WSW: Can Adults Afford to Go Back to School?

Aug 25, 2014

Kalamazoo Valley Community College's M-TEC Center - file photo
Credit WMUK

September is considered "back to school" time. But it's tougher for adults who want to go back and get more education or training. 

A new report from the Michigan League for Public for Public Policy finds that state financial aid for adults going back to school is limited. 

The League's CEO Gilda Jacobs says there are likely thousands of people who are looking for jobs and need new skills. She says Michigan's history with the manufacturing industry, and the loss of jobs in that sector makes going back to school a major issue in Michigan

The Michigan League for Public Policy report finds that financial aid is available for younger students but very little is available for adults who want to go back to school. Jacobs says those adults can apply for Pell Grants. But she says that's doesn't cover all college costs. Jacobs says that may mean that adults are taking on debt for education at the same time they're children are starting or getting ready for college. 

"What we really want to do is reduce as many of those barriers as we can."

Adults who want to go back to school may face other challenges such as holding down a job and family considerations. Jacobs says "what we really want to do is reduce as many of those barriers as we can." She says that would allow people to improve their skills and make themselves more marketable for employment. 

Jacobs says the League for Public Policy would like to see a state grant for adult part-time students restored. It was eliminated in 2010. She says they also want a statewide work study program that would connect low-income adult students to employment opportunities in their course of study. Jacobs says that would not cost a lot in terms of the state budget. And she says educating workers and getting them new skills would benefit the state's economy.