Although most scholarships gear towards the traditional age of a college student -- 18 to 24 -- people over 55 can obtain free grant money for college. However, most grant money for mature students comes from the federal government. If you only need grant money for schooling, you might be able to afford an education in other ways, such as a tuition discount.
Federal Financial Aid
The government does not discriminate against students of any age. However, you need to work on your first degree for most federal grants, such as the Pell grant, and you may make too much money to qualify for much aid, which could become a problem if you were laid off or retired recently. You may have to appeal to the financial aid office to base your financial aid award on extenuating circumstances, such as retirement.
Private institutions have far fewer grants for people over 55 than younger individuals, but they are out there. One of the most well known grants for people over 55 is a $1,000 grant under the Edward M . Kennedy Serve America Act. However, you must volunteer 350 hours of your time before receiving this award. If you already have some college classes under your belt, the Osher Re-entry Scholarship awards $2,500 to students who left college at least five years ago and return to school to finish their degree. Woman have even more scholarships available to them, such as the The JRF Foundation Scholarship for women over 35.
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Be careful about getting grant information from anywhere other than an official source, such as your college's financial aid office. The government does not give free money to repay old debts, despite what many scam websites might purport. However, someone over 55 might qualify for financial assistance, such as help with food expenses and rent payments, especially if he has a low income. Warning signs of a grant scam include guaranteed money and demands for an upfront processing or application fee.
Talk to the financial aid office at several colleges, because most states have an institution that offers a large discount for mature students, and some may offer free tuition. Also, if you have a job, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement. The employer may require you maintain a certain grade point average and work for the company after graduation. The employer may even only reimburse tuition after you graduate.