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How Can I Afford to Go Back to School in my 30s?

Are you ready to start your career or make a change to a new career? Don’t let your age, if you have a family and home, or money be the reason you don’t return to college when you are an adult. There is support available, you just have to know where to look. Changing careers and returning to school is a great idea, no matter your age.

Know your options

There are all types of education that can help you in your career path. At a community college, you can save money by taking two years of general education courses and earn your Associate’s degree and then transfer to finish your degree at a 4-year university.

You could learn a skilled trade and boost your earning potential. These programs will be one to two-year programs that prepare you for the workforce.

Continuing education is a third route that you may choose. These are short-term courses that give you skills to improve your resume, help you earn training that local business and industry professionals are looking for, and get you into the workforce even sooner.

Use your experience

Being in your thirties and going back to school, you have some real-world experience under your belt that students attending school right out of high school don’t have. You have the ability to manage your time and plan ahead. You are also at a point in your life where this is a goal you are choosing to pursue so your heart and mind will be completely invested.

Finding the funding

If you do choose to attend a community college there are scholarships available that can ease the pressure on your bank account. There are scholarships available depending on what programs you enter, what your outside interests are and even a scholarship that is specifically for students older than 25 or older and that have not attended college in the last five years.

This is the Returning to Learning Scholarship. The scholarship, available at both Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College, includes tuition for three credit hours during the student’s first term. This is a great start when you begin your education.

Gap Tuition Assistance

What is Gap tuition assistance? This assistance program is if you are pursuing an education in an occupation such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and transportation through continuing education. The program enables individuals to learn the skills to land a job in an in-demand field! Non-credit certificate programs are not eligible for federal financial aid, so this program bridges the funding gap for students pursuing short-term certificates.

You can receive assistance with your direct training costs including tuition, books, required fees, and equipment for approved programs. Assistance is awarded based on income. Awardees must also have the ability to complete the certificate and earn credentials as well as find and retain full-time employment.

Beyond the dollars

The strain of tuition, fees, books and other initial costs for your education is a concern but there are other factors that may be holding you back. Are you concerned about financial, educational, personal and career support?

Pathways for Academic Career Employment (PACE) program provides a Pathway Navigator to assist participants in their educational journey. This person will work with you to identify barriers to success and help you minimize these barriers by connecting the students to the appropriate community resources. They will also work with you to access available funding to assist with the cost of education. The Pathway Navigator will be with you through all the steps in your education.

Don’t let your commitments or fears of the cost stop keep you from pursuing your education. Use the resources available through scholarships, Gap and PACE to take the next step in your education today!

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