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Financial Aid for Online Learners

Since a lot of people still don’t consider an online education a “real” college education, many people find it hard to believe that students can receive funding for online degree programs. However, the US Department of Education’s “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning” deemed that students participating in an online degree program often exceeded the performance of their classroom counterparts. The results not only proved that those attending online classes were serious about their education, but more than worthy of federal funding. Fortunately, online colleges offer many of the funding options that traditional colleges offer. Whether you’re looking for a grant or a scholarship, you’ll be surprised at how easy college funding is to find for online schools.

College Accreditation

If you intend to enroll in an online degree program, it’s important to know if the college you’re planning on attending is an accredited university or not. Basically, the college’s accreditation entitles you to the same financial aid, admission and registration process, counseling and student services that those attending a traditional college receive. In addition, it guarantees that you, as a student in a distance learning atmosphere, are receiving the same education that you would if you actually attended college classes. Since you’re guaranteed the same education, the government – and private investors – offer the same funding options that are available elsewhere.

Federal Funding

Like traditional colleges, the first place any online college advisor tells potential students is to apply for a Federal Pell Grant. According to the School Grants Blog, these grants are available to anyone who shows a financial need, and they don’t have to be repaid. Those who attend online colleges are eligible for Pell Grants, as long as the college they choose to attend is an accredited university. In fact, according to Capella University more than 75% of their students receive some sort of outside funding.  Colleges that aren’t consider accredited universities by the US Department of Education aren’t eligible for federal funding, and their students aren’t eligible for any federal grants or loans.

The Federal Pell Grant application process is the same for students of online colleges as it is for any other student. To apply you simply fill out the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) online and wait for a response from the government. To determine if you in fact need assistance, your tax return from the previous year is needed. If you are under the age of 21 and have no children of your own, then the decision is based on your parents’ income.


Like traditional colleges, most online colleges offer scholarships to their students. These are typically privately funding, or funded by large corporations. Most online colleges allow potential students to view the scholarship programs they have available on their website. If you see one that you feel you’re qualified for, you simply need to ask the college admission personnel how you apply. Your state government also offers scholarship programs. These range from funding to low-income students, to funds for minority students and even funds for students who excelled during their high-school career. State-funded scholarships are also available to online students. The only difference in the scholarships is that instead of applying for the scholarships in the state where the school is located, you need to apply for the scholarships in the state you reside in

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Category: Money Matters

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