Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back to School

So my husband and I were given some food for thought. He went into an employment agency yesterday to talk about his options. While he does still have a job, he's not getting enough hours to cover the bills right now. We're digging into our savings, which will only last so long.

So, in the interest of being proactive, we went to see what was available to him. We actually got quite a bit to think about. I'm going to have to split things up into different posts because there was so much information. Today's post will focus on furthering education.

My husband has a diploma and 3 1/2 years of trade school. He was able to skip the last half of the the fourth year because he had enough school and work experience to take the test. He took and passed the journeyman test and got his license as a journeyman plumber. While he does believe that things will eventually pick up (most people in this country do have indoor plumbing after all--and several even have outdoor), he didn't become a plumber because it was his dream, he just sort of fell into it. He does have interests in other areas, but never really had a strong motivation to look into any of those areas--until now.

So, the woman who helped us at the employment agency talked to him about (among several other things) going back to school. She told him it would be beneficial for him to get his associates. He could even, if he wanted to, look into getting an education in another field of work. Of course, he would have to continue to work while attending school, if we went this route.

We automatically told her that we didn't have the money to go back to school. It's odd that what she told us next had never even occurred to us. She said with the cut in pay we've experienced, that raises our chances of qualifying for financial aid. We were stunned that we hadn't thought of that. So now we have pamphlets of information on how to apply for grants and other financial aid.

I thought I'd pass on the information here, since it very much applies to both saving and making money. Applying for Federal Aid is free. These are funds available through the U.S. Department of Education for eligible students enrolled in eligible programs as regular students at schools that participate in the federal student aid programs. These funds cover tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and transportation. It can also help pay for a computer and child care expenses.

You can get more information from a school counselor if you're still in school, or the financial aid office at the college you're wanting to attend, or from the US Department of Education, Federal Student Aid or 1-800-433-3243.

If you're not planning on attending college this fall, but want an idea of how much aid you might qualify for you can go to the FAFSA4caster to check things out. You can apply online on the FAFSA website and find a full list of the documents you need there.

When considering a college or career school to attend make sure you do your homework. Find out if you meet the admission requirements, if the school offers the courses for the type of program you want to go into, if they participate in the federal student aid programs and if there have been any complaints filed against the agency with the Better Business Bureau offices.

Be careful of scholarship scams. According to The Guide to Federal Student Aid, millions of dollars are lost every year to scholarship fraud. The Federal Trade Commission cautions students to look for these types of lines.

-"The Scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
-"You can't get this information anywhere else."
-"I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
-"You've been selected by a 'national foundation' to receive a scholarship."
-"You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.

For more information on scholarship scams or to file a complaint with the FTC call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit the FTC website.

Well, I hope this information has been useful to you. I'm going to dive right into it all here, too! Who knows, maybe both the adults in this household will be furthering their educations! Best of luck!