Tips for Maximizing Your Education Budget
Skilled laborers are increasing in demand and as a result the enrollment
in vocational schools has almost doubled in the last few years. With
the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor, some of the largest
fields with positions to fill require two years or less of education.
This should be great news if you are on the hunt for a new career. With a
bit of planning and a long term goal set, where can you get the best education for the investment?
Here is one scenario to help evaluate: The completion of a Medical Assistant
course at a vocational school can cost around $1,500 to $4,500. And, if you take similar coursework at a Community College and obtain an Associate's Degree, the costs are at $1,000 to $5,500.
Now, compare this to completing a two-year Nursing Program
at a Community College--even with the extra cost it might be more beneficial long term. For California, a two-year Associate's Degree through community college can cost around $4,600.* Factor in books and uniforms at about $1,500 - $3,500 per year.
The starting annual salary, National average for a Registered Nurse is approximately $45,000 and for a Medical Assistant is approximately $23,000. Which would be the best investment of time and money?
Bottom line: Evaluate your options before committing to any program. Here are a few tips to help you get started:Research
Before signing up talk to friends, read career forums, speak to a college counselor and potential employers. If you are seeking to expedite, find out from employers if internships or on-the-job training is possible.Scams
Avoid and be wary of schools with for-profit or attendance goals. Start by verifying their education program accreditation
. If you should feel pressured to enroll, this might be a good sign to continue looking.Financial Planning
There are many options for financial aid. Whether through the government or other student loans, map out a realistic time line of how long it will take to pay back any incurred debt at your anticipated entry level salary. Find discounts school supplies and look for used books through sites like Chegg
. Back-up Plans
After the thrill of starting over has diminished and lack of sleep has set in, knowing realistically what you can manage before hand will help keep you from scholastic burn out. Good intentions aside, make a point to have an alternate plan in case life happens and you need to change your course.
Being frugal is one thing--but ideally when it comes to your education, planning can be essential to getting the most for your money. Any stories or learning experiences to share?
More information on student aid and scholarships:FTC, Consumer FactsFASFAHealth Resources and Services Administration
*Source: American Association of Community Colleges