Ready to get started? Here are some things you can do now to get ready to go back to college.
  • Consider career and education goals by attending a G!P college fair
  • Think about how to balance college, work, life, family
  • Review prior credits and certificates
  • Investigate financial aid and employer tuition benefits

Going back to college involves multiple steps and decisions from planning to applying to paying.  A great way to get started is by attending a Graduate! Philadelphia college fair held on the first Wednesday of each month in locations across the region.

At the fair, admissions representatives can answer questions about their school, review your transcript to help you figure out how many of your prior credits are transferable, talk about financial aid and set a timeline for degree completion.  You may also want to arrange a campus visit.

Be sure to check out our events calendar for times, locations and other important workshops.

Connect career and education goals with these helpful resources

Make sure that your long-term career goals are in alignment with your education goals. Doing so now will enrich your studies and position you for employment after graduation. Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has information on career outlook and pay

Employment Resources

If you need help finding a job before returning to college, here are resources to help guide your search:

Finding a Balance – College, Work, Life, Family

Before going back to college, think about all of your responsibilities and set aside enough time for assignments, projects, work, family and yourself. Your planner should be your best friend! Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.

Computer Access

Access to a computer and the internet is essential for connecting with your professors, your student portal, researching and writing assignments, or taking classes online. If you don’t have home access, consider options at work, a public library, relatives, and friends.

You Can Get Credit for Life and Work Experience

As an adult learner, you may have experiences and sometimes more credits than you thought you had! Recognizing that adults are accomplished people with many achievements, most colleges offer college credit for learning that occurs outside the classroom. Certificates and professional training at work, in the military, or through community programs, for example, may be evaluated for credit.  Graduate! Philadelphia advisors can explain how to make credit transfer work for you and how you can earn college credit for other professional experiences. All of our partner colleges  offer ways to bring in credit for prior learning.

Paying for College

Figuring out how to finance your college degree can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be. There are many affordable college options for adults in our region, and most adults still qualify for federal and state grants as well as subsidized loans. Private loans should be a last resort as they have fewer consumer protections. Adults can and should apply for all federal and state financial aid grants and loans.  And, don’t forget to ask your school about scholarships you may be eligible to apply for, and then do it!

Defaulted Loans

You can get back on track if you have defaulted on a student loan. Payments may be much lower than you expect through an income-based repayment plan.  The good news is that you only have to make six (6) payments on your defaulted loan to be considered for enrollment, and you may qualify for a zero ($0) repayment program through the Income Based Repayment program if your income is eligible. If you have a private loan, talk with your loan officer to find ways to start repaying that fit your budget.

To find out about the status of your student loans and/or eligibility for a loan rehabilitation program, call the following numbers:

  • American Education Services: 1.800.233.0751
  • Federal Student Aid: 1.800.621.3115

You can also log on to to check your loan status. If you have not logged in since May 10, 2015, you will have to create a new Federal Student Aid ID.

If in doubt, call a Graduate! Philadelphia advisor at 215.498.1504 or contact Clarifi, a non-profit that provides consumer credit counseling and debt consolidation programs. Clarifi can also provide assistance with the FAFSA and other financial planning issues.

Employer Tuition Benefits

Many employer offer tuition assistance to their employees.  Be sure to ask your employer how you can take advantage of this benefit as requirements may differ at each place of employment. For instance, some employers may require you to be employed for a year before taking advantage of this benefit.  Others may require you to pay the cost of tuition up front and then reimburse you upon passing the course.  Be sure to get the details before you enroll!