Technological change has increased the speed at which jobs become obsolete. As a result, many adults find themselves having to re-train themselves to maintain flexible career prospects. Finding money for college is more difficult for those going back to school than for those just entering. Many forms of undergraduate student aid are not available for adults who already have bachelor's degrees. However, resources do exist for someone looking to afford a second bachelor's degree.
You have fewer scholarship choices available to you if you already have a bachelor's degree. Mark Kantrowitz of FastWeb warns prospective students that government aid, such as the National SMART Grant, FSEOG grant and the Academic Competitiveness Grant, is not available if you already have a bachelor's degree, and many universities only offer undergraduate scholarships to new students.
Some scholarships are reserved for older students or students returning to school. They can come either from universities or other organizations. For example, the University of Maryland has a Returning Students Program that helps older students go back to school and gives merit and need-based scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000. The Datatel Scholars Institute also gives the Russ Griffith Memorial scholarship to students who have been out of school for five years or more.
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Even though it disqualifies returning students from many forms of aid, the federal government does give some tuition assistance to those going back to school. For example, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit gives all students up to a $2,000 reimbursement on qualifying education expenses. Older students are also disproportionate recipients of the Pell Grant. In its guide to education financing for older students FinAid noted that nontraditional students between the ages of 24 and 29 constitute 14 percent of the college population but received 20 percent of available Pell Grants.
As a returning student, you'll have to be diligent about finding scholarships for your bachelor's degree. MaryAnn Gelato of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill advises older students to file their forms early so they don't lose eligibility for what aid they already qualify for. She also advises students to contact the university they are applying to directly to see what aid opportunities are available to them. Often, university-specific scholarships are not available on scholarship engines like FastWeb.
- FastWeb: What Types of Student Aid Are Available for a Second Bachelor's Degree?
- University of Maryland Office of Financial Aid: Financial Aid for Returning Students
- Datatel Scholars Foundation: Russ Griffith Memorial Scholarship
- Internal Revenue Service: Lifetime Learning Credit
- Back To College: Scholarship Dollars for Returning Students
- FinAid: Financial Aid for Older and Nontraditional Students