Financial Aid for Adult Students (Never Late to Learn)

 

Financial aid for education is no longer reserved for the young, the bright, and the poor. Greatly increased amounts of money are becoming available to the thousands of adults who are streaming back to the class room to upgrade job skills, complete a degree, change careers, or, as with many women, preparing to reenter the work force. Today, one out of every five adults is enrolled in some kind of post-secondary education or training program. One-third of all college students are over the age of 25.
Who is eligible for financial aid? According to a publication of the College Board, Paying for Your Education: A Guide for Adult Learners, “Your chances are good for some aid, even if your income is high… “But for most programs you do have to show financial need. Most money is available only to students enrolled in degree or certificate programs on at least a part-time basis. It is harder, though not impossible, to find aid for noncredit courses or for less than part-time enrollment.
Sources of aid
 
The best bet for many adults lies in the many thousands of special aid pro grams for adults that are designed to help special groups such as workers, women, tax payers, the elderly, the unemployed, or the handicapped. Most of these programs are not tied to financial need. They are flexible about the kind of courses that may be taken and about less than part-time enrollment. Examples:
Workers. Many employers make generous funds available to employees for education as part of the worker’s fringe-benefit package. Programs vary widely in the kind of education covered and the type of financial aid available, but many are very flexible. Only a small fraction of the available funds is used each year.
Women. Many colleges now offer special aid programs for women who want to enter or reenter the work force. A number of organizations such as the Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges, 1818 R St., NW, Washington DC 20009, provide information on national aid programs available to women.
Taxpayers. The federal government allows as an income tax deduction costs incurred for education needed to maintain or improve job skills in the taxpayer’s current job. A full-time student with a working spouse and children under age 15 may deduct expenses for baby sitting, nursery school, or a day-care program. Many states also provide some tax benefits for education expenditures.
Elderly. Several states allow adults: sage 60 or older to attend public colleges and universities free of charge or at greatly reduced tuition.
The federal government provides student aid. Policies for awarding aid are more restric tive than most special aid programs in degree of financial need required and kind of study programs covered. But many adults can qualify.
Most colleges and universities have financial-aid programs designed primarily for younger students, but increasingly they are being opened up to adults.
Save money by reducing the time it takes to get a degree and cutting expenses at the same time. Possibilities:
Credit by examination. Many colleges offer up to two years of credit toward a degree for successfully passing examinations such as those of the College Level Examination Pro gram of the College Board and the College Proficiency Examination Program of the New York State Education Department.
Credit for prior learning. Formal courses in the military service or in places of employment are being credited by a growing number of colleges.
Nontraditional degree programs are sponsored by many colleges and universities for both undergraduate and graduate students. They require only limited classroom attendance. Credit can be picked up through examinations and transferring credit from other colleges. They offer flexible time schedules too.

More information
 
For sources and a guide to organizing a campaign to obtain aid see Paying for Your Education: A Guide for Adult Learners, College Board Publications Orders, Box 2815, Princeton, NJ 08541.
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