Going back to college as an adult can be daunting. But if you’re thinking of returning to school, you’re in great company! In fact, more than half of college and university students are over the age of 21.
Many adult, non-traditional students face the struggle of balancing family and work obligations along with taking classes. Because they are often the primary financial supporters for themselves and their family, the finances of a return to school can be one of the primary factors in determining when—or even if—a return to school is possible. Tuition just keeps going up. Forbes recently found that tuition costs are increasing “nearly eight times faster than wages did.” At times, paying for college can be as much a concern for prospective students as getting accepted by their preferred school or program.
Student loans are a key component to paying for college for most students if they’re traditional students starting after high school or non-traditional students returning as adults. But financial aid can be a different proposition for adult students. In order to qualify for most financial aid, students need to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you’re under 24 the year of the financial award, you’ll have to fill out your FAFSA form with your parents’ income information. If your parents are in better shape than you are financially, this can mean that you won’t qualify for the amount of financial aid your own income level might warrant. However, if you are able to fill out the form on your own, you may qualify for better financial aid than you would have as a traditional student applying with your parents’ information.
Along with the differences in how the FAFSA is filled out for some adult students, there are other dedicated programs for students returning to school that can help with living expenses and childcare as well. These programs are often intended for specific groups or for those pursuing certain certificates or degrees, but are worth investigating and considering for many returning students.
So is anyone too old for a student loan? The short answer is that, no, no one is too old for a student loan. Not only is no one too old for student loans, but they may also find themselves eligible for better financial assistance than they would have received right out of high school. The best thing to do is apply for the school or schools of your choice, fill out your FAFSA, and see what sort of financial aid package you receive.