How Can I Find Financial Aid For Online College
Paying for tuition without any type of financial aid for online college can be difficult even when you are a full-time employee. With the rising cost of tuition fees and textbooks, individuals are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to whether or not they should continue their education advance their careers. On one hand, having a degree can expand knowledge and lead to higher salaries, but on the other hand, the cost of student loans to get a degree can add up to a small fortune. If you are serious about studying for your college degree online, here is what you need to know about financial aid opportunities.
Apply For Additional Financial Aid
While required at most schools, the FAFSA is not the only path to financial aid for online college attendees. Learners can also pursue private scholarships and grants, which do not require repayment.
Many private foundations and organizations offer grants for college students. The criteria for private grants vary widely, especially when compared to the most common federal grant programs. Some private grants require applicants to demonstrate financial need, while others accommodate specific fields of study or demographic groups.
Private grants emphasize academic achievement and scholarly research in higher education. Organizations that support dynamic career and research fields â including STEM, information technology, and teacher education â commonly offer private grants. Students should seek out as many private grants as possible to supplement their federal financial aid.
Students can begin their search for online college grants through the ED. While many organizations offer private grants to online students, some programs have campus or state residency requirements. Schools typically offer information about local or regional private grant opportunities through their financial aid offices.
Advisors recommend that students prioritize scholarships as financial aid for online college. Since scholarships do not require repayment, learners should apply for as many online college grants and scholarships as they can.
Why Is A Federal Pell Grant Different Than Other Financial Aid
The main difference between a Pell Grant and other types of funding is what happens after you graduate. While almost all types of students loans must be repaid , the money you receive from a Pell Grant does not.
Yes, really! There are no hidden fees or strings attached. It truly is free money to help cover the costs of tuition, room and board, and other living expenses.
Who says you cant get something for nothing?
Applying For A Pell Grant
Applying for a Pell Grant is included under the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process, which the Department of Education recommends all students complete to become eligible for all available federal education assistance. The FAFSA must be filled out annually, and your school or state government may use your FAFSA as a basis for further financial aid. The Pell Grant amount you receive for your certificate program depends largely on the cost of the program and your EFC.
Five Steps To Finding A Fafsa
As a distance learner, you may not have to worry about the costs of room and board at a traditional college, but you will likely still need to pay for tuition, books, and supplies. The FAFSA may take a little time to fill out but it could lead to valuable scholarships or grants to help cover those very important education costs, which may take the pressure off the rest of your budget.
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What Are The Qualification Criteria
To qualify for a Pell Grant, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a US Citizen.
- Are enrolled as a student in an undergraduate program.
- Have not earned an undergraduate yet or are part of a qualified post baccalaureate teachers training program.
- Have completed the FAFSA.
- Have received the grant for less than 12 terms.
- Are able to demonstrate financial need
Note: starting this year, incarcerated persons are now eligible for a Pell Grant as well.
What Are The Basic Pell Grant Requirements
Hopefully, after reviewing these general requirements, youve learned that youre eligible to apply for federal financial aid. This brings us to the main topic for today: How do you know if you qualify for a Pell Grant?
The main factors include:
- Your familys Expected Financial Contribution
- The cost of tuition at your chosen school
- Your enrollment status
Important note: Pell Grants are awarded primarily to first-time college students. With few exceptions, you will not qualify for a Pell Grant if you already have a bachelors degree or another professional degree.
With this overview, lets focus on the main aspect of Pell Grant eligibility your financial status.
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Types Of Financial Aid
Learners exploring financial aid for online colleges can research many options. These include federal and state aid, scholarships, loans, and employer assistance. Eligibility requirements vary. Applicants should review renewal requirements and deadlines. Students can also work with their school’s financial aid advisors to find the best aid programs.
Seek An Innovative School
Online students tend to have more life experience than the typical college student, and some schools offer college credit for the skills gained along the way. At the revolutionary Western Governors University, students need to prove competency rather than perseverance. As soon as students pass assessments proving that they have learned the required skills, they can move to the next class. This allows some students to finish coursework in less time than at traditional schools.
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How To Apply For A Pell Grant
One of the great things about the Pell Grant is students dont have to apply separately for this grant. When you fill out the FAFSA, you automatically apply for a Pell Grant.
If you qualify for the grant, it will be included as part of your student aid package.
You’ll receive notification of the grant award when your school’s financial aid office contacts you. It will be listed as a line item on your financial aid award .
