The Adult or returning student is usually defined as a student over the age over the 25. Are they too old to qualify for college financial aid? Not at all! While it is true than many scholarships are specifically reserved for graduating high school seniors, there are plenty of awards that do not have an age requirement. In some cases, the adult students may have actually an advantage over their younger counterparts. The trick for older students is to learn how to utilize the same resources as everyone else, and compensate for any opportunities lost because of age by taking advantage of their experience.
What is available for the adult student?
Most federal college aid programs do not have any age restrictions, although many adults may earn too much money to qualify for certain programs. Without question, begin your search by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid ). Even if if you think you will not qualify for federal aid, this is a necessary component of many scholarship applications and you will need to present schools with the results of this application.
Use online scholarship databases to find leads! The best is probably but there are others well worth your time. Hundreds of thousands of awards are listed in these search engines, and the search features are highly customizable to your situation.
Call your old high school counselor. He or she may not remember you, but don't think that just because you have been away for awhile that they cannot offer some good advice and a few leads.
Use your age and experience to your advantage. For example, do you have work experience related to your intended major? If so, then you are an excellent candidate for financial aid. Scholarship foundations try hard to give money to people who are likely to stick with their field of study. Relevant work experience shows you have a level of commitment to your field of study that no high school student can match. It can also give you a leg up in winning an internship or assistantship grant.
Your current employer may also be a usable resource, especially if you can make the case that certain classes will make you a better employee. Your boss may be willing to pay for a class or two, if it will help on the job. If you have been in the military, be sure to thoroughly explore the extensive college aid programs that you are probably now eligible for.
Above all, educate yourself on the entire college financial aid process. More aid is being distributed today than ever before, but it is also more complicated to find and win than ever. Knowing how to conduct a proper aid search is the key to success.
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