Tag Archives | continuing education


Image by www.gotcredit.com on Flickr

Chances are, if you graduated from college, you have at least one student loan to pay off.  If that’s the case, my condolences.  However, you’re not alone.  All the better to budget with.  If you’re forced to save a set amount of money every month, you’re more likely to learn how to budget, and learn fast.  There are a number of ways to cut costs in your daily life. 

The first step is to make a budget that allocates a set amount of money toward bills, food, rent/mortgage, and daily expenses. Then, figure out how much is left over based on your income. If you’re in the States, find a tool that calculates whether you qualify for income-based repayment — via President Obama’s William D. Ford Direct Loan Program — and go from there. However, a warning: there are a number of different options for student loan repayment now, so beware of private companies that want you to refinance with them so that they can make a profit.  Here’s an infographic with a flow chart that’s easy to understand:

Students picture

While it may be tempting to simply allow your student loans to go into default, it’s probably not wise in the long run.  Defaulting can result in wage garnishment, tax refund withholding, even the revoking of your driver’s license!  That’s nothing to fool around with.  Better to go with the twenty-five year plan, if you’re short on cash — as many of us are these days.  There are a number of steps you can take to gain more control over your finances, even if you don’t feel like you have a lot of expendable income.

First, focus on what you can control.  How much money is left after you put aside your basic monthly expenses and student loan expenses?  As difficult as it might seem, try to set aside a little each month for a savings account.  You’ll be grateful when an unexpected expense comes along.  And try not to rack up a lot of excess credit card debt.  If you can’t afford to pay for something, maybe it’s not worth the additional expense every month.  If there isn’t enough money at the end of the day to simply get by, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your career path and consider setting a goal to get a better job or return to school for a specialized certificate or a different career altogether.

A good rule of thumb in selecting a program of study is a) Are you passionate about this subject and, b) Is it practical? That is, are you going to school for a position that’s highly in demand?  An example of a field that is always growing and expanding is healthcare.  (I would say education too, but there are the salaries to consider.)  To give you an idea, here’s a visual with some useful numbers as ball park estimates.  Basically, you’re looking at 90K a year, at minimum. With that kind of salary, you should be able to pay off your student loans fairly quickly — within ten years, as opposed to twenty-five years. If you’re concerned about choosing between a second degree and quitting your job, fear not: there are now a plethora of online programs in nursing and healthcare for you to choose from.

If, on the other hand, you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur looking to think outside the box and go the route of starting a business rather than working for a company, you could always begin building your business while still in school.  If you go this route, you’ll likely have other types of loans to contend with: business loans.  How do you go about juggling student loans and business expenses, all while trying to raise enough capital for your business to grow?  Well, nowadays we have the Internet, and along with it come innovative crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Interestingly enough, crowdsourcing is fast becoming a mainstream source of capital generation for startups, considering the increasingly important role social media is assuming in effective business marketing campaigns.

So take heart and have courage: you can do whatever you set out to do with your money or your career.  Just take things one proverbial step at a time, and you’ll be fine. If you have ideas to contribute about successfully balancing college, money, and career goals, either in or out of school, post them in the comments below.

This article was contributed by guest author Daphne Stanford.

Image by Pat Quinn on Flickr

Image by Pat Quinn, Flickr

When you have entered the workforce, you may feel at first that you’ve “arrived” at your career destination. However, further education can provide you with skills and knowledge to take your career to another level. Sometimes skills will be directly tied to the work you do, while at other times they may be more general. For whatever reasons you decide to further your education, here are 3 ways you can actually do it.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is a catch-all phrase that may include the kinds of online coursework just mentioned, but could also include other types of classes. Many universities and community colleges offer real-time continuing education classes for adult learners. Some may be tied to degree programs, while others are stand-alone classes for personal enrichment or to provide skill “upgrades.” For example, you might take a course in computer skills to stay updated on the latest operating systems or programs that will help you at work.

Take an Online Class or Complete an Online Degree

Online education is opening new doors for adult workers, whether you want to complete your bachelor’s, pursue a civil engineering master’s degree, or take a few courses to increase skills in a given area. Online learning platforms provide flexibility. You don’t need to leave your job to pursue a degree, though if you take courses at an accelerated pace, you may want to step your work hours down to accommodate your commitment. The choice of pacing is up to you, which is the main attraction to online courses. Since many online programs allow you to pay one course at a time, you can make this option fit your budget. Some employers encourage workers in online degree programs by offering forms of tuition reimbursement for classes tied directly to skills needed for the job.

Certificate or Diploma Programs

Whether you go with an online or “brick and mortar” option, you might find yourself wanting to pursue a certificate or diploma in addition to the associate’s or bachelor’s degree you have. This can be especially helpful if you work in a field that has areas of specialization. For instance, a nurse might decide to pursue a certificate in pediatric nursing or an accountant might want to become an expert in tax accounting skills. There are different certificates of various degrees of authority within almost every vocation. Make sure you are selecting one that is recognized by your company as valuable.

Whether you decide to take courses for personal enrichment, to learn a specific job-related skill or just to gain further knowledge or skills to advance your career, there are many paths you can take. Consider following these paths as it can help you better yourself and your station.

This article was contributed by guest author Meghan Belnap.