Online Learning

How to Get Financial Aid for Online Classes

Times may be tough, but that doesn't mean you can't still pursue an excellent education or a dream career. In many cases, finding financial aid is as easy as talking to the financial aid department at the institution you are attending, and it is not entirely different from finding financial aid for regular classes. A good place to start is the school’s financial aid website, where you can likely find qualifications for financial aid or determine who you should contact for more information.

Government-provided financial aid, typically loans and grants, are given to students attending accredited institutions. This might be an important point to research when choosing your school, as some schools, especially if they are not attached to larger institutions, are not always regionally accredited. You will have to fill out a form called a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, in order to determine if you qualify for government money. The FAFSA asks you questions about your household income, such as whether or not you are a dependent or have dependents, and if you have assets that could help you acquire a private loan to finance your education.

If you do not qualify for government aid, there are always scholarships and loans to look into. Scholarships are not reserved for academic performance alone. There are scholarships based on essay contests, your ethnicity, need-based scholarships, athletics, or just for being left-handed! While a single scholarship may only bring in a few hundred dollars, or less, with enough time and effort, you can earn enough to take a large bite out of the cost of your education.

Loans are more difficult to acquire, especially in a difficult financial climate, but student loans can have some of the best interest rates, if you know where to look. But you should be careful, many times banks or credit cards create loans with undesirable terms, banking on the naiveté of younger students, or assuming they have few other options. Try government loans, as they give some of the best interest rates to students for school- and tuition-related expenses.

Finally, keep in mind certain tax credits that are designed for taxpayers paying for their higher education. The Lifetime Learning tax credit and the Hope credit are geared specifically towards primary earning adults who are attending school. For these, you can receive back a large percentage, almost 20 percent, of the first $10,000 you spend on your education.

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Online Learning