February 7, 2012 5:30 PM Subscribe
How to go back to school full-time for only a year and a half--for free or close to free?
posted by primate moon to education (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am 51 years old. I have been only spottily employed for the last several years, and then only temping. I have two teen kids, and we receive some support from my ex-husband. It's enough for the basics (rent, food, etc.) but no extras, and we're just squeaking by.
Way back in 1981, at the end of my junior year, I flunked out of my large, private college; I had been severely depressed since my mid-teens and had no support (financial or otherwise) from my estranged father and alcoholic mother. Five years later, living on my own, I returned to our state school full-time while I worked full-time, and managed to finish two semesters before succumbing to depression again and leaving school. I had managed to get really great grades (dean's list!) for one semester, and pretty good grades the second.
Now, 25 years later, I have attempted it again, taking just one class at a time. I can't afford more than one class, even though it's a state school. I took one class last summer (aced it), but wasn't able to scrape together the $1500 necessary for a class in the fall or again this winter/spring semester. I'm really hoping I'll be able to get it together to take a class next summer.
The thing is, if I took classes full-time I have only 3 semesters to earn my bachelors. Going one class at a time, it will take me about 4 years, during which I can never be sure I'll be able to get the money together, semester-by-semester. Also, going one class at a time, I'm afraid it will be really hard to keep up the motivation to keep it up (motivation was always the first casualty of my recurrent depression). Also, I loved being back at school. Loved being in that academic atmosphere, loved the opportunity to use that part of my brain again. I would really like to go back full-time and knock that sucker out in only a year and a half. I know a bachelors basically gets you nothing, career-wise, but NOT having a bachelors REALLY gets you nothing. But I can't help feeling my options may open up a little. I've worked in crap admin jobs for the last 25 years, making very little, and bored out of my mind. I know a bachelors is not a magic key, but...
Using conventional financial aid (I used the FAFSA site and form), I am not eligible for any aid if I'm going only part-time. Just for kicks, I went ahead and applied as if I were going full-time, but I was eligible for only about a quarter of the money I needed (and my income is below poverty level). Does anyone know if there's any way I could get financial aid to cover all or most of the year and a half I would need?
I have been out of the academic/financial aid loop since 1978 (!) and have no idea how to go about getting money. I'm only aware of FAFSA and loans. Loans are way out; my credit sucks and I don't qualify; not to mention that I only finished paying off my original student loans from the late 70s just last year! I have some inkling that being an older single mother would appeal to some types of scholarship organizations, but I have no idea how to find out more. Any ideas? Or suggestions on where I can go to get some ideas? Thanks, all!