When you choose to return to school, cost is undoubtedly a factor you need to keep in mind. But what specifically do you need to consider? Here are a few ways to keep the cost of education in perspective.
Consider Your Need vs. Desire to Return to School
First and foremost, when talking about returning to school, you should weigh the need for this move and your desire for it. If there are financial incentives to having an advanced degree at your job, the reward may outweigh the cost. Conversely, if you can move up in your organization without that education – and you have no desire to return to school – the expense may not be worth it. You should see value from your program of choice, but you should also want it to achieve your goals.
Look Into Your Company’s Reimbursement Programs
While it’s certainly not a secret that college comes with a hefty price tag, that’s not to say there aren’t methods by which you can cut that cost down significantly. One of those options is via your employer’s tuition reimbursement program. These programs vary by organization, but in short, these programs pay employees back based on grades achieved through their program or certification courses. It may be worth talking to your HR department and learning more about your company’s reimbursement program. It’s much better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, so definitely learn as much as you can before applying.
Don’t Discount FAFSA
Just because you aren’t a college freshman doesn’t mean there aren’t financial aid options available to you. So one of the first steps in your application process should be to submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
Explore Scholarship Opportunities
When applying to your program of choice, ask the financial aid office about any scholarship opportunities for which you may qualify. Additionally, look outside of your program for scholarships available to you elsewhere. Don’t pass up on that opportunity! You don’t have to pay scholarships back, and they go directly toward the cost of your education.
Consider the Need for Loan Co-Signers
If financial aid is the right choice for you, whether through federal or private student loans, you should consider the need for co-signers. As with all big financial decisions, everyone involved is impacted and should be brought into the conversation.
Paying for your education should always be a consideration in your decision-making process, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. These tips will help ensure the financial component is well within your range.