Money Saving Tips to Fund Your Higher Education
If you’re considering going back to college to boost your credentials, you’re probably on the lookout for money-saving strategies. Here are dollar-stretching tips to keep you at the top of your class.
Fill Out FAFSA
If you’re looking to continue your education, your first stop should be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website. FAFSA requires your income, housing and tax information, so be sure to have last year’s tax return ready when you apply. Plus, most colleges and universities require that you complete the FAFSA to become eligible for other funding opportunities, including grants, scholarships, federal loans and federally subsidized work-study jobs.
Get Grants and Scholarships
While most grants and scholarships are directed at younger students, there are plenty of opportunities for older, non-traditional students as well. Websites like Scholarships.com and FastWeb can help you find scholarships based on your demographic characteristics, like age and location. You can also receive grants based on financial need, such as the Federal Pell Grant, along with merit-based grants.
Take Advantage of Employer Benefits
Before taking on debt from federal or private student loans, check to see if your current employer offers educational benefits. Some companies may help you cover the cost of your education — especially if your degree will advance your current career. Further, if you’ve served on active duty in the military for more than 90 days since Sept. 10, 2001, you qualify for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. Depending on how long you served, the military may cover your tuition and fees, while providing a stipend for your books, supplies and housing.
Look Into Low-Cost Programs
Depending on your career goals, current skills and employment status, you might qualify for free or low-cost courses. These programs run the gamut from counseling to computer programming. Furthermore, some states provide free or low-cost programs based on industry demands. For instance, Florida has a free program to help train registered nurses, while North Carolina offers its residents an education in pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields. With so many potential opportunities, be sure to check your state’s offerings.