6 Tips for Managing College Expenses After a Layoff

6 Tips for Managing College Expenses After a Layoff
College Expenses and Layoff

Mass layoffs have been happening all over the US and many other parts of the world. The key to surviving this period is to continue to stay in good financial health. Starting or continuing your college during this period can be a great investment of this layoff time.

To manage your college and expenses after a layoff:

1) Focus on online degree completion programs

2) Apply for unemployment benefits

3) Gather up all your personal savings

4) Move back home in the US or internationally

5) Take free and lowcost credit-eligible courses or tests

6) Spend frugally when required

During a layoff, moving closer to family will greatly reduce your living expenses in the US. Also, the best way to continue college while you travel or move is to choose adult degree completion programs that allows students to take college-level courses online or from anywhere in the world.

Handling College/Other Expenses When Laid Off

When laid off, the primary goal when laid off is to survive this ordeal and to quickly get back on your feet. This requires careful budgeting so as to minimize your expenses, upgrading your skills for your next job and a streamlined job search and interviewing process.

Creating a Budget
Creating a Budget


There are several ways to earn college transfer credits while also learning marketable skills for your next job:

  • Consider a degree completion program that offers credit for prior learning. Degree completion programs at the Big-3 colleges such as Excelsior, Charter Oak or Thomas Edison offer credit for prior learning, such as work experience or industry certifications. This can help you earn credit for your skills, and can save you time and money on your degree. Sign up at one of the Big-3 colleges such as Excelsior, Charter Oak or Thomas Edison for a degree major that closely aligns with your field of work and certifications.
Excelsior college
Excelsior college
  • Look for micro-credentials or certifications on online platforms, such as Coursera, edX or Udacity. When choosing courses, look for ones that are relevant to your career goals and that will help you develop marketable skills. For example, if you’re interested in a career in marketing, look for courses in digital marketing, social media marketing, or market research. These can be valuable additions to your resume and can show potential employers that you have the skills they’re looking for.
  • Participate in internships, apprenticeships, volunteering opportunities, or contribute to open source projects if you are a technology professional. This can give you hands-on experience in your field and allow you to earn college credit at the same time, by evaluating your experience for credits at the degree completion colleges such as Excelsior.

By combining courses that offer transfer credits with marketable skills, you can gain a competitive edge in the job market and make progress towards your degree at the same time. To doubly benefit from certifications or credentials, enroll into a degree completion college for your Bachelor’s or Master’s and get your credentials and certificates evaluated for college credits with a credits transfer or a prior-learning assessment.


One of the first things you need to do when laid off in the US is to apply for unemployment benefits. If you are a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you are automatically eligible for unemployment benefits.

Apart from giving you some money every week, applying for unemployment benefits will also keep you actively focused on your new job search, as that is part of the eligibility requirement for receiving unemployment benefits.


Managing personal savings during a layoff can be challenging, but with careful planning and budgeting, you can make your savings last longer and weather this difficult time more effectively. Try to avoid taking on unnecessary debt, such as credit card debt, during this time.

Take a close look at your current financial situation, including your savings, expenses, and any outstanding debts. This will give you a better understanding of how long your savings will last and where you may need to cut back on expenses.


Consider moving back home if you are currently living in a rental apartment. This will eliminate your rental expenses and greatly minimize your other living expenses. Most apartment managers are able to accommodate lease terminations for unexpected job layoffs once you put in the request in writing.

Moving back home
Moving back home

In case you are unable to move in with your parents, you can consider moving in temporarily with some other family or friends who have the additional space or room for you.

Setup a virtual mail service and have your post office forward all your mail to your virtual mail address. Most virtual mail services have an online platform where they scan and display all your mail privately for you. You can choose to forward any important letters or unemployment checks to you at your family home and just keep digital copies of the rest.

By setting up a virtual mail address, you will be able to use that address permanently, even after you get another job and move out of your family’s home. For convenience, simply choose a virtual mail address in the same state or city where you lived previously while renting.

In case your family home is outside the US, even in such cases, having a permanent virtual mailing address in the US will greatly simplify things for you. Most virtual mail services such as Earth Class Mail etc. are able to forward any checks or payments you receive to your US bank upon your request.


There are several ways to earn college credits with free and lowcost college-level courses.

