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Financial Aid for a Second Bachelor’s Degree

By Melissa Brock · October 18, 2022 · 6 minute read

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Financial Aid for a Second Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree that usually requires you to take 120 credit hours of courses, typically around 40 classes. There are several types of bachelor’s degrees, including Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. When you pursue a bachelor’s degree, you can major in a wide variety of focus areas, including arts, sciences, and humanities.

You may consider a second bachelor’s degree due to a change in career (such as switching from teaching to engineering — the number of classes you have to take for a master’s may encourage you to get a second bachelor’s degree instead). Taking advantage of career opportunities, adapting to job changes, or getting credit for specific skills may also be reasons you dive in again.

But can you get financial aid for a second bachelor’s degree?

Yes, you can! Read on to learn more about how to get financial aid for a second bachelor’s degree and the type of financial aid you might want to pursue for your second go-round.

Is It Possible to Get Financial Aid for a Second Bachelor’s Degree?

Yes, it’s possible to receive financial aid for a second bachelor’s degree, which can include federal student aid like federal grants, work-study, and federal student loans. We’ll detail the definitions of these types of federal student aid below when we explain how adult learners pay for college.

It’s important to note that you will be limited to a certain amount of financial aid in certain situations. For example, the aggregate federal student loan limit for dependent students (those claimed by their parent(s) on their parents’ taxes) is $31,000 and no more than $23,000 can be in Subsidized Student Loans.

Independent students (students who are at least 24 years old, married, veterans, members of the armed forces, who have their own legal dependents, who are homeless, and/or meet other qualifications) cannot borrow more than $57,500. No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in Subsidized Loans. In other words, if you’ve already borrowed the maximum amount for your first undergraduate degree, you could not borrow any more.

Certain grants also impose limits on what you can receive for a second bachelor’s degree.

Recommended: Can You Negotiate Financial Aid?

Can a Student Receive a Pell Grant for a Second College Degree?

A Pell Grant is a type of need-based federal grant. Grants are a type of aid that you don’t have to repay.

You cannot receive a Pell Grant if you’ve already received an undergraduate degree.

In some cases, students enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teaching program may be eligible to receive the Pell Grant. However, there are more stipulations — you cannot receive an unlimited amount of Federal Pell Grant funds, according to federal law. The Federal Pell Grant limit you can receive over your lifetime — Federal Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) — is limited to six years.

During a single award year, you can receive up to 100% of a scheduled Pell Grant Award, though it is possible to receive up to 150% of your scheduled award. For example, you may take classes during the fall, spring, and summer and therefore receive more than the scheduled 100%. However, you can receive the Pell Grant for no more than 12 terms, or about six years, because the six-year percentage equals 600%.

Using Funding From Financial Aid for Second Bachelor’s Degree

Financial aid for a second bachelor’s degree can include work-study, scholarships, federal student loans, and student aid for military spouses. You can think of your financial aid award as a jigsaw puzzle — these individual pieces fit together to form your award. Let’s take a look at the types of aid you might receive.

Work-Study

When you file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), you may receive a work-study award — yes, even if you’re working toward earning a second bachelor’s degree. As long as you apply for part-time work-study jobs for a second degree on campus (sometimes off-campus jobs are available) you may work up to the amount you receive on your work-study award. The amount you can make depends on factors including your level of need and the funds your school has available for work-study.

It’s important to remember that work-study is not “automatic money” — you must apply for a job and work toward the number of hours shown on your award.

Scholarships

Scholarships have a diverse eligibility requirements and some may be open to learners seeking a second bachelor’s degree. Scholarships may come from a wide variety of sources, including the institution you apply to. It’s a good idea to ask the financial aid office at each school for more information about the types of scholarships available to you because each college and university has various requirements for earning scholarships. For example, some may be based on merit and others may be based on financial need.

Other organizations, such as clubs, foundations, charities, businesses, local and state governments, and individual philanthropists, may also offer scholarships.

