"Financial Aid Strategies For Non-Traditional Students, Part III"
Article By: Laura DiFiore|
Founder of FreSch!, a leading free scholarship search and information
and respected scholarship expert and judge.
Continued from Part II
9. Take Advantage of Your Community
As an adult student,
you most likely have many ties to your community. You have built relationships
with your church, neighbors, the schools your kids attend, family and friends,
social or professional organizations, and the many other relationships you
By virtue of having established yourself in your community, you
very well may have many more resources available to you that you have not
thought of before. Take advantage of the time you have spent establishing
yourself in your community.
Day care is a big issue for many
non-traditional students. Quite a few schools now offer on-site day care at very
good rates or have negotiated special prices at local day-care centers. Check
with your school's administration office to find out. Community colleges in
particular tend to have a lot of students who are in the same position as you
and therefore also tend to have more resources available to single parents. Try
to make friends with some of your classmates and see if you can trade
baby-sitting with them.
Active in your church? See if your church can
help you. Do they have a day care center? Can you team up with another
parishioner to share baby-sitting duties? Does your church offer scholarships?
It never ceases to amaze me how much help churches of all faiths offer their
members. One student, a single parent, spoke with her pastor. He made an
announcement at the end of the service asking if anyone could help her by
watching her kids. Fourteen people volunteered. A minor miracle if I dare say
Don't be afraid to try and negotiate with your current day care
provider. See if they might be willing to reduce your price a bit, say, in
exchange for you posting flyers about them on campus, telling your fellow single
parent friends about them, or maybe even in exchange for you working for them
one afternoon a week. Talk with your neighbors to see if you can help each other
out with child care needs.
Check with all the social and professional
groups you may be a member of, including labor unions. Chamber of commerce
member? Association of Professional Wrestlers? Many professional and social
organizations offer scholarships to their members. Explore this area
Talk with your neighbors, family, and friends. They may be
more willing to help you than you realize. Granted they may not be able to help
you financially, but they very well may be able to help you with running
errands, shopping, cooking, child care, or even studying! This help can be far
more valuable than money.
I share this letter from Michelle Beninghoff
with great honor:
"My next-door neighbor, Helen, never graduated high
school. When I told her I wanted to go back to college she said I was nuts. She
knew I had flunked out of college after a year when I was 18. In my mind, I had
failed already, so I could not do any worse than I already had. It was worth the
risk. She thought that we were too old to learn, that it was already too late
for us. We made a promise to each other: I would help her get her GED, and she
would help me survive my first semester.
GED classes were Saturday
afternoon and Wednesday night. My classes were Saturday afternoon, Tuesday and
Thursday nights. Helen came up with a plan: Under threat of having to do their
own laundry, she told our husbands that they would have to watch the kids every
Saturday and cook dinner. All of our kids, seven between us. On the nights that
I was in class, she would watch all the kids and cook dinner for both families.
It takes only a bit more food and time to cook for 11 people than it does for 5
or 6. On the nights she was in class, I did the same thing: Watch all of our
kids and cook dinner for both families. We always ate dinner at the house of
whoever cooked, and quite often, the kids ended up spending the night,
exhausted. Since Helen only had classes two days a week I watched her kids on
Sunday afternoon so she could study in peace.
November 22, 1993: Helen
got her GED, with the top scores in her class. A month later I finished my first
semester with two A's and one B. In January 1994, barely two months after
getting her GED at the age of 41, Helen entered college for the first time. In
three weeks we are both graduating. Together. (May 1st, 1999)"
What You Should Not Do
- Assume the answer is "no" before you ask the question.
- Give up without trying.
- Fail to pay attention to important deadlines, especially add/drop deadlines
and financial aid deadlines.
- Deplete your emergency or retirement savings.
- Pay for "guaranteed" scholarship searches or to have your FAFSA filled
- Risk losing your home with multiple equity loans (third or fourth
- Overload yourself with student loans for the first year. Better to take a
few classes first to see if you really are ready for this before you become
indebted to the point where you are choking!
- Give up during the first day of classes! Wait another week or
FreSch! The Free Scholarship
Online database of thousands of sources
of scholarships, searchable for free!
Thank you for visiting,
This Web-site Designed and Maintained by
E&A Marketing. All Rights Reserved.
All web addresses have been verified as functional at the time of publishing.
However, since websites are dynamic and ever-changing we can not assure you the
sites will function when you visit. Please report any broken