Government Grants To Go Back to School Adults

June 30, 2021

If you’re an adult who wants to go back to school or college, you may be eligible for government grants and scholarships to ease your financial burden. These grants can help pay for your education without any need to return the money so long as you complete your program.

College grants are typically given to students who demonstrate the most financial need. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form before the deadline to apply for the grants you’re eligible for every year. After submitting your FAFSA form, schools will notify you of the amount you are eligible to receive.

In this article, we’ll cover the various grants you can apply for, their application process, and eligibility to help you fulfill your dream of a college education.

Find out how you can earn your degree in less than 2 years





Going Back to College?

If you’ve decided to go back to college, you’ve already taken a significant first step in the right direction. Still, financing your undergraduate or graduate degrees can be stressful. 

Paying for tuition is a big hurdle for most Americans. Many students drop out due to a lack of funds, while others struggle to complete their education. Adult students often have family and work obligations that add to their financial burden.

Fortunately, there are opportunities, and you will have a hassle-free experience when you go back to school. You can apply for a student loan, federal grants, state grants, and scholarships for non-traditional students. These programs could substantially reduce the cost of attendance for returning students.

Traditional Vs. Non-traditional Students

Traditional college undergraduate students enroll in their first year of college right after high school, typically between the ages of 18 and 23.

Non-traditional undergraduate students are usually older than 24 years old or have taken a break from school. Most adult learners decide to return to school to obtain the credentials required for either a new career or career advancement in their current field.

Due to their unique difficulties, returning to school can be challenging for adult students. Non-traditional students frequently have mortgages to pay and families to support in addition to the high cost of college. Finding grants and scholarships can aid in paying for the expenses.

Grants Vs. Loans Vs. Scholarships

A grant is a non-repayable gift given in response to a student’s financial need. A scholarship is an achievement award typically determined by academic performance, personal qualities, aptitude, aptitude tests, class rank, etc. Loans are sums of money that the student or parent borrows. Most of the time, loans require repayment with interest over a predetermined period.

What Are the Types of Government Grants?

The United States Department of Education (ED) offers numerous grants to students for attending a four-year program in colleges, universities, community colleges, and career schools.

If you want to complete your education, these are the grants that you might be eligible for:

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell Grants are generally given to undergraduate students who have not earned their bachelor’s or graduate degrees. It is a need-based grant awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. A post-baccalaureate teacher certification program student is also eligible for this grant.  

You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. To stay eligible for federal grants, you must complete the FAFSA form every year until you graduate or no longer require financial aid.

The factors that determine the grant amount are as follows:

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The Federal Pell agency calculates your EFC based on your family’s income, assets, and other benefits you might be receiving. The higher the EFC, the lower the grant that you’ll receive. 
  • Cost of Attendance (COA): COA is a fixed amount decided by the college as per the program you enroll for. If your college determines the COA for attending a program is $20,000, and your EFC is $15,000, you will be eligible for a maximum of $5,000 as need-based aid.
  • Student Status: The amount varies for full-time and part-time students.
  • Completion of Course: You must attend college for the entirety of your program to receive the full grant.

If your school applies for the Federal Pell Grant, you can receive grants in the form of reduced tuition costs, direct payment, or a combination of both.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

FSEOG is a financial aid program administered directly by the admitting school. To apply for FSEOG, you must enroll in a school participating in these grant programs.

Once you’ve filled out your FAFSA form, your college determines your financial need. Your college will grant the FSEOG to students with the most financial need.

You can get anywhere between $100 and $4,000 per year depending upon the following factors:

  • Your financial need
  • Other aids, grants, and scholarships that you are receiving
  • Availability of funds at your school

The U.S. Department of Education gives a certain amount as college grants to each school participating in the FSEOG program. Unlike the Federal Pell that grants the amount direct to adult students, the financial aid office at your school grants FSEOG. You must visit the college’s website to check for application deadlines for campus-based funds. 

Adult students returning to school can receive their grant in their student account through direct payment or a combination of both. You will receive the funds once per term (semester, trimester, quarter). 

If your school does not follow a term-based pattern, you will receive the funds at least twice a year.

