Want to get a certificate or degree and enhance your skills to improve your career? Adults over 40 looking to move into a new career, make more money, or earn a promotion are looking to education as a way to improve their career prospects.
Navigating the financial aid maze can often be an overwhelming experience. We at LearningAdvisor.com aim to be your GPS and help you find the best learning opportunities while being financially responsible.
When it comes to borrowing money to fund your education for a degree or certificate, “Always borrow conservatively,” says Carrie DeCort, VP of Student Lending and Finance for Kaplan University. “Get very clear on the career path that you want and then research the anticipated income. The cost of this education should not exceed the first year of expected income,” she advises. Another rule of thumb according to DeCort is to allocate 10 percent of your monthly income to repay loans.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 22 percent of the 18 million undergraduate students in the United States are over the age of 30. And that number of nontraditional students is only expected to rise. Furthering one’s education also helps professionals earn more and avoid unemployment.
Follow these 6 tips to help you advance your education without getting buried by debt.
1. Financial aid begins with the FAFSA.
The “Free Application for Federal Student Aid,” or FAFSA, should be the first stop on your financial aid path. Before you hit the send button, follow these 7 Secrets to Filling out the FAFSA and be sure to proofread the form three times to avoid making mistakes.
2. Visit ScholarshipAdvisor.com.
Look for award money on our list of scholarships specifically for adult students. Also, many scholarships do not have age restrictions, so you can search for the best scholarships for your interests and background at ScholarshipAdvisor.com.
3. Draw moderate loans.
Take DeCort’s advice to heart and “borrow conservatively.” Only borrow what you need to fund your education, and set aside 10 percent of your monthly income to pay off your student loans.
4. Apply for the Kaplan University Life Reimagined 50/50/50 Grant.
To help you continue your education, Kaplan University is now offering a 50 percent tuition grant for students over 50 years old. Only 50 grants will be awarded to the first 50 eligible applicants who enroll. This grant is equal to a 50 percent tuition reduction for a master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree, or for-credit certificate from Kaplan University.
5. Research federal aid programs that do not have age restrictions.
The Pell Grant is only eligible for students pursuing an undergraduate degree. Federal Aid First offers a variety of resources to help you understand the various financial aid options available for college through the government. For adult learners considering college, visit the Adult Student Checklist as a helpful introduction to planning for college.
6. Get college credit for your life experience.
There are 37 million people with some college credits and years of experience but no degree. As more and more jobs require candidates to have degrees, the recognition of prior learning can give professionals an easier, more cost-effective pathway to earning a degree and potentially to better job opportunities. Getting college credit for your life experience could be just the leg up you need.