utilities? There are tons of areas in your personal finances that you can optimize in order to save a little extra cash for college. It can be done.

One last note, read. I mean it. Read everything the college's financial aid office sends you. Be sure to complete applications as accurately as possible (call and ask questions if you need to) and be aware of filing deadlines. Deadlines are important because filing on time means that the financial aid office will be able to give you maximum consideration for all of its funding sources. Miss a deadline by a week and it could literally cost you thousands. Below are sites that further discuss adult education issues including financial aid. I hope you find them useful!