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5 Popular Ways On How to Pay for Supplemental Education

With the huge amount of competition in the workforce today, it has become critical that professionals continue to work on their skills to be highly competitive. But while others can afford to pay off their education, some cannot. Thus, we are going to share with you various ways on how to pay for supplemental education.

How to Pay for Supplemental Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, most students take a median of 52 months (4.33 years) before they could complete a bachelor’s degree program. As for a master’s degree, it would usually take one and a half years or even longer to finish.

Although continuing education is not a prerequisite for most jobs, if a professional wants to be highly competitive in his or her field though, he or she needs to keep up. Earning more and getting into the top of the career ladder is easier when one has all the skills and knowledge related to the job.

While there are people who can afford to pay off further education expenses, other people especially students with disabilities face additional hindrances in reaching their education goals.


If you are not aware, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been existing for 30 years now. In 2016 alone, nearly 20% of undergraduates reported having a disability, which means there really is a problem down there.

Regardless of the situation though, institutions of higher education offer various levels of services as well as accommodations for students with disabilities, which adds to the challenge of pursuing education for some people.

Meanwhile, other people believe that getting a degree is not the ideal career path for their field of interest. Thus, some professions do not follow a traditional college career path. Instead, they pursue an equally rewarding career as follows:

  • Aesthetics and beauty professions
  • Coding, programming and computer technology
  • Electronics and machine maintenance and repair
  • Industrial, commercial and home technical services
  • Medical and veterinary assistants

Moreover, there are also professionals who opt to pursue industry certifications to further their knowledge in certain fields. These certification courses are not considered as an advanced degree but a way of career advancement — basically, to be more competitive in an industry where they are at.

On one hand, there are employers who provide assistance to their employees by paying for industry certification courses. By doing so, they get to ensure that their employees are properly trained for the job. On the other hand, some professionals choose to pay for their own industry certification expenses.

Some of the most common industry certifications are:

  • Cloud Computing (Microsoft, AWS, CCSP)
  • Information Security and Technology (A+, Network+, CCNA, CCNP, CCIE)
  • Human Resources (PHR, SPHR, SHRM)
  • Project Management (PMP)

As mentioned, these are just some of the industry certification courses available. Usually, there’s one for every industry – particularly the professional ones.

Moving on, as we all know, while getting an education is essential, we cannot deny the fact that pursuing higher education (most especially) could really break the bank. Unless of course, you have prepared for it for ages!

Thus, it is not surprising that in 2020, student loan debt in the United States is already about $1.56 trillion according to a Forbes report published online. Currently, there are 45 million borrowers who collectively owe the said amount in the country. No wonder student loan debt has now become the second-highest consumer debt category, next to mortgage debt.

With education particularly college being expensive, more adult learners seek a type of education that could provide more immediate benefits to their careers than what a degree does.

That is when supplemental education gets in the picture.

Imagine, while a bachelor’s degree can cost more than $26,000, a certification course (which is considered as supplemental education) can only cost between $250 and $4,500. These figures were based on a report by the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP).

If we are going to compare, the amount you pay for a certification course is definitely way cheaper as compared to a bachelor’s degree.

As a result, professional certifications and other non-degree programs become more reachable for adult professionals especially those who have obligations in life (such as work and family) already.

Now, with all that’s been said, perhaps it’s clear now, or maybe you have already gotten the picture of what we are going to talk about today.

We are going to talk about supplemental education and ways on how to pay for it – because at the end of the day, there is still a cost involved, and for some people, even if it is way cheaper as a bachelor’s degree, it still cost a lot.

For your reference, we are specifically discussing the following:

  • What is supplemental education?
  • What are the different types of non-degree training programs?
  • What are the payment options available for supplemental education?
  • Other resources available for special or protected groups


Supplemental education or in a more popular term, this refers to certificate courses or industry certification courses that anyone could take either to further their skills and knowledge on a certain field or in lieu of a traditional bachelor’s degree program.

If you want to know more about the difference between a certificate course, a diploma, and a degree, you may check below informative video by Learning English Matters.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, industry certification is “a credential recognized by business and industry at the local, state or national level. It could be an assessment, an examination, or a license that is administered and recognized by an industry third-party or governing board.”

