After a decade of serious commitment to my career gleaned from my bachelor’s degree, I embarked on a journey to upskill myself, motivated by the urge to broaden my prospects.
Being a resident of a bustling metro city blessed with a top-notch academic institution facilitated my commute for classes, however, the real challenge lay in the overnight transition from a financially secure job to depending solely on student aid, necessitating a significant shift in my lifestyle.
Invest in a Better Tomorrow: Combat Financial Challenges
This undertaking had the potential to equip me with an advanced degree and possibly an assortment of career opportunities. Still, it had its fair share of hurdles. Here are a few strategies I would suggest for those attempting to swap from a stable income to a creative life driven by student financial aid:
- Debt De-escalation
Before stepping into the academic realm again, strive to be as debt-free as possible to cushion the impact of reduced income. Dedicate a few months to financial consolidation before studying, which might imply taking on another job momentarily to pay off bills or saving for unforeseen circumstances.
- Lifestyle Reassessment
Consider adaptable changes to your lifestyle to adjust to the impending income drought. Your primary focus should be on your academics, not juggling financial concerns. Temporary alterations might involve downsizing your accommodations or sharing your space with a roommate, selling your vehicle and switching to public transportation or a bicycle, minimizing expenses on entertainment and foods, and so forth.
- Budgeting Realistic
Switch to a semester-based budgeting regimen instead of a monthly one. Given that your financial aid checks are disbursed at the start of every term, attempts to overspend during the initial days should be curtailed. Adjust your financial strategies to cover a semester’s expenses (~90 to 120 days) instead of 30-days cycles.
- On-Campus Jobs
If a part-time job is on your agenda, here are the perks of choosing one on campus: better hourly pay, potential tuition waivers, networking opportunities, and flexible schedules.
- Health Insurance Policies
The financial strain of personal medical insurance, especially when it was an privilege of your full-time job, should not deter you. On-campus student health insurance and healthcare services are a more budget-friendly alternative.
- General Cost-savings Measures
Some tips to consider: second-hand textbooks or online purchases over bookstore purchases, leveraging student discounts, bartering services with classmates, and generating additional income by selling unneeded items.
Returning to school was indeed a significant decision and while thinking of the degree choice might seem exciting, the real struggle lies in the execution and lifestyle adaptation.
To date, it is the best decision I have ever made. I am now an advanced degree holder and a successful business owner. The after-effects of my time in academia will linger on even after I have paid my last financial aid bill.