Q How Can Online Students Avoid Running Up Debt
All students, whether they’re pursuing degrees online or in person, should keep track of their overall borrowing for their educational program. Students should only borrow what they need to meet their educational expenses each award year. Students can keep track of their overall borrowing by accessing the National Student Loan Data System. They can also use the Federal Student Aid Program’s Loan Simulator to learn how their aggregate loan debt will calculate out to a monthly payment.
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Maintain Your Federal Aid Eligibility Through Fafsa
Once youve met the requirements and received your federal aid package, youll need to stay eligible throughout your college career to keep receiving financial assistance. This means maintaining a satisfactory grade point average and meeting all quarter or semester course load requirements.
Be sure to consult with your chosen schools financial aid office to find out specific details as well as how you can regain eligibility in the event that you no longer qualify. And remember to submit a Renewal FAFSA each year. The FAFSA website makes it easy by auto-completing certain information from the previous year to relevant sections.
University Of Florida Online
Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
- Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
- Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
- American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation
- American Occupational Therapy Association, Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education
- American Physical Therapy Association, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
- American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation
- American Veterinary Medical Association, Council on Education
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
- Commission on English Language Program Accreditation
- Council on Education for Public Health
- Liaison Committee on Medical Education
- The Council of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
- The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
Popular programs: Business Administration, Education, Engineering, MBA, Nursing
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Institutional accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Programmatic accreditation: None found
Popular programs: Behavioral Sciences, Business, Healthcare, Nursing, Technology
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Financial aid office contact: 1-844-937-8679
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When Will I Receive My Award Letter And Where Can I Access It
Award letters are generated after your federal financial aid award is determined. It will be presented to you on the student website at the time funds acceptance is required. After that, your letter will be available by navigating to Account > Awards & Disbursements > Print Loan Confirmation. It will be posted in your Letter Center on the student website, as well.
What Is The Pell Grant
Pell Grants are federal educational grants that are meant to provide financial aid for students who display exceptional financial need. For the 2022-2023 school year, it can provide up to $6,895 per student per year that meets the qualifications.
Unlike many forms of financial aid, Pell Grants aren’t available for graduate students. They’re typically only accessible to students who haven’t earned an undergraduate degree. In some cases, students training to be teachers can also receive the grant during their masters degree.Students who meet the qualification criteria, may receive the grant for 12 terms, which translates to approximately six years of school. This is helpful for students who are not attending school full-time, but still need financial aid.
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Where To Find Scholarships
Students can access a wealth of scholarship databases through a simple internet search. While large, aggregated scholarship websites can be helpful, a more targeted approach can help funnel down to more fruitful results. Students may find the process of searching for scholarships less overwhelming if they begin with their school and local community. Below are some suggestions of where to start.
Q What Are The Most Common Mistakes Made Or Misconceptions Held Among Service Personnel And Veterans Looking For College Aid
There’s the confusion for multiple GI BillÂ® holders over the number of months of entitlement they can get. Under the Rule of 48, service members or veterans with two or more GI Bills can use up to a maximum of 48 months between all their GI Bills.
The other common misconception is how they can use each GI Bill to get those 48 months. To get the 48 months, they have to first exhaust their 36 months under the Montgomery GI Bill, then switch to the Post-9/11 GI Bill to get the additional 12 months of entitlement. They can’t do it the other way around. Also, if they switch from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post-9/11 GI Bill without first exhausting their Montgomery GI Bill benefits, then all they get is the same number of months they had left under the Montgomery GI Bill and not the additional 12 months of entitlement.
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Other Financial Aid Options Available
If your online school doesnt offer FAFSA funding or youre not eligible for federal aid, you still have options. Here are a few student aid alternatives that can help you pay for your online college education:
- Scholarships: Scholarships dont have to be repaid after leaving school. Theyre merit- or need-based and can be found through your school or state. Theyre also often provided by private and public organizations at the local and national levels.
- Grants: Like scholarships, grants generally dont need to be paid back after graduating from an online program. Grants are provided through federal and state programs, as well as through your college or a private organization. These funds are often awarded based on financial need.
- Private student loans: Private loans require good credit and consistent income, or a co-signer that meets those requirements. The principal balance must be paid back over time, in addition to interest charges. These loans are offered by private institutions like banks, online lenders and sometimes through your online school.
