7 Great Sources of Financial Aid for Switching Careers

With ever-growing competition in the job market, it's imperative to improve and develop our professional skill sets. Although higher education and career training can be an expensive investment, there are many sources of financial aid in the form of adult career scholarships, fellowships, and grants. Consider these seven.

1. Government Opportunities

Federal, state, and local governments often have money set aside to award grants and scholarships for adult learning. These opportunities are not very well advertised, but they are easily found if you know where to look. The best source of information on these is your State Education Bureau and the Federal Student Financial Aid Center.

2. Scholarships for Women

Scholarships for Women is an excellent site that lists little-known financial aid opportunities for women. Many of them are expressly dedicated to specific demographics, including race, religion, family structure, field of study, sexual orientation, and education level.

3. Scholarships for Working Parents and Those Who Want to Work Abroad

If you are returning to college to finish a degree or start a new one as an adult student, Scholarships.com has a number of links for adult learners. Some are specialized for working parents who are returning to the workforce after some time away. If you're adventurous and looking to have a second act abroad, the Peace Corps has a special initiative to entice experienced professionals 50 years of age and older to join its ranks.

4. Vocational Training

There have been a number of recent news stories about the lack of well-trained tradespeople, since these jobs remain very much in demand. If trade school interests you, there's money available to help you make that career transition. Check out the link for trade school scholarships at CollegeScholarships.org.

5. Financial Aid for Senior Citizens

You're never too old to learn, and many senior citizens are returning to school as a professional second act, or to pursue a long-held educational dream. Many schools (especially state schools) offer scholarships and grants specifically for senior citizens. Contact a college near you to learn about specific financial programs for seniors.

6. Career-Specific Opportunities

If you know exactly what field you want to study and need the funding to make it possible, ScholarshipExperts gives you a way to search by topic of study. And the topics vary widely — from the liberal arts to science to business to trade school.

7. Culinary School

In recent years, our national palate has gotten more sophisticated thanks to the craft food and beverage movement, as well as the popularity of media properties like the Food Network. More people than ever are pursuing further culinary training, and happily, there are a number of educational funding opportunities available. The James Beard Foundation and cooking schools such as Le Cordon Bleu offer financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants.

Are you considering returning to school or switching careers? How will you pay for it?

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