How To Prepare For a Return To School Like William Hung

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William Hung just hit minute 16.


The tone-challenged warbler from American Idol's (NWS) 2004 season three, who shot to infamy belting Ricky Martin’s "She Bang’s," has officially abandoned dreams his music career. Instead he's going back to college to become a teacher.


Hung recently enrolled at California State University, Northridge to complete a double Bachelors degree in mathematics and education. He even told his new college’s student newspaper, the Daily Sundial, "I think teaching is more exciting. I get to learn and teach something new everyday."

Are you heading back to school? Whether to pursue a new career path or to continue education in your professional field, heading back to school can be a challenge for many adults. Financing education is hard at any point in life but especially so when the student is must leave the work world and especially if they have a family to support.


Some people continue to work while they attend school at night and are able to have their education paid for by their employer, in which case they have to budget their time more so than their money. Others continue to work but must pay for the schooling themselves. And, finally those who may have the hardest time financing their return to the classroom are the people who stop working and go back to school fulltime.


Stuart Ritter, a certified financial planner with T. Rowe Price (TROW) says that the double hit of loosing a salary and a substantial increase in expenses can be difficult but it is doable. "Saving ahead of time and cutting expenses are key," he says. (And while the financial strain may be less for those who are still employed while taking class, the same is true for them, too.)


Ritter says that to prepare for the cost of education it is helpful for people scale back their budget before they make the commitment to school. This lifestyle adjustment will ensure that they are also willing to make a new financial commitment to themselves. "Whether it's paying the total cost up-front or borrowing the money, and then needing to fund the monthly loan payment, do this for several months ahead of time," says Ritter. "You’ll learn whether you really ready to make it through the whole program and, you'll have saved money ahead of time, easing the burden."

 

Also, keep in mind that heading back to school as an adult doesn’t make people any less of a student and they are still eligible to apply for the college financing options that undergraduates straight out of high school can receive, like federal financial aid and private student loans. And the same goes for graduate school loans, too.


Beth Guerard, a spokesperson for Sallie Mae (SLM), the nations leading student loan provider, suggests that people get all the free money that they can first, then explore federal student loans and finally finish the financing with private loans.

Federal aid comes in two main forms, the Stafford Loan and the Perkins Loan. Both are made to undergraduate and graduate students attending college at least half-time, but, both have borrowing limits. Guerard says that undergraduate students can borrow up to $46,000 in Stafford Loans, and graduate and professional students can borrow up to $138,500, including undergraduate loans.
If the money from federal aid doesn’t cover all the costs of school, private loans can are handed out by commercial lenders like, Bank of America (BAC) and Chase Bank (JPM). Unlike federal aid, they do not usually have a limit on what can be borrowed but, the rates on private loans are typically one or two percentage points higher than on federal student loans.


The best way to get through the stress of shelling out the money for school may just be to keep your eye on the ball. Ritter says, “One thing that might help motivate the necessary changes is that it’s for a finite period. Knowing that you only have to make the sacrifice for two or three years can help you get through it.”

Intersted in learning more about how to pay for school? Check out these MainStreet articles: College Admissions Coach To the Stars Shares Secrets, The Credit Crunch Equals Less College Money: Calculate Your Student Loans, and Understanding Your Student Loan Options.

 

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