Paying for College When the Freshman is 40

A tough job market and majors shifts in where the jobs are has been sending adults back to campus, some for the first time.

In 2008, the year the financial markets and the economy started to tumble, college enrollments for students over 25 were up 18 percent from the year 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. A significant portion of this group is over 35.

The NCES predicts that number will grow another 16 percent by 2017. At community, local and online colleges that cater to alternative students, the 25-plus crowd can fill the majority of desks (real and virtual).

Adult students have more complex financial lives than their traditional counterparts. They are more likely to have credit scores and ongoing debt, maybe even old student loans. The might have higher costs of living, especially if they’re married or own a home. They are less likely to have parents to help with the bills or co-sign loans, and they could have their own kids in college or headed that way.

But there is more financial aid available to this group than many imagine, including many of the need-based sources available to traditional students, financial experts say. Here are five ways to trim the out-of-pocket costs of going back to school.

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