You want to enhance your skills by completing a professional development certificate or you would like to finish a college degree. Or you've been laid off and need to retrain for a new career. Once you've decided on your goal, the next step is determining how to finance your education. Though you may have to foot at least part of the bill yourself, financial aid can reduce the amount you'll have to pay.
You want to enhance your skills by completing a professional development certificate. Or you'd like to finish a college degree. Or you've been laid off and need to retrain for a new career. Once you've decided on your goal, the next step is determining how to finance your education. Though you may have to foot at least part of the bill yourself, financial aid can reduce the amount you'll have to pay.
Tax benefits and other resources
Federal education tax benefits, such as the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit or a tuition deduction, may save you money at tax time. Some adult students may also be eligible for military service benefits, AmeriCorps education awards or funding for students with disabilities.
If you're working, you may be eligible for educational benefits, such as tuition reimbursement. Many employers provide some help for employees taking job-related courses.
Contact the financial aid, admissions and student services offices at the institution you plan to attend for information about scholarships and grants for adult students. Also, look into religious, community and professional organizations, and corporations that offer scholarships.
Traditional financial aid
Federal and state programs are important sources of financial aid. These include Federal Pell Grants and Minnesota State Grants, which are awarded on the basis of need to students of any age who are enrolled in their first undergraduate degree or certificate program. Adults returning to school for a second bachelor's or a graduate degree can apply for low-interest student loans.
To apply for these programs, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is the form that all colleges and universities use to determine eligibility for federal and state aid, work-study and loans. Many schools also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for their own institutional programs.
Dislocated Worker Program
If you've been laid off through no fault of your own and you're eligible for unemployment benefits, you may also be eligible for help from the Minnesota Dislocated Worker Program. Information about the program is available at your local Minnesota Workforce Center or from an independent service provider such as the Teamsters Service Bureau (mntsb.org).
"Services are designed to help individuals get back to work as soon as possible," said Mike Powers, director of the dislocated worker program at the Minnesota Teamsters Service Bureau. Participants work one-on-one with a counselor to develop a plan for employment. Plans may include vocational counseling, job search services and training.
Dislocated worker funds can sometimes be combined with college financial aid awards like Pell Grants and Minnesota State Grants. To learn more about this, talk to the financial aid counselor at your college.
U of M Financial Resources Wizard: frw.cce.umn.edu/frwizard
Minnesota Office of Higher Education financial aid estimator: tinyurl.com/yksrh8g
Dislocated Worker Program overview: tinyurl.com/27kpeke