Going back to school can be expensive, and even though earning a certificate or degree will greatly increase your lifetime earning potential, for many people the upfront expenses can be daunting. But, there are a lot of programs available that can help you finance your studies. Here are some places you can get help paying for criminal justice school.
Federal Pell Grant
A Federal Pell Grant is a needs-based grant designed to help low-income students get a postsecondary education. Because it is a grant, you don’t have to pay the money back, but you do need to be going to school at least part-time. There are currently about 5400 schools that are eligible for the Pell Grant Program. For more information on this grant and how to apply, visit the U.S. Department of Education website.
Many states offer additional need-based support to low-income students. For example, the State of Florida has a special program called the Florida Student Assistance Grant. In many cases, the same application that you fill out for the Pell Grant is also used to determine eligibility for state grants. To find out about the grants available in your state, contact your school or the state Department of Education.
Federal Student Loans are loans given to students who are going to college at least part-time. These loans typically have lower interest rates and more flexible payment options than loans obtained through banks or the schools themselves. If you need a loan, this is probably the best option. To learn more about federal loans, visit the U.S. Department of Education website.
There are many organizations that offer special scholarships for students in criminal justice degree programs. For example, community organizations provide scholarships for local students, and both state and federal organizations offer aid to minorities and other underrepresented populations. Because these scholarships differ by state, the best way to find out about them is to contact your school. Your school may also offer scholarships to top students in the criminal justice program.
If you are a current or former member of the military, or a spouse or child of a military member, you may be eligible for educational benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This can be of great help in paying for your criminal justice education.
One word of warning: To be eligible to receive any of these benefits, the school you attend must be accredited and participating in the various financial aid programs. To learn more about these and the other ways you can get help paying for your criminal justice school, visit the Federal Student Aid website and contact your school. The admissions counselors should be able to point you toward the opportunities that are most appropriate for you.
Pensacola State College. Financial Aid – Grants.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. G.I. Bill Website.
U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid.