Young traditional college students are not the only scholars who have to worry about the possibility of mounting college debt. Nontraditional students are usually people from older generations who are starting or returning to school years after graduating high school. Since you are never too old to pursue a college degree, nontraditional students can make up a significant portion of the student body, especially in graduate level programs. While older students are usually wiser, there are still numerous tips that can benefit them.
- Take advantage of financial aid and other benefits. Doing research on available financial aid is important for all students, but many nontraditional students might not know that there are scholarships, grants, and loans available for them. In fact, some organizations may offer scholarships or grants that are exclusively for older individuals. Much like restaurants, colleges or outside organizations might offer discounts or aid for older individuals!
- Take a light course load. Getting into mountains of debt at an older age probably is not a great idea. If you take one or two classes a semester, you can lighten the financial burden college presents. If taking only one class means you can pay for all your expenses without taking out loans, then that might be the best option.
- If possible, try taking as many classes as you can at a community college or an online university. Usually, community colleges and online universities can offer classes at a more affordable rate than large state schools. In addition, many of the credits you take at a legitimate community college or online institution can be transferred if necessary.
- Use your work and/or life experiences to benefit your entire classroom (online or traditional). If many of the people in your class are fresh out of high school, you can serve as a great resource by providing them with life stories, advice, and so on. Remember, it is up to you if you will have a positive college experience or not.
You get out of college what you put in. Make sure you put in 100% effort and you will be successful regardless of your age. Do not let your age deter you from pursuing a college education! If you are an older individual and you are considering entering or going back to college, remember the above tips.
Snider, S. (2014). U.S. News. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2014/10/08/4-ways-older-students-can-avoid-student-debt.
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews