A good education, while expensive, is worth the investment. Fortunately, the advent of online education has made it easier for people to access the same quality of education in most good traditional schools without the added cost of moving, commutes and even course materials. But between saving up, and getting student loans and maybe getting a rich uncle to invest in your future, you can still find ways to get others to pay for your education: scholarships, grants and tuition reimbursement plans.
Scholarships and Grants
Despite the flagging economy, there are still scholarships and grants out there that can fund your education. Some may be able to foot the whole bill, some only partially. The beauty of scholarships and grants is that you can pick up several to mix and match to your requirements. Be prepared to do a lot of work. Each scholarship or grant has its own requirements. They can be based on race, income, occupation, military service, religious affiliation, the list goes on. You may need to furnish official proof of your eligibility, write an essay or two, do an interview or get a written reference from someone else. It will also take some time for the grantors of your scholarship or or grant to award the money, so start as early as you can. If you can get enough of them though, you may need to only pay a minimal amount out of your own pocket, or take out a small loan, so the work would be worth it. You can find a list of scholarships and grants on scholarship and grants websites. You can also check your local university or community college for listings of current scholarships and grants. Check with the financial aid counselor at the online school you would be attending to see if they have any suggestions for particular scholarship or grant programs.
If your field of study benefits your current occupation, you may be in luck. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for employees looking to develop themselves professionally. For the employer, an employee who’s willing to take on classes on their own to further their work skills is a good investment. Check with your human resources representative to see if your organization might be able to fund your education. They would be able to assist you with any forms and requirements needed. If so, it’s also important to find out how the tuition reimbursement program works. Just like the name suggests, it requires you to put the money up front for the education, and then later get reimbursed by the company. Would your employer reimburse you as you get your degree, or will they pay you back at the end of the program? How much are they willing to pay? What kind of documentation would you need to present in order to prove you’ve completed the courses? What if for some reason you had to drop out or delay the completion of your program? These are all questions that are important to answer. The good thing is that many employers who know about their employees’ intentions to better their skills are also willing to be flexible with schedules in order to accommodate the additional education.