Scholarships for non-trad or older students
February 20, 2021 11:34 PM   Subscribe

What do you know about them? Grants?

Friend is freaking out because covid postponed his college trajectory 1-3 years. He is wondering about the realistic possiblity for someone for scholarships for a BA in their early and mid thirties. Not incredible academic merit, but some previous scholarships and definitely hardwork. Decent GPAs, always.

Tried to mention many moving parts appearing in the land of academic and financial aid, he's still very concerned. He is not able to attend right now.

posted by firstdaffodils to Education (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The majority of financial help students actually receive comes from government sources (federal and state) and institutions themselves. With a few minor exceptions, external private scholarships don't offer the sums of money that make college affordable in and of themselves. Generally, whether public colleges are affordable depends on how generous the state they are located in is. Private college affordability depends much more heavily on how wealthy the institution is and how much they want a student like you.

It sounds like your friend has already started a college career that they have had to put on hold. The rule of thumb is that the best round of financial aid offers you can get from colleges is when you have no college credits and present as a conventional freshman. But that doesn't mean that transfer students get no financial aid, just that it can be much more variable and you might get less aid from some colleges than you would have gotten straight out of high school.

Every college will have a net price calculator, that gives an estimate of the out of pocket cost attending based on the particular circumstances of the student and the current financial aid policies of the college. These calculators are considered to be reasonably accurate, as long as there is no farm or business involved. They can see what they might expect to pay at any college they are interested in, so I would recommend looking at a few colleges (private and public) they could potentially attend to get a feel for the range of out of pocket prices and the extent to which loans could make up the difference.

One thing that may benefit your friend, is that their parents financial situation will have no bearing on financial calculations if they are over 24. Good existing grades obviously help with admission everywhere. At some places they will also give a financial advantage.
posted by plonkee at 12:38 AM on February 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Taking classes at the local community college to get an Associate degree, and then transferring to a lower tier (rather than flagship) in-state public 4-year college, is generally the cheapest way to get a degree without getting any grant/scholarship aid at all.
posted by plonkee at 12:46 AM on February 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Some companies offer tuition reimbursement. Alternatively, colleges and university frequently offer tuition benefits to their employees (e.g.)
posted by oceano at 1:47 AM on February 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have known people who were older students who got full-rides to private 4 year colleges. Their sense was that these small schools for whatever reason found them valuable to a college's diversity and student life, whereas large state schools are filled with non-traditional students. However, it was a socially isolating experience.
posted by Corduroy at 7:37 AM on February 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, if you get a regular job (not a student job) with many colleges and universities, you can get free tuition.
posted by NotLost at 9:14 AM on February 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I want to point out is that tuition assistance from an employer, including if that employer is the college/university itself, varies wildly. Many employers will not reimburse unless you can show that the education is related to your work; none of the universities I've worked for have provided 100% free tuition, just a few classes a year and again (one did offer reduced tuition). So I advise being very mindful when researching either of those options.

I researched this for a friend a while back and we found that some states offer grants for non traditional students. These aren't full rides and some are just a single award, but there are others that might be renewable. (The federal government also offers grants but the state ones were a surprise to me.)

If your friend is a returning student who plans to go back to their previous institution, their financial aid office might be able to give more specific guidance and even point out specific scholarship opportunities.
posted by sm1tten at 3:06 PM on February 21, 2021

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