By Erin Tigro
Maybe you're unemployed and looking to make yourself more marketable in your job search. Perhaps you already have a job and are interested in developing your skills in order to ensure your indispensability. Maybe you'd just like to jump into an entirely new field. Whatever the scenario, here are a few paths that could help keep your bank account in the black and avoid the need for student loans.
Employer-Sponsored Tuition Assistance
As a draw to interested candidates, employers will often boast this benefit within their job advertisements. Companies that offer such programs include Verizon, UPS, Capital One, Disney and Best Buy. Terms vary by organization. Some corporations offer tuition assistance to part-timers as well as full-timers, although there may be a waiting period after initial employment. If you're already working and are interested in developing your job skills, visit your HR department and see if your employer offers such a plan. If you work for a smaller company, consider approaching your manager or the owner and plead your case. You never know. If the advanced training is directly related to your position and could benefit your company, you may have a shot.
Apprenticeships are often offered for more labor-driven careers, such as those in electrical, plumbing, welding, sheet metal, carpentry or masonry work. While formal apprenticeships typically require a commitment of 4-5 years, apprentices usually earn pay while they gain hands-on training in their chosen field. In addition, most apprenticeships also integrate some classroom training. Depending on the sponsoring organization, the fees associated with this may be covered. If not, participants may be able to qualify for reduced tuition fees.
Grants and Scholarships
Many higher education institutions, companies and nonprofit organizations as well as federal and state agencies bestow money to those who are interested in attending college. Grants and scholarships may be given out based on a number of factors, including financial need, academic proficiency, age, gender, ethnicity, disability, interested career path or community service commitments. Websites like Fastweb and College Board provide free, customized scholarship searches. Depending on how many scholarships you acquire as well as how many classes you plan on taking at one time, you could potentially get your entire education subsidized.