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How to Pay for Online College

It is a common belief that online education is more economical than full-time traditional college education. Does this mean that you don’t have to worry about how to pay for online college? You will still have to pool in your resources and seek ways to get the money you need to fund your education. Paying for online school is a legitimate concern and there are many different ways to go about this with ease.

Increasing Number of Students Opting for Online College

The Center for American Progress has projected that 50 percent of all students in the country will opt for at least one online course in the academic year 2014. As compared to traditional brick-and-mortar colleges, online colleges have become a feasible option for students across the globe. The pros of studying at online include the comparatively lower fees, flexible timings and the fact that students do not need to commute. Add to this, the fact that you can pursue an online education without giving up your job and you can see why an increasing number of students are opting to study online.

The route to paying online college education fees is similar to what you would do to pay traditional college fees. However, there are a few things you can do to make the process of paying for online colleges easier.

Federal Loans & Grants

In the past, online education did not fall into the sphere of federal student loans and grants. However, given the popularity of online study options, the Department of Education now recognizes Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) accreditation. Choosing one of the online institutes in the DETC accredited and recognized list of colleges will give you a better chance of getting pre-approved financial aid. Federal loans offer you a solid way to pay for online college with fixed interest rates and very flexible loan repayment options.

If you hope to get a federal loan/grant to pay for online college, one of the first things you need to do is to submit the completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This will help you understand whether or not you are eligible for need-based federal grant programs. There are other federal financial aid programs offered by, too.

Employer Assistance

If you are currently employed, chances are high that your employer will value the importance of continuing education. Employees hoping to earn online career-training certificates, online bachelors and masters degrees that are related to your current job stand a better chance at getting financial aid to pay for online college from your employers. However, if the idea behind getting an online degree is to move out of your current occupational field, employer aid may not be an option you can bank on.

Institutional Loans

Finding the right institute to get your degree from may also offer you ways to pay for online college. For example, the 2013 U.S. News Best Online Education Programs ranking puts forward online options like Colorado State University – Global Campus, Brandman University and Bellevue University that offer both institutional and federal loan options to pay for online college. You can speak to the college’s financial aid office to discuss any available options like financial aid packages.

Private Student Loans

While federal loans will cover your tuition, there are a number of other fees at online colleges. These include fees for activities, technology, materials and other overheads. As compared to federal student loans, private loans offer a higher interest rate but they are a good option to cover residual online study related costs. You may be able to get a lower interest rate if you have a creditworthy guarantor or cosigner.

Sallie Mae, a former government-sponsored entity which is now privatized, recommends exhausting all your other options before opting for private loans. Get one step closer to realizing your education-related dreams with proper planning.

About The Author: Stephanie Colaco is a freelance writer, editor and former HR professional. An Honors college graduate, she spends her free time helping students/professionals achieve their academic goals by publishing articles and creating blog posts that answer their many questions on sites like and Connect with her on Google+.