Financial aid for adult students

Considering a return to school but not sure if it is financially feasible? Whether you’re going to school to complete your bachelor’s degree or are pursuing advanced education, here is a look at financial aid for adult students.

Federal Pell grant

The Federal Pell Grant is a need-based grant awarded to eligible students enrolled in undergraduate programs. Eligibility is determined by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as calculated on the FAFSA. This grant is available to full-time and part-time students. However, the federal government limits a student’s lifetime eligibility to 12 semesters (or its equivalent).

Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG)

OCOG is a need-based grant available to Ohio residents in an undergraduate degree program at an eligible institution. Students must file a FAFSA, have a certain EFC and a household income less than $96,000. Award amounts are pro-rated for part-time students. Ohio limits OCOG grants to a maximum 10 semesters (or its equivalent).

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans

Federal Direct Loans are guaranteed low-interest loans for students enrolled in undergraduate programs and attending school at least half time. Subsidized loans are available to students who qualify based on need.

Unsubsidized loans are not based on need or income. Therefore, students of all income levels have access to federal loan funds for undergraduate and graduate studies.

Private education loans

Private education loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students and are not based on need.

Employer reimbursement

An increasing number of employers provide educational assistance benefits to their employees. Students should check with their employer to determine if their employer provides educational assistance. If they do, then follow the correct process for receiving financial assistance from their employer.


While not as plentiful as scholarships for traditional undergraduate students, there are outside/private scholarships for adult students. For example, the Lima Rotary Club offers scholarships to non-traditional students.

Veteran’s benefits

Education benefits from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs help veterans, service members and their qualified family members with needs like paying college tuition and finding the right school or training program. 

Payment plans

To help students pay for their college expenses, many institutions offer a variety of payment plans including pay in full, pay by semester, monthly or deferred.

What are the next steps now that you know more about the financial aid for adult students?

  • Research colleges or universities. Make sure the program fits your needs, lifestyle and aspirations. And meet with its admission counselor.
  • Schedule an appointment with financial aid staff. Before the meeting, create an account at for a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, review your loan record and come prepared with a list of questions.

Read: Ten steps to achieve your career goals

At Bluffton University…

At Bluffton University, working adults can complete their degree in accounting, business management, RN to BSN or social work; or earn an MBA (Master of Business Administration), MAOM (Master of Arts in Organizational Management) or MAEd (Master of Arts in Education).

Written by Tricia Bell, content manager