Every year, Financial Awareness Day remind us of the importance of planning ahead for a debt-free, financially independent future. The right money moves now can make a world of difference after your prime earning years, providing the financial freedom you need to do all the things on your bucket list you’ve been putting off until retirement.
At University of Arkansas Grantham, we’d like to remind you of one more way you can help secure your financial goals for the future: higher education.
Specifically, a career-focused college-level online degree from an accredited online university that puts your needs and your goals first. At its core, Financial Awareness Day is an opportunity to reflect on both your current and future finances. It’s also a good time to explore options for funding higher education—even if you got a late start on planning for it. So, in spirit of the day, we want to help you explore smart financial planning options for investing in yourself through education.
Investment Vehicles — 529s Anyone?
Did you know there are no age limits for using these state-sponsored college funding investment vehicles? In addition to offering tax breaks — such as tax-free earnings growth and tax-free distributions — there are typically no income limits for opening a 529 plan, and you can contribute up to $13,000 a year. You can also deposit funds into your 529 monthly or in lump sums. Start now, even if you’re not sure when you’ll be ready to pursue a degree. A few of years of investing now can add up to a whole lot of tuition savings later.
Get Others to Pay for Your Education
Free money for my education? It’s possible. You just need to know where to look.
Employer Assistance: The first option to explore is your employer. Many employers offer some type of tuition reimbursement program, paying for part or all of an employee’s college education. They understand the value of an education to their employees and their companies, and offer tuition reimbursement programs as a recruitment tool to entice top talent to join and stay with their organization. They benefit by increasing employee morale and enhancing both the business and technical savvy of their employees as they work.
All it takes is a quick call to your HR representative to see what your employer has to offer and how it works.
If no tuition reimbursement program is currently in place, it doesn’t hurt to bring it up with them anyway. Talk to them about the benefits. Who knows, you could be the catalyst that encourages them to take the employee tuition assistance plunge.
Scholarship Opportunities: Scholarships aren’t just for recent high school graduates. From military families to ethnic groups to faith-based organizations, there are a host of scholarship opportunities for the non-traditional student—especially adult learners who need to continue employment while pursuing their education. There are also scholarships for people hoping to break into a specific industry, from project management to cybersecurity. A good place to look is the Scholarship Finder at CareerOneStop.
You may also be eligible for grants and scholarships from the federal government. You can start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA does more than just see if you qualify for low-interest student loans, it can also provide you with access to federal grants and scholarships. Again, start with the FAFSA — you’ll need the school’s code (041223 for University of Arkansas Grantham) to complete the application.
Take Out a Low-Interest Federal Loan
You already started the process with FAFSA. Once the U.S. Department of Education has reviewed your information, they will issue a Student Aid Report (SAR) that your school will use to put together a financial aid package. It will include all the grants, scholarship and loan options available to you through the government. You could be in line for a Pell Grant, Grant in Aid, Direct Subsidized Federal Student Loan, and more.
Next, you will select which options you want to accept. If you accept a federal student loan, you will need to complete a counseling requirement that outlines the advantages of your loan and your responsibilities for loan repayment.
This counseling — and the FAFSA process in general — offers the kind of financial planning insight that can go a long way toward keeping educational costs low.
Another recommendation for keeping costs low when considering using a federal loan to help pay for college is to only accept what you need. If they offer you more than you need to pay for school, you are not required to accept the full amount. You can accept only a portion to pay for what you need. This helps limit any debt you may accrue and keeps your student loans to a minimal and manageable sum.
Pursue a Degree in Financial Planning
Perhaps the best way to plan for a better financial future—and gain a valuable education that you can afford—is by pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Financial Planning through UA Grantham. In this 100% online program, you’ll explore the topics and master the strategies needed to fully understand and do business in the world of financial planning. You’ll learn what it takes to help organizations, individuals, and yourself analyze current financial situations, set objectives, and design a plan for achieving them.
If a financial planning degree isn’t for you, consider the benefits of any of UA Grantham’s degree programs that could lay the groundwork for a more stable and beneficial career and life for your family.
Are you ready to explore what a college education can do for your financial future? Get off to the right start by exploring all your financial and educational options at UA Grantham.