An increasing number of people entering or returning to college are selecting online degrees as opposed to attending traditional universities. This is happening for a variety of reasons. It is more important than ever to have a college degree if you want to qualify for higher paying jobs, and many of the people who need those degrees have fulltime jobs, families to support, debt to pay off and other household expenses that make it difficult to go back to school fulltime during the day.

For many of the same reasons that online degrees are growing in popularity, so is the need for distance education students to find student loans. In fact, in a 2003 – 2004 analysis conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics it was reported that 63 percent of all undergraduates receive some sort of financial aid for traditional and online degrees. Just like their counterparts at traditional universities, distance education students mainly utilize the following forms of financial aid: scholarships, employer tuition assistance, grants, private loans, government-backed loans and military tuition assistance.

For those who do not qualify to receive financial assistance through their job, the military or scholarships, student loans are the best way to make affordable college degrees online a reality. If you are not sure how to apply for student loans to earn a bachelor degree online, you can follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Make an appointment to speak with the financial aid advisor at the college online you would like to attend. Ask he or she what type of student loans are available through the school and what type of interest rates they offer. Since you plan to earn your bachelor degree online, you have a serious advantage over most students – you only have to pay for books, tuition and internet service. You will not need to borrow money to cover your living expenses, relocate or pay a premium for out-of-state tuition.
  2. The next best step to take to help pay for college online is to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FSFA). You can find this form online at the Federal Student Aid website at: www.fasa.ed.gov.
  3. Once you fill out this FSFA seven-part worksheet, you will receive a Student Aid Report that tells you how much your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is. This number is based on your family’s income, size, the number of family members attending college and the amount of money you have in savings. Although the federal student loan programs are designed so you can achieve affordable college degrees online, they also operate on the idea that you should contribute what you can to help pay for your online degrees.
  4. After you have completed these three steps, you will then receive a Financial Award Letter from your school detailing the financial aid package you’re qualified for. This will tell you the total amount you are eligible for in the form of grants and student loans. Using this information you can calculate exactly how much money you will need to budget for to pay for college online and achieve the online degrees necessary enhance your career opportunities and your quality of life.
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