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Whether you never finished your degree, you’re changing careers, or you just want to further your professional skills, continuing education courses can be a great way to accomplish your goals.
The only challenge? Those courses don’t come for free, and usually, traditional student loans won’t cover them. Fortunately, there are other options. If you’re thinking of going back to school, here’s a look at how you might foot the bill.
On this page:
Federal student loans for continuing education
There’s a chance you may be eligible for various federal loans, but you’ll need to be enrolled at least half-time—meaning you’re taking six credits per semester. You’ll also need to be participating in an eligible degree or certification program. You can find potential certificate programs using the National Center of Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool.
Here are the three federal loans you might be able to use for continuing education:
- Direct Subsidized Loans: With these loans, you won’t pay interest while in school. You do have to prove financial need, though.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: You’ll have to pay interest on unsubsidized loans from day one, but you can qualify without proving any sort of financial need.
- Plus Loans: These loans are for graduate and professional students. Eligibility is based on a credit check, so you can’t have any adverse events on your report (like a bankruptcy, for example).
To check your eligibility for these loans, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After your application is reviewed, you’ll get an award letter detailing the types of financial aid for which you qualify.
If you’re awarded any Pell Grants or other federal grants, make sure to use these before turning to federal student loans. Grants do not require interest, nor do they need to be repaid. Student loans do, on both counts.
Private student loans for continuing education
If federal loans aren’t an option (or you’ve exhausted all the loans for which you qualify), then private student loans can help with the remainder of these costs.
Private student loans are issued by private lenders and financial institutions, and they often come with higher interest rates than federal options. You also might need to begin repaying your loan immediately—even while still enrolled in school.
To be eligible for a private student loan, you usually need a good credit score. If you don’t have one, you might need a high-credit cosigner to help you take out the loan.
If you’re considering a private loan for your continuing education costs, College Ave offers a Career Loan that could be a good fit.
College Ave Career Loan
1.49% – 12.99%
$1,000 – 100% of cost of attendance
5, 8, 10, or 15 years
Private lender College Ave offers a Career Loan designed for students pursuing various associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degree programs. College Ave is our top-rated student loan lender.
Here’s what you need to know about the Career Loan:
- Eligibility requirements: Must be enrolled at a qualifying school, may need a cosigner depending on your credit, must have a valid Social Security number
- Variable rates: 1.49% – 12.99%
- Fixed rates: 4.39% – 12.95%
- Repayment terms: 5, 8, 10, or 15 years
- When repayment begins: Immediately or once you’re finished with school (full principal and interest, interest-only, flat-fee, and deferred payment options are available while in school)
- Discounts offered: Autopay rate reduction of 0.25%
- Key features: Variable and fixed rates available, four repayment options, an easy online application process, and a $150 reward for completing your degree or program.
Other student loan resources related to continuing education
If you’re looking for additional help in financing your continuing education, we have more resources that can assist you.
See below for a variety of program-specific loans and financing products:
- Student loans for certificate programs: Head here if you’re enrolled in a certification program.
- Student loans for non-degree programs: Check this list if you’re not pursuing an education that won’t result in a specific degree or certification.
- Student loans for trade school and career training: Exploring a specific trade or career path? These resources can help.
- Student loans for acting school: If you’re enrolled in a professional acting program or academy, these loan options could help cover the costs.
- Student loans for cosmetology school: Studying to become a hairstylist or makeup artist? These cosmetology program loans might be helpful.
- Student loans for coding boot camp: Computer coding is one of the most in-demand career paths out there. Try these resources to help pay for your program.
Alternatives to student loans for continuing education
There are a number of alternative financing methods you can also explore as a continuing education student. First, ask your employer if you qualify for any educational benefits. Many companies will cover all or some of the costs of continuing ed courses if they’re directly related to your job.
You can also look for scholarships and grants specific to continuing education or your chosen career path. Finally, personal loans, home equity loans, and HELOCs can help if you exhaust all other options.
Author: Aly Yale