Related Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
A school’s accreditation status affects both the quality and funding of its college programs. All federal and most private sources of financial aid only recognize accredited programs. Most employers only hire graduates of accredited college programs for entry-level positions.
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How Much Can I Expect From Grants For Online Students
Grants for online college or traditional college vary widely in their amounts. It may also depend on the type of aid: merit, need-based, or departmental.
Average merit-based grant awards range from $1,000 , to full rides at private schools of up to $35,000. But for the purpose of an estimate, the average merit-based award is around $5,000.
Because need-based aid depends entirely on the financial need demonstrated on your FAFSA, the average need-based scholarship amount received depends from person to person. As a rule, your need-based aid cannot exceed the amount of your financial need. That said, types of need-based aid vary in their maximum awards. For example, the Federal Pell Grant is generally $5,775, while the FSEOG is between $100-$4,000 annually.
Why Aren’t Others Getting Grants
Although many Americans may qualify for these $6,895 pell grants, few are taking advantage of them. Why?
Americans don’t apply for federal pell grants for one of three reasons: 1) they donÃ¢ÂÂt know they exist, 2) they believe it has to be repaid and don’t want to have debt, or 3) or they don’t think they will qualify.
So here’s some insight â Pell grants do exist, they do not need to be repaid*, and you could qualify for a free $6,895 grant and get back on the road to finishing your degree soon.
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Determine Whether You’re Eligible To Apply For Federal Aid
Because the Pell Grant is a federal student aid program, you need to meet all federal requirements in order to be eligible. The major requirements are that you must:
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Be a citizen or US national
- Be enrolled, or accepted to enroll, in a school that participates in the Pell Grant program
There are other federal requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible, however you can get more detailed information here. Make sure you have all these requirements locked down before you apply, or else you risk delaying your application.
How Do I Get My Existing Student Loans Into Deferment
The University participates in the National Student Clearinghouse , which electronically provides enrollment status and attendance data to the National Student Loan Database System . The Registrars Office reports attendance data on all students once per week. All servicers supporting the federal student loan programs are required to use NLSDS, you do not need to take any action to put your federal loans into a deferred status. If you have a private loan from a servicer that does not uses NLSDS, please contact our Admissions & records Service Center at 800.866.3919 for further assistance.
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Other Financial Aid Options For Online College Students
The FAFSA can help you gain access to federal Direct Loans and other aid based on financial need . But youll want to make sure to explore other types of financial aid programs for your online education as well, such as scholarships and grants.
For instance, there are several scholarship search sites thatll consider your degree path, location, ethnicity and more to help you find scholarships that fit you best for online learning.
Learn.org also offers three $500 scholarships that are specifically meant to assist online students, including the Online Associates Degree Scholarship, Online Bachelors Degree Scholarship and Online Masters Degree Scholarship.
To find more scholarship and grant programs that could make the cost of your online courses even more affordable, talk to your schools financial aid counselor. However, if it turns out that youll have to take out some loans to pay for college costs, be sure to check out our guide to pre-planning student debt.
Filed Under: Paying For College
About Clint Proctor
Clint Proctor is a freelance writer and founder of WalletWiseGuy.com, where he writes about how students and millennials can win with money. When he’s away from his keyboard, he enjoys drinking coffee, traveling, obsessing over the Green Bay Packers and spending time with his wife and two boys.
Review Your Award Letter
After the FAFSA is processed, a student’s school issues an award letter with an offer of financial aid based on that information. Each recipient must review their award letter carefully to understand the types of available aid and select which awards they prefer.
While each student has unique aid options, most choose to accept scholarships and grants first. Most also accept federal student loans , but only after allocating the above forms of aid.
These award letters may use language you have not encountered before to describe your educational expenses and your level of financial aid eligibility. Here are a few terms you might encounter in your award letter:
- Cost of Attendance: COA refers to the amount it costs to attend college, including tuition, supplies, and living expenses.
- Expected Family Contribution: EFC is the estimated portion of COA that the FAFSA application has determined a student or their family can pay without financial aid assistance.
- Need-Based Aid: This is the amount of additional money a student needs to be able to attend college. Schools determine this number by subtracting a student’s EFC from their school’s COA.
- Non-Need-Based Aid: This refers to money a student is eligible for that is not based in financial need, but rather based on other factors, like merit. Colleges decide this amount by subtracting a student’s need-based aid from the school’s COA.
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