Furthermore, CDE states that industry certificates “measure competency in an occupation, and they validate the knowledge base and skills that show mastery in a particular industry.”

Meanwhile, another term that is associated with supplemental education in non-degree programs, which refers to courses offered on a college campus or online sans the credits that usually go with a formal or a bachelor’s degree program.

In addition, the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi defines a supplemental certification as something that gives “certified educators the option of adding additional certifications in a specific content area within the grade level of their initial teaching certificate.”

While there are different definitions available, to put it simply, a supplemental education refers to any certificate courses that allow students to hone their skills in a specific industry in lieu of a formal bachelor’s degree program.

Most of the time, pursuing a supplemental education is way cheaper than pursuing a bachelor’s degree, which makes it ideal for those who are facing financial difficulty but would want something that could make them competitive in their professional industry of choice.


As mentioned earlier, supplemental education may also be referred to as non-degree training programs, which means you get to learn about a certain field sans the bachelor’s degree.

Anyway, some people may not be aware that there are actually a lot of different types of non-degree training programs available today. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Vocational Training
  • Certificate Programs
  • Certification Programs
  • Coding Boot Camps

Vocational Training

Vocational training schools also referred to as “trade schools” are designed to help prepare students to work as technicians in a particular trade like cosmetology, carpentry, plumbing, as well as welding.

Usually, it is easier to acquire funding for vocational courses from government agencies as compared to other non-degree programs out there. Needless to say, there are institutions that offer grants and scholarships for this particular program.

In most cases, vocational training programs last about two years only.

Meanwhile, vocational training schools may include technical schools, as well as vocational schools that are dedicated to specific industries like aeronautics.

Certificate Programs

A lot of people usually confuse certificate programs to certification programs. To make it clear, certificates are awarded to students by an educational institution similar to a degree. Meanwhile, a certification program “provides students with a professional designation.” Later on, we’ll discuss the latter further.

Anyway, certificates refer to credentials that apply to a very narrow area of study. Normally, you can acquire a certificate either as an undergraduate graduate student or as a non-enrolled student in an institution.

There are three commonly known types of certificate programs, and these are secondary school certificate programs, trade school certificate programs and postgraduate studies programs.

If you are interested to get a certificate program, you may acquire one from various educational institutions like community colleges, training schools, online schools, as well as traditional colleges and universities.

Certification Programs

As mentioned, the certification program “provides students with a professional designation.”

Certification programs are typically offered by an independent body such as an industry or trade association, and not an educational institution.

Coding Boot Camps

Coding boot camps refer to intensive learning programs that are intended to teach a substantial number of skills in a short period of time.

Students who attend a coding boot camp may focus on a particular type of coding or various types like data science, cybersecurity, user interface design, or web development.

Instead of attending a traditional degree program that usually takes more than two years to complete, a coding boot camp teaches you the skills and knowledge you need for just a matter of months.


As mentioned, we are going to focus on how to pay for supplemental education. We know a lot about how to finance a college or a bachelor’s degree, but let’s admit it, we hardly know anything about financing a supplemental education or a certificate course.

Most adult learners are not aware that there are actually a lot of ways to pay for supplemental education if paying it out of their own pocket is difficult. Some of the ways we know-how, which are the ones we are sharing with you today are as follows:

  • Student Loans
  • Personal Loans
  • Scholarships
  • Payment Plans
  • Employer Assistance

Now, let’s dig deeper into each of these ways on how to pay for supplemental education –

Student Loans

What most adult learners do not know is that you can also finance a supplemental education by getting or applying for a student loan.

By applying for a student loan, you get to strategize your payment plan since usually, these types of loans offer flexible repayment options. Needless to say, lenders who offer student loans also offer deferment or forbearance if the borrower is caught in certain financial difficulties.

Student loans, for us, is probably one of the most ideal forms or ways to finance a supplemental education. As mentioned, it comes with a lot of perks and features that will make it easy to bear.

However, it is important to note that there are some federal student loan programs — like those a student could apply for through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — may not be available unless you are enrolled in a particular degree or certificate program at your college or career school. In most cases, federal student loans are only applicable to school expenses that are related to a Title IV school like a certified trade school, college, or university.

