Online education is increasing in popularity, and more and more institutions are offering online programs to meet the needs of students. Additionally, the amount of online colleges is growing exponentially. Individuals considering completing their higher education online commonly ask are scholarships or grants offered to students who enroll in an online college. Many students who decide to enroll in online programs are in great need of financial assistance. There are a variety of financial aid opportunities available for students seeking to complete online degree programs, such as grants, scholarships, and loans.
Grants are a type of financial aid that students are not required to pay back. Like students attending brick and mortar schools, students enrolled in online colleges may qualify for federal grant programs to finance their college tuition and other related expenses. These grants are available for individuals who meet the specific guidelines, such as enrolling in an accredited online degree program. Examples of federal grants for online college students include the Federal Pell Grant, Academic Competitiveness Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and the Federal TEACH Grant. The Federal Pell Grant is the most widespread federal grant. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is for first or second year students with high academic achievement. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is financial aid awarded to those with extreme financial need. The Federal TEACH Grant offers assistance to high achieving individuals pursuing education degrees.
Like grants, scholarships are financial assistance programs that do not need to be repaid. There is a wide array of scholarships available to students attending online colleges and universities. Many online institutions offer scholarships to students that are commonly privately funded or backed by large organizations. Additionally, there are state-funded scholarships available for online students. The GetEducated.com Distance Learning Scholarship is a scholarship program that offers $1,000 award two times a year to students attending an accredited online institution that have a grade point average of at least a 3.0.
As with other traditional college students, individuals enrolled in online programs are eligible for a variety of student loans, such as the Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and Federal PLUS Loans. Federal Stafford Loans are available in two types, subsidized and unsubsidized. The subsidized option features a low interest rate and students do not have to make a payment until six months following graduation. The government pays the interest while the student is in school. The unsubsidized option has a low interest rate but it begins at the start of the loan. Federal Perkins Loans feature a low interest rate and students receive a grace period of nine months following graduation. Federal PLUS Loans are for both parents and students and are available for undergraduate and graduate study. Interest is accrued at the beginning of the loan.
The first step to finding any type of financial aid is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly referred to as the FAFSA. There is a wide range of search websites where students can locate financial aid for online education. An important tip to avoid scams is never pay to search for financial aid and research the organization offering the grant or scholarship. Students should never enter personal financial information. Finding a reputable search website is the first step in finding an abundance of online financial aid opportunities.