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Student Loans Available For Seniors

Updated on February 22, 2013
public domain image (Korean sign - watch out for senior citizens)
public domain image (Korean sign - watch out for senior citizens)

Student Loans Available for Seniors

I bet you thought this was about student loans for seniors in high school, huh?

Does something sound funny about that phrase....student loans for seniors? Well, not really!

In this day and age of people of all ages realizing their dreams (or at least trying to), more and more seniors are going back to school for a variety of reasons.

Would it not seem logical then that there would be student loans for seniors? You bet!

Let's examine some of the ways that a senior can go back to school without dipping into his or her retirement money and how to go about it.

Student Loan Types for Senior Citizens


Federal loans such as Stafford loans are available to senior citizens also. These are lucrative loans because they are most often associated with a very low interest rate. The federal government secures these loans and all one has to do to qualify is fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA). However, one thing to be aware of with federal loans is that they usually have a cap and if your expenses are projected to be more than they cover, you might need to also have a secondary loan.

Once you get a federal loan secured, the payments go directly to the institution. These loans allow you to defer payment until 6 months after you graduate. Federal loans generally take weeks to months to secure so it's best to plan ahead!


Private loans are available through many sources such as banks or other lending institutions. These are not, however, guaranteed by the federal government. Some private student loans allow you to defer payment as well until 6 months after you graduate but it's important to know what each loan's terms are. Some require payments to begin as soon as the loan is issued. Private loans are based usually on a good credit history.

Private student loan payments are made to the person securing the loan rather than the institution so the student gets the money in hand when the loan is granted.


Today, there are many other types of financing available to the senior student. Here are some great sources of funding:

  • Grants for adult education and learning
  • Career development monies
  • Tuition reimbursement programs through an employer - present or retired from
  • Scholarships for adult students from unions
  • Graduate assistantships/apprenticeships
  • Educational benefits for veterans


Most federal student loans are based on need and are by far the most affordable. It's also possible to consolidate your student loans after you graduate so you have only 1 monthly payment. Usually on a federal student loan, the government will pay the interest on the loan while you're in school.

Private education loans come in all sizes and shapes with all kinds of different interest rates and payment options. Research and find the ones that best meet your needs and your pocketbook and that have the best repayment options.

Surprisingly, there are hundreds of scholarships available to seniors as well as young students. There are also many grants that a senior can qualify for and this is a really great source of money for seniors to tap into. Scholarships never have to be paid back! Grants are the same way so it's like a gift you receive to go to school.

An important factor is figuring out how much money you need for your education and then determine where it will come from.

Seniors can receive scholarships based on work experience, community service or even some are awarded because you are the right gender.

Try civic organizations, professional associations and foundations for possible ways to finance your senior student costs.

Senior Citizens Going Back To School

Student Loans for the Senior Citizen

Especially in recent years, defaulting on payment of student loans can land you in some trouble financially. It will most definitely damage your credit score and you can end up in serious trouble for neglecting to make even 1 or 2 payments.

The only way that you can "legitimately" default on your student loan is if you are hit with a catastrophic and debilitating illness. You may then qualify to have payment deferred or in some cases, canceled.

Seniors can also use a home equity loan to pay for schooling but the interest accrued on loans while you are a student will be added to the principal balance whenever repayment begins. Your payments will also be due monthly during the duration of your education so keeping that in mind is essential.

In short, there are many ways that a senior can return to school and get an education in just about any subject imaginable.

The important thing is preparing for this new and important step and then finding the necessary financial backing you'll need.

Using these tips should send you on the path to education and give you some choices to think about.


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