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How to Apply for Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online School Plus 4 Takeaway Tips

10 Sep

How to Apply for Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online School Plus 4 Takeaway Tips

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Jul 16, 2014 6:00:00 AM

This CMA-SAS #touchthefuture blog post takes a look at a question we received from a parent interested in our personalized online school: To ask your own question, click here to take this survey.



Once upon a time, the United States Congress mandated that a college conduct over half of its instruction in physical classrooms to be eligible for federal financial aid.  The law unfairly discriminated against people who participated in online schooling. Residents of rural areas, working adults and military members were especially hurt by the law. Thankfully, Congress removed the 50 percent classroom instruction threshold in 2006 and financial aid became available to all eligible online students. Today there are numerous ways to obtain financial aid and scholarships for online classes.

Online students tend to need financial aid much more than those who attend traditional onine courses on a campus. Since most online schools offer comparably cheaper tuitions and overall costs than private traditional schools, they are more appealing to those who face financial challenges. These demographics typically include working adults and parents. There's a plethora of ways to finance an online degree. Online colleges that are accredited can participate in federal financial aid programs. These programs allow online students to obtain loans and grants as long as they are enrolled in either a degree program or a certificate program. These types of aid include federal Pell grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, loans and even federal work study opportunities.

High school students who want up to date details about federal financial aid for online schooling should check out the U.S. Department of Education's website at www.studentaid.ed.gov. When online high school students begin to explore the financial aid options available for online learners, they'll find that they are eligible for nearly all the same sources of federal aid as traditional students. The first step to obtaining these forms of federal aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Yet not every online school is eligible for federal financial aid. The United States Congress has established specific criteria for online schools to meet in order to qualify for federal aid funds. The majority of online schools do qualify for this aid thanks to the repeal of the 50 percent rule described above. Be sure to research online schools to find out if they are indeed eligible for federal financial aid funding. It's as simple as picking up the phone, calling the school and asking. Prospective online students should be aware that some online schools are not regionally accredited if they are not connected to larger institutions of higher learning.

High school students will also find a plethora of scholarships specifically available to students who plan on enrolling in online classes. While these scholarships aren't as numerous as those available for traditional students, they do exist. If high school students do their research, they'll find that some online schools (especially colleges) even provide direct financial aid to their students. These forms of aid often include scholarships that are implemented after students complete a certain number of credit hours within a designated period of time. Others offer reduced tuition for students who have achieved a specific grade point average after a certain number of semesters or weeks of study. 

Takeaway Tips

  • Congress has made it much easier for high school students to find sources of financial aid for online learning.

  • High school students who choose to continue their education with online classes will find that they are eligible for similar financial aid opportunities as traditional students.

  • Before enrolling in an online college, high school students should perform extensive research to ensure that the school is accredited and eligible for federal financial aid.

  • Plenty of online schools offer their own unique forms of financial aids for prospective high school students who meet certain meritocratic criteria.