Financial aid for online education

You love your job, but have been thinking about getting your bachelor’s degree or starting work on your master’s degree. Perhaps you need an A+ or MySQL certification to get a promotion. Because you work full time, you can’t find the time to attend a traditional 4-year brick and mortar school, but you’re concerned that if you enroll in an online program, you can’t get financial aid.

The federal government enacted legislation in 2006 that gives students enrolled in online degree and certificate programs more access to financial aid. As top schools acknowledge the needs of non-traditional students and add online programs to their curriculum, working adults have greater access to educational opportunities and financial assistance.

Why You Should Apply for Financial Aid

Your eligibility for aid is determined by information you submit on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which you can complete online. Because most federal and institutional grants are awarded to low-income families, you may or may not be eligible for a grant. Fortunately, there are a number of educational loans that you can apply for, like the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and William D. Ford Direct Loan Programs, to help pay your online educational costs. In order to be eligible for these loan programs, you have to be enrolled at least half time in a degree or certificate program. Some private lenders do offer continuing education loans for students enrolled less than half time.

More Financial Aid Options for Online Students

Other funding options that you might want to explore are merit-based scholarships and employer tuition reimbursement programs. You can find free online scholarship search Web sites that can help you search for specific scholarships for which you might be eligible. You also might want to talk with your manager or a Human Resources representative about any tuition reimbursement programs your employer might offer.

The Internal Revenue Service also provides tax benefits for educational costs. You can go to their Web site and read IRS Publication 970 for more details.

Department of Education Federal Student Aid
FAFSA on the Web