Many adults would like to continue their studies but never enroll due to the costs. Depending on the college and degree program, the average tuition in the US is more than $35,000 a year. Single courses can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500, while certificate programs are between $1,000 – $5,000.
Going back to school could mean taking on significant debt when you factor in household expenses and other financial obligations.
Although affordability is an essential factor to consider when continuing your education, there are ways to cut the costs. Continue reading for tips.
While not as prestigious as some of the country’s other colleges and universities, community colleges are an efficient option for individuals on a tight budget. Community colleges offer a variety of two-year degree programs and certificates for adults.
Tuition is often cheaper per semester, and opportunities for financial aid, scholarships, and grants are prevalent. Attending a nearby school can also save you money on commuting.
Another way to continue your education without breaking the bank is to consider an online program. These are colleges that offer opportunities for students to learn remotely. You save money on tuition and have an easier time balancing your work, home, and school life.
Whether you want to get something specific like an Arizona Teaching Certificate or a psychology degree, you can obtain it from virtually anywhere.
Federal Student Aid
The federal government offers financial aid and grant assistance to anyone interested in attending college. The amount you receive will depend upon your income, household size, and dependent obligations. Whether it’s a few hundred or thousand dollars, it’s money you don’t have to repay. Apply here.
Employer Assistance: Tuition Reimbursement
Did you know that some employers will pay for you to go to college? While assistance will vary by company, some will offer employees all or a portion of tuition costs. Talk with your human resources department to find out the specifics on how to get access to free cash to go back to school.
If you have a retirement or pension account, you can borrow funds to pay for your continued studies. The eligibility requirements are minimal (if not nonexistent). Often the interest rates are lower than other loan options, and the payments are deducted from your check.
If you are going to borrow funds from your retirement account, there is something you must remember. You must repay the loan in a timely fashion to avoid getting penalized on your taxes.
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you could pay for college and write the tuition off on your company taxes. Of course, this is only possible if the degree aligns with your business. For example, if you get your MBA, it expands your knowledge of managing a company.
Therefore, the degree classifies as a business expense. The write-off can reduce your tax bill at the end of the year.
Refunds, Lump Sums, & Gifts
When you receive large sums of cash, use the money to pay for college. Some examples include your tax refunds, annual bonuses, or monetary gifts you receive for special occasions.
Colleges are aware that tuition is expensive, which is why they offer payment plans for students. The arrangements break the balance up into installments, making it easier to afford. Contact the admissions department at the school you’re interested in attending to find out what payment plans are available to students.
If you can pay monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually, it would allow you to incorporate the payments into your budget.
If you believe that continuing your education will help you advance in life, don’t be afraid to make the investment. Sure, the cost of college, educational courses, and certificate programs in the US is expensive, but there are ways to lighten the load.
The tips listed above can help cut the costs of going back to school so you can pursue your dream without going into debt.
Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.