The following is presented for informational purposes only.
Once you leave school and join the “real world” of jobs and bills, going back to school becomes challenging. You need to find both the time and the finances to make it happen. Finding the time is a little easier, you can cut back on your social life and take classes nights and weekends. But finding the finances can be trickier.
If you’re thinking about going back to school and want to do it without breaking the bank, there are a few credible options that will help you be successful.
Know What You Have to Work With
The first thing you need to do is figure out how much you can afford and what classes will cost so you need to do some homework. Take a look at your budget to see where you can cut back or make changes to allow for money to put towards school.
Then look into your options, both online and at your local schools. Know what classes they offer that will put you on the path you want, figure out what it will cost you to take all the classes you want, and do some research on financial aid options for those schools. Before you can make a decision about how to pay for it, you need to know all the factors involved.
Talk to Your Employer
If your purpose for going back to school has anything to do with your current job, there’s a chance you can get your employer to kick in some of the cost. Many companies see the value of investing in their employees. If a new degree will benefit your company by allowing you to move up or expand the work you’re currently able to do, they may agree to foot all or part of the bill. Keep in mind that some companies won’t pay for your classes until you’ve completed them and received a passing grade so their payment would be a reimbursement. You’ll still need to pay for the class up front.
Look Into Other Options
Just like going to school the first time around, there are options available for grants and loans that are only for adults returning to school. Be sure to do your research and find some available help. Once you decide on a school, talk to the financial aid office and ask their advice. They are most likely aware of special grants and loans that you might not find on your own.
Dip Into Your Savings
If going back to school is going to help you financially in the future, using your savings can be seen as an investment towards a better you. If you’re unable to cover everything through your employer or through grants, you may want to consider using some of your savings to make sure you’re able to take the classes you need.
If all else fails, or everything else together isn’t quite enough, you can take out a personal loan. This should be a final option though as it will affect your credit rating and you do need to make sure you budget for the monthly payments. However, loans for educational purposes usually have a lower interest rate than loans for cars and debt consolidation. Of course, your current credit rating will have an impact on whether or not you can get approved and what your interest rate will be.
It is completely possible to go back to school without breaking the bank. Just make sure you do your homework and look at all options available to you before committing to one. And if you need help reviewing your budget, remember that MMI offers free one-on-one budget coaching 24/7!