Financial Aids for Online Students

Financial Aid is of great importance to students. Now there is financial aid for online colleges also which has made online courses more accessible for the students.

Updated by Akshay Nair P R on 29th June 2018

Financial Aids for Online Students

Since 2004, there has been a rapid increase in the number of students who have enrolled in online education.

To be specific with numbers from 2004 to 2012, there has been a 263% increase in the number of students enrolled in online classes.

Approximately 5.5 million college students opted for at least one online course.

Now one in every four students takes online courses.

As of 2014 to 2015 two third of full-time students paid their expenses using grants or scholarships. Like any other traditional college to get a financial aid, you must apply for FAFSA

How it started

In 2006 the government updated its policy which enabled students opting for online education to pay for their education using grants or scholarship provided by Federal government or even private organizations.

But if we go back, it all started in 1992, the government had doubts about the quality of online education.

As a result of that, they made a " 50% rule," according to that rule for seeking financial aid from Federal State.

Students would have to take at least half of their classes on the campus, in order to qualify for the aid. This rule was later changed in 2006.

Types of Financial Aid for Online Students

The federal government offers a number of options of financial aid for online students, out that some of them need to be repaid. 

Some of them are being described below:

  • Scholarships

Who Applies: Those who meet scholarship requirements

Who Offers: Private, Nonprofit organizations, Universities, Religious Entities

Req to payback: No

Need/Merit based: Both

Examples:  Scholarships for Women, LGBT Students, Military, etc.

  • Fellowships

Who Applies: Those who meet fellowship requirements

Who Offers: Private, Nonprofit organizations, Universities

Req to payback: No

Need/Merit based: Both

Examples: Internal Fellowship-Merit based awards given by Students college, External Fellowship- Federally funded offered by sponsoring organizations, they can be merit, academic or need-based.

  • Grants

Who Applies: Students automatically apply by completing FAFSA

Who Offers: Federal and State Government

Req to payback: No

Need/Merit based: Need-based

Example: Federal Pell Grant, Online College Grant, Single Mothers Grant

  • Loans

Who Applies: Those who need additional funding after all scholarships are exhausted

Who Offers: Federal, State Government and Banks

Req to payback: Yes

Need/Merit based: Both

Example: Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized, PLUS, Federal Perkins Loan

  • Work Study Aid

Who Applies: Those who want to earn extra money for paying college expenses by doing part-time work

Who Offers: Federal Government

Req to payback: No

Need/Merit based: Need-based

  • Employer-Sponsored Tuition

Who Applies: People who want to upgrade their skill by staying in the current company

Who Offers: Employer

Req to payback: No

Need/Merit based: Neither


There are now many types of Financial Aid for students opting for online courses. This is all because of the increase in the number of students now preferring online courses. Because of these financial aids, it is certain that the number of students enrolling for online courses is increasing.


  1) Can you get a loan for online classes?

Whether it's a for-profit college or a not-for-profit college, the key is that it should be accredited. So if you have applied for FAFSA and you are in an accredited college then you can get a loan for your online classes.

  2) Can you use your financial aid to pay for certificates?

Certificate Programs are generally considered graduate in nature, but to be eligible for a financial aid for a non-degree certificate program the student should be enrolled in the U.S. Department of Education Approved certificate Program. 

  3) Can you get Pell Grants for online classes?

Yes, you can get Pell Grants for online classes. As long as you are enrolled in an online college which is accredited and is approved to disburse federal financial aid funds, you can use the Pell Grants to pay for the academic courses.

  4) How much is the monthly student payment?

The monthly payment on a $25,000 student loan is approximately $280 (assuming 6.8% interest and a 10-year repayment plan), which can cause financial strain if you're not prepared for it.

If you've borrowed more than $25,000, your payments will be even higher.