Tuition & Financing
Finding financing for your education
Tuition and financing are among the chief concerns of any student. The key thing to remember is that your education is an investment, as the right schooling will greatly enhance your career prospects and earning potential. However, tuition fees can really add up, particularly if you're taking a multi-year degree program. In the United States, the average postsecondary student graduates with approximately $25,000 in debt. When it comes to paying for school, your goal should be to take on as little debt as possible.
One of the major benefits of online learning is that it tends to cost significantly less than you would pay to attend traditional classes. Also, because the majority of online schools allow you to customize your learning schedule, it is much easier for you to continue working while you study. In fact, many people enrolled in online classes continue to work full-time. Keeping a job while you study is one of the best ways to minimize the financial burden of your schooling.
However, you should still be aware of the many ways in which you can finance your education, if you're not able to work while you're in school or if you need help making your initial tuition payments. Student loans and institution-based financial aid programs are both great sources of education financing.
Student Loans and Online Learning
If you attend an eligible school, you may qualify for student loans through federal and state/provincial student aid agencies. Contact the appropriate government student loan agency if you're unsure whether or not the school you're considering is eligible, or contact a representative from the school's student services or financial aid department.
You should be aware that there may be limitations and restrictions on the amount of money you are able to borrow from the government if you are taking classes online. Some student aid packages are calculated based on the number of hours per week you are attending classes. Do not assume that you will be able to borrow what you need through a government agency; instead, figure out how you're going to pay for school before you accept the school's offer of admission.
Additional sources of student loans include banks and credit unions, and private lenders. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for either a student loan or a student line of credit. If possible, opt for the latter. With a line of credit, you only pay interest on the money you actually use instead of on the full amount. For example, if you took out a $10,000 student loan, you would owe the bank interest on the full $10,000. However, if you got a $10,000 student line of credit and you only needed to use $7,000 of it to meet your financial needs, you would only pay interest on the $7,000 you used rather than the full amount.
Institution-Based Financial Aid
Most schools, even those which operate primarily or exclusively online, offer financial assistance to students who qualify for it. The extent of this assistance varies; in some cases, the school will only be able to help connect you with government-based student aid programs and private lenders. In other cases, the school may be able to offer you direct help with financing. If you are in need of financial assistance, contact the school to see what kind of assistance they are able to provide. Also, keep in mind that many schools offer scholarships and bursaries to students who perform well in their classes and are in need of financial assistance. Again, the extent of these programs varies from institution to institution, and the school itself will be your best source of information.
Finally, remember that there are many private institutions and philanthropic organizations that offer scholarships and bursaries to students with a demonstrated financial need. Many such opportunities are specific to people pursuing specialized academic disciplines, so be sure to include this information in your search if you are seeking scholarships online.