Here are a few options:

  1. Take free MOOC courses that are eligible for college credits. Many universities and online platforms offer free online courses that can be taken for college credit. Some examples include some of Harvard University’s online courses on edX, and Saylor Academy’s free online courses.
Online learning
Online learning
  1. Take Advanced Placement (AP) exams: If you have already taken AP courses in high school, you can earn college credit by taking AP exams. Many colleges and universities accept AP exam scores for credit, depending on the score you receive and the subject of the exam.
  2. Take College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams: CLEP exams are standardized tests that measure your knowledge in certain subjects. If you pass a CLEP exam, you can earn college credit for the corresponding course. There is a fee for taking CLEP exams, but it is often less expensive than taking the corresponding college course.
  3. Take courses from ACE/ NCCRS accredited online learning sources: For general ed degree requirements, you can pay a small monthly subscription fee at Sophia.org or Study.com or Straighterline.com for unlimited credit-transfer-friendly online courses. Look specifically for online courses that meet the degree requirements at your target degree completion colleges.


When you’re laid off, it’s important to make your money last as long as possible. Spending frugally doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice everything. It’s about finding a balance between your necessary expenses and your discretionary spending. Look for ways to save money without sacrificing your quality of life.

Degree Completion Programs and How They Work

Degree completion programs are designed for students who have completed some college coursework but have not yet earned a degree. These programs allow students to finish their degree requirements and earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Here’s how the program works:

College student with student counselor
College student with student counselor
  1. Evaluate transfer credits: When you enroll in a degree completion program, the first step is to evaluate your prior college coursework to determine which credits will transfer to the new program. This process helps you to understand how many credits you need to complete to earn the degree.
  2. Complete remaining coursework: After evaluating transfer credits, you’ll work with an academic advisor to create a plan that outlines the remaining coursework required to earn your degree. This coursework typically includes courses in your major, general education requirements, and electives.
  3. Flexible learning schedules: Many degree completion programs are designed with flexibility in mind, offering online courses and many other ways to earn college credits such as CLEP/DSST/AP exams, ACE/NCCRS accredited online courses and the evaluation of prior work experience and other training.
  4. Support services: Many degree completion programs offer support services such as academic advising and career counseling to help students succeed.
  5. Degree completion: Once you complete the remaining coursework required for your degree, you will be awarded a bachelor’s or master’s degree that you signed up for.

Degree completion programs are an excellent option for students who have completed some college coursework and want to finish their degree requirements to earn a college degree. They offer flexibility, support services, and an accelerated pathway to graduation.

For additional information on degree completion programs, colleges, procedures, and ways to quickly complete your degree, please have a look at our article on I Need To Finish College.

How To Apply for Unemployment Benefits in the US

Unemployment application form
Unemployment application form

To apply for unemployment benefits in the United States, follow these general steps:

  1. Determine eligibility: First, determine if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. Eligibility requirements vary by state, but in general, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, be able and available to work, and meet your state’s minimum earnings or work period requirements.
  2. Gather required information: To apply for benefits, you will need to provide personal and employment information, such as your Social Security number, driver’s license or state ID, employment history for the past 18 months, and contact information for your previous employer(s).
  3. File a claim: File a claim for unemployment benefits through your state’s unemployment insurance program. This can usually be done online, over the phone, or in person. Some states may require you to register with a job search website or attend a job search workshop.
  4. Wait for determination: After filing your claim, you will receive a determination letter from your state’s unemployment agency. This will inform you of whether or not you are eligible for benefits and how much you may receive.
  5. Certify for benefits: If you are approved for benefits, you will need to certify for benefits weekly or biweekly to continue receiving payments. This usually involves answering questions about your job search activities and any work or earnings you have had during the certification period.
  6. Look for work: While receiving unemployment benefits, you will be required to actively search for work and report your job search activities to your state’s unemployment agency.

It’s important to note that the specific process for applying for unemployment benefits can vary by state, so be sure to check your state’s unemployment agency website for detailed information on how to apply.

Getting a Virtual Mailbox Service

Virtual mail services are a type of online mailbox that allows individuals to receive and manage their mail and packages remotely. Here’s how it generally works:

  1. Sign up for a virtual mail service: Choose a virtual mail service provider and sign up for a plan that suits your needs. You’ll typically need to provide identification documents and complete a form with your personal or business details.
  2. Choose a physical address: Your virtual mail service provider will assign you a physical street address or PO Box that you can use as your mailing address. This is often a real street address, not a P.O. Box.
  3. Receive mail and packages: Your mail and packages will be delivered to the physical address assigned to you by the virtual mail service provider.
  4. Notification: Most virtual mail services will notify you when mail or packages arrive, either via email or a notification in the online portal.
  5. Manage your mail and packages: Once you receive the notification, you can log into your virtual mail account and choose what you want to do with your mail and packages. You can have the service forward the mail or packages to your physical address, shred it, or scan it so that you can view it online.
  6. Access your mail online: If you choose to have your mail scanned, you can view it online and decide whether to have the original forwarded to you or shredded.

