Online education is fast becoming a trend all over the world. Pursuing a distance learning degree now means signing up for online programs provided by accredited schools to reach more students from another state, or even another country. Most students who take advantage of online courses are working students or adults who work full time and are not able to take night classes at a local college or university because they also have kids to take care of. For these students, the major concern in going to regular schools is the budget for tuition fees and books.
There are available sources of funding to finance an online degree. Scholarships and grants are available not only for students attending regular schools, but for those pursuing an online bachelors degree as well. Other than scholarships and grants, there are federal loans, private loans and tuition assistance for those employed or those in military service. Here is how to find them.
- Look for scholarships and grants offered by the federal government, online universities, and private companies and organizations. Scholarships and grants do not need to be refunded by the student after graduation, but the basic requirement is to finish the course. A scholarship or grant should be the first option, but usually, a lot of students think that the only way to get a free education is to have excellent grades. Many are actually open even to those with average grades. Most grants are given to those who belong to families in the lower income brackets. Certain groups also provide scholarships, and if you fall under one of their categories, depending on your organizational affiliation, religion, race or the course you will be pursuing, then you may qualify regardless of your academic standing.
- If a scholarship or grant is not sufficient, or is not available, then another option is to get a student loan. Federal loans are a lot cheaper, but processing is not free. If the loan is need-based (you belong to a low income family), then there is no interest on the loan until you graduate. Otherwise, interest is charged, but is lower than those rates offered in banks and other lending institutions. It is critical, however, to make prompt payments because there are penalties for late payments, whether need-based or not.
- Private loans are also available for the taking, but only take this if a federal loan is not available. Private loans offer fast processing, but be careful of them. Make sure you are aware of the interest rates and payment terms. A private loan should be the last resort.
- Employees can avail of tuition assistance from their employers. The terms for tuition assistance vary for every company. Some companies offer to cover only around 80% of the tuition. Others offer to assist in the meantime, but the employee should pay the amount back after his degree is finished. Some offer full assistance, but the employee needs to stay in the company for a certain period. For those in military service, there is also tuition assistance for those in active duty.
In availing of these grants and loans, make sure you keep your information safe, and never have another party do the paperwork for you, as this may be prone to identity theft.