AAMI News February 2018

Career Center: Tips and Resources to Help Your Afford Your Dream Career

The ladder to achieve one’s “dream career” can seem steep sometimes. And often, the first rungs to climb involve education and training. Whether it comes in the form of a certificate, associate degree, or even an advanced graduate degree, gaining this education can cost a lot of money. Fortunately, there are several ways to make achieving your dream career more affordable.

“The squeaky wheel gets the oil,” said John Noblitt, program director at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, who funded his education with a combination of federal student loans, tuition assistance from his employer, an AAMI Scholarship, a Pell Grant, a North Carolina Biomedical Association Glenn Scholarship, and other resources.

During a recent AAMI Next Generation Brown Bag session, Noblitt and Codi Nelson, team leader and biomedical equipment technician at Crothall Healthcare Technology Solutions who funded his education with a Pell Grant and employer assistance, offered several tips on how to do the same.

Getting the Needed EducationWhere to Find Funding

Noblitt and Nelson described several avenues to cover costs, which often need to be used in combination:

  • Pell Grants, which are the largest source of federally funded grants and are awarded solely based on financial need. During the 2017–2018 academic year, they were worth up to $5,920.
  • Federal student loans, which must be paid back, except in cases of a loan forgiveness or cancellation program.
  • Private student loans.
  • Work-study programs.
  • Savings accounts, such as the 529 tax-deferred account.
  • Scholarships, which may come from professional organizations that are local (e.g., the North Carolina Biomedical Association) or national (e.g., AAMI).
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which can help those who have lost their job.
  • GI benefits for veterans.

All federal student aid is determined by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found online.

“Always exhaust federal student loan options before considering a private loan,” Noblitt said. That’s because federal loans come with additional benefits, such as options for deferments and more flexible payment plans, as well as a six-month grace period after graduation. “Also, don’t overlook scholarships. They’re a terribly important way to fund an education.”

Leave No Stone Unturned

Sometimes funding avenues such as work-study programs are readily available, but only if you ask for them. Also, check the grants and scholarships offered by your state government, college, and local institutions, the pair advised.

“You really have to check each individual school and see what is available,” Noblitt said. “You’ve got to keep asking where you can find more money—a lot of times there are opportunities that people just do not take advantage of.”

Nelson said that, as a scholarship application reviewer, he’s “baffled” by how many people just don’t apply who really should. “Don’t let [the application] deter you,” he said. “Always submit scholarship applications.”

Take the Leap

Many prospective applicants are anxious that they aren’t “good enough” or just don’t know what opportunities are available.

Nelson, who is the first in his family to attend college, always assumed he wouldn’t be able to afford higher education. However, with the help of his wife’s family, he found a financial aid program that helped him start the biomedical program at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute.

“If it wasn’t for that advice, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Nelson said. “I hope my story can be an inspiration to others who think they aren’t able to obtain a post–high-school education.”

More information about the AAMI Foundation Scholarship Program can be found at www.aami.org/scholarship.