Two-year public school students defaulted at a Minority students are at particularly high risk of poor outcomes, the Center for Responsible Lending reports. It details how for-profit online colleges charge far higher tuition but spend less on instruction for each student. It also mentions that the U.
After an investigation by a U. In early , students, consumer groups, and some lawmakers even called for the Department of Education to forgive federal student loans after the high-profile collapse of Corinthian Colleges Inc. The bottom line: For-profit education has cost a lot of people a lot of money. It has given online education in general a poor reputation. But now, online educational quality is on the rise thanks to the presence of online degree programs from well-established, traditional universities.
For example, a good friend of mine recently got his MBA from Duke University online while living and working full-time in California. The fact that a degree is completed online is irrelevant. The only reason the negative perception of online degrees exists is because for-profit colleges are focused on high-volume enrollment, not providing a top-notch education.
Many of the cheapest online schools in the country also rank among the best-performing online schools in measures of faculty quality, technological capability, and student satisfaction.
In addition to low tuition rates, Sam Houston State also delivers on quality. The graduate education program also makes it into the top Lamar University offers highly regarded options in criminal justice, nursing, and education — all of which rank among the top 75 online programs — among many other options.
The University of Arkansas offers top graduate programs in engineering and education. The school also delivers quality degree programs in more common online subjects such as education, nursing, and business. Both the general business and MBA graduate programs rank in the top 40 online programs. While most online degree programs operate on a traditional semester or quarter schedule, Columbia College delivers courses on a compressed eight-week schedule with five individual sessions each year. This means you can get started at any time throughout the year rather than waiting to enroll in either the fall or spring.
While not the cheapest online college on this list, the University of West Georgia is a solid performer in the rankings of online degree programs. For example, U. All online classes are recorded and archived, so material can be accessed at any time. However, the online graduate programs are also more specialized, which may justify the cost.
You may be wondering how the affordable online schools on the list above match up against the best online colleges in the country. Of all the degree levels, you get what you pay for at the undergraduate level. Before you make any decisions, look closely at the type of majors offered by these schools. Do your research and weigh these considerations against paying more tuition at another school that has a specialty more suited to your career goals. A lot of the highest-rated universities in the country offer graduate programs online.
There are a number of universities you might consider, including Pennsylvania State University—World Campus.
Financial need, as determined by the FAFSA, is crucial to your eligibility for federal grants and loans, as well as a variety of college-based programs, including work study and institutional scholarships. Even supplemental aid, intended for application after primary sources of financial aid have been disbursed, is typically determined according to the student's FAFSA status.
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Though many of the basic requirements for on-campus and online students are the same, online colleges that accept FAFSA may be particularly interested in enrollment status ; some programs requirefull time status in order to be eligible for online financial aid, for example. Other online schools that accept FAFSA may even extend federal work study opportunities to online students, allowing them employment in an approved, off-campus location near their residence in exchange for funding a portion of their education costs. For some students, financial aid for online college not only pays for tuition and expenses, it also provides a refund of "leftover" funds.
Though refunds are typically addressed individually by each school, there is some universal wisdom in handling refunded money responsibly. After all, while the offer of a spending spree is tempting, leftover funds are not "free;" they come subject to the same terms as the rest of the borrowed money — with interest.
Once online colleges that accept FAFSA have disbursed money for tuition, leftover financial aid for online college should be applied to expenses like room and board, books, transportation, or set aside for a study abroad or internship experience.
Terms to describe types of financial aid for online college are often used interchangeably, though there are some key differences between grants and loans that make each of them unique. Consult our quick guide below for an at-a-glance breakdown of the basics:. Department of Veterans Affairs VA. More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.
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Federal Grants. Online education has expanded significantly in the past decade and is widely considered to be as effective as residential courses, particularly for non-traditional students. No longer restricted to a handful of for-profit colleges, online courses and degrees are now commonly offered by elite brick-and-mortar institutions. Although distance learners can save money on living expenses, online degrees sometimes come laden with surprising hidden costs. Students typically pay more in tuition when they take one course here and another there, as many online learners do.
Depending on the college, out-of-state students sometimes have to pay more than in-state students though many online colleges charge in-state tuition for out-of-staters. Travel costs can also come into play: some online programs require students to travel to campus occasionally, which can be expensive if a student doesn't live close to the school. Other hidden costs of online degrees include miscellaneous fees for technology, graduation, assessment, and so forth and the cost of acquiring and maintaining the technology needed to study online such as internet or a computer.
Non-traditional students face unique challenges that makes a return to school stressful. The time commitment required to succeed can be particularly burdensome for distance learners, particularly those who work full-time. Time spent in class, doing homework, and studying is time that cannot be spent working, taking care of family, and managing a household. The cost of school is another barrier. College is increasingly expensive for everyone, but non-traditional students often don't have the family support or financial resources that some younger students enjoy.
Non-traditional students also often have expenses, such as daycare and mortgage payments, that make finding the money to pay for school even more difficult. These challenges underline the need online students have for scholarships. Distance learners are wise make sure they attend an accredited online school. Accreditation is an official review process in which colleges and academic programs are evaluated to determine if they meet certain standards. The process is voluntary, but most schools, both online and offline, choose to participate.
Accreditation ensures that colleges are offering a robust curriculum, that faculty members are qualified, and that the college operates with sound business practices. Another benefit of accreditation is that enrolled students are eligible for federal and financial aid. Many scholarships are only available to students at accredited schools. Before making a decision, make sure that your school is recognized by either the U. And be sure that the accrediting agency is itself reputable, as some accreditation bodies don't effectively evaluate schools. Online students are eligible for the same types of financial assistance commonly available to on campus students.
Four primary sources of college funding include federal financial aid, state-sponsored aid, college-sponsored aid, and private aid. Made available through the U. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid must be applied for by individual students. The final financial aid package awarded can include a combination of the following:. Scholarships and grants are available through each state's education agency. Other funding programs may also be affiliated with these offices. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators provides an online tool for locating current financial aid programs in your state.
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Many schools provide scholarships, grants and other types of tuition breaks to students. Athletic scholarships, for example, fall into this category, as do grants based on academic merit. Loans made directly from the college are also sometimes possible. The amounts and types of funding available vary widely from school to school, but it is worth contacting the financial aid office for more information. Financial assistance can come from a wide range of organizations in addition to the government and college sources listed above.
Financial institutions offer loans to students who qualify under varying interest rates and repayment options. Community groups, religious organizations and professional associations often sponsor college scholarships, which don't have to be repaid. What kinds of college-sponsored aid can you expect from online colleges?
Related online schools that accept fafsa
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