Potential students who are considering an online degree program may have concerns about the cost. One misconception that is still prevalent is that online programs offer less financial aid than in-person programs. However, online students receive financial aid in the same way as their in-person counterparts.
According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing & Student Aid 2020 report, 14% of undergraduates enrolled in online courses in fall 2018 compared to fall 2012. Online learners have the opportunity to receive financial aid from federal, state, and institutional sources. This can be in the form merit- or need-based scholarships.
Students Learning Online are Eligible for Aid
Experts say that students should choose an accredited online program to be eligible for federal financial aid when researching programs.
Michelle Campbell, director for financial aid at SUNY Empire State College explains that students can verify the eligibility of their school and program to receive federal aid by visiting the institution’s website. The college offers a variety of online degrees and certificates. They can also search the Database of Accredited Programs and Postsecondary Institutions of the Department of Education to find their college.
Online students must ensure they meet all eligibility requirements for federal financial assistance, including maintaining satisfactory academic progress and meeting citizenship criteria.
Campbell sent an email explaining that students should apply for aid well in advance to avoid any delays in the aid process.
Experts say that students who are interested in pursuing a degree or certificate must meet minimum enrollment requirements to be eligible for financial aid.
Many prospective online students want to work while they study, but some requirements for financial aid may prevent them from receiving certain types of aid. Donna Kolb is the director of the University of Florida’s office of student financial assistance and scholarships. For students who work full-time, it might be beneficial to find an online program that allows them to study part-time, and take breaks when needed. However, students must understand the implications of their course enrollment on each type financial aid.
Kolb states that although it may be prohibitive for adult students who are pursuing online degrees, they should be aware of the fact that financial aid eligibility can also be affected by income.
“Adult learners, working professionals and those who have considered returning to school may assume that they are too wealthy to be eligible for aid. Kolb sent an email urging students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This will allow them to determine their eligibility for the aid they are eligible for.
She advises that they should contact the institution where they are going to be attending to find out if aid is available.
The type of financial aid that a prospective student may receive will depend on the state in which he/she lives.
Online students can work-study
Campbell says that in addition to scholarships, grants, loans and scholarships, online students often have access to aid through the federal work-study program. To do this, complete the FAFSA.
Work-study, a type of self-help aid, requires students to work towards their award amounts. Students who are learning in person will seek jobs on campus such as in the college library and dining hall. Online students may have different options depending on where they live and what opportunities are available.
Campbell states that students often have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty on research, data collection, and other projects. Another example is tutoring. Online tutoring can be done by students as part of their work study.
Online Students Can Get Financial Aid
Cheryl Storie, associate vice-president of financial aid at University of Maryland Global Campus encourages potential online students to take their time in completing the FAFSA. She also recommends that they use resources like the IRS Data Retrieval tool, which allows students automatically to share tax information with Department of Education.
Most students find applying for financial aid not as complicated as it seems. Storie sent an email explaining that she recommends taking the time to read through the instructions and then filling out the form. She added, “Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions or get assistance from your school’s Financial Aid Office if you have any.”
Kolb advises online students to talk to a financial aid administrator to learn about college policies regarding maintaining continuous enrollment, minimum enrollment requirements, and what is required to be eligible for each type of aid.
Originally Published On: InterestArticles.com