The world didn’t have it easy last year. Due to unemployment, business closures and economic uncertainty, many families have been displaced and found themselves in a difficult situation. The economic consequences have been of great concern to many low-income families.
A survey by the Pew Research Center found that one in four adults had struggled to meet their financial obligations since the coronavirus pandemic began. A third of respondents have already used part of their savings or retirement accounts to survive. One in six respondents said they had taken out loans from friends and family. These stressful situations are common among adults in the lower income bracket, those who have just graduated from college, or those who are Black and Hispanic Americans.
Jobs were also scarce and hard to come by. Around 25% of adults in the United States say they or someone else in their household has lost their job due to the pandemic. However, it is not just those who have lost their jobs who have suffered. Around 32% of adults said they had to reduce working hours and lower wages due to the economic consequences of the pandemic. 32% of low-income families struggle to pay their dues to their mortgage lenders.
With everything that happens, understandably, adult education can be the last thing you think about. Basic needs such as food, health care, and shelter can be difficult for low-income families. However, with the move to online or remote learning, now may be the best time to invest in adult education. Completing your degree can help you find a higher paying job that can support you and your family.
What does adult education mean?
Adult education refers to training specifically designed for adults to improve their technical skills as well as their professional qualifications. The aim is to improve their skills and expand their knowledge in order to complete their formal education. Other terms used for adult education include recurrent education, continuing education, or second chance education. It helps adults who want to graduate later in life. Of course, some pursue adult education to improve their skills.
However, adult education is not without its challenges. Since most adult learners are busy, not having enough time can be a problem. Some also have families and children to look after.
Some adults also face self-doubt because of their age. You may feel that your time has already passed and that you have lost your chance. You can still study at any age if you really want to. It’s never too late to work on your own development.
Another challenge that many adult learners face is neuroplasticity. When you learn something new, your brain creates a new neural path for that learning. The younger you are, the more plastic your brain is and the easier it is to create new neural pathways. As you get older, your brain becomes stiffer and less plastic. It is difficult for the adult brain to find new ways, which makes it more difficult for adults to grasp new things. They can also learn new things that contradict what they already know. The adult learner will have to make some effort to change their views and beliefs.
After all, many adult learners have financial problems when it comes to finishing their adult education. They may have to rely on student loans and financial resources to fund their education.
What financial resources are available to adult learners?
By securing a degree, you can improve your qualifications. If you want to return to school but are burdened by your financial obligations to your family, a federal education grant can help. The federal government offers learners of all ages two training grants.
- The Federal Pell Grant. This scholarship is awarded to students who have a high financial need and do not yet have a bachelor’s degree. Unlike a student loan, you are not required to repay a Federal Pell Grant.
- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Another state aid for adult learners is the FSEOG. It is available for low-income adults looking to start or resume their post-secondary education. Adult learners who have qualified under the Pell Grant can continue to apply for the FSEOG program if they can demonstrate that they continue to have serious financial needs.
You can also look into government grants that are available where you live. Each state has different educational and financial grants. Please visit your state’s Department of Education website for more information.
Some schools offer scholarships and support for deserving students. Your current employer may also offer training grants for employees.
Adaptation of distance learning for adult learners
Even before the pandemic, distance learning was becoming increasingly popular with adult learners. Adult learners do not have the same availability as young learners. With so much on your plate, attending classes in the classroom can be difficult.
Online courses have become the norm over the past year. However, the lack of tools and resources proved to be another problem for many low-income students. Some schools offer one-to-one tuition, online tuition, and a combination of online and one-to-one tuition. You can check with your potential schools about the types of supplies they use. Many offer flexible ways to address their students’ needs and keep them safe amid the global pandemic.