Financial Aid for Adult Education
There’s no doubt about it, cost is a factor in any decision to go back to school. But don’t assume you can’t afford to go to college or get more training! There’s a lot of financial aid out there to help students—including adult learners—pay for higher education. You just have to know where to look.
SOURCES OF FINANCIAL AID FOR ADULT EDUCATION
There are many possible sources for financial aid for adult education. These may include:
- Grants (state, federal, and institutional)
- Scholarships (those administered by VSAC and those from other organizations and agencies)
- Federal work-study program
- Federal education loans (Direct, Perkins)
- VSAC's Vermont Advantage Loans
- Home equity loans (depending on your financial situation)
- Loan forgiveness programs
- College savings/investment plans, like:
- The Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan (VHEIP) administered by VSAC
- Individual Development Accounts through community action agencies
- The PASS program through Social Security
- Tuition reimbursement through your employer
- Getting a job at a college (graduate assistantships, residence-life jobs, other employment that may provide tuition remission)
- AmeriCorps/Vista awards
- Veterans' benefits or scholarships for members of the armed services
- Vocational rehabilitation funding
- Reach Up/PSE program
- Funding through the Vermont Department of Labor (Workforce Investment Opportunity Act funds, Trade Adjustment Act funds)
- Alternative ways to get college credits, like:
- The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
- The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) for Service members and Veterans
- Assessments of Prior Learning (when a college gives you credits for learning and experiences you've gained through work, other studies, or military or community service) and other portfolio classes offered by colleges
Keep in mind that financial circumstances among adult students vary a lot. So you need to consider which options might be right for you to help pay for your education. And we can help! Schedule a meeting with a VSAC counselor >
TIPS FOR GETTING FINANCIAL AID FOR ADULT EDUCATION
The financial aid process may feel overwhelming, but if you take it 1 step at a time, it’s fairly simple and straightforward. These tips can help:
- Meet with a VSAC counselor for help with planning your educational path — and how to pay for it. Schedule a meeting with a VSAC counselor >
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the form that the federal government, state agencies like VSAC, and colleges themselves will use to make decisions about any financial aid you may receive. It's free — and it's the only way to get federal financial aid! Learn more about the FAFSA >
- Figure out how much you'll need to pay toward your education. This Financial Aid Budget Worksheet can help you plan based on your "expected family contribution" (the amount of money you will be expected to be able to pay toward college or career training). You'll also receive your expected family contribution (EFC) in your FAFSA results.
- Ask your school's financial aid office to look at special circumstances that affect your ability to pay for college. For example, if your current year income will be significantly less than your income on the FAFSA, request that the school use current year income to determine your eligibility for financial aid.
- Promptly answer all requests for more documentation that your school or VSAC may need to keep your paperwork moving through the process.
- Keep a signed copy of your federal tax returns and W2s in a place where you can access them for your school and VSAC. If you misplace your tax return, go to www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript to request a tax return transcript for your records.
- Be sure to renew your financial aid applications every year. And don't forget to save your FSA ID. You'll need it every year you're in school.
- Read everything before your sign! If you have questions, talk to someone in the school's financial aid office before you sign.
- Check with your school for extra planning help. Many schools offer a checklist to remind you to do everything in the admissions and financial aid process. Check out this example from CCV.
These tips can help you get back to college or get the training you need. There’s also a lot you can do to make sure you succeed once you get there! Check out our steps to success for nontraditional students.