There are many different types of financial aid for parents planning to attend college. Whether resuming education after a long break, or starting down a new educational path, available sources of financial aid for parents can include scholarships, government or private loans, and financial assistance programs. Doing some research into the different types of financial aid for parents can make college an affordable and possible option that can lead to a brighter future.
Many governments provide extensive resources for financial aid for parents and other students. In the United States, one of the most important steps a student can take to secure funding for college is to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application calculates eligibility for grants, loans, and government scholarships based on financial need and the tuition expenses of a school. Since parents can claim their children as dependents, they may be able to qualify for a variety of governmental financial aid packages. A FAFSA needs to be re-filed annually, which means that a parent may actually see his or her aid package increase after the first year of schooling, since income levels are likely to drop while in school.
Outside of government aid, there are a variety of private scholarships available for parents planning to attend college. Single mothers or fathers may have access to a wide variety of scholarships provided by single parenting support groups. Parents that had to interrupt their education may be able to qualify for some scholarships that are geared toward helping people complete a degree. Financial aid for parents can also come from non-parent specific sources, such as scholarship competitions. To apply to many scholarship contests, a person need only be an entering or enrolled student at a college, regardless of age or familial status.
Private loans are another possible source of financial aid for parents. Available through banks and other lending institutions, these loans are often accessible to parents with assets that can be used as collateral, such as a house. Depending on the economic situation, parents with good credit ratings may even be able to secure a private loan with better terms than a governmental loan. Doing some comparison shopping can help narrow down the best loan options.
Some schools offer financial aid for parents in indirect ways, such as through family-supportive programs. Many large universities provide family housing for students with spouses or children, that is often available for rental rates well below the market average. In addition, university students may have access to free or reduced cost child care services through the school, so that they can attend classes without having to pay for costly private care or leave children unattended. Contacting a school's financial aid or student affairs office is the best way to find out about available assistance programs through a specific university.