FAFSA and Financial Aid for Online College (2023)

Online colleges that accept the FAFSA

Many students need financial help to pay for school. Fortunately, online students have the same or similar level of access to financial aid as students enrolled in traditional programs.

A good place to start is to check your eligibilityFree application for federal student aid(FAFSA). The FAFSA awards federal aid in the form of scholarships, grants, scholarships, and loans.

This guide provides information on how to applyfinancial aid for online colleges.

How to apply for online college financial aid

Applying for online financial aid is a multi-step process. Each program has its own rules, requirements, and applicant deadlines, so it's best to do your research on each program you're considering.

But in general, as an online student, you apply for financial aid like this:

Complete the FAFSA

The FAFSA is the first step in obtaining federal financial aid as an online student. You will fill in basic information about yourself and answer questions about your family's financial situation.

Your application will determine your eligibility for financial aid and the amount you will receive, so make sure you answer correctly. It is common for online colleges to require a completed FAFSA with a student's application for admission.


To qualify for financial aid from the US Department of Education (ED), students must be US citizens or qualified non-citizens who can demonstrate financial need. Students should also be sure to enroll in online colleges that accept the FAFSA.

You must meet these basic eligibility requirements to continue receiving financial aid. You may also need to maintain a certain academic standard. Schools typically track things like GPA, minimum credit scores, and progress grades. Failure to comply may result in disqualification.

Beneficiaries may also lose eligibility by switching from an eligible plan. for example oneSETUP LEVELRecipients who transfer to a specialty outside of education would lose this funding.

ED offers several ways to regain eligibility, including regaining citizenship, completing satisfactory progress assessments, and discharging current student loan defaults.


To file the FAFSA online, you must create an FSA ID, an online account that stores your digital legal signature. Parents must also create an FSA ID. It is recommended that you do not create an account for someone else.

Then fill in the required information. To complete the FAFSA application, you will need the following:

  • CPR number (and parent's CPR number if you are a dependent member)
  • Driver's license number
  • Federal tax refund
  • Reporting your tax-free income
  • Records of your assets (money, such as savings and account balances)
  • List of colleges you want to attend


TheFAFSA rock2022-23 is June 30, 2023. The FAFSA opens on October 1 each year.

Remember that each state sets deadlines for determining state rates on the FAFSA. Schools also proposed priority deadlines, often providing the most financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis.

In general, the earlier you apply, the better your chances of receiving financial aid.


Students who submit the FAFSA online or through the myStudentAid mobile app cancheck the status of their applicationby creating an account. Application processing takes 3-5 days, plus one more business day, before it is available to schools. Mailed FAFSAs usually take 7-10 days to process.

Student Aid Report

Each candidate receives one after submitting the applicationStudent Aid Report (SAR)which summarizes the information they provided. Students can receive their SARs digitally or by mail. Applicants should review the SAR for errors and, if necessary, make corrections or updates electronically or by return mail.

Selected online programs

Check your award letter

After the FAFSA is processed, the student's school issues an award letter with aoffer of financial supportbased on this information. Each recipient should review the award letter carefully to understand the types of assistance available and select the awards they prefer.

Although each student has unique aid options, most choose to accept scholarships and grants first. Most also accept federalStudent loans(requires repayment) only after the grant has been granted.

Price letter terminology

These award letters may use language you haven't encountered before to describe your expenses and level of educationFinancial supportEligibility. Here are some terms you may encounter in an award letter:

  • Registration fee for participation:COA refers to how much it costs to attend college, including tuition, supplies, and living expenses.
  • Expected family contribution:The EFC is the estimated portion of the COA that the FAFSA application has determined the student or their family can pay without financial aid.
  • Help if needed:This is the amount of extra money a student needs to be able to attend college. Schools determine this number by subtracting a student's EFC from their school's COA.
  • Non-need-based assistance:This refers to the money a student is eligible for that is not based on financial need, but on other factors, such as merit. Colleges determine this amount by subtracting the student's need-based aid from the school's COA.


Degree applicants may qualify for severalfederal student loansdirectly from the ED. The following types of federal loans are typically awarded to on-campus and online students:

  • Direct subsidized loans:Bachelor's degree students with demonstrated financial need qualify for these loans. The school determines how much a recipient can borrow based on their FAFSA and overall financial aid eligibility. A direct subsidized loan can provide up to $5,500 per year with a fixed interest rate of 4.53% throughout the term. ED pays interest on the loan as long as the student remains enrolled at least part-time for the first six months after graduation and during the loan grace period.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans:This type of loan applies to students of undergraduate, graduate and professional studies, and proof of financial need is not required. Users must pay interest at any time with variable rates for undergraduate (4.53%) and graduate/professional (6.08%) students. These loans can be approved annually up to $20,500.
  • Direct PLUS loan:Parents or students at any level can get Direct PLUS loans without showing financial need. Borrowers must have a satisfactory credit history and pay a high interest rate (7.08%). Prices vary from school to school, but cannot exceed the total cost of attendance.

Approved funds

ED offers a lotfederal grantswhich does not require repayment for eligible students. The main types of grants are listed below.

  • Federal Pell Grants:Undergraduate students with exceptional financial need can apply for a Pell Grant. Applicants may not have existing degrees, although some graduate students may qualify. An applicant with a deceased parent who died while serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or while performing public safety duties may qualify for a higher award. These grants provide up to $6,895 per year for a maximum of 12 semesters.
  • Federal grants for additional education:Bachelor's degree students with exceptional financial need who do not already have a bachelor's or master's degree can apply. Students already receiving Pell Grants are given priority. Participating schools determine award amounts based on availability, awarding recipients up to $4,000 annually.
  • Support for teacher training for university and higher education scholarships:Graduates, masters or postgraduates inpublic school with a great needor secondary education subject areas are eligible for this grant. Each recipient must serve at least four years in a high-needs school district with low-income students. The TEACH Grant awards up to $3,764 per year. For students who do not meet the requirementsrequests for educational services, ED converts the grant into a direct unsubsidized loan that requires repayment.
  • Support for services in Iraq and Afghanistan:Students whose parents died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11 are eligible to apply. Applicants must be under the age of 24 or must be enrolled at least part-time at the time of the parent's death. Recipients do not need financial need and may not be eligible for Pell Grants. They can get up to $5,829.50 a year.


Like grants,scholarships do not require repayment. Unlike scholarships, many scholarships do not require financial need and are instead awarded based on factors such as merit, demographics, or intended major or program. For example, scholarships may be for women, college students, minorities, or military students. Many schools, nonprofits, and private organizations offer scholarships.

While most traditional scholarships can be used for online programs, some provide support specifically for distance learners. A student seeking scholarships for online programs should seek assistance from their university's financial aid office or high school counselor. Other sources of scholarships include;federal and state agencies, ToUS Department of Laborand local businesses and local organizations.

Evaluating your letter

You will receive an award letter from the college you applied to. you must consider this carefully before accepting financial aid. If you have registered more than one school, you should compare the price letters to see the best solution.

Please note the details in each letter as the terms and conditions are binding. If in doubt, contact your school's financial aid office for clarification. A student who experiences a catastrophic event or family problems can appeal the award letter. Recipients' total awards are negotiable provided they submit a written appeal to their school's financial aid office.

When the student knows the setfinancial aid packagethat their school offers them, they must decline all "free" financial aid (grants and scholarships) from the COA. This determines the net COA. After that, students can consider accepting financial aid that requires repayment, such as loans, to cover outstanding debt.

Request for additional financial support

Although required by most schools, the FAFSA is one of several financial aid options for online college students. Students can also apply for private and non-repayable scholarships.

Private grants

Private support is financial assistance offered by private foundations and organizations. You may qualify for private grants by meeting set criteria, which may vary.

Some private grants require applicants to demonstrate financial need, while others target specific fields of study or demographic groups. Others emphasize academic achievement and scientific research.

Organizations that support dynamic career and research fields - including STEM,INFORMATION TECHNOLOGYand teacher training — usually offer private subsidies. Students should seek out as many private scholarships as possible to supplement their federal financial aid.

Students can begin their questonline college scholarshipsthrough EDs. Schools typically offer information about local or regional private scholarship opportunities through their financial aid offices.

Private scholar

Private scholaris a form of financial assistance that does not require repayment. It is recommended that you apply as much as possible.

While some scholarships require applicants to demonstrate financial need, many are merit-based, making them more affordable than scholarships. Other scholarships accept students who meet unique criteria, such as belonging to an ethnic minority group, earning degrees in areas of high need, or serving in the military.

Private scholarships come from a variety of sources, including schools, employers, private companies, non-profit organizations, communities and religious groups.

  • Academic scholarships
  • Sports scholarships
  • Military scholarships
  • Religious endowments
  • Minority scholarships
  • Scholarships for African American and Black students

Where to find grants and scholarships

Students can begin their questonline scholarships and college scholarshipsseeking help from their financial aid counselors. Candidates can also use searchable databases forscholarships and bursariesfor research The list below contains several relevant sources for finding funding.

