Online education is growing at a tremendous rate. As more and more students look for a way to get an education while holding a full time job or caring for children, online education becomes more and more appealing. While it would seem that an online education would be cheaper than a traditional one, mainly due to the lack of overhead, this is not the case.
Most of these programs cost close to what a traditional education would cost, minus room and board expenses. Many students do not realize they can get grants for online schools, just as they do for traditional schools. These grants are money that does not have to be repaid, and they make it much easier to afford online schooling.
Federal online school grants are typically given based on need. Students that have the greatest financial need, as determined by the expected family contribution, will get the money. Some grants are available specifically for students looking to work in a particular field. These are typically private grants offered by organizations looking to promote work in a particular field.
The first thing you need to do to qualify for online school grants is fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This application is available from the official federal student aid website. It is used to determine how needy you are as a student. Once you have completed it and submitted it to the U.S. Department of Education, you will be notified of any grants you qualify for.
The Federal Pell Grant is one of the most common grants for undergraduate students, whether pursuing their degree online or at a traditional school. The TEACH Grant is an option for teachers who are willing to teach in low-income areas or high-needs schools. The SMART Grant is another federal option that is specifically tailored for those studying science, computer science, math, or a language that has a direct impact on national security.
If you do not qualify for a federal grant, but are entering a technical or needy degree field, get in contact with the professional organizations in your field. They will be able to tell you if there are any grants available. Many of these will be merit based or offered to a specific demographic, such as an under represented minority group.
Keep in mind that most grants require you to attend an accredited program. As you look for an online school to enroll in, make sure it is fully accredited if you intend to use grant money to pay for your education.