Be in the Know About Financial Aid for Online Colleges

Image for Be in the Know About Financial Aid for Online Colleges

Online education has become a viable option for students of all kinds. The variety of online degree programs is staggering, and they’re offered by all types of public and private institutions. You can earn everything from an associate’s degree to a doctorate from the comfort of your own computer. Although not as high as traditional on-campus study, the cost of earning a degree online is still significant. Some may not realize the breadth of financial aid options for online learners. The fact is you can find assistance in a wide range of forms.

Financial aid continues to increase year-over-year. In 2017, colleges and universities offered $58.7 billion worth of aid, up 32 percent from 2016, with undergraduates receiving an average of $14,400. With these numbers in mind, filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a must. You can’t get assistance if you don’t apply for it, after all.

It’s important to file the FAFSA as soon as you can. Those who file early can receive more than twice as much grant money as those who wait to do it later. You have to remember that states and colleges often award assistance on a first-come, first-serve basis. Just make sure you research which online colleges are FAFSA eligible before you file.

To file FAFSA, you need a high school diploma or its equivalent. You also need to have a social security number and to have been accepted into an approved college. Once you’ve secured any type of financial aid, you need to maintain good grades to continue receiving it. You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to receive financial aid, but you will need some type of documentation.

Here are some of the types of financial aid you might qualify for as an online student:

  • Federal Loans: These loans might be provided by the federal government, state government, or a private bank. There are various types of loans that fall under this umbrella, each with different interest rates and repayment terms. The U.S. Department of Education website is a great place to figure out which loan meets your unique needs.
  • Grants: There are many different types of grants, which are considered forms of gift aid. This means students don’t have to pay them back. Grants are typically given based on financial need. They may also be awarded to students who want to teach in low-income areas and in other special cases.
  • Scholarships: As with traditional college students, online learners are eligible for a wide range of scholarships. The requirements vary widely, with financial need and academic merit the top factors. Scholarships typically don’t need to be repaid.

As an online college student, you have plentiful options for financial assistance. Do your homework and find the right aid program for your situation.