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Paying for College with kids and a mortgage

Updated on February 19, 2014

Have you finally decided what you want to do with your life?

You are not alone. Many people haven't figured out what they want for a career until well into their thirties or forties. The problem you face as you get older is that now you might have a family you still need to provide for. With kids and a mortgage to pay for, you can't just drop everything and go back to school. Planning ahead and being thoughtful about your decisions is a necessity, as they now effect more than just you. I have set out to see what it would take for me to attend college for 3 years while still being a productive father and husband, both emotionally and financially. I also don't want to take on any debt in the process. Here's what I found.

Not working is not an option

You are still going to need some type of gainful employment. The question is when are you going to have to be at school? That will tell you if you can keep your current job, or if you'll need to get a new one. Are you in a big metropolitan area? If so, you're one of the lucky one's. Chances are you would be able to attend night classes, or arrange your school schedule to fit your work schedule. If you live in a rural area, like me (Montana), then you will have to attend college during the day, unless you can find your program online. I want to go into Radiology, so my only option in Montana is the three year full time program. I am a welder and my schedule is 9am to 7:30pm. So, I need a new job!

If you could pay for college would you attend?

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Earn money wherever you can!

While you are trying to get your financial life in order for the leap to the untraditional college student, make money any way that you can. Even if you are comfortable with your current wage, once you start taking college classes, you will need to pay for tuition and books. Also, if you are like me and need to leave your current job when class starts, it would be nice to have all of these extra revenue streams in place.

Cost of college for non-traditional students

  • $3000-$6000 per year for tuition
  • $500-$1000 per year for books
  • rent or mortgage ($500-$1500 per month)
  • Transportation and parking pass ($100+ per month)

The only costs that will be different for us "adult" students will be tuition and books. If you want to be on the lower end of the spectrum, try going to a community college or vocational school for the first two years.

Keep the money rolling in

While you are figuring out what college path you are going to take, work overtime whenever possible. Other ways you can make extra money that you can keep doing once you are enrolled in classes are: newspaper route, donate plasma, work as a temp, night and weekend jobs, mow lawns, shovel snow, freelance writing gigs and hubpages, just to name a few.

You aren't going to make a full time income on hubpages, but you can start writing about what you know now and also take freelance gigs to add to your current income. Any extra income you make should go into a savings account-you're going to need it once you start taking classes.

if you are having trouble making extra cash, you aren't putting enough time in. You can also try sites like fusioncash, cashcrate and cash pirate. These won't make you much money, but let's face it, everything helps. Another site I use that helps me out is ebates, which pays you cash back for things you purchase anyway.

Pay cash for college


One of the best ways to help you pay for school is scholarships. Check the scholarship page on the website for the school you are planning to attend, they usually have many scholarships you can apply for that are specific to your school. There are also scholarships for single parents, and "transfer" students ( if you have credits from another college and meet gpa requirements, you could be eligible for transfer student scholarships). Check for scholarships with your employer, or your spouses employer. There are also many websites, like, that have lists of scholarships with how and when to apply for them.

Stay motivated and you will make it!

The key to success is to stay motivated. The key to your financial success through this process is to pay cash and stay out of debt. This isn't going to work if the credit cards are stacked up three feet high! You need to get out of this with a marketable skill and no added debt to hold you down. Good luck!


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