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Whether you want to go back to school to work your way up the ladder at your current job or transition into a new career entirely, continuing your education can give you the skills necessary to advance your career strategically. However, an important factor to consider is the cost. Here's what to keep in mind when you're budgeting to further your education.

Do Research on Total Costs

Before applying, do some research on at least three to five programs that you're considering and look into tuition costs. Each program and school will have different tuition costs, fees, etc. If you want to further your education and budget the right way, be sure that you know the exact costs of the programs you're hoping to get into. Look into hidden registration fees and taxes; you should also consider the cost of books, program materials, and other education-related expenses.

Evaluate Your Return on Investment (ROI)

Once you know which programs you're interested in, evaluate the ROI on the program. Will this specific degree or certification turn into a raise of $25,000? Will it allow you to network with people who can help score you a better job? Will the program help you make the transition into a field you want to be in? Furthering your education costs money but it can be a return on your investment too.

Ask Your Employer About Assistance

Depending on your job, your employer may offer tuition assistance to help you obtain an advanced degree. Ask your employer about any tuition assistance, educational stipends, or even student loan repayment assistance. These are all perks that can help lower your out-of-pocket costs for going back to school.

Look for Scholarships and Grants

If you want to further your education, before taking on student loans or paying out-of-pocket, look for applicable scholarships and grants. Many of these funding opportunities may be for undergraduates, but there may still be some options that you're eligible for. You can find some scholarship opportunities for returning/continuing students as well as scholarships for adult students.

Slash Your Expenses

When you want to further your education, it's important to free up some money to budget for the associated costs. One way to do that is to evaluate your current expenses and ditch some altogether while lowering others.

For example, maybe you have some subscriptions to products that you don't really use. If you go out to lunch or coffee most days during the week, consider cutting back to once or twice a week. Looking at your expenses as "needs" versus "wants" can help you decide where to cut.

Join a Professional Association

Joining a professional association in your field of study can help you in many ways — especially if you want to further your education. There are a ton of networking opportunities, but these associations may offer scholarships or funding specifically to their members. On top of that, you may be able to get worthwhile recommendations or advice on the best programs to consider and hear other people's experiences before setting on your own path.

If you want to further your education to boost your career, start planning and budgeting now. Look into the costs and review all of your funding sources so that you know how much you need to budget each month to make your dream of pursuing additional education and training a reality.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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