Last updated on June 5th, 2023 at 05:50 pm
If you’re a parent contemplating a return to college, a question sure to come up is “can I afford it?” For a majority of adults, the biggest barriers to returning to school are time, and probably most importantly, money.
Having said that, despite the high cost of college tuiton, books, and fees, heading back to school to complete a degree or earn an advanced degree is still considered a sound investment. Adults with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $1.2 million more than the median for workers with just a high school diploma.
However, for many people, working parents in particular, the biggest hindrance to obtaining a degree is the cost. If you earn enough or have saved enough to pay for advanced education, that’s wonderful. For most, though, borrowing money or seeking grants and scholarships becomes necessary.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few smart tips that can help you get a handle on your education expenses.
Returning to school? Here’s how to afford it:
Compare tuition prices
The cost of higher education varies from one college to the next, even if they’re offering the same certification or degree, so you’ll need to do some comparison shopping.
Are you looking to take in-person classes toward your business degree? Or, maybe you’re looking for a flexible online nursing program. No matter what your educational goals are, make sure to compare costs like supplies, books and tuition before choosing your school.
You’ll want to do some research about which majors or degrees might offer you the best earning capacity after graduation too.
Research childcare options
As a parent returning to school, there’s every likelihood that you’ll need extra childcare help, either while you attend class or when you need to study. Some universities have on-site childcare facilities that offer reduced student rates, so be sure to look into this.
But, if your college doesn’t have on-site childcare, don’t despair. There are other options to explore. Check out local daycare centers or family childcare providers in your area. Some may even offer flexible hours or part-time care to accommodate your class schedule.
Budget and save
To make sure you’re able to afford higher education, you’ll need to be proactive when it comes to household budgeting.
No matter how small or large your paycheck is, without proper budgeting, you won’t be able to set aside money for emergencies or cover worthwhile, but larger expenses, like college tuition.
Luckily, there are plenty of free resources and budgeting apps online that can help you manage your finances and set savings goals. So, don’t be afraid to try out a few of them to see which one works best for you.
Apply for scholarships and grants
Receiving scholarships can be a game-changer when it comes to funding your college education. Scholarships provide a fantastic opportunity to secure financial assistance that doesn’t require repayment.
These valuable funds may be offered by the university itself, and you’ll find many scholarships available through private organizations and local businesses too.
To uncover these opportunities, it just takes a little time and reserach. Use scholarship search engines like Fastweb, Scholarships.com, or explore the scholarship offerings available on your school’s website.
Apply for financial aid
Lastly, but most importantly, be sure to apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
All students should complete the FAFSA to learn about federal loans, grants, and work-study programs that may be available to them. This aid is income-based, but you might just be surprised at what’s available to you.
Since you can apply for free, be sure to complete and submit your FAFSA on time. Your school’s financial aid office can answer any questions about the form and how to submit it.
Returning to school is a worthwhile goal, and with these tips, you’ll be that much closer to making it more affordable. Do you have any other tips when it comes to paying for college? Leave a comment.