Paying for college can get expensive, even if you choose an online program that won’t require you to pay to live on campus or buy a school meal plan. There are several types of financial aid available for online college students, just as there are for students of traditional on-campus college degree programs. To get scholarships toward your online education, you need to know where to look.
The Value of Scholarships
Scholarships are just one type of financial aid, but for many online students, they do the most good. Unlike student loans, scholarships don’t have to be paid back. The number of grants, which also don’t have to be paid back, is often limited. Many grants are need-based but consider your entire family’s income rather than just the money you have available to spend on college tuition, so you can do little to increase your likelihood of getting one such grant. Students at traditional colleges can receive grants in the form of work-study opportunities, but on-campus jobs aren’t available for students of a college that has no physical campus. The value and eligibility requirements of every scholarship are different, but one scholarship can cover hundreds or thousands of dollars of tuition.
Where Online Students Can Look for Scholarships
Many scholarships require only that the school or degree program in which the student is enrolled is accredited, not necessarily that the student attends school in person. As an online student, you can take advantage of general scholarship search websites, but make sure before you apply that nothing in the scholarship eligibility requirements excludes online students. If you are unsure, contact the organizations sponsoring the scholarship.
Many scholarships seek out students with specific qualities, such as students of a particular gender or ethnicity or those pursuing a certain major or career path. As an online student, you’re in luck. Some scholarships are intended for online and distance-learning students specifically, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Your school is another good place to look for scholarship opportunities. Not only do they often maintain lists or databases of scholarships that may be of interests to their students, but these colleges typically offer some scholarships of their own. In fact, CBS News has identified a list of 10 schools where all or nearly all students receive at least a partial scholarship. While these awards may not all be high-value, every little bit of money toward your education helps, and your chances of qualifying for such a scholarship are very good.
The process of applying for scholarships can take time. You’ll fill out a form. You may need documentation of your past academic success or your current enrollment. Some scholarships require you to write an essay or film a video. Just remember that you are investing your time and effort wisely. The slight hassle of applying will pay off if you receive hundreds or thousands of dollars in scholarships as a result.