New England Institute of Technology is a leading name in technical education that offers excellent financial and employment assistance. Discover why employers love us!

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

If you’re an adult student pursuing a degree in teaching or educational administration, you can apply for the federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant through FAFSA. 

To be eligible for the TEACH grant, college attendees must teach in a low-income school for at least four years within eight years after completing their degree. If you plan to go back to school but do not fulfill the service requirements, the agency will convert your financial aid into a student loan that you must return with interest.

  • Adult students who apply for this grant are eligible to receive up to $3,772 annually. An adult who wishes to receive this grant must enroll in a TEACH-Grant-Eligible Program at a school that participates in the TEACH grant program. 
  • You must also meet the academic requirement of scoring more than 75 percent on a college admission test or maintain a GPA of 3.25 or above.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

This grant is specifically for students whose parents passed away during military service in Iraq or Afghanistan. 

Adult students going back to school can apply for this program through FAFSA even if their EFC exceeds the Federal Pell income criteria. However, you must be under 24 years old or enrolled in a college program during your parent’s or guardian’s death.

If you plan to return to college and want to apply for grants, one of the most important tasks is filling out the FAFSA form. Obtaining federal student aid becomes much easier if you fill out the FAFSA correctly while applying for grant programs. Read our guide on filling out the FAFSA form and applying for financial aid through various grant programs.

Grants for Women Going Back to School

There are excellent scholarships and grants for women who wish to return to school. Apart from the federal government, several private organizations can help adults make a college career.

If you’re a woman attending a full-time program, these are the programs you can benefit from:

Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Award: This is a unique scholarship for mothers who want to cut the cost of their education. Award recipients are selected based on their financial needs, background, and long-term objectives. Additionally, you must enroll in a vocational program or work toward your associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Soroptimist Live Your Dreams Award: You must provide most of your family’s financial support to qualify for this award. Additionally, you must be accepted or enrolled in a four-year college or university, a vocational training program, or both. Further, candidates must be able to prove their financial needs.

Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP): WISP offers scholarships to women who are survivors of intimate partner abuse. The program aims to aid survivors in regaining their independence and self-sufficiency through employment and education. Students in need who are enrolled full- or part-time are eligible. WISP’s main objective is to assist women who have been away from abusive partners for at least a year.

The American Association of University Women Scholarship: You can apply for these student grants through their state and local branch offices. The amount that returning students get also varies depending on your region.

The Philanthropic Educational Organization: offers need-based and merit-based scholarships, grants, and student loans to women. Their financial assistance program is well-suited for women about to finish high school. 

The organization’s local chapters decide the money a student would receive depending upon the region and the program they enroll for.

The Talbot Scholarship Foundation: Women who wish to attend college in the U.S. or Canada and need help paying for college can apply for this scholarship. You must complete at least two semesters in an undergraduate program to apply for this program. 

The Emerge Scholarship Fund: This fund provides scholarships and grants to women who terminated their education due to financial reasons and wish to return to school to complete their higher education. 

These are merit-based awards, especially for women who have given back to their communities.

The AARP Foundation Scholarship: Women over 50 pursuing their education in a vocational school can apply for this scholarship. The scholarship is primarily for women who have faced financial challenges in their families and workplace. 

The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund: This fund awards scholarships to women from low-income groups who are 35 years or older. Applicants must be pursuing a degree or vocational training.

Scholarships for Adults and Non-traditional Students

Many students put off attending college or entering the workforce right away, skipping all of their university education. They don’t decide to pursue higher education until much later to increase their general knowledge or improve their career prospects.

Other students’ college careers might have been put on hold due to expanding families or financial issues, and they would later return to finish what they had begun. Many returning or non-traditional students may feel excluded from the scholarship process. But many grants and scholarships are available to support non-traditional students in pursuing their educational objectives.

Professional associations, universities, and advocacy groups all contribute to the following scholarships:

  • American Legion Auxiliary Non-traditional Student Scholarship
  • Walmart Associate Scholarship
  • Association for Non-traditional Students in Higher Education
  • Osher Re-entry Scholarship Program
  • Adult Students in Scholastic Transition Scholarship

Grant Eligibility for Adult Students

An adult student must remember that these grants differ from student loans; therefore, funding agencies reward these grants only to students with financial needs. Applicants must complete their FAFSA form every year to continue receiving grants.

