Some adults considering earning their degree online use the money factor as an excuse to deter them from pursuing their dreams. It is to large of an investment of funds, and really how valuable will the degree be when they graduate? With tuition climbing to even higher rates, it’s easy to understand why these questions would arise. The good news is, in today’s competitive market, earning an online degree is generally less expensive than a traditional college and can help you raise your chances of gaining lucrative employment.
If you have never financed your education on your own before, it can seem like a daunting and intimidating process. There is no definitive guide for applying for funding your online education. Each person requires different financial aid needs and not all loans, grants or scholarships apply to everyone or every online degree.
Top 10 Tips for Funding Online College
- Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This simple process allows you to determine all Federal government aid that may be allotted to you. When possible, apply for a Federal loan, as opposed to a private loan because they typically have a lower interest percentage rate.
- Contact your local State board. Be proactive in your search and earn direct access to available information on State funding.
- Ask your employer for assistance. Some employers understand the value of continuing education and will help front the tuition bill. This is especially true if you are pursuing an online certificate, online career-training, online associate degree, online bachelors degree or online masters degree in a field related to your current job. If you’re earning an online degree in order to switch out of your current occupation, don’t bother asking your employer, as you will probably not get the response you are hoping for.
- Reach out to private or public foundations and organizations. There are many local organizations that have a specific amount of money set aside to help low-income and exceptional students achieve their educational goals. Ask your local church, civic, union or trade organizations to assist in your college expenses.
- Apply for tax credits. The Lifetime Learning Credit is provided for both undergraduate and graduate students for up to $2000 spent on educational materials.
- Take advantage of Veteran benefits. Veterans and their families are eligible for two types of aid, which are the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) and Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (SDEA).
- Complete a comprehensive grant search. Grants are the preferable method of financial aid because they do not have to be repaid. In addition to being offered by the Federal, State or local government, there are many private organizations that also provide grants. You may apply for grants such as the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and the Academic Competitiveness Grant.
- Research multiple college financial aid packages. Get the best value for your education and check out each of your prospective school’s financial aid packages.
- Apply for scholarships. Just like grants, scholarships do not have to be repaid and are essentially free money towards your education. Each scholarship has its own requirements, which can range from filling out an application to writing an essay.
- Be aware of graduation rates. Although many people graduate bachelors degree program within the standard 4-year period, fewer than 60 percent of college students graduate in six years.
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