Between making tuition payments and potentially bringing in a limited income due to your class schedule, enrolling in college or graduate school as an adult can feel like a burden. It doesn’t have to be, though, and furthering your education will almost always yield a better job or higher paying career once you’ve graduated. Follow these three pieces of advice to make the process easier.
Ask your employer: many employers, especially larger companies offer tuition assistance programs or tuition reimbursement either after a certain amount of time with the company, or with the commitment (and usually a contract) for a minimum number of years of service after you graduate. If you are planning on working throughout your time in school, this is a great way to lessen the burden of tuition.
Consider the payoff: Will a college diploma or an advanced degree yield enough of an income boost to repay loans or replenish your savings? Usually the answer is yes, but you need to crunch the numbers and figure out how much your degree will cost and what your likely salary increase will be. Make sure the cost/benefit analysis works out in your favor, and choose a major that is either versatile enough to qualify you for a job in many fields, or is specific to the job or career you are already in or are sure you want to have after you graduate. Consider this: people with a four year college degree earn almost $1,000,000 more over their lifetime compared to someone with only a high school diploma.
Are you covered: As an adult or graduate student, you’re unlikely to be covered under your parents’ health insurance, but you need to make sure you and your family are covered. If you are covered under your spouse’s employer, you’re set, but if you are unmarried or you are leaving a job with health coverage to attend school you need to make sure you’ll be able to get coverage either through an individual plan or a group healthcare exchange. If you can continue working while you pursue your degree, you’re likely to keep your health coverage. If you have to reduce your workload to part time to accommodate your class schedule, talk to your employer about possible options for continuing coverage.
Returning to college as an adult or choosing to continue your studies and earn an advanced degree is a major life decision, but one that has many advantages and payoffs in the end. Following these simple pieces of financial advice can help lessen the financial burden and increase your chances of success.