If you are concerned about how you are going to pull off school financially as a single mom, it might help you to know that finances are not the hardest part of going to school. In fact, the hardest part of going to school has nothing to do with money and everything to do with time. Use the tips below to help you finance your journey through school, but as you do so, make sure to consider the factor of time so that you can make sure to allow yourself quality time with your child or children as well as quality time for yourself.
Indeed, finances are just a little part of it, but as equally important. Owe it to yourself to start the looking for finances process early to make sure that when it is crunch time, you have enough money to finance your education. Follow the steps mentioned below:
Before you do anything else, fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the easiest way and most accessible way to find out ways you are eligible for financial aid. The FAFSA is the key portal to open doors for financial aid opportunities for you. At this point, don’t even worry about which school you are going to attend or what you major is because without the FAFSA, you are not going to be attending school at all unless you have a wealth of money stashed away. The FAFSA is a government organization that can provide some sort of help to you, big or small. There is a process that you must go through, and the steps and detailed explanations can be found here.
Once you fill out the FAFSA, start comparing schools. You want a school that allows you to learn the way you do it best, whether that means a traditional school or an online school. Many single parents enjoy online schooling because they get to set their own schedules, especially if you attend a non-profit competency based program that allows you to apply what you already know. You want a school with a solid reputation, low tuition, and the program that you plan to major in. Another popular option is night school, granted you are able to get childcare and find the transportation. Both are excellent options for single mothers, you just need to decide which one works best.
Other Financial Aid Options
Once you choose your school and you have reviewed your financial aid options with your financial aid counselor, you will have a better idea of where you stand financially. Make sure you talk honestly with them and do NOT be worried to ask them any questions. If you are unfamiliar with certain processes, make sure you use their aid. They are very good at their job and will make the college process as approachable as possible. If need be, apply for government assistance to subsidize food and housing costs as well. Contact your local Department of Children and Family Services for more information.
Remember — tuition is not the only cost associated with going to college. Books and transportation are going to be your next worries. Check with your local unemployment office for funds that may be available. Some states are offering to subsidize the cost of gas if you attend school in an effort to move upward in your current field. Search within your school forum for cheap used books for sale. You can also rent your books online and return them after the course is over. Conversely, you may want to take a closer look at some of the competency based online schools that use ebooks and include the cost in the flat rate for tuition. Note that these type of schools charge by the “session” rather than the class, so you can take as many classes as you want in a set period of time without spending any more for tuition.
Don’t be scared to reach out to organizations and other counselors that are there to guide you through the process. Paying fopr college and finding the resources to pay can be quite difficult, but do remember that it is very possible to receive the assistance you need to make schooling payments. Also remember, night school and online school options are much cheaper than traditional school.