We've received letters from divorced women asking how best to go about paying for their education in order to become better positioned for new career opportunities. This is a question that many divorced women face when they are re-entering the workplace.
The obvious solution is to borrow money to pay for tuition and related expenses. Most colleges and universities have a financial aid office prepared to provide students (and prospective students) with information about local, regional and national programs.
Some programs are available to students regardless of the school they attend, others are school-specific, and some are specific to a particular discipline. The financial aid office can help you navigate.
A word to the wise about borrowing: Remember that borrowed money must be repaid, so borrow wisely and spend carefully only for the purpose intended. Even though student loans are often at low interest rates and can be repaid over the longterm, interest accumulates over time and can greatly increase the amount borrowers owe.
The financial aid office is also aware of scholarships and can help steer students toward those best suited to them. Stipends are sometimes available too; however, these are typically offered to graduate students working on research projects. It doesn't hurt to ask, though. A financial aid advisor can assess your needs and help identify programs that suit your requirements.
We are all adaptive and creative, especially in the face of need. Below are a few examples of creative solutions that people have used to pay for college. These are just a few examples of success stories that others have shared with us. You might have a personal success story that you'd like to share. If so, please email your idea to us or add you comment to this post.
1. Accept a "stepping-stone" job working for an employer that provides tuition reimbursement or offers in-house college courses to be applied toward a higher level degree program. This sometimes involves taking a position below your potential, but remember, it's just a "stepping-stone.
2. Apply to schools that have diversity initiatives and request scholarship or stipend assistance in order to attend. Colleges and universities are extremely focused on equality and diversity, and most schools monitor and manage enrollment in an attempt to better ensure proper campus diversity.
3. Borrow from family or close friends instead of traditional lenders. In today's world of fickle financial markets, you can generate a fixed rate of return on what they loan you. This will help you while also improving your ability to help other family members in the future, and it establishes a fixed rate of return on their investment.
Brian Kilroy is a FWW supporter and retired Vice President of MBNA America Bank, N.A. He directed the Financial Advisory Service, an employee assistance, credit education and lending unit servicing MBNA employees worldwide.