The decision to pursue a degree later in life, after you have married and started a family and/or career, can be a daunting one. We, at Colorado Christian University, understand you may be filled with doubt, feelings of insecurity and even fear. Paying for a college education is often the greatest concern for all students, regardless of age, but if you do some investigating, you will find there are many sources of financial aid for adult students.
If you have decided to pursue a college degree in order to advance in your current career, change careers, or simply because you have always wanted a college education, there is no time like the present to begin the process of applying for admission and financial aid.
Keep in mind that Colorado Christian University offers online degrees, and thousands of students have earned Bachelor’s, Master’s and Associate’s degrees without ever having stepped foot on campus. If you are in your thirties, forties, or fifties, you will be amazed at how much more varied and extensive opportunities in higher education have become since you graduated high school.
Financial Aid Options
Here are some financial aid suggestions to get you started on the exciting journey of higher education.
The first step in the financial aid process is to calculate how much your education will cost, and as you do this, please be sure to include collateral expenses that will not be a part of your actual tuition bill such as childcare, commuting expenses, time away from work (if that is necessary), etc. If, like most people, you find that you cannot pay for your education out-of-pocket, you can begin looking into financial aid options.
First, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement (unless you’re leaving your job to attend courses). While there may be strings attached—promising to work for your company for a certain number of years after you graduate—employee-provided educational assistance (up to $5,250) is tax free even if the coursework is unrelated to your current position. IRS Publication 508, Tax Benefits for Work-Related Education will provide you the exact information you need to know. (You may need your accountant’s help with this one).
To qualify for federal financial aid, you will have to fill out a form referred to as FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon after January 1st of the year you plan to attend as possible. By calculating what is known as your “expected family contribution,” you will know if you qualify for financial aid. If you are married, your spouse’s income and assets will be calculated along with your own.
Types of Federal Financial Aid
- Loans: The Stafford Loan and The Perkins Loan are given to qualifying undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at least half-time (both have limits and must be paid back eventually).
- Military aid: Veterans and their dependants may qualify for this type of financial aid. Simply contact your local veteran’s office or CCU to learn more.
- Work-study: Both undergrad and graduate students may be eligible for work study jobs subsidized through the federal government.
- Grants: The Pell Grant and the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) are available only to undergraduate students and do not have to be repaid.
Financial Aid through Tax Credits and Deductions
- Hope Credit: Credit up to $2,500 per year for the first two years of undergraduate coursework for those enrolled at least half-time. There are income requirements that vary from year to year, so you will have to check on those for the year you want to attend.
- Lifetime Learning Credit: Credit of up to $2,000 per year for higher education courses taken over your lifetime. This credit cannot be claimed the same year as the Hope Credit—one or the other.
- Qualified higher education expenses deduction: If your income does not exceed $65,000 (single) or $130,000 (married filing jointly), you may deduct up to $4,000 as long as the tuition that is used to qualify is not the same used to qualify for the Hope or Lifetime Learning credits.
- Student loan interest deduction: If you have outstanding student loans upon graduation, you can deduct up to $2,500 of the interest you pay on the loans each year, but to qualify for the full deduction, your income must be below $50,000 (single) or $100,000 (married filing jointly).
If you have questions regarding how to apply for financial aid, CCU representatives are here to help. Please contact us today to learn more about financial aid options for adult learners.