I will soon be 60 and have returned to school to get a Master's
degree in Psychology as I could not get a job here with a BA and
compete with younger people. I have used up my GI bill (Vietnam era
Navy vet), received a loan for money for school, but have to live off
of that as well as I cannot work and go to school at the same time. I have
two As and will probably get one in statistics (my third course) as
well. The school told me I could apply for another loan, but now I am
told I cannot. I am enrolled in a very intense online program and need
help. I was recently diagnosed with skin cancer, but do not know how
bad it is yet and have other health issues as well. I still
desperately want to work, even though I am helping two other women
with severe cancer issues (one will move in with me since she has no
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insurance) and going to class and devoting my life to getting good
grades; this education does take time and dedication to do
right. PLEASE help me! I have always helped others, raised three
children alone and even through severe hardships, kept going. How do I
get money now???
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You are to be commended for your service to our country and all that
you continue to do to help others.
Aside from federal veterans education benefit programs like the GI Bill
, there are several private
scholarship programs for veterans. When completing a scholarship
search profile on Fastweb, edit the profile via the link in the top
right corner of the page to specify your military service
background. There may also be resources on
that can help
Good resources include the
Veterans Support Foundation
Vietnam Veterans of America
Tillman Military Scholars program
Contact the VA
to ask about
Depending on the type of cancer, Vietnam veterans may be eligible for disability compensation
for certain service-connected diseases
Skin cancer is not currently one of these diseases, but there has been
some research linking Agent Orange exposure to higher risk of
melanoma, so this may change.
The FinAid site publishes a list of cancer scholarships
Financial aid for treatment and medications, as opposed to financial
aid for college, may be available from the
Patient Advocate Foundation
Partnership for Prescription Assistance
As a general rule, undergraduate and graduate students should borrow
no more for their education than their expected annual starting
salary, regardless of age. If total education debt is less than the
borrower's annual income, the borrower will be able to repay the debt
in about 10 years. If total student loan debt exceeds annual income,
the borrower will struggle to repay his or her student loans.
Students who are in their 50s and 60s should be especially careful to
borrow no more than they can afford to repay in 10 years or by
retirement, whichever comes first. Student loans do not disappear when
the borrower retires and there's no new income after retirement to
help repay the loans, just retirement and disability benefits.
by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found
that 11.8% of student loan borrowers with outstanding student loan debt are
age 50-59 and 5.3% are age 60+. The average debt is about $21,300 for
people age 50+ and about $18,600 for people age 60+. One can infer
from the Federal Reserve data that about 6% of people age 50+ and 3%
of people age 60+ still owe money on their student loans.
Some online colleges may steer students toward private student loans,
which are often more expensive than federal student loans. Older
students who choose to borrow to pay for college should borrow federal
first, as federal education loans are not only cheaper and more
available than private student loans, but they also have better
repayment terms. In particular, income-based repayment is available
for federal student loans but not for private student
loans. Income-based repayment can
yield an affordable monthly payment, especially for
who are retired or who will be retiring soon
Federal student loans for graduate school include the unsubsidized
Stafford loan and the Grad PLUS loan.
While an online college may be convenient, it may not be the
least expensive option. Shop around. A local public college, for
example, may offer special discounts to students who are retired or
close to retirement.
Even if a student in his or her 60s is planning on working well past
the normal retirement age, it isn't always possible to do so. Health
issues can sometimes get in the way. A more practical solution may
involve searching for a better job, rather than going into debt for an
education that may not pay off, given the limited remaining work-life.
When applying for jobs, Vietnam era veterans should
inform the employer about their military service. See the US Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and
Training Service (VETS)