There has never been a better time to pursue higher education to advance your career. Traditionally, the only people who earned degrees were those who were fortunate enough to be able to attend college after high school. Later, MBA programs surfaced, which allowed executives to earn their graduate degree while remaining employed full-time. Still missing, however, was a way for students to attend school full time to earn their undergraduate degree, all while maintaining their current job or responsibilities. Enter the online degree. If you’re reading this, you already know the benefits to earning an online degree. The question is, how do you pay for it? Read on as we discuss the various methods of financing your online college degree.

Federal Student Loans

Federal loans are available to online degree seekers in the exact same manner as they are for traditional ones. Stafford loans, the most common type, are based on the tuition you are being charged by the school. Some schools charge credit hour rates, while others will charge per-program tuition. Either way, the total cost of the time period will determine how much assistance you are eligible for. At the very least, Federal loans will cover tuition, fees, and books for your course of study. These loans are generally considered the best, as they have a locked-in interest rate and various methods of repayment.

Scholarships and Grants

It’s true that there aren’t as many scholarships for online students, but don’t let that scare you. There are still plenty of them out there; you can search for them after filing out your FASFA, the federal form which helps determine what types of aid you are eligible for. Look for scholarships based on your ethnicity, family status, military status, and any other characteristics that make you unique. There are scholarships for just about everyone out there, if you are diligent about searching for them.

Private Loans

Banks and other lenders offer loans just like the Federal Government does. Many of them carry variable interest rates, and there will be a defined method of repayment when you sign up. Some consider these loans to be less valuable than Federal Loans for those reasons, but in reality if you need the money for school, it’s available. Make sure before you take private loans you thoroughly research all of the terms of your contract. Ideally, private loans will make up the smallest part of your online degree financing, to cover loose ends that otherwise would prevent you from completing your course of study.

School Programs

Some schools offer specific programs to graduates, such as loan repayment. These programs will generally only be offered by large universities, but you should speak with your school’s financial aid representative to explore these options. Treat your college like a partner, not just a provider, and you might be surprised how much they can help you reach your goals.

Invest in Your Future

At the end of the day, the money you borrow for school is an investment in your future. Looking at your student loan balance can be daunting at times, but remember that the increase in your salary post-graduation will more than accommodate the burdens of repayment. Thanks to the many programs available, if you are motivated to seek your online degree, there’s no reason to let financial concerns get in the way. Now go hit the books!

Additional Resource: Top 20 Online Colleges with High Return on Investment

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