I am part of a nontrad group on Yahoo. Recently, we had two new members join the group. One is a stay at home mom (SAHM) who is venturing out to return to school. The other new member wants to get her A.S. in Computer Science. Both ladies are asking great questions - things like, What kind of financial aid will I qualify for, if any? How do I return to school and not take out a loan to do so? Is it possible to get my degree when I have to work full time at a job with inflexible hours? What do I do if the classes I need are not available at night? Whew! Heavy stuff. I'll try to address the financial aid questions here and save the other class-related questions for another time.
First of all, the road to good financial aid begins with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). In order to fill out this form, you will need your previous year's tax return and any information you may have on your personal assets, receipt of government assistance, number of dependents not only in your household but also attending college, etc. In my family, three of us are in college. Next year, there will be four of us. My husband will be the only one not in college. That will have an effect on the amount of financial aid I receive next year.
Second, scour the Internet for financial aid resources. A good place to start is the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov/students/prep/college/index.html. Deb Peterson recently posted about the 2010 Labor, Health & Education Appropriations bill. You can read about it at: http://adulted.about.com/b/2009/07/26/house-passes-bill-appropriating-dollars-to-adult-education.htm. Do your homework with regard to financial aid. Ask your school's financial aid office for assistance. They may be aware of resources you are not.
Lastly, save your finances by bypassing that frappucino. I love Starbucks, but now, I save it as a treat - like ice cream and chocolate. Saves money!
Good luck with the FAFSA and the financial aid. Get started early on your search! Good luck! Stay tuned . . .