Scholarships can be immensely helpful for online college students. With the cost of higher education as high as it is, even for online degree programs, nearly all students could use the help of additional money for college that they won’t have to pay back. However, actually finding the scholarships that are most relevant to you and applying for those scholarship opportunities can be time-consuming. When researching traditional scholarships and those intended for online students only, it’s important to keep in mind some eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Criteria for Private Scholarships

Because private scholarships are offered by various companies and organizations, there’s no single set of eligibility requirements for all scholarships. Some opportunities are for students pursuing a particular major or career path. Others seek to provide funding to a member of a specific group. Some scholarships are based heavily on grades, while others take into greater consideration factors like athletic or extracurricular involvement or volunteer experience. Some scholarships require applicants to fill out simple forms, while others prompt essays or even videos on a variety of subjects that range from opinions on public policy to specific career aspirations.

No matter what organization sponsors the scholarship opportunity or what submission materials the applicant must turn in, students should be able to view the eligibility criteria to determine whether or not they can apply. Students should always review all requirements before beginning a scholarship application to make sure that they can apply, to determine if they have any questions and so they can gather all of their application materials together. Of course, potential applicants should direct any questions about eligibility, including online eligibility, to the scholarship’s sponsor.

Though a scholarship opportunity may not specify whether or not online students are eligible, it often will state that students must be enrolled in or attending an accredited program or university. This is yet another reason why accreditation of online college degrees matters. Sponsors of private scholarships want to be sure that their money is being used appropriately for education at a legitimate school or program rather than a degree mill.

Scholarship Opportunities Tailored to Online Students

Many traditional scholarships can be used toward your online college education, but your options don’t end there. You can also seek out private scholarships for students of online or distance-learning degree programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Additional scholarships are often available from your school, so check with admissions staff or counselors at your chosen online college to find out if you are eligible for any school scholarships.

When you decide to earn a college education, you are making an investment in yourself and your future. In addition to investing your time and hard work, you may also be investing a good deal of money in tuition, fees and course materials. Traditional private scholarships, opportunities for online-only students and school scholarships can all go a long way toward making your online college experience more affordable.