Steps to Take to Start Back to College

The first step involved in planning to further your education is an understanding your motivation to do so. You may have decided to change careers or perhaps you have gone as far as you can in your career without a degree—or you may want to complete a degree program that was interrupted in the past. Understanding your motivation will help you make decisions and keep you on track. Motivation provides the energy for focus. Focus concentrates your powers, efforts and
attention to get you from here to your goal.
Research what you will need to do in order to reach your goal and develop a plan. You may have some tradeoffs or adaptations that you will have to make in your personal and professional life. Discuss these honestly with your family and friends. Find out if the school has any support groups for adults that have returned to college.

Investigate which schools have programs that fit your goal. Is their location accessible or do they have distance education programs that you can utilize? Will you need to take entrance examinations?
Find out how much it will cost and make a budget that includes any extra items you may need to include, such as transportation or childcare. Apply for admission and financial aid.
Financial aid such as grants, loans and work-study programs are usually awarded based on need. Scholarships may have different criteria for selection. Scholarships and grants do not have to be paid back, but loans and work-study programs must be repaid. Talk with the financial aid personnel at the school you plan to attend. Financial aid is calculated by subtracting the contribution expected by the family from the total cost of attendance. You will need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in order to qualify for most types of financial aide. New tax laws also benefit learners.
Some helpful tools are described below:

College Aid Calculator
Free download of tool that calculates Expected Family Contribution (EFC), forecast future college costs, estimates cost and aid eligibility at private and public colleges, lets you experiment with “what if” scenarios, helps to determine saving and borrowing needs, prints FAFSA reports, and more.

FAFSA on the Web
The U. S. Department of Education’s electronic FAFSA web site. You may fill and submit a FAFSA form from this site.

Financial Aid for Students Homepage
U. S. Department of Education.

Information about the Hope Scholarship and Lifelong Learning tax cuts.
The financial aid information page has information on grants, loans and scholarships, financial aid applications, calculators and guide to admissions testing.
The largest scholarship database and guide to financial aid, scholarships, grants and loans.
New web sites discovered for earning college credits and continuing education credits are below:
UCLA Extension Online Courses
Communities of study are business and management, computers and information systems, education and the writer’s program.
Harcourt, Inc.
Harcourt Brace, publishers of textbooks, is also entering the education business, offering adults both continuing education and college credit courses. The wide range of online education programs are administered through partnerships as well as Harcourt subsidiaries.