Virtual mail services provide a convenient way to manage your mail and packages remotely, especially if you’re frequently traveling, living in a different city, or running a business that requires a physical mailing address.

Moving Home After Getting Laid Off

If you have been laid off and need to move back home, there are several steps you can take to make the process as smooth as possible:

  1. Communicate with your family: Let your family know that you will be moving back home and discuss any expectations or concerns they may have. Be open and honest about your situation and what you need from them during this time.
    US visa status
    US visa status
  2. US visa status: If you are in the US on a work visa, check your visa status to determine how quickly you will have to leave the US once you’re laid off. You may have to reapply for a H1B visa to re-enter the US upon getting a new job offer from a US employer.
  3. Plan ahead: Start planning your move as soon as possible. Make a list of what you need to do, such as packing, canceling utilities, and forwarding your mail to your virtual mailing address.
  4. Sort and downsize: Sort through your belongings and downsize as much as possible. Consider selling or donating items you no longer need to reduce the amount of stuff you have to move. If you have a car, you can request some family or friends to keep your car with them. You can pickup your car from your friend upon returning there on another job.
  5. In case your plans have to change and you are unable to go back to the same location in the US on another job, you can request your friend to sell your car and send you the money from the sale. Alternately, you can try to sell your car before leaving for home.
  6. Hire a moving company: If you have a lot of belongings, consider hiring a moving company to help with the move. Get quotes from several companies and choose one that fits your budget and needs.
  7. Pack carefully: Pack your belongings carefully to prevent damage during the move. Label your boxes with the contents and the room they belong in to make unpacking easier.
  8. Say goodbye: Say goodbye to friends and colleagues before you leave. You may also want to organize a going-away party to celebrate your time together.
  9. Settle in: Once you arrive at your family’s home, take time to settle in and adjust to your new living situation. Be respectful of your family’s space and routines and contribute to household chores and expenses as needed.

Remember, moving back home can be a difficult transition, but with open communication, planning, and a positive attitude, you can make the most of this opportunity to regroup and plan for your next steps.

Personal Finances, Credit and Loans When Laid Off

Here are some tips to help you manage your savings during this challenging time when you’re laid off:

  1. Create a budget: Create a budget that reflects your current income and expenses. This will help you identify areas where you can reduce spending and prioritize your financial goals.
  2. List all of your necessary expenses, such as housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation, and see where you can cut back.
  3. Prioritize expenses and cut unnecessary expenses: Look for areas where you can cut back on expenses. Cancel any subscriptions or memberships you don’t need, such as gym memberships or streaming services. Consider downsizing your living arrangements, if possible.
  4. Focus on essential expenses such as food and healthcare. Look for ways to reduce your spending on non-essential expenses, such as entertainment or dining out.
  5. Use coupons and discount codes: Look for coupons and discount codes when shopping for groceries or online purchases. You can find these through apps, websites, or in-store promotions.
  6. Cook at home: Eating out can be expensive, so try cooking at home as much as possible. Meal planning and prepping can help you save time and money on groceries.
  7. Use public transportation or carpool: If you need to commute, consider using public transportation or carpooling to save on gas and maintenance costs.
  8. Shop at thrift stores: Thrift stores and consignment shops can offer great deals on clothing and household items.
  9. Avoid unnecessary debt: Try to avoid taking on unnecessary debt, such as credit card debt, during this time. If you do need to use credit, try to pay off the balance as quickly as possible.
  10. Consider part-time work or freelance opportunities: Consider taking on part-time work or freelance opportunities to supplement your income while you search for a new full-time job.
  11. Build an emergency fund: Use this time to start building an emergency fund to help you cover unexpected expenses in the future. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
    Job Loss Emergency fund
    Job Loss Emergency fund
  12. Review your investments: If you have investments, review your portfolio and consider adjusting your investments to align with your current financial goals and risk tolerance.

Remember, managing personal savings during a layoff can be challenging, but with careful planning and budgeting, you can make your savings last longer and weather this difficult time more effectively. 

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