HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The next college semester is more than a month away, but if you're considering going back to school, experts strongly suggest now is the time to apply.
In a few weeks, students will return to the classroom at Lone Star College, both on campus and online.
If you lost your job during the pandemic and want to learn a new skill, you might want to consider applying now because it can take days to complete the process.
"You don't just sign up for a course or a program," said Linda Head, who oversees the division of external and employer relations at Lone Star. "It takes a little bit of time."
If you're wondering about the price, a course at Lone Star College costs $300. An associate's degree totals to about $8,000 and a bachelor's degree will cost you about $13,000.
The good news is there is financial aid available like never before. There's federal and local aid that will help if you're qualified, even if you didn't qualify before the pandemic.
"Don't be embarrassed to ask," Head explained. "The money is there. We want to give it away. We want to help people. We don't want to have people take loans."
If you don't know where to begin, experts said try the state's job site, where you can find a career exploration tool.
"When you make that investment of your time and your energy and your money, you are investing in yourself and you're going to be able to have the best payout for your long-term career goals," said spokesperson for Workforce Solutions, Michelle Castrow.
Once you get a match, look for programs at local schools.
Classes don't start until next month, but doing this before the holidays could be the best gift if you lost your job due to the pandemic.
"You just have to take the first step, and we're here when you get there," Head said.
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Considering going back to school? Experts say apply now