Online Undergraduate Degree Scholarships and Grants

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Online degree programs are becoming increasing popular, as they allow you to work at your own pace, study a variety of subjects, meet people from around the world, and save money. However, even though online undergraduate degree programs can be less expensive than going to a brick-and-mortar school, these colleges can still come attached with a hefty price tag. Financial aid is available for most students pursuing degrees, even if you choose to work in an online environment. The trick is knowing what type of aid is available, how you qualify, and how to apply.

Scholarship Information

One of the best types of financial aid for students is scholarships. For additional information on financial aid and saving for college, we recommend Dividend.com’s continuing education section. Scholarships are based on merit, rather than need, and they can be awarded based on:

  • Grades
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • Community service
  • Sports skills
  • Talents in the arts
  • Other special skills or achievements

Some scholarships are awarded based on an essay that applicants write, while others are awarded simply on credentials, such as your high school transcripts. Scholarships can also be based on things like your location, your race, your sex, your heritage, and your family’s activities in the military.

The best part about scholarships is that you don’t have to repay them after you graduate, like you’ll find with most student loans. So, essentially, this is free money for college. If offered by a business, you may be required to take a job offered by that company after you graduate; this is especially common in medical fields, so make sure you read the requirements of the scholarship fully.

Prior to 2006, federal scholarship programs weren’t available to online undergraduate degree students unless they completed at least 50 percent of their education on a campus. Times have changed, and with more and more students interested in distant learning, that law has been repealed. If you go to college online, you’re eligible along with traditional students, as long as the program of study that you choose is with an accredited college. Students.gov is a good place to get started looking for federal scholarships, as well as grant programs.

Many online degree programs offer scholarships directly to students. Most colleges, even if they are online, have financial aid departments. By talking to the people in this office, you can learn about scholarships available from your school of choice. There may also be scholarships available specifically for your degree program. According to studies, the most popular online degree fields of study are business, health care, education, and engineering, but you can also go to school online for a number of other degrees, including those in art and design, computer sciences, culinary, legal, liberal arts, nursing, and trade industries. There are few undergraduate programs available on campuses that aren’t also available somewhere online.

As a general rule of thumb, as long as your college is accredited, you’ll qualify for any scholarship you find, even if it isn’t specially for online degree students. Before taking the time to fill out the application, especially if they ask you to write an essay, call or email the scholarship committee to make sure that you’re eligible for the funds. Some scholarships are old-fashioned and don’t allow online students to apply, but this is becoming increasingly rare.

Grant Information

Grants are one of the best sources for money when you’re attending college. Like scholarships, grants are available, essentially, for free, meaning that you don’t have to repay this money when you’re done with school, like you do with student loans. Grants are given based on need, rather than merit, so you qualify even if you didn’t have perfect grades in high school or have special sports or musical talents.

One of the most popular grants is the Pell Grant, which is given out by the United States government. Yes, you qualify, even if you choose to go to college online, as long as your degree program is accredited. The only major qualifications to receive this money are that you’re not incarcerated and that you’re working on your first undergraduate degree. Beyond that, financial need is the only way the Pell Grant department will determine the amount of money you receive. Unfortunately, funding for the Pell Grant program has been cut in recent years, even though student enrollment is higher than ever, so you may want to also explore other grant opportunities to help pay for your education.

Before 2006, students were required to receive at least half of their education on a campus, rather than online, to be eligible for grants or other kinds of financial aid. In February of that year, this law was repealed, and online students are now eligible for all federal funds, providing that their program is accredited. Programs online can be accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) or any one of the six regional accreditation boards in the United States. Beyond the Pell Grant, the government offers a number of undergraduate educational grants, as well as scholarships, which you can find online at Students.gov.

Grants are also available from outside sources, such as:

  • Organizations
  • Clubs
  • Businesses
  • Foundations
  • Churches

Your high school may offer grants, and most colleges, even those online, have a financial aid department that helps you learn what grant programs are available directly from your college and your department. Grant applications typically require more time than scholarship applications, and you may need to know exactly what you intend to do with your education. Be prepared to give tons of details, as well as financial information that prove you need the money. Although time-consuming in many cases, apply to as many grants as possible. With any luck, you could get your online undergraduate education without spending a dime of your own money.

Best Online Undergraduate Schools

Obtaining an undergraduate degree, either an associate's or a bachelor's, from an accredited college or university will open many doors to new and lucrative careers. The following schools offer undergrad degree programs across a wide array of subjects, including business, education, healthcare, art, and more.

Kaplan UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. Kaplan University enjoys a good repuation as one of the largest accredited online undergraduate universities in the country. Degrees from Kaplan are available in a wide variety of fields, ranging from nursing to business to technology, and more.

Ashford UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. Experience a new way of learning through the innovative online experience at Ashford University that integrates engaging curricula, modern digital tools, a vibrant online community, and cherished tradition. AU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Ave, Suite 100, Alameda, California 94501, 510.748.9001, www.wascsenior.org.

DeVry UniversityAssociate, Bachelor's, and Master's Degree programs. With 95+ campuses across the U.S. and in Canada, DeVry University is well known as a leader in online education, offering courses of study in most degree programs, including business, technology, and liberal arts.

Walden UniversityBachelor's, Master's, and PhD Degrees. Offering accredited online degree programs in criminal justice, science, business, health, nursing, and more, Walden University is an ideal candidate for any working professional looking to advance his/her career to the next level.

Capella UniversityBachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate Degrees. Capella University boasts an online study enrollment of over 25,000 professional adults. At Capella, you can pursue a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree program.

Liberty UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD Degrees. Established by the late Reverend Jerry Falwel in 1971 as Lynchburg Christian Academy, Liberty University is the largest undergraduate evangelical Christian university in the United States. It's motto: "Training Champions for Christ."

Southern new Hampshire UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. Southern new Hampshire University offer over 60 graduate and undergrad programs for students. SNHU Online is an extension of the university's campus-based undegraduate degree programs, brought to the student through the convenience of self-paced learning via the Internet.

Strayer UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. Strayer University Online offers a low-cost online learning education from an accredited undergraduate university. The faculty and staff at Strayer bring life to the online curricula, enriching students with exceptional education at unparalleled value.

Rasmussen CollegeAssociate's and Bachelor's Degrees. When developing its online model, Rasmussen College took the idea of small in-person class sizes online. Online program courses range between 15 and 30 students each, with students receiving direct personal attention from instructors and advisors, as well as closer interaction with fellow students.

Grand Canyon UniversityBachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate Degrees. Grand Canyon University is a small, nondenominational Christian university located in Phoenix. GCU offers both online- and campus-based undergraduate degree programs in business, education, nursing, entrepreneurships, and liberal arts. GCU also boasts an NCAA Division II athletic programs.

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