Whether you’re looking to earn a degree while working full-time, study from the comfort of your home, or enroll in a distant college without having to travel, one thing is undeniable: online degrees have opened up a whole world of opportunities. ‘opportunities. But what are your options when it comes to financing your studies? Will student loans be available to you?
After all, while more affordable than on-campus courses, online degrees come at a price. average cost of $51,091. Fortunately, the short answer is yes, there are student loan options available to fund your distance learning journey. But there’s a bit more to keep in mind – start here!
Federal Student Loans for Online Degrees
Tuition fees are a necessary evil to access the desired online course and kick-start your career. Fortunately, with the growing popularity of online and distance learning, you will find that applying for a student loan for an online degree today is not that different from obtaining financial aid for a course on campus. And it all starts from the FAFSA website.
FAFSA — or the Free Federal Student Aid Application — is a program designed to help institutions understand how much a student can contribute towards college tuition and what financial aid is needed based on their household income.
Today, most accredited online colleges will accept this form of need-based aid, and there is no income requirement that you must meet to apply. Here’s what to keep in mind when applying for a federal student loan:
There are different types of loans available depending on your situation, including subsidized or unsubsidized direct loans, PLUS direct loans and consolidation direct loans.
Your school, state, and federal financial aid program may set different deadlines for filing your applications, so keep an eye out for potential timing differences.
Each year, the FAFSA sets limits on the amount that can be borrowedand the aid provided may not cover 100% of your tuition or expenses.
Private student loans for distance education
Private student loans are a valid alternative to federal financial aid programs. But they can also help you fill in the financial gaps left by federal loans by funding 100% of your remaining amount needed.
Provided by independent institutions such as banks and private lenders, private loans offer certain advantages that are worth considering.
First, these loans are tailored to your specific financial situation, are accepted by a wider range of accredited online institutions, and come with higher borrowing limits.
Also, if you or your co-signer have a great credit history, you may be able to get low interest rates. For example, 2022 federal student loans come with interest rates ranging from 3.73% for undergraduates to 5.28% for graduates, while private loan interest rates for the same year can be as low as 3.34%.
What you need to know before applying
While private student loans can be extremely helpful in funding your online degree, there are a few key differences to keep in mind:
Applicant students usually need a co-signer unless they are full-time employees, and the credit history of the co-signers will influence the loan amount and rates
Credit based: Unlike federal student loans, private student loans are credit-based rather than need-based
Independent lenders may require various documents, including proof of citizenship and college information.
Private loans can fund the entire amount you still need to access your desired online degree and fund tuition, tuition and related costs.
Other Options for Funding Your Online Degree
As more degrees are suitable for distance learning programs, more options are becoming available to help you fund your education online. Without a doubt, applying for a federal or private loan is the easiest solution, but there are other alternatives worth considering.
today only 10% of eligible employees take advantage of their employer’s tuition reimbursement program. But these programs can help you fund your online degree while continuing your career advancement in your current workplace. Ask your employer about available options and eligible courses.
Not all online universities and colleges accept student loans, but the majority of accredited institutions offer payment plans to their prospective students. Although paying the full tuition upfront may get you a small discount, payment plans can help you self-fund your education when a loan isn’t available.
Scholarships and grants
Distance learning students have the same rights to grants and scholarships as on-campus students. Check with your accredited online university to find out more about the monetary awards available.
It’s time to register
Although not all online colleges and universities accept student loans yet, the number of institutions opening up to this option is growing – and so are your opportunities to earn an online degree! Be sure to check with your college to learn more about your available funding options.
Featured Image: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels.