Continuing education is sought after by a number of people. Generally speaking, continuing education programs can be divided into two classes. The first is general adult education, including courses taught beyond regular postsecondary education like an undergraduate degree. Adult education can include subjects like English as a Second Language, literacy, vocational training, GED preparation, and other forms of non-traditional education. Continuing education programs in this category may or may not be taught at an accredited higher education institution; some may be taught at vocational schools or local community centers, while others may be at an accredited community college.
The second class of continuing education is intended for licensed professionals to maintain or upgrade licensure. Doctors, lawyers, technology specialists, and any other field in which professional certification is granted often have continuing education requirements. Courses are credit-granting, and a number of them are generally required to meet licensing requirements. These types of continuing education courses are often taught in degree and certificate-granting institutions, sometimes remotely via distance learning.
One area where continuing education of either class can be a challenge is with regards to financial aid and making continuing education affordable. Federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant or subsidized loans, like the Stafford Loan, require at least half-time enrollment, while many continuing education programs are structured to be taught a course or a credit at a time, and thus are ineligible for federal financial aid.
For some, there are private student loans specifically geared towards continuing education. Loans are only offered if:
1. Enrollment is less than half-time
2. Attendance is at an approved school
3. Certain credit requirements are met
If you don’t satisfy the credit requirements on your own, try and find a qualified co-signer, which can assist you with getting a better interest rate, as they are variable. Most private student loans for continuing education allow you to borrow a wide range of funds, from as low as $1,500 up to the entire cost of the program. Also, when looking at these loans, be sure to learn about loan repayment options as some require immediate repayment once the loan funds have been sent to you. Unless you have the ability to begin repayment, look for a loan that has options for deferment.