Ways to Pay for Your Online Education

Ways to Pay for Your Online Education
By John Koehler July 1, 2021

Grants, Loans and Aid at UA Grantham

Every parent wants the best possible future for their child, and that often means seeking postsecondary education. With rising tuition rates and a variety of other school expenses to account for, financial obstacles can seem all but impossible to overcome. But the truth is that cost does not have to be a limiting factor to online education.

UA Grantham is committed to making education accessible for our students, and that starts with offering one of the lowest tuition rates in the nation. Plus, there is just one simple resource fee to cover your textbook and technology costs—saving you the hassle of adding up those extra expenses.

To learn more about the ways to pay for an online degree program, we talked to our favorite expert on financial aid: Dr. Tom Stuart, Director of Financial Aid at UA Grantham.

Dr. Stuart has more than a decade’s worth of experience in financial aid. That includes experience serving as a scholarship coordinator, the assistant director of financial aid, and an educational consultant before coming to UA Grantham. His educational background is in management, education, and leadership, culminating in his Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership and management. And he is still learning. Stuart recently earned his Certified Financial Aid Administrator's (FAAC) designation through the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration (NASFAA).

Question: What types of financial aid are available for online college?

There are a number of scholarships, grants and loans available to assist students and their families in paying for both online and in-person college courses. Many students are likely to benefit from a combination of all three, applying for scholarships and grants—which do not need to be repaid—and also taking out some loans, which do need to be repaid.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that during the 2017–2018 school year, financial aid was awarded to 84% of first-time, full-time undergraduate students attending public four-year colleges and 90% of students attending private four-year colleges. Accredited online colleges, including UA Grantham, offer the same financial aid packages as in-person institutions, and there is no difference in the aid awarded to students based on which type of education they enroll in.

Q: Will I have to go into debt to get an online education?

The short answer is no. Firstly, UA Grantham students may be eligible for our Military Aid Program: As a military servicemember, veteran, first responder or licensed or certified patient care worker, you can take advantage of a special tuition rate, complimentary textbooks and software, and no technology fees—lowering your cost of education before you have even started.

It is also helpful to look for scholarships and grants, as these are two forms of financial aid that do not need to be repaid. In addition to those provided by individual institutions, scholarship opportunities are also offered by federal, state and local governments, as well as by companies and corporations, professional associations and nonprofit organizations.

Among grants provided by the federal government, the Pell Grant is a common source of funding for many college students and can pay up to $5,500 yearly. This grant is based on financial need and is given to undergraduate students pursuing their first college degree.

To see if you qualify for need-based grants and other federal student aid programs, you will need to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA).

Q: How does the FAFSA work?

The FAFSA is a standardized application form that uses your family’s expected financial contribution (EFC) to determine your financial aid eligibility—the difference between your EFC and the total tuition cost to attend your chosen school.

To submit the FAFSA, you will need to create an FSA ID with the Federal Student Aid office. This allows you to complete and sign your application electronically and to access aid information moving forward. You will also need several important pieces of personal and financial information, including your Social Security number, federal tax returns, records of untaxed income and information about your financial assets. If you are a dependent, you will need the same information for your parents.

While the first time you fill out the FAFSA can be time consuming, it does take less time to fill out in subsequent years—and you will have to submit the FAFSA each year you will be in school in order to continue receiving aid throughout your degree program.

Q: What types of federal student loans can I apply for?

Just like in-person college programs, UA Grantham’s online courses qualify for federal student loans. This type of financial aid offers numerous benefits, such as income-based repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs and options for deferment or forbearance in the event of financial hardship.

There are four federal loans you may be eligible for: Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and the Federal Parent PLUS Loan. These loans offer interest rates that are fixed—and typically lower than you might find with private loans—and they do not require a credit check, cosigner or repayment before you leave school.

Before you take out any loans, there are a few things to consider to ensure you are prepared to repay them after you have completed your program.

Determine how much money you will need to attend school, including tuition, textbooks and other supplies. You may also need to account for certain living expenses while you are a student, such as internet access or additional childcare.

It is also important to know what to expect once you have graduated: How much do you expect to earn once you have your degree, and how much will you need to repay? Are you prepared to meet all of the terms of your loan agreements, including the interest rates and repayment schedule?

To apply for federal student loans, you can talk with UA Grantham’s Office of Financial Aid after you have submitted your FAFSA.

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Ready to start your college career at one of the first online universities? Learn more about ways to pay for a UA Grantham education and reach out to an admissions expert today.

About the Author

John Koehler
John Koehler is a senior marketing specialist on University of Arkansas Grantham's marketing operations team. John is passionate about enabling education opportunities and a positive experience for prospective students. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Marketing from Rockhurst University.
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