Going back to school is a big decision, and it’s natural to have questions about how you’ll pay for it. With tuition costs rising every year, you might be worried about taking out student loans or dipping into your savings. But there are plenty of other options to consider. Here are six financial tips to help you make the most of your investment in your education.
1. Pick Your Program Carefully
When deciding where to go back to school, it’s important to choose your program wisely. Take the time to research the degree or certificate program that aligns with your goals, and compare the costs of different programs. You want to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to, but you also want to choose a program that will put you in a position to get a job in your desired field after you graduate.
2. Use a 529 Plan to Save on Taxes
If you plan ahead, you may be able to open a 529 plan. This type of plan allows you to save money on taxes as long as the money is used for educational expenses, such as tuition. The capital gains on the plan are not taxed, and you may even be able to save for your children’s future education using a 529 plan in their name. If you have questions about how you can save money on your taxes using this plan, reach out to an accountant for guidance.
3. Always Fill Out the FAFSA
Don’t assume that you won’t qualify for financial aid. Many people who never received aid in the past are eligible for financial aid from their educational institution. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) correctly, and have your tax return on hand when you fill it out. Follow up on the status of your application to make sure you qualify for as much aid as possible.
4. Talk to Your Family Members
Don’t be afraid to ask your family members for help if you need it. If they know you’re trying to create a better life for yourself and your family, they may be willing to provide some financial support. There’s no harm in asking for help, so don’t hesitate to reach out before you go back to school.
5. Explore Pell Grant Opportunities
A Pell Grant is a great opportunity for low-income individuals who want to go back to school. You could receive up to $6,895 in financial aid if you qualify. To apply, you’ll need to file an application and fill out the FAFSA. Keep in mind that you may be eligible for multiple forms of financial aid, so make sure you explore all your options. If you receive a Pell Grant, you’ll need to resubmit the FAFSA every year.
6. Look for Third-Party Scholarships
There are plenty of corporations and nonprofit organizations that offer scholarship programs for people going back to school. You may have a better chance of qualifying for a scholarship if you’re a minority, a woman or come from a disadvantaged background. Do a Google search or reach out to your local government to see what programs are available to you.
Final Thoughts on Going Back to School: Make the Most of Your Financial Options
Going back to school is an investment in your future, and it’s important to make the most of your financial options. Consider these tips as you plan your next steps, and you’ll be on your way to a brighter future.