college, Divorce, Parenting, Single parent, Uncategorized

College and the Single Parent

You may be working full time and raising kiddos. After divorce, the drop in income may even force you to work two jobs. What about your goals? Just because you’re now the primary breadwinner, does not mean you should put your goals and dreams on a shelf.

Finish or start that college degree. The benefit of the time spent in school is just of fraction of your child’s life. Plus, the benefit of having a degree in a field that is in demand can increase your income. This may allow you to stop working multiple jobs.

How can I afford to go back to college? There are several ways to pay for school without getting into debt. It takes hard work, being organized and creative. Here are some ways to pay for college:

1. Grants. The FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) or known as Pell Grant. This most widely known and used grant is provided by the government for students within select income guidelines. This grant does require a student be enrolled a select number of hours per year and maintain certain grade points. I currently use a Pell Grant for my undergraduate courses and it basically covered my tuition 100%.

2. Scholarships. There are scholarships out there for everyone. Do your research and stay organized with due dates, essay requirements, and follow up. My college offers scholarships for single parents, and I qualified one semester for a scholarship that paid out $200. It may not seem like much, but every little bit helps. Start the process by checking online and through your college’s financial aid department.

3. Work Study. The FWS (Federal Work Study) Program provides funds for part-time employment to help needy students to finance the costs of postsecondary education. Students can receive FWS funds at approximately 3,400 participating postsecondary institutions. Hourly wages must not be less than the federal minimum wage. Find out more information here.

4. Tuition Installment Plan. This is basically an interest free loan on tuition from the college you are attending for that semester. I attend a community college to save money on my tuition. The financial aid department gives me the option of my paying off my semester tuition costs in a series of 4-5 monthly payments. This helps out immensely so you don’t have to scrounge up the money in the beginning of the semester. It usually only covers tuition, so you may still have to come up with money for books.

Speaking of textbooks. They cost a lot. When you can, don’t buy directly from the campus bookstore. The costs are usually marked up. Check out Amazon or Chegg.com. Chegg is great because they allow you to rent or buy textbooks. I like to rent my textbooks when I can, the cost is around $70 per semester, depending on the course. This works great for those elective classes you know you won’t take again.

The last thing I want to emphasize when going back to college is time management. Being a single parent, working and trying to go to college is hard. Being organized and setting a schedule is imperative for success. If the courseload is tough, break it down into weekly goals. Focus on each assignment, instead of reading the syllabus and getting overwhelmed. Give yourself rewards when you do well on assignments and exams. Have friends and family help out with the kids while you study. I usually work on assignments and study after my son goes to bed. This seems to help me focus. You just need to find a routine that works for you.

Are you a single parent in college? Have you been to college already and would like to share a few tips? Please comment below.

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