A college degree leads to higher salaries and lower unemployment rates, which makes higher education an attractive option for anyone looking to make a career change. However, financing that education can feel like a full-time job. If you’re looking to go back to school so you can have your dream career, these four sources of funding can help raise the money you need.
Apply for Government Assistance
The best place to start your education financing journey is with Uncle Sam. The federal government offers some of the most generous funding, especially if your income is low. You may be eligible for grants, subsidized loans or a work study job at your college. The first step is to fill out an application form called the FAFSA, which can be obtained online or from your university’s financial aid department.
Use Your Military, Tribal or Other Benefits
Are you a military member, veteran, citizen of a Native American tribe or former foster child? If so, you may be entitled to special education benefits. Many military recruits consider the education bill one of the most attractive benefits of their service. Want to learn on your own schedule? An online university for military employees offers the ability to study whenever you want, and you can still use your education benefits to pay the costs.
Search for Obscure Scholarships
Are you left-handed, do you have red hair, and/or is your middle name Elizabeth? There might be a scholarship out there for you. Foundations often award scholarships for unusual, obscure and downright strange reasons. These scholarships are usually small, but every little bit helps. You can also finally get the recognition you deserve for your zombie apocalypse survival skills or that time you caught the Easter Bunny on camera. Websites such as Scholarships or Fastweb have a vast selection of scholarships so you can find what is right for you.
Carefully Consider Student Loans
Loans are a popular way to fund higher education, but they should be used with caution. If you qualify, federal student loans are your best option. They come with the option of income-based repayment plans and the interest is often subsidized while you’re in school. If you resort to private student loans, read the terms carefully. Remember, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy like other loans so you’re stuck with them for life.
If you find education financing an insurmountable challenge, don’t give up. Consider taking fewer classes and extending your graduation time or work an extra part time job to help pay for college. You can also look into less expensive options like trade school, community college or online school.
Bio: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.