- Set your work goal and then work backward to determine the education needed to reach it. If your long-term goal is to be an accountant, look up the requirements of your state to become a licensed Certified Public Accountant or CPA. This is your starting point when looking at schools for financial assistance. Ask how much scholarship money is available for students. Check out scholarship search sites like www.scholarshipexperts.com and college-scholarships.com to find out what scholarships are available to someone with your background and skills. There also are many scholarships that are not listed on online sites.
- Check with your human resources office or in an employee benefits policy book to see if there are any educational grants for employees. Also ask your spouse or your children if their employer offers educational grants. Children of firemen, newspaper employees, unions, the military, utilities and large corporations often have educational funds for employees and their family members.
State and Local Grants
- If you qualify for food, housing or unemployment benefits, ask about education benefits as well. Be specific about your goals and when you expect to graduate. State, city and county employees also can qualify for an education grant if it furthers their careers. Check with your human resources department or your state's website for opportunities. Call your city, county and state representatives, tell them about your goals and ask where to look for education funds.
Business and Service Organizations
- Many professional business organizations, like Rotary Clubs and Chambers of Commerce, offer annual scholarships. Soroptimist International of the Americas has a Women's Opportunity Fund. The American Association of University Women is also a great source. If you have helped a professional organization with its fund-raising, it too might be a source of scholarship money.
- There are thousands of private scholarship funds and trusts for specific groups. Check with your local community foundation or the scholarship office of the school you plan to attend. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation is a national education scholarship for women over age 35 who show financial need. Veterans, who served between Jan. 1, 1977 and June 30, 1985, can check out the Veterans Educational Assistance Program. The Military Officers Association of America provides General John Paul Ratay Educational Fund Grants and Senior Grants and has a Designated Scholar Program.
- The Pell Grant is a standard educational funding opportunity for every student in need. The maximum award for 2009-10 was $5,350. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) distributes funds through schools for full-time and part-time students based on need. Awards range from $100 to $4,000. The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) are academic education awards of from $750 to $4,000. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 was created by Congress to provide Teacher Education Assistance for the College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program. The grant provides up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. Other grants with a specific-industry focus require the completion of the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). This is a lengthy application that requires a lot of your financial information, including pay stubs, federal and state tax returns and banking information.