The following is a guest post by Pamela Rossow.
So you’re a parent who believes that the most important job title you could ever be called is “Mommy” or “Daddy.” However, you would like to make more money or change careers to increase your job satisfaction. Maybe you’ve recently divorced. How might you accomplish your employment goals? What about going back to college as a nontraditional student? Here are 4 tips for financing your college education:
Financial Aid Help for Parents Headed to School
FAFSA. It is not a grain. Instead, it could be your ticket to financial assistance. In order to be eligible for any type of federal student aid, you must fill out the FAFSA form. You’ll typically be asked for information such as your income and how many children you have as well as other pertinent facts. Remember, you should never pay a fee to complete the form. Check out the government’s Federal Student Aid site. Parents, you usually may begin filling out your FAFSA beginning on January 1st every year so as soon as the application is available, get started. You want to maximize your chances for receiving financial aid and a completed form submitted early may increase your odds.
Federal aid. There are various forms of federal financial aid for those who qualify such as work-study programs—where you work part-time on a college campus to help cover tuition costs, Pell Grants—need-based funds that don’t require you to pay them back, or state grants—money that could be available for low-income students. Probably the most important aspect of being awarded any type of federal financial aid is ensuring your FAFSA is filled out in full and early.
Private aid. Private aid could be available in the form of grants or scholarships to those who qualify. Both grants and scholarships may provide additional funds to supplement federal aid. However, with grants, you typically must fill out a FAFSA while it is not usually necessary when applying for scholarships. Private organizations may fund various types of need-based or merit-based awards. Some foundations even give scholarships for uniqueness like Hispanic descent or being over the age of 35. Depending on the award, you may need to maintain a certain GPA or enroll in a specific number of classes. You may search for scholarships on sites like scholarships.com, along with tracking down online degree programs on eLearners.com.
Career funding. Some financial awards could be directly linked to your career interests. For example, the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship is geared for women intrigued by computer science while the American Association of University Women may grant financial awards to women who have their bachelor’s and who want to re-enter the workforce or advance their careers. If you are already working full-time, be sure to check with your employer to inquire if your company offers any tuition reimbursement.
Being a parent and going back to college may seem overwhelming. With the right tools, though, you could discover an exciting new chapter in your life. In addition to acting as a role model for your children by earning your college degree, you may also be fulfilling a lifelong dream of graduating from college.
About the author: Pamela Rossow is a freelance writer who works with higher education clients such as eLearners. She is a native South Floridian who enjoys photography, literature, and hockey. You can follow her on Google+.