Facts about Financial Aid at Online Colleges

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Although several new regulations may make the financial aid application process a bit tougher, rest assured, you can still receive financial aid for attending online colleges. Keep reading to find out how.

Facts about financial aid at online colleges

One of the many factors influencing your decision to attend an online college is probably whether you can afford it. Among the many myths about online colleges is the idea that they aren’t “real colleges,” and therefore students earning online degrees don’t qualify for financial aid. This is simply not true.

As long as you are a full-time student who has demonstrated adequate need, and your online program is accredited, you can qualify to receive Federal Student Aid.

New regulations affect online colleges

In 2011, new regulations took effect for federal financial aid. For those pursuing online degrees, this means that any online degrees you’re considering must be accredited by one of the six U.S. accrediting bodies. For-profit institutions (of which many are online colleges) are now under increased scrutiny, in terms of their graduation, placement, gainful employment and loan repayment rates. In other words, students considering online colleges that are unable to demonstrate adequate employment among their graduates, or whose students carry unacceptable debt burdens, may not be eligible for financial aid. So make sure you research this information at any online colleges you are interested in. Additionally, you will be regularly required to verify your financial aid eligibility, in terms of need and academic performance, to maintain funding.

Such regulations may seem burdensome, but they exist to ensure the stability of financial aid programs and maintain integrity within schools. Fortunately, there are many quality online colleges that meet these requirements, and it’s possible for students attending them to earn as much financial aid as students attending traditional brick-and-mortar classes.

Types of financial aid available at online colleges

A financial aid package may include any combination of funds from the following sources:

  • Loans: This money, available federally and through private lenders, must be paid back.
  • Scholarships: These funds are provided by public or private entities, without need of repayment, to students who satisfy specific demographic or academic requirements.
  • Grants: Similar to scholarships, grants are gifts based on financial need that don’t need to be paid back.
  • Work-study: involves paid work on campus to help pay for college expenses. If your online college has a local campus, this may be an option for you.

To find out whether you qualify for aid, and to start the process of securing it, fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at StudentAid.ed.gov. There are hundreds of sites offering information about scholarships and other aid sources, but avoid any that charge fees–this information should be free.

Check out this site to research individual programs, or to learn more valuable information about online degrees.

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