Finding Financial Help

Some of the biggest state and federal need-based scholarship programs open to students of all ages.

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Some of the biggest state and federal need-based scholarship programs—such as Pell grants, Lifetime Learning tax credits, and Hope tax credits—are open to students of all ages. And a growing number of governments, charities and colleges are offering tuition help to older students.

For All Older Students

Tuition waivers: Many public colleges waive tuition for older students.
General scholarships: Scholarships aimed at older students include the Talbots Womens Scholarship and the University of New Orleans' Adult Student Scholarship.
Scholarships for second-career public servants: New York City subsidizes all but $5,500 of a master's degree for second-career teaching fellows. Kaiser Permanente offers scholarships of up to $2,500 for low-income students seeking to make nursing a second career. Many organizations also offer to repay student loans for teachers, nurses, veterinarians, police officers, and other public servants.

For Some Employed Students

Employer reimbursement: About half of all workers are eligible for some kind of tuition subsidy from their employers. One popular method: forming an Education Assistance Program, which allows employers to cover up to $5,250 in tax-free education costs per employee per year.

For Some Unemployed Students

Federal retraining funds: The federal government sometimes pays tuition for workers displaced by foreign competition.

For Low- and Middle-Income Students:

Lifetime Learning tax credit: A federal tax credit of up to $2,000 a year for education expenses.
Tuition tax deduction: A federal tax deduction of up to $4,000 a year. (You cannot take advantage of both the tuition deduction and anyone of the tuition credits in the same year.)

For Students Enrolled at Least Half-Time (Typically, at Least Two Courses a Semester)

Unsubsidized federal student loans: Up to $10,500 for older undergraduates and enough to cover all educational costs for graduate students. Students typically must take at least courses a semester to be eligible.

For Some Low- and Middle-Income Students

Hope tax credits: Up to $1,650 a year (for those in their freshman or sophomore years of college pursuing some sort of credential and enrolled at least half-time).

For Low-Income Students Enrolled at Least Half-Time

Federal Pell grants: Up to $4,310 in the 2007-08 this academic year.
Subsidized federal student loans: Up to $10,500 a year for older undergraduates, and the full cost of graduate school.