Back-To-School Budgeting Tips: How To Go From Full-Time Employee To Full-Time Student


For working adults, going back to school may be difficult especially in terms of finances. It would mean giving up on the luxuries and, sometimes, necessities that we have gotten used to.

Speaking to U.S. News, Claire Seely shared her experience of going back to school after she has worked for a higher education tech company. She is currently on her second year of a master's program at the University of South Carolina.

"When I had a salary, I could go out to happy hour twice a week, and that was fine. But as a graduate student, I was still doing that," she said. "It wasn't until the end of the year that I realized I was out of money."

There are four things to consider before returning to student life after working full-time. First, make sure that you truly want to go back to school and be prepared for the sacrifices that you need to make.

Becoming a full-time student would entail leaving valuable employer benefits. It's best to sit down and weigh the costs of going back to school against the financial and professional payoffs.

Second, you will need to boost your savings through budgeting. Brace yourself for the student lifestyle as well. Third, employees who want to go back to school are advised to make a budget plan and stick to it. Julie Selander, director of One Stop Student Services at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, also recommends selling your car.

"Particularly on our campus, you don't need that car," she said. "And that's such a huge expense for the parking, insurance and the gas."

Lastly, check the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to unlock federal loans, grants as well as other financial aid. There's a catch, though, the organization will consider your need-based financial aid eligibility based on the salary you gained last year - even though you won't be making the same amount this year.

You can opt to file the FAFSA as usual and appeal to the financial aid office for a "professional judgment." This way, the college's administrators may be able to give you more leeway due to your special circumstance.

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