Financial Aid Resources for Adults Returning to School

How Adults Returning to School Can Apply for Scholarships

As technological advancements continue to impact the job landscape by determining in-demand or obsolete skill sets, more and more adults are choosing to continue their education. For some adults, this may mean enrolling in college for the very first time. For others, it means re-enrolling to complete a degree previously started, but never finished. Some adults head back to college to earn a second degree. Others aim to learn new skill sets altogether to make themselves more marketable to meet today's ever-evolving workforce demands. 

Enrolling in a career advancement program can prepare you for navigating unpredictable changes in the workforce by beefing up your credentials so you can better compete in an increasingly technical job market. When deciding to return to school, it is essential not only to research which programs will be most beneficial to your career trajectory, but also what financial assistance resources might be available to you to enroll in said program.

The logistical challenges to overcome as an adult returning to higher education can be overwhelming and oftentimes restricting. Adult learners already have a robust set of financial responsibilities, so the thought of taking on tuition payments as additional financial stressors can be intimidating. However, adults returning to college have the same federal financial assistance resources available to them as younger undergraduate students do, as well as additional scholarship opportunities and potential tuition assistance from employers.  


Where and How to Apply 

Federal Financial Aid for Adult Learners

Adult learners are equally as eligible to receive federal financial aid as younger undergraduate students are. Applying for financial aid is free at Federal financial aid comes in two forms: grants and loans. 

  • Grants are student aid funds that do not have to be repaid. Federal grants are allocated based on the student’s ability to demonstrate great financial need, and they do not require any additional applications from the FAFSA form. Grants are also available at the state level and can be found by contacting your state grant agencies
  • Loans must be repaid with interest, however, most loans do not have to be repaid until you have completed your degree.

In addition to supporting the typical costs associated with education, federal aid can also be used to supplement personal computer purchases, costs related to disabilities, and dependent care, which could be especially helpful for adult learners. The FAFSA needs to be submitted every year by the deadline. 

Private Scholarships for Adults Returning to College

While federal financial aid is a great resource to take advantage of, not everyone will meet the criteria necessary to receive assistance. Applying for a private scholarship is another helpful way to supplement the costs of your education because there are likely ones available that you meet the eligibility criteria for. There is a wide range of scholarship types out there with various specifications relating to your area of study, cultural background, the region you're located, what interests you may have, etc. There are also scholarships available specifically to adult learners going back to school. 

Peterson’s, an educational services company dedicated to furthering education, compiled a list of 15 scholarships exclusively available to adult learners. Doing your own research on private scholarships can be instrumental in cutting down your educational costs. The U.S. Department of Labor also provides a free scholarship search tool that can help you discover new opportunities, as well as filter out scholarships that you may be eligible for. 


Reducing Your Education Expenses

In addition to the federal financial aid and private scholarships available, there are further measures adult learners can take toward reducing their education expenses. Here are some supplemental considerations for minimizing the cost of higher education:

  • Employer Tuition Assistance: If currently employed, adults can inquire with their companies regarding tuition assistance or reimbursement options. 
  • Online College: Online college is typically a more affordable option and could be a more flexible solution in terms of working courses into an already busy schedule for adults managing work and providing care for dependents.
  • CLEP Tests: CLEP tests are subject tests offered through the College Board that allow you to receive college credit for demonstrating competency and proficiency in an area of study. 
  • Consider Part-Time Enrollment: A full college course schedule can be cumbersome and expensive. As an adult juggling many responsibilities, you may want to work toward your degree slowly by enrolling part-time. 
  • Financial Aid Consulting: Take advantage of the financial aid resources provided by the schools you are considering applying to. Consulting with a financial advisor can help you lay out all of your options to determine the most suitable plan for managing expenses.  
  • Military Aid: The training you received during your time in the Armed Forces may be transferable for college credit. Go to to find out more about grants and loan repayment options for military personnel.


Champlain College Online’s Scholarship Opportunities and Financial Consulting 

Champlain College Online believes that the financial burden of tuition should never be a barrier to those dedicated to furthering their education. This is why Champlain has made great efforts to make college as cost-friendly and accessible to adult learners as possible.

Champlain’s truED partner alliance offers reduced tuition pricing for industry-driven academic programs. Currently, 75 organizations are offering truED preferred pricing. 

Champlain College Online’s transfer credit team works to ensure that you get the maximum amount of credits from previous experiences and academic courses completed. You can find more information about Champlain College Online’s transfer credit opportunities here

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Champlain College Online

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