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How to Borrow Loans for Alternative Higher Education

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How to Borrow Loans for Alternative Higher Education

By Ashley Norwood.

Students pursuing alternative degrees may face unique challenges when it comes to paying for their programs.

According to the recent jobs report, the U.S. continues to add positions for skilled workers, particularly in the health care industry. To help meet workforce demands, more students – young and old – are turning to alternative postsecondary options.

This may be a solid strategy, since a recent report from Third Way, a public policy and advocacy organization, indicates a growing shortage of middle-skilled workers in the U.S. exasperated by baby boomers retiring.

Furthermore, a study published by the education company Pearson projects a promising future in the U.S. in 2030 for those in construction, health care and other skill-based industries due to factors like technological advancements and demographic changes.

Those pursuing an alternative higher education pathway need to keep in mind how they’re going to pay for that degree or credential. Many career schools, vocational programs and technical programs are not offered at accredited learning institutions, making them ineligible for federal financial aid.

While alternative degrees, including nondegree programs, are sometimes taught at two- or four-year traditional colleges, most are offered at career colleges, vocational and trade schools, career training centers, Job Corps centers and military vocational programs.

Employers may also offer training. Students can earn alternative degrees in such fields as information technology, health care and industry, to name a few.

Still, the lack of accreditation shouldn’t cause you to run in the other direction, if you’ve done your research and the program offers a worthwhile credential.

Ultimately, being accredited means the program meets certain educational standards that a nationally recognized accrediting agency sets; unaccredited programs lack this distinction.

While this can be a red flag for underperforming traditional schools, it’s not necessarily a bad sign for career credentials – especially when they aren’t offered at the stereotypical brick-and-mortar college campus.


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