Understanding the Non-Traditional Student

More college students now fall under the non-traditional umbrella, having taken a different path post high school. Here’s what you need to know when helping them secure financial aid:


  • They Are a Diverse Group: Non-traditional students come from all walks of life. Some are working in their careers and just want to get ahead. Others went into the military after school. Still others are people who for whatever reason never had the chance to pursue a degree immediately after school. Therefore, as a financial aid officer, it’s important to understand their unique circumstances, from their family situations to their visions for education.


  • They Are Likely to Have Day Jobs: As adults, these students have likely entered the workforce and need to work around their schedules. They may also have children or spouses’ schedules to accommodate. When working with these students, it’s important to find ways to connect with them that might not fall into normal business hours.


  • They Are Career Focused: Most likely a non-traditional student is entering or returning to school to better their career opportunities. They want to move quickly through their education to embark on their professional journeys and do so with as little debt as possible. While they might not qualify for conventional scholarships, they do appreciate any information that can help them reduce the costs associated with college.


  • They Might Have Special Circumstances: Some students might be veterans, which qualifies them for different aid and loan programs. Others might have financial issues, such as bankruptcies, child support, or even defaulted student loans.

Non-traditional students are a growing population in academia. Your support can help make their college dreams more affordable.