Perhaps the most daunting part of going back to college is the bill that comes in. You might begin to question whether it is worth it or not – the answer is yes. Going back to college and getting a degree will end up helping you make more money, offsetting the cost of college. The easiest way to reduce the cost of college is to apply for financial aid to help pay for your schooling. Concerned about the cost of going back to college? Here are three tips to reduce the sticker price of a new degree.
Tip No. 1: Apply for financial aid
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is the total amount of aid you are offered by a school. Your financial aid package includes federal and nonfederal loans, grants and scholarships.
What kinds of financial aid are there?
Loans: borrowed money that has to be repaid. The loan amount, interest rates and repayment plans are determined based on a number of factors such as financial need, credit score and if a federal or private institution issues the loan.
Grants: Grants are federal or private funds awarded based on need or merit, but do not have to be repaid. Grants can also be from federal or private sources.
Visit our financial aid page to view loans and grants offered by South College.
When should I apply for financial aid?
You can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) as soon as January 1 of the year you will be attending college. For example, if you plan to start school in the fall of 2015, you will need to start your FASFA on Jan. 1, 2015, since most schools have a February 1 deadline for financial aid.
Dates to apply for private grants, loans and scholarships vary. The sooner you can start the application process for a private grant, loan or scholarship the better. Check with the institution offering the grant, loan or scholarships for exact dates.
I applied for financial aid…now what?
Now you wait. You’ll receive emails or letters confirming the submission of your application. Most colleges will have your completed financial aid package to you sometime in March. When you’ll hear back about the status of private grants, loans and scholarships will, again, vary by institution.
Tip No. 2: See if your employer offers tuition assistance
In addition to your personal savings, your employer might offer some tuition assistance for employees who go back to school. South College recommends that students check with their current employer about tuition assistance. It can take more than a year to line up support from your employer, so be patient with the process. If your workplace doesn’t offer tuition assistance, students may be able to negotiate alternatives such as time off or compensated time for classes, studying and travel. Talk with your employer to see what resources they offer to help further your education.
Tip No. 3: Apply for scholarships
Scholarships can be federal or private and do not have to be repaid, but can be awarded for nearly anything. Common scholarships are ones awarded for academic merit, sports teams or as a part of a high school activity.
South College does not currently offer any institutional scholarships. However, students may look for and apply for outside scholarships. Some websites with information on outside scholarships can be found on our financial aid page.
There are also a number of different resources for non-traditional students who are seeking scholarships. For example, the American Association of University Women offers a one-year grant to women seeking a degree to reenter the workforce or change career paths. The Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education offers a variety of scholarships.
For more information about financial aid offered at South College, contact us today!