5 Ways to Pay for Certificate Programs If You Want to Learn a New Skill

certificate programs

In today’s challenging job market, having specialized skills is a hot commodity. If you want to switch careers, get a promotion, or break into a competitive industry, certificate programs are a good idea.

In fact, professional certifications are the second most common awards in the education system. That’s because they’re significantly cheaper than graduate degrees. But they’re also a prestigious credential that can boost your salary by as much as 25 percent, according to The Washington Post.

However, paying for certification programs isn’t always easy. But we’ve got you covered. Here are five different ways you can pay for your credentials without wiping out your savings or running up credit card debt.

1. Employer funds

One of the best places to get financial assistance for certificate programs is through your current employer. Many companies offer tuition or education reimbursement for continuing education. That’s especially true if the program you’re looking at can help you improve or expand your skills for your current role.

For example, if you’re a programmer and want to learn Ruby On Rails to create web applications, that’s a big benefit to your boss. Even if your employer doesn’t have a formal tuition reimbursement program in place, they could be willing to cover your costs if you can make a good case.

Consider preparing a proposal for your manager that outlines what you intend to learn. Be sure to include what the cost is and how it will benefit your work and the company’s bottom line.

2. Federal financial aid

The government offers student loans and grants for some continuing education programs. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and repayment terms than private loans. This makes them an excellent choice for funding.

To get federal assistance, the first step is to complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if you graduated from college years ago, the FAFSA is essential for gaining access to financial aid for certificate programs.

Once you fill out the FAFSA, look for programs that are eligible for federal financial aid. One excellent resource is the National Center For Education Statistics’ College Navigator. You can search for certification programs in your field and find out what loans or grants you’re eligible for.

3. Payment plans

Another option to consider is a payment plan directly through your program’s school. Many boot camps and certificate programs offer flexible payment options.

For example, Bloc is one of the most well-respected computer and design coding boot camps out there. They offer payment plans that fit your individual needs. You just have to contact them and share your budget with a student advisor, and they’ll come up with a plan that works for you.

While you’ll still need to come up with the money yourself, payment plans can help you manage your budget. Rather than coming up with the money all at once, you can pay your tuition in installments so you don’t have to wipe out your savings account.

4. Personal loans

If federal student loans aren’t an option and if your employer won’t cover the cost of certificate programs, a personal loan could help. Personal loans tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards and set repayment terms, so you can save money in interest charges.

Lenders like Pave offer loans designed specifically for continued education. You can choose a two- or three-year repayment term. Pave is also one of the few lenders that allow you to take out a loan for both full- and part-time courses.

5. Scholarships

Since scholarships do not have to be repaid, they’re a valuable way to pay for school without racking up debt. Some schools, such as Bloc and the FlatIron School, offer scholarships to help offset the tuition cost. But there are also thousands of other scholarships you could be eligible for that can help you pay for your education.

FastWeb and Scholarships.com are two useful resources that can connect adult learners with scholarship opportunities nationwide. You can find and apply for as many scholarships as you wish, as there is no limit to how many you can receive.

Paying for school

Certificate programs can be a great way to advance your career with an affordable credential. Paying for continuing education programs can be complicated, but there are options that can reduce the financial burden.

For more information, check out the best certificate programs to change your career.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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