by Willette Coleman ©2014
“Are there any scholarships for older adults who want to go back to school?” I get that question often. You’d be happy to know you could be eligible for state, federal, corporate and private organizations’ scholarships, or free tuition, to earn an undergraduate or Associate’s Degree, or a certificate, as I told listeners of “Part II – Learning Forever: Who else is Returning to the Classroom and How to Pay for It?” on the Sage-ing Baby Boomer Show.
Some individuals go back to school to gain new or update skills to compete in today’s job or business market. Others just like the challenge. Charlie Ball, an 89-year-old veteran, graduated from Arkansas Tech University in May 2012 (see video here). Whatever your reason, consider these scholarship (or free tuition) opportunities.
American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) – Community CollegePlus 50 Initiative. Over 130 community colleges across the nation receive grants from AACC to give scholarships to unemployed older adults to train and help them get back to work. If your school of choice isn’t listed on their website, contact AACC and ask if your school is eligible.
American-Opportunity-Tax-Credit You could claim up to $2,500 per year for tuition and other school-related expenses.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). THERE IS NO! AGE LIMIT to apply for -
Pell Grant: $555 – $5,550 for undergraduates who demonstrate financial need.
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: $100 – $4,000 for undergraduates with exceptional financial need.
Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Awards up to $1,000 to students age 55 and older for 350 hours of volunteer service can be used for your own education or transferred to your child, foster child or grandchild. On the website, click on “Get Involved,” select your state or jurisdiction, select the service you want to provide, and sign up.
Talbots Women’s Scholarship Fund awards five (5) $10,000 scholarships and fifty (50) $1,000 scholarships to women seeking an undergraduate degree. Check here for guidelines and watch their online video.
AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship Program. Low-income, 50-plus women can qualify for this scholarship for “education, training, and skills upgrades….” in any course of study at an accredited education institution or technical school. You might also qualify for another AARP scholarship which is offered through community colleges and universities that train mature workers in health care fields. For example, Anne Arundel Community College (Arnold, Md.) provides two free online webinars to older students interested in health care careers in the college’s “Allied Health Pathway for Encore Careers” initiative. More details here.
Emerge Scholarships are offered to “women whose educations have been interrupted, who have overcome significant obstacles, and who give back to their communities.”
Dr. Wynetta A. Frazier –Sister to Sister Scholarship annually allocates $500 to “two recipients, 25 or older, that are returning to college without the moral or financial assistance of a spouse.”
Jeanette Rankin Foundation Grants for Low Income Women provides “scholarships and support for low-income women, 35 and older, to build better lives through college completion.”
TheAmerican Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (AFL-CIO) Union Plus Scholarship targets adult members, spouses and dependent children. Awards range from $500 to $4,000. If you or family members are in a different union, talk to your union representative.
The AMVETS National Scholarship Program annually awards scholarships to veterans, their offspring including grandchildren of deceased veterans.
The AFCEA EducationalFoundation offers scholarships and training programs to individuals of ANY AGE who served in the military and are engaged in the “hard science” disciplines related to C4ISR [Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance].
COLLEGES and UNIVERSITIES
Contact the Financial Aid Office at the institution you choose and ask the Officer about
- scholarship opportunities for mature students,
- tuition and fee waivers,
- a reduced tuition rate for credit, or
- taking non-credit classes.
Also, check the Higher Education Assistance Authority in your state or territory (e.g., google Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority) to learn about more opportunities for mature adults.
GET COLLEGE CREDIT
Mature adults have mucho experience and skills that can correlate to any number of academic subjects. To shorten the number of subjects and hours you may need when you return to school, consider earning college credits for your life experience through the College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP), which is administered at more than 2,900 colleges and universities and costs $80.
Numerous companies, such as McDonald’s USA National Employee ScholarshipProgram that “selects one outstanding student-employee applicant from each state and the District of Columbia to receive a $2,500”, encourages returning college students. Their “McScholar of the Year” gets a $5,000 scholarship.
To find other businesses check here. If your company isn’t on this list, talk with your supervisor or human resources personnel. Ask about any age limit.
NOTE: Employers might stipulate specific criteria for financial education support, such as you agreeing to work for the company for a designated number of years after graduation. Others like The Target Tuition Reimbursement Program, pays “for job-related courses at accredited technical schools, colleges or universities. Operative words: “job-related”.
So, all you mature adults thinking about going back to school……GO FOR IT! The $$$ are out there!
Thanks for reading,
Magic, Miracles & Blessings,