If you’re considering going back to school but are concerned about paying for college, you may be pleasantly surprised by the number of financial aid options available to you. Pairing federal and private financial aid with cost saving methods like transferring online courses can help you finance your education and drastically reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
In this post, we’re offering up some of the best resources for learning about your aid options. Check out the links below for information and tips on filling out the FAFSA (yes, adult students are eligible!), applying for scholarships, and transferring low-cost courses to accredited degree programs.
- The U.S. Government’s Student Aid website provides important federal aid information for prospective, current, and past students and their supporters. Consider this your one-stop-shop for FAFSA answers: you can find forms, deadlines, information about required loan counseling, and more here.
- Though the US. Department of Education’s Financial Aid Toolkit is primarily intended for counselors, adult students can benefit from the resources offered here, too. Check out the “Learn About Financial Aid” section for information about types of aid, the FAFSA process, and loan repayment basics.
- If you’re a counselor or mentor, stay up-to-date with FAFSA student resources by signing up for alerts about federal student aid products, services, professional development opportunities, and tips for student outreach.
- Data hungry? The U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center offers school-specific financial information, including school costs and post-graduation salary ranges. If you’re not sure what school is right for you, give the Center’s College Navigator a try to search schools by location, major, degree, and more.
- Filling out the FAFSA can be confusing, but the National College Attainment Network’s FAFSA Completion Resources can help demystify the process. The FAFSA Resource Library offers links to crucial information about deadlines and helpful tips for completing the form.
- Financial aid distribution is tailored to each student’s specific situation, but occasionally an important aspect of a student’s situation might be overlooked. If you feel that an oversight of some sort has negatively affected your aid eligibility, consider submitting a financial aid appeal letter. A successful appeal can help you ensure that your aid package offers you the support you need.
- Scholarships can be an excellent source of financial aid, but if you’ve never applied for one before, getting started can feel intimidating. The Scholarship Academy offers a wide range of resources, including a scholarship workbook, to help you submit competitive applications.
- Not sure where to look for scholarships? The College Board’s Scholarship Search can help you refine scholarship options by criteria like your educational status, type of award, and affiliation information. While you’re there, check out the College Board’s Opportunity Scholarships for chances to win scholarship money by preparing for college.
- If you’re looking for even more scholarship resources, try Scholarships.com. Their comprehensive database not only allows you to sort scholarships by state, degree, employer, and more, but they’ll also provide your information to colleges, which can help them reach out to or recruit you.
- Transferring low-cost courses into your degree program can help you save thousands of dollars without the hassle of applying for financial aid or scholarships. StraighterLine offers more than sixty general education courses starting at $59 that are guaranteed to transfer to more than 150 partner schools.
If you started college but didn’t finish, you may also want to see if your region or state offers any programs to help you complete your degree. Programs like Compete LA and the Community College of Denver Academy can help you make the most of your existing credits and get your education back on track.
Planning a financially savvy return to school can take some work, but using the resources above to combine different types of aid can help you finish your degree with as little impact on your financial health as possible.
Anissa Sorokin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator at Stevenson University near Baltimore, Maryland. Anissa’s interdisciplinary background and extensive experience teaching research, writing, and study skills help her demystify college expectations for students online and in her classroom.
Looking for more ways to save on your degree? Consider taking a StraighterLine online course, starting at $59. Courses have been accepted for transfer at over 2,000 colleges and universities. Start a free trial today!