Sunday, September 27, 2009

Making Ends Meet: Paying for Education

By: Anne Bradley

Description : Been stalling, trying to evade the question of further education because you are worried you can't afford it? That is responsible of you -- but it would be more responsible to take the time to learn what financial aid programs are available to you. In many cases you will find that there are scholarships, grants, loans, and employer-backed programs that will help you achieve your dreams without landing in bankruptcy court.

The big challenge is to learn what exists. To start, try checking with your local community college or university's financial aid counseling staff: many of these professionals can help you get a sense of the possibilities very quickly. Add in sound search engine skills and a good library and you will have already gotten a head start on the great challenge of finding financial aid funding.

Do not end your search there. Clubs, corporations, and private donors also can be considered. If you want to pursue this route give serious thought to paying for the use of a professional grant writer's database. These search engines can give you access to a degree of information not obvious to most students looking for financial aid. Consider a direct approach, also: if you think a particular group may be sympathetic to your goals a polite, professional, modestly worded query as to whether financial aid is available may just possibly get you that last little bit of funding you need.

The next step is to contact the specific schools and programs you are thinking of attending. You now have the primary ammunition to have a solid discussion about what options they provide. In many instances they will have options available to them through their own resources, as well as those presented by the sorts of mentors you have already considered. This is the point at which the pedal hits the metal. Coming up with a solid plan for financial aid with the institution you will attend is a vital part of the process of preparing for your education.

Keep in mind, financial aid is one of the most crucial aspects of school success for many students. Failing to put together a good, comprehensive plan for financing your education can place you in a catastrophic situation, with debts beyond your ability to pay and without the degree, certificate or license you need to get that income. So no guilt when you take the time to research this material: it can make or break your future, and the plans you make now can determine the success of your outcome.

Working out your financial aid is the best thing you can do to prepare for continuing education. You will be able to proceed without fear, dismay, or unmanageable debt, leaving you free to concentrate on learning, not on earningor on failing to earn while you complete coursework. When you know where the money is coming from you can relax and take joy in your academic progress, rather than being terrified that you are falling ever further behind on your finances.

Anne Bradley counsels adult students on online degree programs, financial aid, online college selection, and career choices.

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