Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed that nearly 18.6 million undergraduates were enrolled in either a two- or four-year institution in Spring 2015. Approximately 5.5 million of these students take a partial or full online course load.
Truth is, online schools can present their own challenges when it comes to applying for financial aid. The experts at ScholarSwag delved into online higher education and the effect it has on financial aid opportunities.
Are fully online schools even eligible for financial aid?
Prior to 2006, the answer to that question would have been a deflating “no.” Since then, however, Congress has passed a bill that removed the “50 percent rule” and enabled students who are attending a postsecondary school that is primarily online-based to receive assistance from the federal government.
Like traditional on-campus students, online students are eligible to receive federal-based scholarships, grants and loans by completing the FAFSA form.
Is my online school of choice eligible for financial aid?
It’s important to note, however, that not all schools are able to accept federal-based financial aid. Online institutions must first meet required criteria established by Congress before their students can take advantage of federal funding.
If you’re seeking out an online education, be sure to look into your school’s policies and verify their accreditation and eligibility to accept any government assistance you’re awarded.
Are there other financial aid opportunities available beyond government offerings?
While some more traditional scholarship opportunities might extend to both on- and offline students, there are also scholarships available exclusively to distance learning students.
As U.S. News & World Report pointed out, one such example of this is the GetEducated.com Distance Learning Example, which is offered twice a year. This $1,000 scholarship is available to U.S. students who are participating in an accredited online program and currently hold a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Additionally, some online schools extend direct financial aid opportunities or payment plans to make it easier for students to finance their education.
Can I save money on online education in other ways?
It’s worth noting online schools might save you money simply by cutting out costs you’d normally see at an on-campus level. Those costs include room, board and commuting expenses. Ultimately, by attending an online school, you won’t need extra financial aid to account for these additional costs.
For more information on financial aid and college planning, please visit ScholarSwag‘s website!