Work, kids, bills, life. You’re busy, and adding school to your long list of responsibilities may seem impossible.

Putting it off could be costly, however. Over a lifetime, it’s estimated that college grads will earn about a million dollars more than people who’ve only completed high school. Beyond better pay, an education can unlock doors to careers with other life-changing perks – like healthcare coverage, retirement benefits or greater work/life balance. With a solid plan and the right resources, you can get the education you need to get ahead.

Complete Tampa Bay

If you’ve already earned some college credit, but did not earn your degree, the Complete Tampa Bay program may be an option for you. After applying, Complete Tampa Bay matches you with a success “coach” and other resources to help get you enrolled and start your degree program.

Contact Completion Coach, Matt Smith, – or follow link for more information: Learn more>>

Returning to Learn – more options

Education Options

A college degree can mean the difference between working a job or pursuing a career.  But before you start applying to colleges, do your homework. Identify the types of careers you might enjoy and that are in demand. Is a college degree even required?

Construction workersFor many people, completing a certificate program from a state college or career/technical institution is a smart option. High-demand careers in fields like firefighting and law enforcement, health care, information technology and building and construction are open to those who complete certificate/on-the-job training programs.

If your dream career does require a college degree, Florida Shines has many resources to help you plan for college. You can research the different colleges and universities in Florida and see the degree programs they offer, including those that are offered as online programs. Get started>>


From career planning tools to help paying for college through the GI Bill, many benefits are available to help military veterans (and qualified dependents and survivors) advance their education. To learn more about the benefits you may qualify for, visit the Veterans Administration website.

Many colleges and universities have programs devoted to helping veteran students succeed in earning their degree. When touring schools, be sure to visit the veterans’ services office to find out about amenities, facilities and programs the school may offer to veterans.

Paying for it

Financial Aid/Scholarships

Did you know that adult students can apply for financial aid or scholarships? That’s right, it’s not just high school students who can apply for money to help pay for their education.

All students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year. A FAFSA determines if you are eligible for grants (money you don’t have to repay), work study opportunities, federal loans and more. Learn more about completing the FAFSA and other financial aid opportunities, like scholarships>>

Employer Assistance

Many companies offer tuition reimbursement to their employees. In some companies, the full cost of tuition is covered! Your human resources department can give you specifics about the education benefits offered to employees, like whether fees or books are included and if there are restrictions on the type of degree you can earn.

Looking for more help? Check out our full list of resources to help you with going back to school.