If you’ve already been through the annals of higher educations, the idea of pursuing any of the thousands of scholarships for college students out there can seem like an unlikely pastime. It’s true the most college financing scholarships are designed for first-time students, but that word ‘most’ should hold a lot of hope for those of us looking to return to school after a few years in the workforce.
Such adults almost always fall into one of two categories: people who simply want to improve on an existing skillset in order to advance further in their career, and people who need to retrain in order to get back into that workforce. In general, it’s the folks in that latter category that need help — common sources of student loans have already been exhausted, and many of them have no one with long-term financial security to act as a cosigner anway. Trying to get student loans without cosigner assistance is a real trial, especially if you have bad credit. Student loans aren’t exactly the best source of college financing in the first place — you have to pay them back, after all — you’re much better looking at scholarships. For college students past a certain age, scholarships can actually be easier to qualify for — the hard part is finding them.
Several states, most notably Arkansas and Tennessee, offer ‘lottery scholarships’ which almost anyone of college age can apply for and have a chance (literally) of winning. It’s not the most reliable source of scholarships for college, but if your state has anything like it, there’s no point in not applying. There are also several strong scholarships out there that refer to themselves as scholarships for “non-traditional students”; that’s a good place to start Googling if you’re unsure of where you’re getting your college financing.
Of course, most scholarships for college don’t intend to pay your entire tuition, so one thing that any adult can do to make the scholarships they do find more effective is to find a way to reduce tuition. Work study, obtaining credit for life experience, and committing to a longer, part-time course are all good ways to reduce your need for student loans, scholarships for college, and other college financing.
It’s easy for an adult to overlook the power of a scholarship notebook. Unlike a high school student, we’re not exactly used to putting in the kind of research and writing effort that a scholarship hunt really takes — but rather than thinking of it as a hardship, think of it as some of the most effective work you’ll ever do. After all, spending 100 hours obtaining $15,000 of scholarships means you just made $150 per hour — and that’s a far cry from whatever you made at your last job. Add that to the improvement to your income that comes from having a college degree, and you’ll quickly realize that scholarships for college are some of the best investments it’s possible to make — so get to it!