September 2019
5 Financial Tips for Adults Starting or Returning to College
Thousands of Mainers become new or returning students every year. There are many things for adult learners to consider when making the decision to start or return to higher education, and perhaps the most challenging of these is how to pay for it. Below are five financial tips for those wanting to pursue higher education.
1. File the FAFSA ON TIME .
Federal and state financial aid is available, and applying on time will maximize your eligibility. Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis, so find out what your school’s priority FAFSA deadline is and make sure to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible. Get prepared to file the FAFSA by creating your FSA ID , having your tax returns handy, and having a list of schools you’re interested in attending. Our checklist can help you get organized.
2. Save, Save, Save .
Every dollar available from savings, is a dollar that doesn’t need to be borrowed and repaid with interest. Make sure you have emergency savings in place, especially if you plan to cut back your hours at work. Additionally, having dedicated college savings will provide you with additional flexibility and options when paying for college. Learn about investing in a NextGen 529 plan . Any earnings are tax free when used for qualified higher education expenses 1 and NextGen 529 has matching grants for Maine residents 2 .

1 To be eligible for favorable tax treatment afforded to any earnings portion of withdrawals from Section 529 accounts, such withdrawals must be used for qualified higher education expenses, as defined in the Internal Revenue Code. The earnings portion, if any, of a withdrawal not used for qualified higher education expenses is subject to federal income tax and may be subject to a 10% additional federal tax, as well as to state and local income taxes.

2 Grants are linked to eligible Maine accounts. Upon withdrawal, grants are paid only to institutions of higher education. See Terms & Conditions of Maine Grant Programs for other conditions and restrictions that apply at
3. Ask Your Employer about Tuition Assistance .
More and more employers are supporting their employees by providing tuition assistance, including McDonald’s, Walmart, Home Depot, and more! Ask your Human Resource department if your company or agency offers any kind of tuition assistance, such as paying for classes directly, tuition reimbursement, or help with student loan repayment. If they don’t offer tuition help, asking the question might just cause them to consider doing so!
4. Build and/or Review Your Household Budget .
Getting your financial house in order before, during, and after enrolling in your program is vitally important. If you haven’t already, create a spending plan to help you organize your expenses. FAME’s Spending Plan Worksheet and our Manage: Making Your Money Work guide will give you helpful tips to manage your household finances and build or maintain financial wellness, no matter where you are in the higher education process.
5 . Look for Scholarships .
It may seem like scholarship funding for adult students is more limited, but that isn’t necessarily the case! Visit FAME’s Maine Scholarship Search page and select “Returning to School” for local scholarship options. Check out the other links on the page, including the Maine Community Foundation , and iGrad . Using terms like “adult learner” and “degree completion” are a good place to start your search.
Want More Information?
Join us for this month's FREE Wednesday Webinar:

Adult Learners - Exciting Scholarship Updates and Resources

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
10:00–11:00 a.m.

Adults who are starting or continuing their education after high school sometimes feel like their funding options are more limited. In this webinar, we’ll share some exciting expansions to existing fund sources for adults, including the updates to the Rockefeller Scholarship (now called the Adult Learner Scholarship) and the Maine State Grant. We will also discuss helpful financial literacy tools for adult learners that can help with planning and paying for college, career aspirations and managing money.
For additional helpful information and resources, find  previous issues of 5 on the 5th on our website.

FAME's College Access and Financial Education Team:

Mary Dyer, Financial Education Officer
Maria MacDougal, College Access Counselor
Floreka Malual, College Planning Advisor
Nikki Vachon, College Access Counselor
Jessica Whittier, College Access Counselor 
Mila Tappan, College Access and Outreach Manager
Connect with Us!
NextGen is a Section 529 plan administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Before you invest in NextGen, request a NextGen Program Description from your Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor or Maine Distribution Agent or call Merrill Edge at 1-877-463-9843 and read it carefully. The Program Description contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in NextGen, which you should carefully consider before investing. You also should consider whether you or your designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer, member SIPC, is the program manager and underwriter.