Financial Aid for Online Universities
If you are a working adult looking to further your education, then an online university might be the right choice for you. Online universities offer students the chance to enhance their career by earning online degrees with a flexible class schedule and comprehensive financial aid plans.
Financial aid for online universities comes in student loans, parent loans, scholarships and grants; the same kind of financial aid available for traditional brick and mortar universities.
To finance an online education, students generally need to complete the following:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Financial aid application form (specific to a school)
- CSS profile and/or individual college forms
The process for applying for financial aid is much simpler than many assume. By filling out the FAFSA form you are offering every scholarship/grant/loan run by the federal government, as well as most universities, your financial aid information. If you are unaware of how to fill out the FAFSA form watch this video from UniversityFacts.com titled How to Fill Out a FAFSA.
If you are applying for specific scholarships, loans, or student grants then you will obviously have to apply for financial aid using other forms as well. Some of the most popular financial aid for online universities includes: Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG), Direct PLUS Loans, National Science and Math Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant, and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.
One of the biggest differences between financial aid for online universities versus traditional universities is the reapplication process. For most brick and mortar universities you apply for financial aid one time, which lasts through your allotted time at the university. However, for most online universities you must reapply for financial aid for each school year.
After you know how to apply for financial aid and what options are available to you when financing an online education the next question to ask yourself is which financial aid option is best for you? A student loan is a form of aid that furthers your education that needs to be paid back, with interest. There are three major types of educational loans:
- Student loans
- Parent loans
- Private student loans (AKA alternative student loans)
All three offer funds to help the borrower pay for a studentís education. The traditional student loans online are the Stafford Loan and Perkins Loan. PLUS loans are parent loans, and private student loans allow the gap between cost of a university and the limited amount the federal government can give to be filled with private funding.
Grants and scholarships are on the surface very similar. They both offer funds for students to finance their online education without having to pay those funds back. However, the reason a student gets accepted into a scholarship or grant program differs greatly. Grants are usually dispersed on a need-base, while scholarships are traditionally merit-based.
What does that mean? Well, grants are distributed to individuals who generally have a yearly income less than $20,000. Their application for paying for college comes from the need for financial aid; otherwise they would not be able to afford college. Scholarships, on the other hand, are allotted to individuals who show an upstanding knowledge of a particular field or area of study. Scholarship applications usually involve writing an essay on a particular subject; grant applications usually do not require essays, although some recommend them. There are scholarships that are given out on a need-basis, but not many. However, every single one of the grants available as financial aid for online universities is need-based.
After you choose which type of financial aid for online universities you need, the final step is applying for them. Where do you look? How many should you apply for? Are there certain types of financial aid that you have a better chance of winning?
Unfortunately, there are no straight answers to these questions. They all depend on your personal history, how many schools youíre applying to, how much financial aid you need, and how much time youíre willing to put into applying to finance your online education. Our advice? Spend HOURS applying. The more you apply for, the better chance you have of obtaining financial aid for you online education and the closer you are to that online degree!