Specific additional requirements vary from program to program that applicants must fulfill. They may include:

  • In the case of the TEACH grant, you must complete the service requirements to avoid repayment of the grant at given interest rates. 
  • You won’t be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant if you are incarcerated in a federal or state prison. If you are subject to a civil commitment upon completing your incarceration for a forcible sexual or non-sexual offense, you can not apply for these aid programs.
  • Your Expected Family Contribution must not exceed the attendance cost when applying for any of these scholarships.

Dos and Don’ts for a Candidate

  • Always ensure that you thoroughly read the information on the agency’s website. Before applying, make sure you meet all eligibility requirements.
  • If you apply for a student loan instead of a grant, always consider the interest rates to avoid high student loan debt. 
  • A college student must also fulfill the service requirements, if any, to avoid repaying the grants. 
  • Be sure to complete all application deadlines and be wary of online scams. While submitting your information online, be careful, as your details may be misused for identity fraud.
  • Do not submit your data or fall for a funding agency that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lists as a scam.
  • Do not fall for schemes that guarantee free money without any effort.

Coverage and Limitations for Grant Programs

Non-traditional students and adults must realize the limitations of the grants that the federal government pays for school. Read the information brochure carefully to understand what your grants will cover. Some grants may only cover your tuition and the cost of books, while others may give you the freedom to spend it on travel and living expenses.

If the funding agency sends the funds directly to your school or college, meet the office assistant or in-charge to understand the funds’ withdrawal requirements. 


Government grants and scholarships are a great way to overcome financial hurdles as you return to your education. If you’re a worker or have left your studies for other reasons, you can fill out the FAFSA application form for these grants.

The college and program you enroll for also play a key role in ensuring maximum benefits from these grants. The college and program you enroll for determine if you get the full advantage.

Discover the various programs at NEIT that offer excellent financial assistance, especially if you’re an adult going back to school to complete your education.


Earn your degree in less than two years from NEIT and begin your new career path today!





What is the easiest grant to get?

All grants depend upon your financial needs. The funding agency will quickly approve your grants if you demonstrate an exceptional financial requirement.

How do I go back to school with no money?

You can go back to school without money by applying for grants, scholarships, and student loans. These grants can help cover your basic expenditure. You can also look for part-time jobs to cover travel and living expenses.

How much money in grants can I get for college?

You can get a maximum government grant of $6,495 annually. The grant amount differs according to location, program, and need.

Is there a limit to financial aid?

Yes. There is a limit of $6,495 annually to the financial aid that the federal government provides.

Is it too late to go back to school?

It is never too late to return to school! The number of adult students in higher education is rising. You won’t be alone if you decide to return to the classroom. Many adults return to school to raise their yearly income or change careers. However, pursuing a new degree can be intimidating if you’re a non-traditional student with other obligations and priorities.

How do adults pay for college?

Scholarships and grants are not limited to students in high school. It would be best if you looked into the numerous scholarships available for adult learners. Grants are an alternative to scholarships. The government frequently bestows grants, which you can use for college without paying it back.

Don’t assume you won’t be eligible without first checking. By submitting the FAFSA online or visiting the financial aid office at your school, you can find out if you qualify for grants.

How difficult is it to win a grant as a non-traditional student?

It is not comforting for a non-traditional student to consider the possibility of not receiving grants. The good news is that there are millions of dollars in unclaimed financial aid. Remind yourself that the more awards you are eligible to receive, the more the statistical likelihood increases.

What classifies as a non-traditional student?

The definition of “non-traditional student” encompasses a wide range of learners and instructional approaches, and the categories include:

  • Returning veterans
  • Older students
  • Single parents
  • Displaced workers
  • Job switchers

Although there are some exceptions, one of the most typical ways to recognize non-traditional students is by their age. Many non-traditional students have already made their mark in the workforce, the military, or as stay-at-home moms.

Going back to school doesn't have to be hard. Start your new career path today!