Recommended: Scholarship Search Tool

Federal Student Loans

You may qualify for federal student loans as long as you are under the aggregate federal student loan limit for dependent students of $31,000, with no more than $23,000 in subsidized student loans. Independent students are limited to $57,500 and cannot go over more than $23,000 in subsidized loans.

Undergraduate students can take advantage of Direct Subsidized Student Loans or Direct Unsubsidized Loans, which must be repaid with interest. Subsidized student loans are need-based federal student loans in which the government pays the interest while you’re in school (though you’ll pay the interest after school). Unsubsidized student loans are non-need-based federal student loans in which the government does not pay the interest while you are in school.

For loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2022, and before July 1, 2023, undergraduate students can take advantage of both Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans for an interest rate of 4.99%.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

Student Aid for Military Spouses

If you are the spouse of a military member, you may be able to have your military member transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to you based on your loved one’s military service, particularly if they are on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.

Your loved one must have completed at least six years of service, agreed to add four more years of service, and must also be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Your active duty military member must use a Transfer of Entitlement (TOE) before you can apply for benefits.

What Do I Need to Do to Use Financial Aid for a Second Bachelor’s?

You can file the FAFSA for second bachelor’s degree financial aid and accept the aid award that comes from the school of your choice. Let’s go over each of these steps. Don’t forget to check out SoFi’s FAFSA guide.

Applying for FAFSA

You must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA, to qualify for federal student aid. The FAFSA form online asks you to report on your personal financial information, including tax information and your savings and checking account balances. The FAFSA information also helps colleges, universities, and private financial aid providers decide how much state and institutional aid you may receive.

Once you file the FAFSA, you’ll get a Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes the information you’ve entered on the FAFSA. The SAR reports a variety of information including:

•   Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), an index number that determines your eligibility for student aid

•   Your eligibility for federal student loans

•   Your eligibility for Federal Pell Grants

•   Whether you’ve been selected for verification, which is a process that some students undergo to confirm that all the information is accurate on the FAFSA. Students may get selected randomly for verification and the school may also select them for verification. They may also get selected if the Central Processing System found problems with the FAFSA. The financial aid offices at the schools on your list can help you through the verification process.

Once you complete everything, you’ll receive a financial aid award from the schools on your shortlist.

Accepting Financial Aid

After receiving your financial aid award, it’s important to go through your full award to make sure you understand it, line by line. If you don’t understand a portion of your award, call the financial aid office of the school that sent it to you. They should be able to explain your full award to you in detail.

The school will generally explain how to accept your financial aid award in the email or packet that you receive. You can go through each type of loan, grant, and scholarship and accept or decline the awards you want. You can also accept the entire award. The financial aid office will let you know about your next steps after your award acceptance and after you pay your enrollment deposit.

Recommended: Ca$h Course: A Student’s Guide to Money

Ways to Pay for a Second Bachelor’s Degree

You can pay for your education using financial aid for a second bachelor’s degree using the types of aid described above (through grants, scholarships, and federal student loans). You may also want to pay for college using some money you’ve saved or that you are currently earning through a part- or full-time job.

Learners can also take advantage of private student loans, which are student loans that don’t come from the federal government. They typically offer higher interest rates than federal student loans but are a great way to fill in the gaps that other financial aid for second bachelor’s doesn’t cover.

Before you choose a private student loan lender, ask questions about interest rates, terms, and repayment options. Note that you’ll lose the option to tap into federal student loan benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness options if you go the private student loan route.

The Takeaway

If you’re wondering, “Can I get financial aid for a second bachelor’s degree?” you now know that the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

But will financial aid pay for a second bachelor’s degree? The answer is that federal financial aid and scholarships may not fully cover all your education expenses, which is why you might consider looking into private student loans.

Let SoFi help you fill the gap. For example, you may want to lean on a combination of scholarships, federal student loans, the money you’ve saved, and private loans. If you borrow too much, you might even be eligible for refund checks from financial aid.

SoFi offers zero origination fees and no prepayment penalties, and you can choose between a fixed or variable rate loan.


Photo credit: iStock/millann

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