How Can I afford to go to School and Not Work?

Going back to school as an adult can be exciting because it means you are working towards something better for your career, finances or personal satisfaction. However, if the thought of funding the tuition bill is causing you stress, there are several cost-effective savings options that can be explored.  So if you’re thinking of making the trek back into the world of education, here are some helpful tips to make the journey as easy as possible.

Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs)

There are many RESP options to choose from, with plans offered through organizations like Children’s Education Funds CEFI. Importantly, you don’t have to be a child to have one.

In fact, anyone can start an RESP for themselves by setting a plan up in their own name and making monetary contributions.  The only catch here is – adults don’t get the government contributions that children do.

Lifelong Learning Plan

In Canada, The Lifelong Learning Plan allows you to withdraw amounts from your registered retirement savings plan to help pay for your post-secondary studies, without paying a penalty.

The Lifelong Learning Plan allows you to withdraw up to $20,000 with an annual limit of $10,000. You’ll have 10 years to repay the funds and once it’s replenished, you can participate in the plan again, as it is unlimited lifetime participation.

Skills Boost

The Government of Canada has also launched Skills Boost to support adults who want to return to school and upgrade their skills.

Skills Boost consists of several measures including making employment insurance more flexible and increasing student financial assistance.  Adults who are out of school for 10 years or more could get $1,600 more per year in grants when studying at a post-secondary institution.

Loans and scholarships

Scholarships aren’t just for high school graduates.  There’s plenty of money available for adult students as well.  Check out the Canada Student Loans program to see what loans are available to non-traditional students, what interest rate is being charged, and how fast you’ll have to pay your loan back.  Additionally, don’t forget to search into scholarships specifically for mature students as there may be some free money available as well.

Student lines of credit

Typically, Canada’s major banks and institutions offer students lines of credit with preferential interest rates.  Although this is an option that you’ll have to pay interest on, it offers the flexibility of taking out the money you need when you need it. Most student lines of credit require repayment on the principal balance within six months of graduation.

The decision to pursue an education as an adult is not one that comes easy.  But with a well-thought out plan and a few savings/budgeting tactics, you’ll be on the way to achieving your academic goals in no time.

Steven B. Stock

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