Scholarships for Adults Returning to CollegeJuly 2, 2021
By Christy Bieber
Returning to school as an adult can be challenging both personally and financially — but it may be the right career move for you. Earning a degree can often improve your job prospects, boost your salary, and open up the door to advance in your current position or enter into a new career field.
However, one big obstacle is paying for the cost of an academic program, especially as college or graduate school can be very expensive. The good news is, you can explore scholarships for adults returning to school and grants to go back to school — neither of which need to be paid back.
If you’re considering becoming a returning student as an adult, check out some of the resources below to find scholarships for adults as well as information on other funding sources for furthering your education.
Examples of scholarships for adults
There are many different scholarships for adults who wish to return to school. Some examples you could apply for include the following.
Return2College Scholarship Program
The Return2College Scholarship Program runs annually and provides a $1,200 scholarship to returning students. To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be U.S. citizens or legal residents
- Currently attend school full time or part-time, or plan to do so within the next 12 months
- Be 17 years of age or older
- Provide a three-sentence summary about why they are hoping to earn their degree
The deadline for the next scholarship is September 3, 2021, and the application can be found at Return2College.com.
Ford ReStart Scholarship Program
The Ford ReStart Scholarship Program provides a scholarship that covers 90% of unmet college costs minus any other grants and scholarships awarded. Applicants must be:
- Residents of Oregon or Siskiyou County, California
- At least 25 years old
- No more than halfway through their educational program
- Pursuing an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree
- Planning to enroll in school full time
The deadline for this year’s scholarship has passed, but the scholarship is awarded annually. Up to 45 scholarships are awarded each year and scholarships are renewable. You can find more information on the Ford Family Foundation website.
The Arizona Business and Professional Women’s Foundation Scholarship
The amount of this scholarship varies. To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Be Arizona residents
- Plan to attend a community college in Arizona to advance their careers
- Attend at least one BPW event annually
The deadline for the Fall 2021 scholarship was June 18, 2021, but scholarships are awarded regularly, so new applications will soon open. The application can be found on the website of the Arizona Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.
Where to find scholarships for adults returning to school
As you can see, many of these scholarships for adults are local programs open to returning students who live in a specific area or who are pursuing a specific type of education. The good news is, there are scholarships and grants to go back to school provided by organizations across the country that you can take advantage of.
If you’re looking for scholarships for adults returning to school, the best thing to do is check out a few key resources to find ones that are a good fit given your situation. This includes:
- Your school’s financial aid office. Most colleges and universities provide information about both financial help the school offers as well as scholarships from third-party organizations. This is a great resource to start with, as you may find out about funds open only to students attending your program.
- Your employer. Some companies offer help to current workers who wish to further their education.
- Local groups you are a member of: If you are part of a labor union, church, professional organization or another group, it is possible they will provide scholarships or grant money.
- Online scholarship databases. These include the College Board’s Scholarship search, as well as sites such as Scholarships.com and Fastweb.
It is a good idea to check these resources regularly, as new scholarships for adults may appear that you could take advantage of.
What if scholarships and grants to go back to school aren’t enough?
Searching for scholarships for adults or grants to go back to school can be a very smart financial choice. That’s because these sources of funding do not have to be paid back.
Unfortunately, the reality is that there are a limited number of scholarships available, and there is often a lot of competition for them. It’s unlikely that most people will be awarded enough scholarship and grant money to cover the entire cost of their education.
The good news is, there are other sources of funds available. Returning students should complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal student loans. Federal loans have favorable rates, flexible repayment options, and options to pause payments during times of hardship. Loan forgiveness can also become possible for certain borrowers.
Returning students who exhaust their federal student loan options can also look into private loans, many of which currently offer low interest rates. While younger students often need a cosigner for private loans, returning students with established credit and careers may find it easier to qualify for these loans on their own.
For adults returning to school who already have student loan debt, it may also be worth looking into loan refinancing your existing student loans. This could make it possible to reduce the rate you’re paying on your current debt.