As millions of Americans find themselves unemployed, many are asking if now is the time to go back to school to pursue the career they have always wanted. If you’re contemplating pursuing a degree, ask yourself these questions first.

Will this degree or certificate get me to where I want to be professionally?

If you answered yes, then going back to school might be a great idea if you’re currently unemployed, or have extra time on your hands. Working to live has always been the way for many millions of Americans, but if you can live to work, it will be a whole new meaning to everyday life for you. A 2014 Pew study[1] found that adults with a college degree earn, on average, 38% more than those without a degree, so having a degree can make a significant, positive impact on your long-term earnings.

If, however, you don’t foresee any short-term or long-term advantages, you might want to consider holding off. Spending your time and money on a degree that may not benefit you in the future can lead you down a road that will hurt you more financially.

How long will this take me?

Even if you’re unemployed, your time is precious, so make sure you’re spending it wisely. To help figure out if a degree or certificate program is the right option for you, create a plan and timeline for the next six months, year, and five years. This can help you develop a clear vision of your goals, and can help you determine if this degree is truly what you want.

How will I pay for school?

The good news is that there are are many options out there to help you pay for school. Consider free money first, like grants, scholarships, and any out-of-pocket money that you can afford to pay. If, after this, you still have gaps in financing your education, explore federal loan options, income share agreements, or private loans depending on the degree or certificate that you’re looking to obtain.

If you have decided that you are going to get your degree, and have any questions about the best school for your return on investment, log in to our college search calculator. You can also reach out to our concierge advisors to help you with any questions that you may have.