These days, the cost of higher education can be close to the cost of a new house, so if you’re planning to send your child or if you intend to go back yourself, you’ll need to do plenty of saving and lots of planning. Keeping spending in check is a good strategy to help save money for school, but there are several other ideas for financing education. This post will cover four sometimes-forgotten ways to afford higher education, including scholarships for military dependents, getting certification in lieu of or before getting a degree, attending classes online so you can still work while in school and going for shorter programs, like those that take a year.
- Scholarships are available for military dependents. If one or both parents served in the military, if your spouse serves or served, or if you are a military parent looking for ways to send your child to school, don’t overlook military dependent scholarships. Ranging from a few thousand dollars to full scholarships, these aid packages aim to assist families of servicemen and women in their pursuit of higher education. There may be additional requirements for eligibility; for example, some scholarships are for students attending specific colleges or universities. Others limit eligibility to certain branches of the military or to specific ranks.
- Will a certification course help you reach your goals? The way to your dream career might not be via university after all. Do some research into your chosen field and you may find that, depending on the profession you plan to pursue, a certificate is the only requirement to get an entry-level job in your area of expertise, and you’ll be able to work your way up from there. Even if you know you’ll need a bachelor degree or more at some point, perhaps a certificate now would allow you to earn more money at your current job and save up for your college tuition. Certification courses are much shorter than degree programs, can often be completed after working hours or on weekends, and generally cost much less than you’d pay for a semester at a university. Also, military veteran’s scholarships will apply to many certification courses, just as they will to university tuition and fees.
- Attend classes online so you can work at the same time. Online learning is here to stay. Advanced e-learning software and methodology makes studying for your certificate or degree over the Internet a hassle-free, timesaving option for higher education. The nature of online classes allows you to fit learning into your schedule on your own terms. While you’ll still have to pay for a quality online course, the money you’ll save by being able to earn money while you study will help offset the total cost, and you’ll also save on transportation and student housing costs. If the courses you wish to take are relatable to your current job, have a discussion with your manager or human resources department to see if your employer will be able to offset (or even, pay for) your online studies. Even if your company’s budget doesn’t extend to helping fund your courses, your manager may be able to help you arrange your schedule so you have more time to complete course work for assignment deadlines, for example.
- Choose a series of shorter programs. Slow and steady wins the race. If financial or time constraints make pursuing a degree unattractive or impractical at this time, talk to an academic counselor about following a series of shorter programs that would eventually lead you to the degree, or the level of demonstrated experience, that you’ll need to land your dream job and embark on the career you want. Depending on your individual goals, it could be wise to first complete some certification courses and then take a series of online or night classes that will count toward a two-year degree. From there you can go on to pursue a four-year degree.
About the Author: Kelly Novack is committed to educating individuals about the accessibility of education in the digital era. She is especially interested in distance learning tools and the growth and development of online courses in adult education.