The nice thing about pursuing a student loan over other forms of loans or ways to pay for supplemental education is that you can choose from a variety of lenders out there — may it be banks, credit unions, or online lenders. You can compare how one lender fair to another, and essentially apply to the one that offers the best rates and terms. 

Even popular financial institutions like Wells Fargo offers student loans for those who are attending either a formal college education or those who attend a non-traditional school or career-training programs.

Personal Loans

Another popular, needless to say, an excellent way on how to pay for supplemental education is by applying for a personal loan.

As we all know you can use personal loans basically for almost anything and everything under the sun — and that includes paying off expenses for a certificate course or a non-degree program.

Personal loans are very accessible, and a lot of lenders (including banks, credit unions, and online lenders) offer it.

In addition, by acquiring a personal loan, there is a greater chance that you get the exact amount you need to pay off your program.

Normally, if a borrower qualifies based on his or her credit score as well as borrower profile, there is no need for enrollment requirements.

Similar to student loans, you may also apply for flexible terms when getting a personal loan to make paying it off easier for you.

Just the same, with a lot of lenders offering personal loans around, all you got to do is check the best ones out and compare rates and terms before you finally settle to one.


What a lot of adult learners do not know, too, is that even with supplemental education, scholarships do exist. There are grants and scholarships available for both supplemental education and professional degree programs.

However, it is important to note that usually, these grants and scholarships are highly competitive.

In most cases, these endowments may require the student to enroll in a degree program, or may only cover a portion of the cost of your education.

Nonetheless, if you think you can beat your competitors, go ahead. Even if you are not sure, there is totally nothing wrong with trying. After all, no one really knows until you try, right?

If you are interested to get your supplemental education funded through grants and/or scholarships, all you need to do is check with specific programs to learn if there are indeed any grants or scholarships available.

Payment Plans

Depending on the institution where you intend to get your supplemental education, payment plans may be available.

This means certificate and supplemental education programs allow students to complete payments through personalized installment plans.

This particular option is highly recommended for individuals who are currently employed and have spare money to pay off for their education on a regular basis.

The thing about payment plans though is that it will require out-of-pocket payments at the time you are enrolled in the program, and in most — if not all — cases, you cannot defer the payment.

So, better make sure that before you opt for any payment plans, you have savings on hand to pay off for whatever initial costs that need to be settled.

Employer Assistance

As mentioned earlier, in some cases, employers offer supplemental education assistance to help ensure that their employees are fully equipped for the job or the designation they are assigned to.

To be honest, this is probably the best way to pay for supplemental education, do you agree? Well, you get to study and hone your skills without spending a penny (or in some cases, spending just have of the total cost).

It would be nice if you look for employers who invest in their employees by paying off costs for professional programs, including certificate programs.

While some employers cover the entire cost of the program, others may offer to cover just a portion of it.

Nevertheless, either the employer pays for the cost in full or a portion, it would still be a big sigh of relief for a student, right?

If you are looking into attending a certificate course to hone your skills at work, make sure to check with your employer first before you even look at other payment options.


If you belong to a special or protected group, you may be eligible for additional financial resources intended for acquiring supplemental education.

Below are some resources that you can check:

Minority Students

  • American Indian College Fund
  • Sallie Mae Minority Scholarships
  • The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)
  • The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Scholarships
  • UNCF Scholarships

Low-Income Students

  • Cal Grant Programs
  • Federal Pell Grants
  • The Jeannette Ranking Women’s Scholarship Fund
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • The Federal Work-Study Program

Students with Disabilities

  • Organization for Autism Research Scholarship
  • Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education
  • The Jackson-Stricks Scholarship
  • The Microsoft Disability Scholarship
  • The Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship


  • Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance
  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program
  • The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
  • VA Vocational Rehabilitation


With the competition at the workforce now, if acquiring a bachelor’s degree program may be challenging, getting supplemental education will surely be an excellent option.

It’s nice knowing that adult learners these days do have a number of ways for them to hone their craft or learn new skills. Needless to say, there are ways to pay for supplemental education.

Are you considering getting a supplemental education soon? How do you intend to finance it?

Keep in mind that as we have mentioned all throughout, there are a number of ways on how to pay for supplemental education, and that money should not hinder you from getting your desired program.

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