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How to Get Financial Aid and Scholarships for Your Second Degree

By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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and Cait Williams

Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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Reviewed by Annie Trout

Annie has spent the past 18+ years educating students about college admissions opportunities and coaching them through building a financial aid package. She has worked in college access and college admissions for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission/Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, Middle Tennessee State University, and Austin Peay State University.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: February 1st, 2024
How to Get Financial Aid and Scholarships for Your Second Degree

After going through all the work to finance your first degree, you may be wondering how the rules change as you begin to search for financial aid and scholarships for your second degree. Depending on what type of second degree you are pursuing, you may be eligible for a whole new set of scholarships! 

In this article, we will give you advice for getting financial aid and scholarships for your second degree. Your opportunities will depend on what degree you have now, and what type of degree you are pursuing. We’ll break down a few different scenarios to bring you the answers to fit your situation.

Students with an Associate’s degree seeking a Bachelor’s degree

Students with an Associate’s degree who are seeking a Bachelor’s degree have roughly the same tools at their disposal as most undergraduate students.  They are eligible for federal aid, including the Pell Grant and federal loans. Both the grant and the loans are obtained by completing the FAFSA, so make sure that you apply.

Additionally, these students are eligible for most scholarships for current undergraduate students. Most of these scholarships require students to be accepted or enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree program.

Students with a Bachelor’s degree seeking another Bachelor’s

There are several reasons why a student with a Bachelor’s degree might decide to return to school for another Bachelor’s. Some people become interested in a dramatically different field from the one they majored in. If so, they could enroll in another undergraduate program to gain a foundational knowledge in the field, and become a candidate for a more advanced degree in the field.

Unfortunately, students seeking a second Bachelor’s cannot utilize the same federal resources as first-time Bachelor’s candidates. These students are not eligible for Pell Grants, but they do qualify for Federal Stafford Loans if they have not already reached their undergraduate loan limit.

Related: When is this year’s FAFSA deadline?

The bottom line for Bachelor’s degrees

Scholarships are the best resource to find financial aid for a second Bachelor’s degree. Many undergraduate scholarships require that students are accepted or enrolled in an undergraduate program. Luckily, candidacy is not based on a prior Bachelor’s.

If you have an inspiring story behind your decision to return to school and study a dramatically different field, try to leverage that in your scholarship applications; seeking a second Bachelor’s is a relatively rare pursuit, and you can stand out from the crowd by telling the story of what brought you there!

You can also seek out scholarships that cater to students who have had an unconventional educational path. Scholarships360 has vetted lists of scholarships for:

Make sure to investigate these lists if any of these categories apply to you, as these scholarships will be especially relevant to your background.

Students with a Bachelor’s degree seeking a graduate degree

Students with a Bachelor’s degree who are looking to enroll in a graduate program have a wealth of resources at their disposal. Most graduate programs offer paid opportunities that can be relevant to your coursework, including research and teaching assistant positions. These typically pay better than on-campus jobs at undergraduate programs, and can be a significant help in funding your degree.

Graduate students can also take out Direct Unsubsidized federal loans for up to $20,500 per year. Though these loans have higher interest rates than subsidized federal loans, they are typically a better option than taking out private loans. There are also many external scholarships available for graduate students.

Try our scholarship finder tool

No matter what type of second degree you are seeking, our scholarship search tool is a valuable resource. Input your demographic information and the types of scholarships you are seeking, and get custom-matched with opportunities that suit your educational and financial situation.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Pursuing a second degree, whether it is a bachelors, masters, or associates, is not unheard of and can be funded in many of the same ways that you funded your first degree
  • It’s important to search for scholarships that are specific to your path, whether you’re a student going from an associate to a bachelors, a bachelors to a graduate degree, or another bachelors after your first, there are plenty of scholarships available for all those paths
  • While funding a second degree may feel like a lot of work, especially after already funding a whole other degree, there are still plenty of ways to offset the cost of your degree if you put in the effort
Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about financial funding for a second degree

Is it worth getting a second bachelor's degree?

For students who have a dramatic change in their career interests, a second bachelor’s might be necessary to achieve their goals. For example, a student who studies sociology and decides to go into medicine may decide to get a second bachelor’s in order to fulfill the prerequisites for med school. This is typically a very costly and time-intensive process, and so it is relatively uncommon, but it can be worth it for students who are in the right situation.

That being said, most students do not go to school with the plan to return for a second bachelor’s degree. Students with multiple interests typically choose to double major or add a minor instead. It is possible to pursue multiple interests in school without earning two degrees.

Does getting a master's count as a second degree?

A master’s degree does count as a second degree. Oftentimes, when people refer to “second degree seekers,” they mean students who are pursuing a second degree which they already hold – such as a student who holds a bachelor’s degree and wants another. However, a student pursuing a master’s is still technically pursuing a second degree.

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