Most school grants are geared towards the typical 18 – 24-year-old college student. For older adults who are looking to head back to school, finding grants is a little more challenging. They do not have access to high school guidance counselors who automatically deliver the FAFSA to them at the right time each year. For those who have never sought a college education, yet suddenly realize the need for one, finding grants for older students is a challenge. However, it is possible for the “non-traditional student” to find money to pay for college.
The problem, however, is that grants for non-traditional students are much less common than traditional student grants. They are becoming more and more available, but there are simply not enough to go around. Students who need grants to go back to school as adults will need to dig deeply to find them.
So if you are in this position, start looking everywhere you possibly can for grants. If you are pursing continuing education in your degree field, there may be state and local grants available for you. You may also be able to get some money from your employer, provided your education is going to benefit your company in some way. If you are pursuing a service-related career field, like education, find out if there are any grants being offered in return for working with underprivileged areas. These are quite common, and they do not discriminate based on age.
If you are going to attend a traditional school, not an online university, then you are able to fill out theFAFSA and apply for a Pell grant if you have enough financial need. You may have enough need, since you no longer have your parents’ incomes to declare on the FAFSA. As a single-income earner without a college degree, your financial hardship may be obvious on the FAFSA. However, keep in mind that these grants do put some restrictions on the type of school you can attend. You may also have to be attending on a full-time basis, which is not always possible for the adult learner who has outside responsibilities like a mortgage and family expenses.
The bottom line is that you have to be persistent. There is help available, but it will not be easy to find. Keep looking, get creative, but don’t give up. You will be able to find a way to pay for college if you look hard enough, so give yourself a chance to pursue that degree you have been wanting for so long!