9 Ways for Older Students to Pay for College

Paying for college is rarely easy, and the scarcity of scholarships makes it even more difficult for students who attend college later in life. While it might be discouraging when looking for grant and scholarship opportunities, there are a few places older students can visit.


Merit-based scholarships are a great way for current or former college students to get money for school. They are typically based on achievement, whether it’s academic, athletic, or artistic. 

  • Imagine America offers a $1,000 scholarship to students who are looking to attend a trade school or career college. Applicants just need to become a member of the Imagine America Foundation and have a GED or high school diploma.
  • Return2College Scholarship offers a $1,000 scholarship to any eligible U.S. resident and has no maximum age for application. With a short essay answering the prompt: “Why are you getting your degree?” This is a great option for students who don’t have enough time to sit down and write an entire essay.
  • The Unigo 10k Scholarship offers $10,000 to the winner of a short-essay contest. All you have to do is write 250 words or less on whether you “Would you rather be smart, funny or rich? Why?” Applicants need to be legal U.S. residents living in the continental U.S. 


While scholarships are merit-based, grants are typically based on financial need. 

  • The Pell Grant is an excellent option for undergraduate students. Anyone of any age can apply and qualify for any amount up to $6,895, depending on demonstrated financial need. The application process starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) can provide between $100 and $4,000 of financial need. Again filling out the FAFSA is the first step.
  • The TEACH Grant is available to college students pursuing a teaching career. To qualify to apply, you must agree to teach at a school that serves low-income students. If you receive the grant, you can be awarded up to $4,000.

These are all great ways for students looking to attend college later in life. There is no “wrong time” to go to school; money should not hinder that. Good luck applying for scholarships and grants!

Author Bio

Joining the team for a second year, Morgan is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School in Downtown Phoenix for ASU Barrett Honor College. She’s a native Arizonian, and taking after her dad, she loves writing and art of all mediums. Morgan is excited to gain new experiences through her second summer as an intern at GradGuard and form new relationships with the GradGuard team.