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Challenge: Follow Your Dreams

What Every Mom Needs To Know About Going Back To School

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The employment marketplace is growing increasingly competitive as more people realize the value of furthering their education. In fact, a Fox Business article reports a 9-percent increase of learners under the age of 25 in 2015. An even more impressive statistic is the 23-percent uptick in enrollment of students over the age 25 who are also called non-traditional students.

Among the older generations returning to school, mothers face challenges specific to their parenting roles. As a result, attending college is more challenging for them compared to their peers without children. As parents, mothers must contend with juggling their time and focus in addition to learning course materials.

Most adults in the 25 and over age group that return to school also have jobs and choose to attend part-time or online classes. Despite the class format, the adults made a bold decision the will alter their lives for the better. The learners made a commitment to acquire knowledge that can provide a big boost to their careers.

For moms choosing to pursue a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree, the first step is learning what resources are available to assist moms in returning to school. Today, attending a university is a matter of finding out the right information and going for it.

Making It Happen

Ideally, every university would provide on-site childcare to aid mothers in their pursuit of higher learning. This service would greatly enhance the ability of many parents to attend classes. Unfortunately, this is not the case. However, colleges that lack daycare typically can provide mothers with a list of local childcare providers. It’s important that degree bound moms investigate this before signing up for classes, making sure to find a childcare service that works for their circumstances.

Investigating schools and arranging childcare can seem like an enormous task, but mothers can overcome this feeling by breaking the project up into manageable segments and tackling one or two tasks at a time. Additionally, mothers can encourage themselves with rewards each time they reach an important milestone toward reentering school.

Because mother’s have more responsibilities than single women, they need access to every available resource. Mothers that are in a relationship should make sure to communicate their educational intentions with their partners and work together to make sure that the needs of all family members are met. A supportive mate is a big help for mothers who attend school, especially during mid-term and final examinations. For mothers that are in a relationship, it’s important to discuss with their other half how attending school will affect the family.

Making Every Penny Count

Along with career advancement, budding academics also benefit from tax breaks for reentering school. The deduction only applies if they take out school loans from a qualified source. The federal government allows active students $2,500 a year in deductions. The limit applies to married couples filing jointly whether one or both partners attend classes. In addition, single learners must earn less than $80,000 each year, and married couples must take in less than $160,000 in combined annual income. Students must also attend a qualifying institution to earn the deduction.

The government allows students to claim one kind of deduction, either a lifetime learning or American opportunity credit. Learners can also take up to $4,000 in tuition and fee deductions for themselves or their spouse. Qualifying deductions are line items, such as:

  • Books and supplies
  • Housing
  • School related expenses (i.e., transportation)
  • Tuition and fees

Finally, the government allows students who’ve contributed to a qualified tuition program (QTP), also called a 529 plan, to withdraw funds without paying taxes. Tax laws change every year, so it’s a good idea for students to consult with an accountant to make sure they are complying with current deduction and tax laws.

Snapshot of a Successful Graduate

A recent article highlights the story of Emma. She’s a mother with a 6-month old named Jack and a non-traditional student. In the story, Emma recounts how she had a serious discussion with her spouse about the future of their household after he lost his job a year earlier.

As a result of the discussion, Emma decided that she wanted to turn her photography hobby into a full-time profession. Emma successfully acquired financial aid to help pay for classes.

She then enrolled in school to pursue her bachelor’s degree majoring in fine arts. In the meantime, her husband successfully regained full-time employment. She admits that her child notices her absence sometimes, but she believes that he’ll be impressed with her achievement when he grows older. Emma’s story exemplifies the benefits and struggles that mothers experience when working to build a better life in America.

Many working, non-traditional students have attended online or part-time classes. For these students, pursing higher learning was matter of believing in themselves and finding educational offerings that fit their unique circumstances. The students understood that an advanced degree could transform their careers and their lives.

All it took for them was to take the first step toward entering classes, which was finding out more information. Once the students found out that there were offerings that suited their situations, they made a brave sacrifice and pursued knowledge that could change their lives for the better.

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