Hi, Judge Josh. I think the Outlaw Student website is great. Thanks for the scholarship offers, and the good advice.

Glad to do it, Ellen!

I’m 55 years old, with a decent paying job, a mortgage, no savings and some money in 401Ks. My husband is retired and getting Social Security payments.

I’ve been going to a city community college part-time for the last 5 years. This year I was accepted into the Clinical phase of the Veterinary Tech program — I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time, and going to this particular school because they’re the only school in the city that offers the program.

The program goes from Spring 2011 until Fall 2012 – not such a long time.
BUT – by June 2011, I will have to quit my job so I can do a part-time internship and continue to go to classes – all classes are day classes from now on.

Financial need is proven with tax returns, so I won’t ever appear to be a student who needs financial aid. But I’m totally freaked out (and so is my husband)!! We’ve been (mostly) financially stable for years, and now I’m scared – how will we pay the mortgage, or the ever-rising bills for utilities? What about school fees? My school fees will soar compared to my one-class-a-semester method of the past.

Well, how will you pay the mortgage & utilities?  That’s a huge question for anyone, especially an older person with no parents on which to fall back if needed.  With no savings, it will be very difficult, to be sure.

But I wonder – are you certain you have to quit your job?  Maybe your schedule can be adjusted, either in the classroom or at the job?  If not – what about a different job?  Be sure to explore all of those angles before just quitting your job to go to school.  Sure, it’s not going to be easy to work and go to school when you’re 55, but as important as I think school and/or living your dream can be, having a roof over your head trumps all of that.
I have done research on scholarships, grants, etc. There’s not much out there for someone like me – an OLD student, not the first in my family to go to college, not a minority student, not much volunteer or community work in my past.
So now, I don’t know which will be better – to try to take out a loan, or to ravage some 401K money. Do you see an advantage of one over the other? Or something I could do that I’ve missed? Any advice you have to offer is gratefully accepted.

Thanks for your time!
Ellen

As any financial advisor will tell you, taking out 401k money is pretty much a last resort, mainly because about half of it will be gone due to penalties for withdrawing.  But let’s go back a bit – there are lots of scholarships available for older students, and as you might imagine, there’s a lot less competition for them as well.  Do a Google search for “scholarships for older students” and you’ll find plenty of them.

If you don’t get any of them, though, and you’re hell bent on doing this (and it sounds like you are), my opinion is that a student loan would likely be the way to go.

Good luck to you, Ellen – you’re taking a leap of faith to fulfill a lifelong dream!

 

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