No age limit to apply to the FAFSA
Submitted by Perry L. Newell.
Let’s try a thought experiment: you’re over 50 and thinking about continuing your education – maybe to polish your credentials, maybe to pivot your career and pursue a second act, or maybe because of a layoff linked to a pandemic left you with little choice.
Do you think you are eligible for student aid?
Student aid is so associated with young kids straight out of high school that you might consider it a possibility. But that’s a mistake – because you are absolutely eligible.
“One piece of advice is universal: you should not assume that you are ineligible or think there is nothing for you,” “This is just not true.”
As a result, you should start where all the other students do: Complete the FAFSA. The free application for federal student aid (fafsa.gov) is the primary key to unlocking federal, state, and institutional loans and grants.
Here’s why it’s so important: People 50 and over in America are already struggling with massive student debt. They carry $ 349 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, or about 20% of the national total.
At an age when you should be starting to slow down and enjoy life a little more, additional debt can be a huge burden to carry. Any strategy to minimize these debt levels becomes even more critical.
When you think about how much you can afford, here’s a handy way to think about it: If the total student loan debt is less than the annual income, they can afford to pay off their student loans in 10 years or less. “If you plan to retire in less than 10 years, they should borrow proportionately less. “
How to start
Once you have completed the FAFSA, you will receive a package of loans and grants. One key difference from younger students: Anyone over 24 is considered “independent”, which means no parental information is required.
You can complete the FAFSA even during your current school year. If you have already registered and are taking courses during the 2020-2021 school year, you can still submit your application until June 30, 2021. Likewise, if you are looking at the fall and the 2021-2022 school year , the deadline is June. 30, 2022. The form must then be completed annually.
That being said, applying early is always the best strategy, as some student pots of money will run out. For example, Alaska, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Washington all grant state aid on a first come, first served basis until the money is used up.
If you are not happy with the help numbers you receive, you can always appeal. Since the income information is based on previous years, an appeal could be successful if there have been recent changes in your financial situation – a layoff due to the pandemic, for example.
You may have been aware of some changes to the FAFSA formulas, such as the replacement of the expected family contribution. But these shouldn’t change your thinking in the short term, as no changes will be uploaded until 2023-2024.
For mature students, there are a few things to keep in mind. Federal Pell Grants are only for the first bachelor’s degree. Therefore, if you already have a sheepskin and are pursuing a second bachelor’s degree, you would not be specifically eligible for the Pell Grants. For this reason, you may want to consider pursuing a higher education instead of earning a second undergraduate degree.
When it comes to loans, the limits are slightly different for older students: independent undergraduates have limits of $ 9,500 for the first year and $ 57,500 overall; graduate students have limits of $ 20,500 for the first year and $ 138,500 overall.
In addition to federal, state and institutional aid, you can also search for scholarships on our site www.educatingouryouth.org and other sites, some of which are specially designed for mature students. Enter your details and be matched with opportunities from its database of 1.5 Million Scholarships and Billions of Funding.
And don’t overlook tax credits, either. The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is valid for four years of graduate study, with a maximum annual credit of $ 2,500. Unlike deductions, which reduce your taxable income (and therefore your taxes), tax credits reduce your tax bill dollar for dollar. There is also the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, worth up to $ 2,000 per tax return, with an unlimited number of years.
Finally, check to see if your state offers financial assistance – almost all states do. You can find information about your state programs from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators – www.nasfaa.org/
Less is more
The main loan advice for mature students is to exercise caution. The idea of taking on new debt, at a point in life where you don’t have so much track to pay it off, should give you pause. Of course, federal student debt is discharged upon death or permanent disability, but that’s not a happy prospect either.
One suggestion: look at more affordable options like community colleges, which should reduce your financial anxiety. Some institutions have special programs for adult learners and reduced tuition fees. In fact, some even translate life experience into actual credits, which can shorten your time to graduation – Colleges that accept life experience as credits – collegecliffs.com/colleges-accept-life-experience-as-credits/
Or if it’s just learning that interests you, and not necessarily a full-fledged degree, many community colleges allow older students to audit classes for free based on availability.
At this age, if you’re preparing to retire or are already retired, taking on new student debt doesn’t make much sense. The key is to try to fund yourself as much as possible.
Number of initiatives and follow-ups …
Tina was a high school student where I counseled, she approached me and others to share her plan. She offered to contract and do an internship for a group of women in exchange for covering her university fees. Yes, Tina got her master’s degree in commerce and the group got a return on their investment.
The Funding College Project is a non-commercial activity and has been requested to provide individuals, organizations, newspapers and community bulletin boards serving the region with information on active awards, scholarships and sound advice.
Learn more: www.educatingouryouth.org