An estimated 30 percent of the people attending college today are non-traditional students over the age of 25. Many of these adult students want to further their education in order to get better jobs, or advance in their careers. Earning degrees online in fields like health education, business management, and information technology is one way adult students can save money on a college education, but there are also other ways to help finance your education. Below are some tips to help adult students lower the cost of a college degree.
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1. Apply for Financial Assistance
You may be eligible for scholarships, grants, and other forms of college financial aid when you are applying for school which is why you need to fill out a free application for federal student aid, or a FAFSA form. Your income will be taken into consideration before you are approved for financial aid, so you will need to have your income tax documents handy when you fill out the form. Keep in mind that most schools award financial aid on a first come, first serve basis. Which is why you are advised to submit your forms as early as possible.
2. Take Advantage of Tax Breaks
You may be able to lower the cost of your education with tax credits like these:
- The Lifelong Learning Tax Credit is available to eligible adults who will be attending school part-time. This tax credit allows you to deduct up to 20 percent of the cost of your total educational expenses up to $10,000. The maximum Lifelong Learning Tax Credit is $2,000. Keep in mind that there are income limits that apply.
- The American Opportunity Tax Credit is available to eligible adults who will be attending school full-time. The maximum credit is $2,500 annually. There are income limits that apply for this credit also. It is important to note that you may be able to deduct the cost of your fees and tuition off of your taxes as well.
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3. Seek Employer Assistance
Be sure to notify your boss when you are applying to school as some employers are willing to help out financially to get better educated employees. Your employer may cover some of the cost of your education, and according to the IRS, “If you receive educational assistance benefits from your employer…you can exclude up to $5,250 of those benefits each year. This means your employer should not include those benefits with your wages, tips, and other compensation shown in box 1 of your Form W-2. This also means that you do not have to include the benefits on your income tax return.” Your employer’s educational assistance payment, however, cannot be a basis of other tax credits including those mentioned above. Visit the IRS Information Center online for more extensive information about tax benefits for education
4. Consider Online Programs
There are many schools that offer accredited online programs. You can choose to take some or all of your courses online. This can help you save a lot of money, but you have to make sure you have the time available to get all the work and homework completed while still going to work and caring for a family.
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Many adult students struggle to pay for their college education. However, you can cut the cost of your education with financial aid, tax credits, and employer assistance. You may also want to enroll in an online program.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance blogger and writer. She lives in Los Lunas, New Mexico and loves the outdoors. For more information on this article, educators and students getting University of Florida online health education degrees say using government grants and assistance programs is always a best bet for first time students.