How Low-income Adults Access Affordable Education

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A guest post by Anica Oaks

In high school, teens are told that no matter where they come from, they can go to college. Unfortunately, many low-income adolescents don’t have the opportunity to even apply to universities, since they may not have the money for the application fee, funds for textbooks or enough money to cover the residual tuition not covered by FAFSA.

Many low-income adults began working while they were still in high school. After graduating, they are left struggling to make ends meet with a minimum wage job and wind up feeling suffocated and discouraged early on in life. Despite the fact that they may not be able to afford an Ivy League school, there are accessible education opportunities for low-income adults whether they graduated last summer or 30 years ago.

Free College Classes Online

Sites like Coursera and edX have teamed up with hundreds of renowned universities across the world to offer learners from all backgrounds access to a quality education free of charge. The courses that you can find range from introductory level English and math courses to digital marketing, science, languages, computer science and engineering, and more.

Each site gives students the option to purchase certificates of completion for less than $100 per course, and Coursera even offers financial aid for those who can’t afford the default price. Whether you just want to learn for personal benefit or to gain the knowledge necessary to pursue new career opportunities, getting started at Coursera and edX is an excellent way to do so for little to no cost.

Find a Vocational School

Many schools will teach you how to become a professional at a trade like cosmetology, electricity and HVAC installation and more for a very low cost. The Newgate School in Minneapolis turns donated trucks and cars from citizens into tools for low-income students to work on and learn how to become auto mechanics in under 2 years.

There are other many other vocational schools you can find that offer affordable financing options for low-income students and can provide you with the training you need to get a high-paying career in under 2 years.

Scholarships and Work Study Programs

Many low-income adults write off college before they fully explore all their options. Although it requires some extra research, many people can qualify for special scholarships that can be combined with federal student aid. In-state tuition for many colleges is less than $10,000 a year to residents. A scholarship can open the door to education, and a work-study program that provides you with some income as well as pays off your tuition while you work are all viable options for low-income adults looking to better themselves and expand their career options.

Even if you don’t have money for a traditional education, don’t give up! If you search hard enough, you can find opportunities for free or subsidized education.


Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

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