What Kind of Financial Aid is Available for Online Colleges?

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Updated October 1, 2020

Are debating whether or not to enroll in an online college? While convenience is very important to modern-day students, finances is another important factor to consider when you are selecting the perfect type of program. A majority of students do not have the money that is needed to pay for online college tuition fees, books, supplies, and living costs entirely out of pocket, and when this is the case the student who is applying to school must consider which types of financial aid are accessible and available. Here is your guide to financing an online college degree:

Do Online Colleges Offer Federal Financial Aide?

Less than 10 years ago, Congress required a school to conduct more than half of degree courses in a classroom setting to qualify to offer Federal financial aide to students attending the degree programs. This requirement, while it was launched in an effort to protect students against online colleges with bad reputations, ended up affecting students who really could benefit from taking accredited online degree programs while working or caring for their children. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Education acknowledged that this rule was a disadvantage for the modern student and the requirement was lifted. Now, online colleges that meet specific accreditation requirements are eligible to offer Federal aide just like traditional schools.

How Can Students Find an Online College Offering Federal Aide?

Now that you know that online schools can offer Federal aide, the next step is knowing the eligibility requirements that an online college must satisfy to be recognized by the Department of Education so that students can apply for aide by filling out the FASFA application. Just because a school no longer has to teach 50% of their courses on-campus to help students cover and finance the cost of tuition fees does not mean that the Federal government recognizes the validity of every single online school in existence. About 2500 different distance education schools are currently offering Federal aide because they meet the strict requirements of regional or national accreditation bodies. As long as you choose a school that is accredited, you should be able to apply for FASFA.

What Other Types of Aide Can You Apply For?

Federal Aide typically includes pell grants and state grants that do not have to be repaid, but there are other types of aide that you can apply for if this funding is not enough or if the online school is not part of the federal aide program. If the school can offer the FASFA, you may also be able to apply for a Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loan for additional funds.

Many for-profit schools offer other forms of aide to students who qualify. In fact, a majority of these schools promise to find their students aide if they are accepted into their online program. Be sure that you understand the terms of these special types of aide before accepting.

You should take the time to discuss financial aide options with representatives from different online colleges before you commit to a program. Also be sure to select a program that is accredited by a regional agency at a minimum so that the credits that you are transferable. You can get your degree from a distance just make sure to do your homework.

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