Affordable Ways to Return to School and Improve Your Standard of Living


With all the competition in the workforce, adults are looking to return to school, again. Changes in technology encourage workers to reinvest in educational opportunities. Only through school can many gain a competitive edge and make more money. To improve the standard of living, it takes more training and promotions in a related field of study. For others who find themselves stuck in jobs that are going nowhere, career changes are needed. Whatever the reason for going back to school, there are affordable ways of doing it.

Define the Reason for Going Back

Before signing up for an advanced education degree, look at the reasons for going back to school. If it’s to keep up with technology, or to refresh skills in the workplace, selecting individual courses of study may be all that is needed. However, if looking to change careers, it may be necessary to take numerous classes. Ascending the corporate ladder (getting a promotion) may require a degree. Figure out what the intention of returning to school is and then plan accordingly.

Federal Student Loans

Student loans by the federal government are often the loan of choice for students fresh out of high school. That does not mean that adults cannot also benefit from them. Federal student loans provide low, fixed rates and offer income-based repayment plans. The loan is deferred while the student is still in school. For anyone looking to obtain a degree, a federal student loan may be the right choice.

Grants for Returning Students

There are many colleges that sponsor grants for students returning to college to complete their degrees. Contact the advanced education schools in your area to see if they offer these types of grants. There are also a few scholarship programs available for which returning students may qualify. Doing a little research may provide some financial assistance and save money on tuition costs.

Community Colleges

To save money while still receiving quality education, consider attending a community college. These schools are ideal for two-year programs to advance education while keeping the costs down. The class credits are often transferable to other colleges for continuing with degree programs. There are many community colleges in every state with all the tools needed for a two-year degree, or just for taking a few classes.

Night School

For those working full-time, night school may be a viable option. Individuals who prefer both the social aspects and the academic support of attending an actual school with a classroom should consider night school. Some of these schools also offer weekend classes, in addition to nightly, weekday schooling. Before signing up, think through all aspects of this type of schooling. After working all day, concentrating on academic studies may prove too tiring.

Online Schools

A more affordable, advanced education program for adults is to turn to online schools. There are plenty of online college programs available for far less in tuition costs than physically attending universities. Many of the online academic programs are just as rigorous as brick-and-mortar colleges.

One of the major benefits of attending an online college program is that students may study at their own paces. When juggling job, families and school at the same time, online programs will be the most beneficial. Rather than a rigid classroom schedule, students often can log in and study at any time of the day.

However, the disadvantage of online schooling is that the individual must provide the self-motivation to be able to study and do homework assignments. Questions must be presented when a professor is available online, rather than when the student has time.

If you are planning to use online schooling as a stepping stone to a four-year program or a master’s degree, make sure that the online school offers the programs you seek. Those planning to transfer school credits to another college need to find out if the online program can be transferred to the college of choice. It is not uncommon for a regular university to not accept the transfer of credits from other programs.

How to Get the Most From Advanced Education

Attending classes, whether virtual or physical, is only part of attaining the goal of higher education. Sit down and plan the steps to achieving that goal. Set aside study time and stay on top of homework assignments. Take advantage of educational resources offered by school programs. Developing a support system may help with personal motivation.