Student Grants for Adults
The problem with older adults trying to find employment and why further education is needed
For many adults across the United States, finding a lucrative position after being let go from a previous career can be difficult. Many older adults trying to recoup from recessional job loss are finding that they are being passed up for positions, which are instead being filled with younger and more educated people.
While older people may have more hands-on experience than their younger counterparts, prospective employers tend to look at college level education that has been completed by the applicant above all else.
Why go to college?
It has been proven time and time again that those with a college education are able to go further in their career, not only in terms of compensation, but when it comes to job positioning as well.
The average person who has a college education can make on average a million dollars more in their lifetime than a person who doesn’t. More and more people, even after finding a job during the recession, are becoming underemployed. College or trade school graduates have a better chance at finding gainful employment.
I haven’t been in school for years; I don’t think I have what it takes anymore
One of the common issues preventing older adults who contemplate going back to school is a fear that they will not be successful. Many adults may have a limited amount of computer knowledge, which can be intimidating when faced with college classes that depend more and more on computers.
If computer training is required, public classes held at a local library or unemployment offices are very commonplace all over the country. These classes may cost very little or be completely free to the participant. Not only are basic computer learning classes offered, there may be other specialized courses available to teach the student how to operate office productivity software, such as word processing, spreadsheets, financing, as well as database upkeep and creation programs.
Depending on what the student wants to study during their collegiate career, students may have the option of taking computer online courses that they can work on from home. Online college classes can afford the student flexibility if there are hectic personal schedules involved and they cannot feasibly travel to or participate in a regular classroom environment.
Taking online classes can be more difficult for some, while others may find it easier to complete.
How do I apply for college or trade school?
The application process can vary from school to school. The best way to find out how to enroll is to directly contact the admissions department of any prospective school to find out what steps need to be taken.
Many students, regardless of age, can find it overwhelming. However, each college or trade school employs highly trained professionals to guide the student in the right direction when applying, in a step by step process.
It is important for the student to do a fair amount of research on the various schools available within their area. Different schools may have different programs, so it is important to have a goal set regarding the field of training a prospective student wishes to pursue and the amount of education needed in order to realize that goal.
Tuition costs should also be a factor when deciding on a particular school. Community colleges have gained a good reputation for providing quality education with minimal tuition costs.
A good portion of technical trade schools may also have transferable class credits that can be applied to other college institutions if the student wishes to further their education to the next level.
However, this also requires a little planning ahead because not all trade or community college class credits transfer and a student must ensure that the classes they do choose will transfer, if necessary. A college level student advisor will be able to assist students with making sure the credits they have will, indeed, be transferable to a traditional college.
Money is tight as it is. How can I afford to go to college?
Besides trying to fit college classes into their busy lives, adults looking to further their education often wonder how they can pay for it. Luckily, there are many options at their disposal when it comes to paying for their college tuition, books and other expenses.
Federal grants are among the most common and easily obtainable forms of assistance available for college students, regardless of age or background. The student must fill out a document known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before being considered for federal aid. The FAFSA form will ask the applicant numerous questions concerning income, dependents, the school that the student has enrolled in and other pertinent information needed to determine what type of, and how much, aid the student qualifies for. It is important for the student to check the deadlines concerning when the FAFSA can be filled out. Students who miss the deadlines may not qualify for federal student aid. Students who wish to apply online can do so by visiting www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Some of the most common federal grants are
- Federal Pell Grant: Most students in the United States qualify for this particular grant and students can qualify for up to $5,550 when in enrolled in college full time. Part time students may see lower awards, however, many factors are taken into consideration when determining the exact amount of federal monies that a student qualifies for. It is important for the student enrolled to meet certain academic standards in such areas as grades and attendance to qualify for subsequent financial aid disbursements. Many schools require their students to maintain a minimum grade point average in order to continue receiving financial aid.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: This federal aid grant is offered to students who have demonstrated the need for additional aid after exhausting all other options such as student loans, scholarships, and other federal grants. Students must prove that the costs of obtaining their education are greater than their ability to pay for it.
- TEACH Grant: Persons who wish to become a teacher can qualify for additional aid through the federal government. This award can provide the student who wishes to become a teacher with up to $4,000 dollars a year in financial assistance. Certain conditions may apply such as specific course enrollment requirements and all students must be within the 75th percentile on college admissions tests to qualify. Students who fail to comply with the requirements will be required to pay pack the grant monies.
State specific grants may be available as well. In order to qualify for a particular state sponsored college education grant, a FAFSA must be filled out by the student, just as when applying for federal aid. While both the state and federal governments use the FAFSA form to determine if a student qualifies for additional aid, the student must be aware of any state specific deadlines for filling out and submitting their FAFSA.
In many cases, the state may require the student to submit their FAFSA form weeks or even months earlier than the federal deadline. Some states may even have additional higher education grants available specifically for older adults. It is important for the student to check with their financial aid counselor to find out how to apply for specialized grants.
What about student loans?
Full time students can find it very difficult to make ends meet, especially if the student has the added cost of taking care of a family. Many students in the U.S. that enroll in low tuition schools, such as a community college, will find themselves with extra money available from federal and state aid grants, after fees and book purchases are paid off. This extra money available after disbursement can be used to offset a student’s living expenses.
In many parts of the country where day to day and monthly expenses are higher than average, it may be necessary for the student to apply for student loans. The student must carefully decide whether or not to take advantage of these loans.
The best advantage of utilizing student loans is the ability to defer repayment until schooling is complete. Subsidized loans sponsored by the federal government have the advantage of having the loan interest paid by the government during the time the student is in school, while unsubsidized loans will start accruing interest the moment payment is disbursed to the recipient.
If the student can effectively take on a part time job during their college career, they can avoid such added debt arising from student loans.
What about scholarships?
There are many different scholarship programs available to people of all backgrounds and ages. Various businesses have specific scholarship programs, as do many private organizations all around the country.
Many college students turn to the internet to find a scholarship program that fits their needs. There may be specific requirements that need to be met, such as age, height, and ethnicity. Certain areas of study and the location of the student sometimes directly affect the types of scholarships available as well.
Students that currently work for certain corporations may want to ask if their employer offers such opportunities as well. Many businesses have higher education programs that may pay partially, or even all, of a student’s education costs. Business backed education scholarships not only offer the student an opportunity to advance their education but can open up other higher paying positions within the workplace.
Students who have demonstrated exemplary grades and performance ahead of most in their class may qualify for scholarships sponsored by their schools. Students who desire to apply for these common school scholarships may need to compete for them by writing an essay or completing a project, while still others may be handpicked by the school.
What happens after college?
Now that the older student has completed their goal in gaining a higher education, finding a better job than the one that they once held or starting their own business with the proper training they have received is the next step.
No matter if the student’s goal is to progress in their current field of expertise or take on a completely different career than what they are accustomed to, past working experience, as well as the added benefit of a higher education, will allow the older college graduate to pursue more employment options than they could before. With an outstanding and consistent work history and the demonstrated drive to better themselves, older job seekers will have an advantage over the younger competition.