Skip to content

Financial Aid For Online College Students


Online students have the ability to apply for financial aid via scholarships and grants, starting by ascertaining their FAFSA eligibility.

Universities and colleges provide online programs for students looking for self-paced or flexible formats of study. Over thirty-five percent of United States college students on average signed up for distance courses. Another seventeen percent enrolled exclusively in courses offered online in 2018. Online programs could offer the same extraordinary education, support resources, and career training as traditional programs. Plus, students also are provided access to similar financial aid, essentially.

Typically, students apply for financial aid for both online and traditional programs in similar ways. Federal sources distribute financial aid depending for the most part on the FAFSA. This form also assists in establishing the eligibility of a student for other types of financial assistance. This assistance includes, for example, fellowships, grants, and scholarships.

Online students habitually benefit from set tuition rates and savings on on-campus amenities, housing, and commuter costs. Several sources provide financial assistance for distance learners pursuing special programs or majors.

Challenges For Online Students

Although colleges provide several financial aid options, online students might come across unique issues when applying for financial assistance. Several colleges extend similar financial opportunities to online and on-campus enrollees. However, others limit eligibility for students in distance programs.

Eligibility Restrictions

Several colleges restrict access to online college financial aid via restriction on enrollment. Many financial aid programs require enrollment to be full-time. This could be challenging to several online students because of family or professional commitments. Online students also do not qualify for financial aid which is selected for students attending on-campus programs.

However, distance learners typically qualify for Federal Pell Grants and several other programs. Plus, colleges are increasingly providing scholarships for students pursuing online programs. These funding sources at times cover graduate programs also as undergraduate programs, but not in all situations. Federal financial assistance usually rules out online summer programs and independent study projects.


Students seeking degrees must attend accredited online schools in order to qualify for financial aid from the federal government. What is more, is that several private funding sources also use this eligibility limitation. Accreditation ensures that the school meets national standards for higher education. Colleges could pursue either regional or national accreditation. Both of which are granted via agencies that are recognized by the United States Department of Education. They are also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Regional accreditation is much more thorough and meticulous and thus more prestigious when compared to national accreditation. This national accreditation is normally reserved for colleges offering vocational or religious education. Several programs just honor transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions. Also, many certification authorities or professional licensure also request degrees from schools that have been accredited regionally.

As well as offering a high-quality college education, only schools that are accredited might participate in federal financial aid programs. Again, all based on the eligibility determined by completing the FAFSA. The majority of private grants and scholarships for online college students also insist on awarded attending accredited colleges.

Applying For Financial Aid For Online College

The task of applying for financial assistance for online college is a multi-faceted process. It all starts with completing the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Numerous non-federal sources use this application to ascertain the eligibility of students as well. However, every program has its own deadlines, requirements, and regulations for the applicants. Therefore, it is best to research all the programs being considered in more detail.

Complete The FAFSA

Individuals that have the intention of attending college online using financial aid must first begin with completing the FAFSA. It is very common for online colleges to request a completed FAFSA with all students’ admission applications. Even though, FAFSA is the chief determinant of the eligibility of financial assistance needed. Degree seekers could also pursue other types of financial aid.

Review Of Award Letter

Subsequent to the processing of the FAFSA, a student’s college issues an award letter with an offer of financial aid. This is all based on the information provided. Every recipient must review that letter in detail in order to grasp the forms of accessible aid. They need to understand so that they can opt for the award that best suits their needs.

Although every student has unique financial aid options, the majority opt to accept grants and scholarships first. Many students also accept federal student loans, even though they require repayment.

Apply For Additional Financial Aid

Even though it is required at the majority of schools, the FAFSA is not the only road towards financial aid. Especially for online college students. Learners could also apply for private grants and scholarships, which do not have to be repaid.