Resuming an education is a fantastic way for individuals to climb their respective career ladders. However, many are unable to pursue an online degree due to lack of financial funding. Most individuals do not realize the amount of wealth out there in the form of academic grants, loans and scholarships. Below contains valuable information on how to successfully locate grants, loans and scholarships to fund an online education.
Grants are generally issued by the U.S. government, and do not need to be repaid. Several types of need-based educational grants exist, but students are only applicable for them if their FAFSA forms reflect adequate financial need. The most popular educational grants issued by the government include:
The Federal Pell Grant is the most common type of educational grant issued by the U.S. government. In order for students to qualify for this type of grant, they must fill out a FAFSA form. Students should keep in mind that the Federal Pell Grant is only issued to financially disadvantaged undergraduate students, and the amount may change based on federal budget restrictions, their family’s expected cost contribution and their student status.
The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is only offered to students demonstrating substantial financial need. Typically, only students with expected family educational contributions of zero, as determined by their FAFSA, may be awarded the FSEOG.
The Montgomery G.I. Bill is awarded to students who have previously served in the military. Depending on students’ previous military experience, they may receive up to several thousand dollars towards funding their college education.
The U.S. government also offers some merit-based grants to qualifying students. Generally, these types of grants depend not only on students’ financial need, but also on their high school grade point averages. But because most merit-based grants are issued by states, students may be required to fill out separate forms. To find out more about merit-based grants, students should visit their respective states’ department of education websites.
If students are interested in applying for government and state issued grants, they should visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ in order to access the FAFSA form.
If students do not necessarily qualify for federal grants, they may still apply for both federal and private loans. With most federal loans, students’ payments and interest rates are deferred until they graduate. The most common types of federal loans available to undergraduate students include:
Stafford loans are issued by either the U.S. government or third-party lending institutions, and are either subsidized or unsubsidized. With subsidized Stafford loans, students will not be charged any interest until after they graduate. However, with unsubsidized Stafford loans, students will be charged interest as soon as the loan is disbursed.
Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS loans) are issued by the U.S. government and/or approved third-party lenders. In order for parents to qualify for PLUS loans, their children must be enrolled at least part-time in college.
Federal Perkins loans are available for both undergraduate and graduate students, and have a fixed-rate of interest. Perkins loan eligibility is determined by three main factors including when students apply, their level of financial need, and their universities’ funding level. Typically, students’ universities are responsible for dispersing Perkins loans to its students once the government issues it. Students have ten years to pay back any federal Perkins loans upon graduating.
If students are unable to receive any federal loans, they may take out private loans from third-party financial institutions. Generally, in order to qualify for private student loans, students must be U.S. citizens, enrolled at a lender-eligible school, and be creditworthy. Students will be required to supply certain information when applying, including annual income, credit reports and proof of employment.
If federal grants and/or loans are not enough to meet students’ financial obligations, thousands of different private scholarships exist, which could help students finance their way through school. Unlike student loans, scholarships do not need to be repaid. Because so many different types of scholarships exist, if students have a special talent or personal history, they should capitalize on it. The best way to search for private scholarships is to visit http://www.fastweb.com. Here, students are able to compare their personal qualifications against a database of awards. Only awards which students are eligible for will pop up.
Students are also encouraged to research unusual scholarships, such as those for extremely tall or left-handed individuals. To find out more about unusual scholarships, students should visit http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/.
Here, the most common unusual scholarships are listed based on physical characteristics, creativity, last name, sports, field of study, food-related and good works.
Students may also want to contact their school’s financial aid offices, and inquire about any additional private scholarships.
With the amount of grants, loans and scholarships available in the U.S., there is no excuse not to go back to school! While searching for financial aid can seem overwhelming, students should formulate a detailed financial aid search plan, and should only turn to loans as a last resort. By planning ahead as well as being diligent and thoughtful, students will acquire more than enough money to fund their online educations.