The Cost of Going Back to School as an Adult

"When Colleen O’Bryant pivoted from her job as operations manager at an insurance firm to start her own business as an herbalist, her training came with a steep price tag," The New York Times reports. 

"Ms. O’Bryant, 40, didn’t make any rash money moves, however. She and her husband budgeted for her education, and she took the necessary coursework over a five-year period.

Career shifts like Ms. O’Bryant’s typically require a skill boost and a sizable tuition tab that can be tough to fund, and an increasing number of workers are facing that reality whether they’re heading back to school to follow a passion or out of necessity.

In the United States, 16 million to 54 million workers may need to switch occupational group by 2030, and they will need to learn new skills or increase their level of education in order to find work, according to a recent McKinsey Global Institute Report.

...  For many adult learners, though, student loans may be the only resource. There’s no age limit for a subsidized financial aid, and part-time students are also eligible.

The federal aid formulas don’t take into account home equity or retirement accounts. The amount a student qualifies for depends on factors such as your financial need, tuition costs and whether you’ll be a full-time or part-time student. The IRS Publication 970 is a comprehensive rundown of all the current tax benefits for education.

Noncredit professional certificates, though, do not qualify for federal financial aid, scholarships, grants or needs-based aid.

There are also tax breaks. Under the new tax law, for instance, student loan borrowers can still deduct up to $2,500 of the interest they paid directly from their taxable income. The Lifetime Learning Credit provides a tax credit of up to $2,000 to cover up to 20 percent of annual tuition, and students don’t have to be enrolled in a degree program. (The benefit phases out completely for married couples earning $132,000 and singles earning $66,000.)

With a low-interest federal Stafford Loan there is no age limit, and part-time students are eligible. For students pursuing an undergraduate degree, federal Pell grants are interest-free and don’t need to be repaid; the maximum award is $5,920 in 2018.

The I.R.S. website, the tax-benefits guide from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid and Finaid websites offer in-depth details. Private student loan options can be researched at Edvisors."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 6/6/2018

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