Financial Aid for Distance Learners

A college education is expensive, no two ways around it.  For almost everyone, financial aid is necessary in order to make an advanced degree a reality. Financial aid is monetary help offered to individuals though government agencies, individual schools, or other sources. There are several different kinds of aid available to students.

The cost of education, photo by Andres Rueda

If a school or university is properly accredited by federal and regional agencies, on-line students will be granted the same financial aid opportunities as any other student. It is best to check with the school first, to make sure it is properly accredited, and to see what financial aid options are open to you.

Loans

A loan is money borrowed with the agreement of paying it back (on a particular timetable, with stipulated interest applied). Students can apply for loans at www.fafsa.ed.gov, through their schools’ counseling office, or at their bank.

Government Loans
The government offers several loans to students going to school. The terms of a government loan tend to be very reasonable:  they are designed to benefit the student and usually offer the most reasonable rates and terms. The government agencies will determine the type of loan you are offered through several factors, including your income level. Some students are offered subsidized loans, in which the government actually pays the interest of the loan for them. Others are offered unsubsidized loans. Their interest accrues while they are going to school.

Private Loans
Some students don’t qualify for government loans. These students have the option of taking out private loans from individual banks. Bank loans require that the student have sufficient credit, or is co-signing with someone who has. These loans generally have a higher interest rate and less negotiable terms.

Grants

A grant is an allotment of money that is specifically for education, and doesn’t not need to be paid back.. You can learn more about qualifying for grants at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Government Grants
The government offers grants of money to students who fall in the lower brackets of income level. Usually students must maintain a minimum grade point average in order to qualify for the grant. The required grade point average depends upon how much money a student (or, more often, a student’s family) has.

Scholarships

A scholarship is a financial award based on academic performance or talent. It may have certain requirements, but will not need to be repaid. Students can learn about individual scholarships from their schools’ counseling office (or web site) or from online scholarship databases, such as www.fastweb.com.

School Scholarships
Most  schools offer some sort of scholarship to their students usually based on a number of factors including your grade point average, test scores, the review of a portfolio, or your athletic or artistic contributions.The amount of these awards varies; some are worth a few hundred dollars while others cover the entire tuition and living expenses of the student for the duration of their education. But note, very few on-line exclusive school offer scholarships.

Private Scholarships
Thousands of private organizations offer scholarships to students. The qualifications are too varied to list, but are usually similar to the above mentioned scholarship factors. Others are looking for people who fit particular standards (i.e. people with a certain last name, a particular nationality, or a certain field of study

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