Indiana College Costs Estimator

Adult/Non-Traditional Students

It is never too late to go back to school.  Whether or not you are a first-time student or returning, check out the links below to see how you can further your education. Remember, going back to school does not necessarily mean a 2-4 year degree or graduate degree; it also includes licensure and certificate programs as well. So what financial aid does an adult or “non-traditional” student qualify for?

Federal Government

In order to qualify for federal financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  To be eligible for a state grant, Indiana residents must complete the FAFSA by March 10 of every year for the next school year; a student can still file the FAFSA after March 10 for possible federal grants up to June 30 of the current year.  To access the FAFSA, go to: . Here are some federal programs you might qualify for:

Pell Grants

You can qualify for up to $5,775 in Pell if you attend an institution more than half-time.  Keep in mind that the full Pell can only be awarded for students attending an eligible institution full-time and students attending part-time can only receive a prorated maximum of $4,298 (3/4 time). Further, the amount of the Pell you receive depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You will get this figure when you fill out the FAFSA. You can generate an EFC in the “Calculate” section of this tool and see what you might expect to receive as a full-time student.

*Note: Individuals who have already received a bachelor’s degree will not be considered undergraduate students, so therefore will not qualify for a Pell Grant. If this is the case for you, you will still be eligible for Federal Direct Loans and might be eligible for any federal work-study the college awards.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

This is a need-based grant awarded by the institution. Individual awards cannot exceed $4,000 per academic year. 

Federal Direct Loans

If you are 24 or older on or before December 31 of the award year, you are considered an Independent Student. This means that parent income and assets are not included in the FAFSA, only the student’s (and spouse’s if married) income and assets are included. It also means that you qualify for more unsubsidized loan amounts (an additional $4,000/year your freshman and sophomore years and $5,000/year your junior and senior years). This means that as an Independent Student, you can borrow up to:

  • Freshman year: $7,500
  • Sophomore year: $8,500
  • Junior and Senior years: 10,500

But before you consider unsubsidized loans be sure to take what you can of subsidized loans.  With this loan, the student does not have to pay any principal while in school more than half time and the government pays the interest during this time. However, not all students will qualify for a subsidized loan. If your EFC number is higher than the college’s Cost of Attendance (COA) number, you will not be eligible for a subsidized loan. Eligibility also takes into account remaining need after other aid is already awarded, such as federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, state grants, or other forms of financial aid.

Are you a graduate student? You can also look at the PLUS loan for graduate and professional students.

State Assistance

The Frank O'Bannon Grant (formerly the Indiana Higher Education Grant) Program is designed to provide access for Hoosier students to attend eligible Indiana postsecondary institutions. The grants, targeted to approved tuition and fees, are "need-based" and do not require repayment. The program receives its funding through appropriations made by the Indiana General Assembly. Due to variations in appropriations, the number of filers and the "need" of the filer base, the dollar value of state grants may vary from year to year. To qualify, students must:

  • Be an Indiana resident by December 31st the year prior to applying (December 31, 2013 for the 2014-2015 school year) and remain so during the academic year
  • Be a U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident or Eligible Noncitizen;
  • Be a high school graduate or hold a GED;
  • Attend, or plan to attend, an eligible college or university;
  • Be enrolled, or plan to enroll, in a course of study leading to an associates or first bachelor’s degree;
  • Be a full-time student, or plan to enroll as a full-time student (typically defined as at least 12 credit hours per term); and
  • Fill out the FAFSA - by March 10 of the academic year preceding the academic year the applicant plans to enroll.

Note: A separate part-time state grant is available for students enrolled on a part-time basis. It is specifically designed to help those undergraduates who are taking at least 3 but less than 12 credit hours per term at an eligible institution. The students must meet State residency requirements, have filed a FAFSA and otherwise qualify for State aid. The part-time grant is a need-based award.  For information contact the financial aid office of your college.

Private Assistance

Many private scholarships do not have age restrictions. Check out our free scholarship searches page to find scholarships you might want to apply for.


Are you a Dislocated Worker or are you planning to quit your job in order to go back to school? Ask the financial aid office at the institution you are interested in attending to see if you might qualify for a Professional Judgment—particularly if your financial situation this year will be drastically different than last year’s (since you will be reporting last year’s taxes on your FAFSA).   

Helpful Resources for Adult Students

Indiana Department of Workforce Development

  • The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has put together a very nice website to help you find training providers and to explore career and training resources.  (This website links to us, so I thought we could do the same)
  • Need assistance finding child care subsidies or school lunch programs? Check these resources out as you start to budget for going back to school:

United States Department of Labor

Free Courses to Brush Up on the Basics

  • Goodwill Community Foundation offers free courses to help you brush up on the basics. Check out a complete listing of the courses offered:


  • Look at and compare college costs in the Indiana College Costs Estimator (under the “calculate” tab in the left menu)
  • Talk to your employer about tuition remission programs and other incentives
  • Inquire about financial aid options for part-time students at a college of interest to you.
  • File the FAFSA online at  before Indiana’s annual March 10 deadline. (Participate in Indiana’s FAFSA Friday and College Goal Sunday events in February each year if you need help).
  • And don’t forget to keep up to date with Learn More Indiana’s campaigns. They have special pages just for adult students: