Going back to school as an Adult Learner? What you need to Know

Going back to school as an Adult Learner?  What you need to Know

1. Where do I even begin? I haven't attended any type of post-secondary education before and I am not sure how to pay for all of the associated costs.

Step one will to be fill out your FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This document helps your particular school figure out the amount of financial assistance available to you. Now is the perfect time to make a budget. Use some free budget tools to help you start planning for college. Lastly, contact the financial aid offices at the various schools you are considering to discover information about different deadlines, applications and other options.

2. I was laid off from my job recently and am looking at returning to school to retrain and further my education. What resources are available?

There are many resources to choose from. Note the question on the FAFSA regarding if you are a dislocated worker or not. Answer this question "Yes," if you meet the criteria. Find out where the office that administers the WIA or Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker Program is located in your city or state. This office varies in each state; however, locations such as Job Source and Job Service are common participants.

3. Currently, my student loans are in default. Is it possible for me to return to school and receive additional financial aid?

It is important to contact your student loan lenders. In general, you will need to make six on-time, consecutive, full, voluntary payments unless your outstanding loan amount is fully repaid. You will need to make arrangements to make the repayment plan to return your defaulted loans into good standing before becoming eligible once again to receive federal financial aid.

While you are in the process of restoring your loans to repayment status, you will have to check with your school to see if it will set up a repayment plan for you if you wish to attend school during this process. Every school has different criteria. You will have to check on this before enrolling to discover your options. This is a great time to apply for any scholarships that you are eligible for.

4. My home is going through foreclosure. How does this process affect my chances to be approved for a student loan?

As long as you meet the eligibility criteria and file the FAFSA, you will qualify to receive a Direct Loan. When you apply for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan or a Direct Subsidized Loan, your credit is not taken into consideration.

5. I have kids and am a single parent. I do not have the funds for daycare to attend school. How can I make this situation work?

Certain schools offer on-campus daycare facilities for their students. While you are looking into the admissions process, check on this daycare option to see if you need to get onto a waitlist. There are also online classes that may offer you the flexibility you need to take certain classes from the comfort of your home. Certain states offer agencies that will help to cover the expenses of daycare during your class hours. Again, check with your school to see which type of specific resources may be offered. Discuss your situation with the financial aid office about adding dependent care expenses such as daycare costs to your budget. This may be an option to have financial aid help cover the cost.

6. How can I get to school if I don't have any form of transportation available?

There may be public transport options depending on the size of your school and its location. Some programs are available in certain states that offer gas money to students. Look into taking some classes online if this is an option. If you are enrolled at least half-time, the budget used for calculating your financial aid eligibility will include a transportation allowance.

7. Paying my rent has become more difficult. Are there any rent programs to help me cover the costs?

Look into different options from your local housing authority. There may be low-income housing considerations and their availability is located under Section 8 of housing vouchers. Certain campuses offer family housing and resident halls which can be helpful to paying rent and making college more affordable. There is a housing allowance included in your financial aid budget that may be used to help pay rent expenses.

8. My recent income tax return reports that I made more money than the amount I will make when I go to school. Is it possible for my current income to be used to determine my financial aid?

Contact your financial aid office as soon as you realize that your income will be reduced once you start school. They may request documentation for the income change to properly estimate your financial resources for either the calendar or academic year. The financial aid office will likely require this information to calculate your financial aid eligibility.

9. I have filed for bankruptcy. How will affect my financial aid eligibility?

Luckily, bankruptcy will not impact your financial aid eligibility. There are different financial aid programs including the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, Unsubsidized Loans, Direct Subsidized Loans and Federal Work-Study are given based on financial need. Credit standing is not taken into consideration.