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April 2011

(April 12, 2011) - covers different types of grants, their sources and how to apply for them. It organized this fairly complex subject in a way that's usable and easy to understand.

Financial Aid and Grants for Adult Students

By: Kevin Reno ( affiliate)

When most people think of a college student, they think of a young individual just out of high school or perhaps someone in the 20s or 30s, possibly attending as a graduate student. However, as the average age rises, economic forces create the need for job changes, and the world of education advances generally, there are greater numbers of adult or returning students on the college scene. These are individuals in more mature age brackets who are returning to school for degrees at various levels or even entering college for the first time.

These individuals often need financial assistance just as much as younger students. They may, however, encounter some eligibility issues since much of the time they work at jobs which put them in higher income brackets than the 20 somethings and high school students who are applying for scholarships and loans. The following are some ideas as to how adult students can go about finding grants, scholarships, and loans for returning to school.

Much of the time there is no particular age rage for a grant or loan. So technically many of the financial aid opportunities that apply to younger students apply to older students as well. In theory this may be the case, but in practice it makes sense to put a significant portion of your financial aid search efforts toward finding financial aid that is more specifically geared toward students returning students.

Ask your School Itself

One of the best places to begin looking for financial aid as a returning student is with the college itself that an adult student is either attending already or wishes to attend. Colleges have a lot of resources and have financial aid advisors that can fill you in on all the options. The school itself may offer scholarships, some of which my even be geared toward returning students or students in a specifically higher age bracket. Or the school may simply not base the award of a grant or scholarship on age criteria at all.

Federal and State Grant Programs

Two of the most major and well known federal grant programs are the Pell grant Program and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program. These undergraduate grant programs do not use the age of a student as criteria. Rather, they mainly use a student's income level to determine whether to award the grant and how much to award. So if you fall into the right income range there is a good chance that you, regardless of your age, may qualify for these grants.

There may also be grants available through your state as well that are either geared toward returning students or that simply do not use age as a criteria. This is state specific, so check with your state's department of education and consult your school as well to be informed about the opportunities that apply specifically to your area.

Private Scholarships

Private foundation, organizations, and even corporations nationwide offer all sorts of scholarship opportunities. They may base awards of scholarships on a number of criteria such as academic achievement, ethnicity, and financial need. And some use age range as a criterion, offering scholarships especially to returning students. If you look around you should be able to find some private foundation that do this. The internet has many search utilities that can search for specific types of grants and scholarships, and as noted your school financial aid advisor can fill you in here as well.

Ask your Employer

Many adult/returning students are employed at full or part time jobs. Employers may offer money to return to school for further training. So this is another important avenue to consider. Sit down with your boss or the person at your workplace that handles this and ask them what the opportunities are. You may be surprised by the amount of assistance that is available.


While loans, especially in these troubled economic times, are usually not the ideal financial aid solution, they can often be accessed by adult students and so can be considered as an option. You can consider federal loans like Stafford or Perkins loans as well as local or private loan sources. Generally these sources do not care about the age of the borrower.

Graduate Level Financial Aid

Some adult students may be returning for advanced degrees. Scholarships for graduate students are generally called fellowships. They tend to be based awarded for more specific types of graduate work such as focused study or research work. Again, the college itself is a good place to inquire about fellowships.

Professional Associations

For study and training in a specific field, professional associations that deal with that field are a good source of scholarship money. These organizations seek to advance the field with which they deal, so they are often happy to help individuals who want to return for further study and career advancement.

Between all the avenues and approaches, the chances are good that if you are an adult student, can find some significant financial aid, much or which may never need to be payed back. Go about it in an organized fashion and look at all the options. It's quite feasible as an adult student to get significant portions of your tuition covered this way.