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BLOG 08/07/2018

The financial benefits of going back to school

There’s something about this time of year that makes you itch to be in a classroom again. Whether it’s shopping for your kids’ school supplies (why is picking out new pens and folders such a thrill?) or seeing a friend land a killer job with their new degree, maybe you’ve caught back-to-school fever and are considering being a student again. You’re not alone.

The rate of non-traditional students – those who are 25 years old and up, working full-time, or have dependents – is increasing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Going back to school can increase your earning power or put you on a new, more fulfilling career path. But how will you pay for it, where will you find the time, and is a degree really worth it? Here, we break down the costs and benefits of going back to school as an adult.

Choosing the right path

The cost of education varies widely, depending on where you go and the type of learning you plan on doing. Pre-professional programs, which can prepare you for in-demand jobs in healthcare or other fields, are often available at your local public or community college. Vocational programs are another way to break into skilled roles, like construction, engineering, and manufacturing. These programs typically take less time to complete than a four-year degree, so you can reap the financial benefits sooner on the job.

If you’re not ready to commit to life back on campus, a skills-focused program can be a smart way to enhance your abilities or learn new ones. Interested in learning to code, for example? Consider a short-term training course at a place like General Assembly, which offers education around the globe in areas like design, coding, marketing, and business.

The ROI of an education

The financial impact of an education on your career is undeniable. Earning a college degree ratchets up your earning potential by 56 percent annually compared with having only a bachelor’s, and that earning gap just keeps getting bigger, according to a 2017 study.

The thing is, you may already be carrying some student debt from earlier time on campus. While student loans are always available, you want to earn more money, not accrue more debt. According to one study, 75 percent of adults who had considered going back to school said that student debt was their main barrier to attending. Thankfully, you have options. Making a savings plan – and sticking to it – is one way to help foot the bill. You can apply for scholarships geared specifically to adults returning to class. Plenty of companies also offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits package, so it’s worth checking with your employer if you plan to continue working while you’re in school.

Balancing school, work, and home life

Maybe you’ve dreamed of going back to school to earn a new degree or finish up an old one for a while, but time and money stood in your way. These are still factors, but there are ways to make it work. Attending as a part-time student is becoming more and more popular. Having part-time status allows you to make the most of your day to fit in your job, your studies, and even a life. Online courses are another option for gaining flexibility in your schedule while still getting a valuable education. According to a Champlain College Online survey, 60 percent of respondents said that online education was “excellent.”

A final thought? Once you’ve increased your earning power with your new degree or certificate, don’t forget to review your life insurance coverage. With your family now relying on a bigger paycheck, you’ll likely need a bigger policy to replace that income and repay any student loans if something were to happen to you. Getting affordable, high-quality life insurance is a breeze, especially compared with going back to school. But you’re well-educated, so you already knew that.


At eFinancial, our goal is to make life insurance simple, affordable, and understandable for everyday families. This content is intended for educational purposes only. Each post is carefully fact-checked, reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the information is as relevant as possible.