Cost 

Other Ways to Pay

You want to go back to school, but you’re not sure how to pay for it. There are more options than you think. Check these out:

Employer programs

Employers love learners because they make better employees. In fact, national companies like Walmart and Starbucks are offering tuition plans to find and keep loyal workers. Some of these programs, such as Godfather’s and Papa John’s, are open to part-time as well as full-time employees who have been with the company for as little as 30-90 days.

“Many Indiana-based companies also offer education benefits to employees, so when you apply for a job, always ask—even if you are applying for your first summer job. Cook Medical, based in Bloomington, has developed special programs to help employees earn certificates and associate degrees that will help them advance in careers there, or even earn a high school equivalency diploma.”

Trilogy Health Services, which operates senior living facilities and employs 8,000 people in Indiana, in June announced a new partnership with Purdue University Global that provides Trilogy employees with college credit for free. More than 1,000 of its employees around the region already have inquired about the program, and 160 have enrolled.

“This absolutely indicates that there is a hunger for more education that is flexible for adults, where they can work and provide for their families,” said Todd Schmiedeler, senior vice president of Foundation and Workforce Development at Trilogy. “We believe that we should offer our employees opportunities to grow without the burden of huge debt.”

Many Indiana-based companies also offer education benefits to employees, so when you apply for a job, always ask—even if you are applying for your first summer job. Cook Medical, based in Bloomington, has developed special programs to help employees earn certificates and associate degrees that will help them advance in careers there, or even earn a high school equivalency diploma.

Many companies also offer scholarships to employees and even their family members, so ask your parents or spouse if their place of employment has a program.

Sweat equity

There are ways to get started on a great future without a lot of money up front, but you’ll have to be more personally invested.

Military service has helped many Americans achieve their education goals and create meaningful careers in service to their country. Military tuition assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Each branch is different and has its own way of calculating and awarding benefits, but up to 100 percent of your tuition expenses may be covered in exchange for your service.

You can also prepare for military service and pay for college at the same time through Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs. Learn more about the military and educational benefits at military.com.

Service-year programs such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and Teach for America sometimes enable participants to get a free or low-cost degree as they work. Those programs also can qualify you for student loan forgiveness.

If you work in public service, then your student debt could be forgiven once you have made five years’ of loan payments. To qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you must work full time for a local, state, tribal or federal government agency, 501c(3) non-profit organization or be an AmeriCorps or Peace
Corps volunteer.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program offers loan forgiveness of up to $17,500 for teachers who work in a low-income school or educational service agency for
five years.

YouthBuild offers programs in Indianapolis and Evansville for young people ages 17-24 who have not completed high school. YouthBuild workers advance their education and gain construction skills by building affordable housing.

Scholarships

Not all scholarships are for high school kids. Your employer, county community foundation, and local college campus may have special scholarships for returning adults.

Ivy Tech, for example, has partnerships with more than 100 Indiana businesses and institutions through its Achieve Your Degree Program.

Look online at free scholarship search services, such as colleges.niche.com. Beware of scams that offer to find scholarships for a fee—real scholarships are always free.

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