April 22, 2008 | Marcus Varner | Leave a comment With inflation on the rise, food and gas prices skyrocketing, and job growth at a standstill, this may seem like the worst time to put your precious time and money into going back to school for a degree. Contrary to that intuition, however, economic downturns can be a great time to revisit the student life. Going back to school can give you an unlikely shelter in the recession storm. Here are five reasons why: 1. Access to free money Scholarships, Pell grants, and awards are as catch-free as the $20 bill from Grandma on your birthday. The money is yours to use as you please, and you never have to pay back a cent. All you have to do is fill out the applications, maybe write a few essays, and keep yourself in school. When else in your life are you going get thousands of dollars for free? Never, unless your grandma is Oprah or somebody. 2. Access to cheap money Student loans are the best loans on the planet. Their interest rates are insanely low, and you don’t have to start paying them back until six months after you graduate. Loans like this aren’t available to anyone else but college students. 3. You’re not missing out on anything. While you are absent from the working world, especially during a recession, guess what? Nothing is happening. Your former co-workers aren’t moving into their dream jobs because there are no jobs. A recession really lowers the opportunity costs of going to back to school. 4. Powerful networks and career resources Forget the classifieds. College campuses are hubs for powerful networks. They tend to draw influential people from various disciplines together into one place. You will have access to professors, administrators, and fellow students who may be your key to your dream job. Add onto that the well-connected career centers that are usually found on college campuses, and you have a cornucopia of opportunities to network. Way better than happy hour. 5. Uncle Sam loves you. When you are living on financial aid and making little or no income, the government has nothing to tax you for. According to Uncle Sam’s numbers, you are the poorest of the poor and, therefore, have access to handfuls of free services. Many students qualify for food stamps, Medicaid, and even utility assistance. Visits to those infamously unkind government offices can be grueling, but the free food and insurance more than make up for the shoddy customer service. If you’ve been thinking of going back to school, now may be the time to do it. Why weather the recession storm looking for jobs when you can go to school, get ahead, and save alot of money doing it?