  • Faculties and universities:Applicants should begin their search for funding by contacting the financial aid office at their prospective schools.
  • Community organizations:Organizations such asDječji fond Kiwanisthey often have scholarship tables or databases that include memorial and alumni scholarships.
  • Private organizations:Prominent international corporations and non-profit organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company, offer grants and scholarships.
  • Scholarship database:Databases allow students toscholarship filteringby location, major or level of education.
  • Employers:A student's employer (or their parent's employer) may offer unique scholarship opportunities for students.
  • US Department of Labor:DOL providesCareerOneStop, which has a free scholarship search tool.
  • Religious organizations:Some religious organizations, such as churches and synagogues, sponsor students through scholarships.

Private loans

You can apply for private loans if your financial aid cannot cover all the costs of your education.

Private loans come from a variety of lenders, including banks, credit unions, and organizations such as Sallie Mae, College Ave, and Navient. Unlike federal student loans, each lender sets its own terms.

Private loans come with riskier terms than federal student loans. The lending and borrowing requirements for federal loans are set by law, but private loans do not have to meet the same standards. In addition, private loans typically do not offer the same benefits, such as income-based repayment plans and fixed interest rates.

Private loans are generally a last resort. Most students first collect financial aid through scholarships and grants, then look to federal student loans before finally considering private loans.

Online challenges of financial support for students

Online students can face challenges when applying for financial aid. Some schools may restrict access to distance learning programs. The accreditation of your school is also important.

Eligibility Limits

Some schools limit access to financial aid for online students. You may not be eligible if you work part-time or do not live on campus. Financial aid sometimes requires full-time and on-campus enrollment.


Online students must participateaccredited online schoolsqualify for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that the school meets national standards for higher education.

Schools can continuenational or regional accreditation. Both are awarded by organizations recognized by the ED and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Regional accreditation is stricter and therefore more prestigious than national accreditation.

Apart from providing high quality university education, onlyaccredited schoolmay be eligible for federal financial aid programs based on FAFSA eligibility.

Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid

Can you still get financial aid for online courses?

That. You can get financial aid if you take online courses. Online students can use the FAFSA and apply for scholarships and grants. However, online students are not always eligible for aid. Some schools require students to enroll in regular studies or specific majors.

Which online courses are eligible for financial aid?

Most schools offer financial aid for online classes as well as on-campus programs, regardless of a student's major or level of study. However, undergraduate students receive more financial aid than graduate students, who are often considered and therefore not eligible for as many awards.

Is financial aid available to online students?

Online college students can apply for much of the same financial aid as on-campus students. FAFSA, scholarships, grants, scholarships and loans from private lenders available. Note that the ED only allows accredited schools to participate in federal financial aid programs, so check that outthe school is accredited.

Does the FAFSA cover the online program certificate?

That. Sometimes you can pay for eCertificates with federal financial aid. But not always.

There are two common types of certificate programs: vocational and graduate. Most vocational programs in fields such as health care, education, or computer technology are FAFSA eligible.

However, online graduate certificate programs are less likely to offer financial aid. Certificates of completed studiesare not eligiblefor the FAFSA; The availability of support depends on the school or program.

Which online college offers the most financial aid?

Online colleges award varying amounts of financial aid, usually based on available funds and students who demonstrate the greatest need. Some schools even have a "no loan" policy that provides high-quality financial aid packages for online students. However, the actual cost amount varies from student to student.

Online programs for you

Other money saving tips

Online students can save money in other ways besides financial aid. Here are some tips to help you save money.

  • Make a budget

    Budgeting is critical to financial health, both in college and beyond. Students should create student loan repayment plans, such as setting up monthly payments on a calendar or spreadsheet. They also have to account for expenses such as food and entertainment while earning their degree.

  • Take advantage of student discounts

    Financial aid for online college enrollees often includesbuilt-in discounts, such as fixed, frozen or internal fees for all remote programs.
  • Consider a tuition payment plan

    Many tuition payment plans allow students to pay in monthly or semi-annual increments. Some payment plans require a one-time application fee, but most do not add interest to payments.

  • Ensure the transfer of your loans

    Students should confirm their school's transfer policy as some colleges only accept credits from regionally accredited institutions. Transferring credit for academic, work, or military experience can result in lower tuition costs and faster graduation.

  • Rent or buy used textbooks

    Many schools offer programs where students can rent or buy textbooks instead of buying new ones. Distance learning programs are increasingly offering virtual textbooks to online learners.

  • Ask employers about tuition assistance

    Some employersthey help studentswho commit to work in their organization after graduation. Others sponsor candidates who plan to serve their communities.


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