Be a Return to College Student

Grant Sources, Tips, and Strategies

Many former college students never finished their degree and are now wishing to return to university to complete that unfinished business. Many graduates would like to advance their careers with a second or third degree to add to their accomplishments. With advances in technology and changes in the business world many adults are opting to return to college for retraining to make them more competitive in an ever changing job market.

The numbers of adults wishing to return to college is constantly growing, and grant programs designed to encourage and support those adult students is growing along with them. Within this broad category of grant aid is a diverse array of students, all with particular needs:

  • Adults changing careers
  • Minorities
  • Women trying to re-enter the workforce
  • Professionals returning to school for advanced degrees
  • Displaced workers eager for advanced career training.

If you're a returning college student you likely have some experience already with higher education. Perhaps you have an Associates degree, a Bachelors degree or even a Masters. Re-entry into the college world can be challenging and grants can help support your dream of advancing your education or your career.

return to college

College Re-entry: The Bumpy Ride

Adults who have been out of the college scene for any period of time face a number of challenges when it comes to planning a return to the hallowed halls of higher learning. There are now children and spouses to consider. Financial and work responsibilities to meet while attending classes can put a strain on the family as well as the family pocket book. Adult students are likely out of practice navigating the financial aid and admissions processes and the return to college may begin to seem daunting.

The college experience for new students as well as returning adult students requires work and determination, but the rewards make it all worthwhile.

Aid for Returning Adults from Colleges and Universities

Many colleges and universities sponsor grants for returning students. Colleges are eager to diversify their student body and adult students fit nicely into that mix. You will need to do some research. The first step is to contact local and/or in state colleges and universities and inquire about any programs specifically targeting returning students.

Here are two examples of the type of grant programs that may be available to you from colleges in your area:

  1. The William E. and Phoebe B. Clark Scholarship provides financial aid to non-traditional students who demonstrate the requisite financial need and are enrolled at Michigan State University. The award gives special emphasis to single parent and widowed applicants.
  2. The Bernard Osher Reentry Scholarship Program is designed to benefit returning students aged 25 – 50 undertaking studies to complete there degree. The Osher foundation administers this scholarship to students attending any one of 83 college and universities across the country, including Arizona State, Boston University, New York University and the University of Miami.

Women and Minorities: Return to School with Lucrative Grant Funding

Many organizations offer grants and scholarships designed to encourage and support women and minorities who wish to return to college. Minority students face many more challenges when returning to college. Beyond any financial disadvantages women and minorities face social battles, personal career restrictions and family responsibilities that may severely limit their chances of returning to college.

A few of the more notable grants available to returning women and minority students include:

  • The Jeanette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund provides educational grants to women over the age of 35 who wish to attend college for the first time or as returning students. Financial need and motivation are chief qualifying factors.
  • The American Association of University Women sponsors more than 250 fellowships, grants and other financial awards to first time students as well as returning students hoping to pursue a higher education.
  • The United Negro College Fund offers annual grants and fellowships to adult African American students returning to school to complete the college degree.
money for students returning to college

Federal and State Grant Funds

The U.S. Department of Education offers a number of Federal grants to college bound students of all ages and circumstances. Many returning students will qualify for one of the Federal financial aid programs such as the Pell grant or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or FSEOG.

State funded grant programs often include targeted grants for returning students to help them advance their job opportunities with retraining courses or secondary education programs. These include displaced worker grants as well vocational and trade school grants. To find out if your state is sponsoring any of these grants you should check out the states authorized government web site.

As with all Federal and State grant programs the first step is to fill out and submit the FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Federal government offers many incentive plans for students of all ages and no returning student should dismiss the possibility of securing a grant from the government for their college expenses.

More Tips for Finding Grant Sources for Returning College Students

  • Many communities have thriving Community Foundations. These organizations offer various types of financial support to local residents, including grants and scholarships. Even if aid is packaged into a few hundred dollars, it's well worth your time to explore.
  • Local professional unions and associations often maintain funding for members of trade associations—these could be a solid source.
  • Local and national women's clubs, minority organizations, the VFW, the Elks Clubs and more.