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.

Attend a School That Can Grant Federal Aid

There is a long list of online colleges that deliver curriculum completely online. Some of these schools have been authorized to offer Federal aid and others have not. In order to ensure that you can fill out the Federal Application Financial Student Aide, or FAFSA, you should find schools that are regionally or nationally accredited. Online colleges that hold an accreditation that is recognized by the US Department of Education have been authorized to accept applications for Pell grants and other types of aide.

Students can receive up to $5730 in Pell grant awards if they qualify with their income and attend an eligible online college. Students may also be able to apply for Direct loans and Federal Perkins loans that are subsidized or unsubsidized. While the loans do have to be paid back, the interest rates are fair compared to those that are offered by private lenders who check your credit history.

Check for Institutional Aide From the Online College

The next best place to look for aid is directly through the institution. With online college being so popular, a majority of institutions have started offering students financial assistance to compete and attract students who want to study on a budget. You may be able to receive grants, rewards, discounted tuition and scholarships that do not have to be repaid through the school’s financial aid department. You can reduce your tuition for completing a portion of your credits, earning good grades or meeting needs-based requirements.

Apply for Outside Scholarships

In the past, scholarship opportunities were only for students who attended school on campus. Now, with more students transitioning to programs taught entirely online, there are a vast list of opportunities. You can check for local awards, state awards, awards with professional associations in the field of study you have chosen, and national awards. Applications may be difficult or time-consuming to complete, but if you are awarded even one monetary payment it can reduce your obligations and make your semester much less stressful.

Where to Find the Best Scholarships by Student Demographic

While it does cost less to earn a college degree online in most cases, the average cost per credit hour is still between $200 and $300. If you do not want to accrue $28,400 in student debt like the average student, you should look for ways to get financial aid that does not require repayment. Do your homework and focus on accreditation before all else. Once you find a college that is accredited, you will be able to secure some financial aid for online college and possibly some scholarships.

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