Online College Scholarships and Financial Aid
Need money for school? Let's face it, while online college education in America is cheaper than most other post-secondary options, it still isn't cheap. But it's definitely worth the expense! And there are a variety of options to help you pay for your education. There are two main funding options: awards and aid.
Awards for students applying to online colleges and universities can come from different sources. On one hand, you have awards offered through the schools themselves, which can be institutional or private. And on the other you have awards offered by state and federal governments as well as outside organizations.
Student financial aid can be divided into two categories: federal student aid and college aid.
Institutions have to be accredited by a US Department of Education recognized accrediting agency to qualify for certain financial aid programs. Look on the institution's website for the FAFSA school code. Federal Aid programs include grants, work-study, Stafford loans and PLUS loans.
If the school is an accredited vocational or career college, then they may also be approved for other types of governmental financial assistance, such as Veterans Educational Benefits, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation funds, and Bureau of Indian Affairs monies.
College aid involves several types of funding. On one hand, online colleges may administer federal campus-based aid programs. This need-based aid is made up of three federal programs that are administered directly by the colleges. Not all schools participate in all three, so check with the colleges you are considering. These college-based programs provide a limited amount of funds for each school to administer each year, so be sure to apply for this kind of college aid early. Each school sets its own deadlines for campus-based aid which differ from the FAFSA deadlines.
On the other hand, institutional or college grants may be offered to help make up the difference between college costs and what a family can be expected to contribute. These are generally around $500-$1,000. Most online colleges have Financial Advisors and/or a division or department of financial aid where you can often find a cost/ financial aid calculator, lists of financial aid available and the necessary downloadable forms. There may also be special financial aid page for military students. Some grants come with certain obligations, so you'll want to find out about the types of grants awarded by each college you are considering: don't be shy about contacting the school's financial aid office for information.
If you are applying to an online college to pursue career and job-related skills, keep in mind that many employers offer tuition reimbursement plans. This may require you to maintain a certain GPA to receive compensation. In some cases employees may have to sign an agreement saying they intend to remain working for an employer for a certain amount of time once they finish their degree or training.
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