Financial Aid Strategies for Nontraditional Students

Gordana OehmenGordana Oehmen is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Leadership Development student from Oshkosh, Wis. Oehmen is originally from Belgrade, Serbia, and came to the United States in 1999. Oehmen also earned three credits for her prior learning in project planning, and six credits in foreign language.

Going to college and finding a way to pay for it is a concern for many nontraditional students.    Many of us may think that our financial aid options are limited, but they are not. There are many financial aid options available.

The majority of aid for students comes through the federal government in the form of loans, grants and work study, and it is NOT restricted by our age. Wisconsin also offers a wide variety of general grants and scholarships for its residents who are enrolled at a state supported college or university.

To determine your eligibility, you must first fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The form can be found at The UW Oshkosh Financial Aid Office can also help you fill out the form if you find it confusing.

The FAFSA form is especially important to fill out if you are a nontraditional student, since more of your aid is going to come from the government. Federal loans generally have much lower costs (in terms of interest rates) than private ones.

You should also consider scholarships. Many of us think that if we cannot maintain a high point average (to meet some scholarship requirements) why bother, but if you are willing to work hard you may win a scholarship. Information on scholarships can be found on UWO Financial Aid website

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs. Before I returned to school two years ago to finish the remainder of my classes, I checked with the human resources department at my job about tuition reimbursement. My employer offers this program and I took the advantage of it. The employer pays my tuition.The reimbursement is based on my grades, and I must maintain A’s or B’s to be fully reimbursed.

Not sure where to find detailed information about financial aid?  The UWO Financial Aid Office is great resource. You can either stop by and talk with the financial aid counselor or visit their website at

What we should not do? We should not borrow more than we need. It may be tempting to borrow more for our living costs, but this will make it more difficult for us to repay the debt after we graduate.

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