Whether you’ve never had a degree, you got one a long time ago, or you’ve never been too far from a classroom, going to college as a nontraditional student always brings its challenges. If you’re a baby boomer, that means you are at or near retirement, so there are some additional financial considerations you should keep in mind.
Why are you going back to school? It’s never too late for a career change, and many baby boomers are looking not to retire but to pursue an avocation, start a business, or keep working in some other capacity as they age.
If you are going to school for a qualification that will help you start a new career or advance in an existing one, your approach to finances might be different than if you are simply going for enrichment. In the former situation, you may be more concerned about whether the cost of the degree is worth it in terms of what it will do for your career.
Try to take a realistic look at your finances and figure out what you can afford.
Paying for College
As a baby boomer headed to college, you may be thinking about paying for more than one college education. The children of many parents in your generation will be grown and finished with college, but some baby boomers might still have college-age kids, and if you do, this can be an additional financial burden.
You or your children or both of you might want to look into Earnest student loans to help pay for your classes. If you are over 65, you might also be eligible for reduced tuition fees at some schools.
Managing Your Retirement
It is important that you continue to invest in your retirement fund effectively while you are going to school. If you are still working, that might mean you are still investing.
If you are considering reducing or stopping your contributions in order to pay for tuition, you may want to sit down with a financial professional and figure out the best way to proceed based on various yields and interest rates.
You might be better off taking out a loan and continuing to make contributions. Every situation is different, and your own should be considered carefully.
Have a Long-Term Plan
This is no time to be careless with your finances, whether you have been saving diligently for decades or you are just starting to think seriously about how you will fund the decades ahead.
It might seem strange to be shopping for student loans and long-term care insurance at the same time, but you should think ahead to various scenarios and make sure that you are covered for all of them. If you are in good health and you want to work into your 80s and even your 90s, this is not impossible.
Others have done it. However, you do need to be prepared for the possibility of needing to support yourself on savings. A financial advisor can help you with some strategies.