Adults return to school for a number of reasons, such as earning an undergraduate degree, seeking a master's or doctorate or changing career paths. Financial aid provides assistance so that you can pay for tuition and expenses and comes in the form of student loans, scholarships and grants. Applying and qualifying for multiple types of financial aid from federal, state and private sources increases your chances of being awarded assistance.

Visit the official Free Application for Federal Student Aid website to fill out a FAFSA form (see Resources). Create a login to fill in your application online or download a PDF copy of the form to fill out and mail in. Filing a FAFSA form allows you to apply for a student loan through the federal government.

Read through the FAFSA deadline requirements and send your loan application in before the deadline pertaining to the semester you plan on going back to college.

Contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend. Ask to speak to a financial aid officer about grant programs and scholarships that are specific to adults returning to college and you as an individual student.

Contact the human resources department at your place of employment. Tell them what type of courses you will be taking and ask if they provide tuition assistance or loan forgiveness that you may be eligible for. Fill out necessary applications.

Conduct research on the Internet for state, federal and private organization scholarships or grants that are specific to your student achievements, subject field, ethnicity, gender, income, degree level or military status. Apply for all grants and scholarships that you qualify for.

Read through your financial aid, scholarship and grant award letters. Send award letters back to the financial institution, noting your acceptance or denial of the award.


You may apply for a federal Pell Grant if you have a low annual income of $12,000 or less or if you have recently lost your job. Pell grants are distributed by the federal government and do not require pay-back. The grant money rewarded depends on the cost of your college.

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