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Jeanne MooreReturning to School: Scholarships for Adults

by Jeanne Moore

Are you considering returning to school after a number of years, and financing your education with student loans? If so, please reconsider. Student loans, while there if you need them, are not a desirable option. Two, four, or more years of accumulated student debt are a heavy burden to carry, and could take years to pay off.

You may wonder, what’s the alternative? Scholarships. Yes, it is possible to get enough in scholarship money to cover your entire cost of attendance (including tuition, student body fees, books and supplies, meals and housing, as well as personal expenses).

There are many, many scholarships out there. It takes a good deal of work to get them, but it is worth it. Students who receive multiple scholarships apply for many more than they receive. You will get turned down for some, possibly a lot; but the more you apply, the more you increase your chances.

How does one find out about scholarships? There are several ways. First of all, every college/university will have a Web site and within that Web site, the school’s financial aid office will have a listing of scholarships. (For example, the University of California, Irvine financial aid resource center.)

Another way is to do a search on the Internet using one of the many free scholarship search engines. There are several large databases available with scholarships totaling billions of dollars, and you're bound to find many that will fit you.

Search on as many different subjects as you think even remotely apply to you. Start with “non-traditional students.” Included in this category are “adult learners,” meaning they are not right out of high school.. Next, what will you be majoring in? Whether it’s business, health care, education, theatre, social work, mathematics or any other major, chances are there are scholarships for your year of college. There are also scholarships for students attending vocational and trade schools.

There are many criteria you can use in your search. Write down all that describes you and your circumstances. Are you a woman, a single parent, or a member of a minority group? Do you have an emotional or physical disability? There are scholarships for people who belong to a certain religious affiliation, scholarships for tall people, scholarships for short people. athletic, merit, and state specific awards.

What’s your ethnic/cultural/racial background? Are you Asian, African American, Filipino, of Native American ancestry, or Hawaiian ancestry? Whatever your background is, chances are, there will be scholarships you can apply for.

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