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If you think it’s too late to go back to school, think again. According to The Atlantic, 38 percent of college students are 25 or older; a full one-quarter are 30 or older. Of course, wanting to return to college and actually doing it are two different things. Like many working adults, you’re probably unsure about whether or not you can afford to go. If you’re wondering how to pay for college as an adult, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you’re not out of luck, either. As it happens, there are plenty of ways to pay for college. With a little time, thought, effort and persistence, you can make it happen.

How To Pay For College As An Adult

Know What You Want

At this point in life, the last thing you want is to invest a decent amount of money into something that won’t net any returns. Therefore, have a clear objective in mind before taking the plunge. If necessary, consult with a career counselor to zero in on the precise degree program that will allow you to achieve your goals as quickly and affordably as possible. Paying for college is much less of a burden when that investment pays off in higher pay and better career opportunities.

Look into Tuition Assistance

Many employers are more than willing to reimburse some college expenses for employees. If you go this route, up to $5,250 of this assistance can be enjoyed on a tax-free basis, which makes it all the more affordable.

Trade Your Experience for College Credits

Many schools allow non-traditional students, including adult learners, to trade their skills and work experience for college credits. Every little bit helps, so be sure to explore this possibility. Also, if you’re wondering how to pay for college, College Level Examination Program exams, or CLEP, can make doing so more affordable. For a low fee, you can take and pass exams that help you earn college credits. Just make sure they are transferable to your desired program.

Don’t Forget Tax Breaks

Adult learning doesn’t have to break the bank. Tax breaks can help offset the cost of paying for college in a big way. For example, the Lifetime Learning Credit provides up to $2,000 in tax credits per year. Another option is to take the tuition and fees deduction, which is worth $4,000. Consult a tax advisor to determine which options are right for you.

Don’t Rule Out Financial Aid

Just because you’re an adult now doesn’t mean financial aid is beyond reach. Don’t assume you earn too much to qualify. When figuring out how to pay for college, many non-traditional students are surprised to discover that they qualify for a decent number of scholarships and grants. The biggest hurdle here is figuring out which ones will work for you, and that’s where a financial aid consultant can really come in handy.

Loans: Are They a Bad Idea?

Like most adults, the last thing you probably want is to take on a bunch of debt at this stage in life. However, according to The Atlantic, people with associate degrees earn around $141 more per week than those without them. Still, do not rush into taking on student loans. Do lots of research to figure out how your degree will enhance your earning potential. If you’ll qualify for better pay and better benefits, those loans could very well be a short-term inconvenience that helps you live a lot more comfortable later.

Figuring out how to pay for college as an adult can be stressful and confusing. However, the end result–possessing a degree that opens up exciting new career opportunities–makes the process well worth it in the end. Are you ready to find out how to pay for college? Contact a Point University financial aid specialist now.