Thursday, March 21, 2013

Educational Grants for Over 50s

Because of the economic downturn during the past decade, many seniors are beginning to panic that their retirement savings may not be enough to sustain them or that the Social Security Program may be completely gutted. This has caused some to look toward working longer or re-entering the workforce; however, one glance at the tuition and fees associated with going back to college to better their skills or get a degree has caused many people over the age of 50 to turn back from this course of action. What few of these seniors know is that just as they save money by using coupons at the grocery store or buying their clothing at thrift shops, they can also get a discount on education by applying for grants.

Money obtained in the form of a grant never has to be repaid, so this is the perfect way for those living on a small income to return to college. Some grants cover the entire cost of tuition, but obtaining several smaller grants can add up and make a big difference. The following opportunities are just a few of the ones available for seniors who need to get more job training:

Federal Government Pell Grants: Most people think Pell Grants are only given to young people right out of high school, but this is not true. This government funding is available to people of any age who have an income low enough to qualify for assistance.

State Funding: Unfortunately, every state does not have a grant program to aid seniors in returning to college, but several do. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, and Maryland. Other states may offer some type of college funding for people over fifty through the State Community Service Block Grant Act 676. Ask about applications at the financial aid office of a local college.

AARP Grants: The American Association of Retired People is well known for supporting the educational efforts of its members. Funding from this organization is designed to help those over the age of 55 to obtain the skills that they will need to stay in the workforce or return to it.

Foundational Grants: Several special foundations offer grant money for seniors to use for educational purposes. Some of these include The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Donald W. Reynold’s Foundation, and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Check online for specifics about each of these opportunities and to find application forms.

Because of the large number of applications received and the limited amount of money available, competition for college funding for seniors is fierce. However, seniors willing to search for the best sources of money and those who fill out the forms necessary for a grant will find that their patience and hard work will ultimately be rewarded. By using grant money to upgrade their skills and education, they will be able to keep their nest eggs intact and complete their training without having to pay back huge loans. In the process, they may just keep their minds sharp and healthy as well.

Guest author Michelle Williams writes for, a site that has more details about applying for grants.

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