Grants for Older People Returning to College

When most people think of college students, they picture the guy or girl fresh out of high school, moving away from their parents for the first time, and starting on their path to adulthood. However, an increasing number of college students are falling into the category known as “non-traditional.” These students are older, may have taken a few years off after high school, may have full-time jobs, and may even have families of their own. The good news is grants for older people are available to help these non-traditional students cover their education costs, too.

Federal & State Options

The good news is that the Federal grant programs don’t have an age limit. As long as you qualify by attending an accredited college at least half-time and demonstrated financial need, you can qualify for the Federal Pell grant and possibly the supplemental grant, too. These grants can take a big bite out of the tuition you owe. Additionally, some state requirements for their grant programs would not disqualify non-traditional students either. By filling out the FAFSA, you can qualify for all of the available grants for older people available through the federal and state governments.

One benefit regarding these grants for older people is that students who are at least 24 years old are immediately considered independent so they no longer have to include their parents’ income on the FAFSA even if they still live at home. This can increase their eligibility for the grants and make their tuition more affordable.

grants for senior citizens in collegeOther Grant Possibilities

Two possible sources of grants for older people aimed at women can be found through the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and through Talbots Women’s Scholarship Fund. The former offers a number of opportunities for grants geared towards women who are over the age of 25 and who are going back to school to work on their careers. The latter offers $100,000 in scholarships annually to 55 women who earned their high school diploma at least ten years before entering college.

Grants for older people also include $1,000 awards given out through the Edward M . Kennedy Serve America Act. These awards are given to people over 55 years of age who contribute 350 hours of community service through the program.

Another possible source of funding for further education might be your employer. If you work for a large company, you might be surprised by the availability of educational assistance programs that pay a portion of your tuition usually on the grounds that you remain an employee of the company for a set number of years following the award of the funds.

People interested in scholarships or grants for older people can also sign up for one of the free search services online to help them find other available opportunities that might help them pay for college.

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  1. Gwendolyn C. Munson says:

    After graduating from CSUS, with a BA in psychology, I realized that I required more education in order to obtain a job that paid more than minimum wage. I set out with the intention of paying back my student loans as soon as possible so that I could continue my education. Taking commercial driving jobs, plumber jobs, and mental lhealth technician positions. All of which nearly cost me my life. Many companies assure you that if you do not like the product you can return it for a refund. Unfortunately the education industry is not so obliging. I have not held a positon that provided me with safe longevity that would have in turn given my an opportunity to make good on my loans. I can not even afford to leave the country. I am now at age 61 seeking a new career that would possibly give me the chance to come out of hiding, and debt free. I need a grant that could help me in my endeavors. I cannot apply for PELL, as I have already exhausted the funding. Where else can I turn for assistance.

  2. Dear Gwendolyn,

    Yes, I feel your pain. Too often, our world pressures people into investing heavily into higher education but fails to warn them of the realities – that there’s a big cost to pay and no guarantee for high paying jobs. I wish you the best as you explore options for what you should do.

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