Monday, December 7, 2009

College tuition resources essential for continuing education students

My colleague Steve Bird has discussed in the past that there are usually two primary concerns that emerge when we talk with current and prospective students: time and money.

Interestingly, it seems that almost all college students share these concerns -- whether they're considering an accelerated degree program, business school, an IT degree, online accredited degree, or a traditional degree program.
While it's a concern for all age groups, time and money are certainly an even greater consideration for working adults. Time, because many men and women might be completing a degree while

continuing to work full time, take care of children, and tend to the rigors of everyday life. Time tends to be even more stressful when you fall outside the traditional college age group of 18- to 24-year-olds.

Money is a concern because most people who decide to continue their education, or pursue a new degree, understand that it's an important investment. In fact, I would say it's the best way to unlock better earning potential for you and your family and find a career, not just a job.


But you have to find the money, plain and simple. I've put together a list of some of the resources available to students at any school (and some resources we offer exclusively at Peirce College).
  • How Much Continuing Education Costs: Before you consider any option, I recommend looking at how much your education is going to cost. Examine all of your options (online degree programs, part-time or full-time classes, certification classes, etc.). Remember, it's not just tuition you need to address, you also need to consider the cost of books, supplies, room and board, travel or commuting costs, online access, etc. There's a great resource called Financial Aid Facts that provides a helpful worksheet for estimating the total cost of your education.
  • Loans for Continuing Education Students: Once you've determined your eligibility for Federal and State aid, you should consider student loans. Your options include the Federal Stafford Subsidized loans, which are available to students enrolled for at least six credit hours per semester. Unsubsidized Stafford loans provide students that do not qualify for all or part of the Federal Stafford Subsidized loans the opportunity to borrow with a low interest loan. The Parent PLUS Loan is available for parents of dependent undergraduates, which allows parents to borrow up to the student's cost of attendance minus any estimated financial aid.
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement for Continuing Education Students: This is often an  overlooked area of opportunity for many students. A lot of employers provide tuition reimbursement. You should inquire with your employer to determine if such a program is available and how you can qualify.
  • College/University Scholarships for Continuing Education Students: Almost every school offers scholarship programs. In most cases, information and applications are available via the school's Web site. A variety of scholarships and applications for Peirce College can be found in our financial aid section.
  • College/University Grants for Continuing Education Students: Like scholarships, most schools also offer grants. It will differ by school, but in my experience, schools offer a variety of grant opportunities and outline these via their Web sites as well. At Peirce this includes our Protect and Serve Grant for first responders which includes: military, fire, police, EMT, and corrections officers, along with their spouses and dependent children.
Any school you consider can help you access and better understand financial aid and your eligibility. It's important not to get discouraged. Do your research, and be diligent in your application process. Doing so will mean finding the money you need to change your life!

In a future post, I'll talk more about how a bachelor's degree has a measurable impact on your earning potential.

I'm also happy to help any time! You can email me questions directly at LAGargiulo@peirce.edu.