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Make that degree affordable with these strategic funding options

by Jennifer Martin
Marketing Specialist

October 27, 2015

You’ve decided to either start or finish your college degree, now it’s time to get creative with ways to pay for it. You might be surprised to find that as an adult learner you have options you might never knew existed. Think outside the box and plug into these tips and see just how affordable earning that degree can actually be.

  1. Apply for every possible scholarship. Contrary to what you may think, they’re not just for traditional college students. The internet is a great resources for scholarship opportunities, like those available to only women, for degrees in specific careers, for people that are left handed or members of certain ethnic groups. Check out for all kinds of options.
  2. If you have a 401(k) or other type of IRA retirement account did you know that the IRS will allow you to withdraw funds to pay for qualified higher education expenses? Another option might be borrowing or withdrawing from your employer’s 401(k) account as well. You may be able to avoid fees, though, so be sure to seek the advice of a professional investment advisor. They’re the best ones to determine if any of these options are right for you!
  3. You’ve likely heard the term “529 college savings plan”. Did you know that this type of account is actually available for you, not just for a child? While post-tax dollars are set aside in a 529, withdrawals made to pay for qualified college expenses are tax-free. Again, contact your professional financial advisor to look into this option.
  4. There may be income tax opportunities available that your CPA or tax preparer can discuss with you, like making the maximum allowable contributions to your retirement account(s) which, in turn, reduces your taxable income and thus the amount of tax you’ll owe this year. Additionally, in some states, funding 529 accounts actually provides for a state tax credit! Another idea is to pre-pay your spring semester tuition in the current tax year, which could be an itemized deduction on this year’s income tax return!
  5. Do you have equity in your home? You may be able to obtain a HELOC to cover your education expenses! As you research the percentage rates on student loans, see if the rate on a HELOC beats the rate on a traditional student loan, which can save you money in the long run.
  6. Still considering a traditional student loan? Be sure to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You might already be qualified for a loan(s) that are easy to accept and receive disbursement for via direct deposit.
  7. Can’t quit working altogether? Consider working part-time to at least earn a meager income while earning your degree.  While not much, anything is better than nothing, especially if you need some type of income at the same time.
  8. Cut out all unnecessary expenses, and you just may find that you have more money on a monthly basis than you realized. Things like cable TV, coffee, eating out, etc., actually are things you can temporarily go without- until you reach your goal.
Hopefully this list of ideas gave you options worth exploring. Please remember when it comes to any other kind of suggested financial option, always consult a professional who is skilled in that particular area to help you determine what’s best for you and your financial situation.

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