With so many colleges jumping into the online-learning game, you might be wondering if it's possible to nab a college for free.
We're sorry to say that, for now, the answer is a qualified no. That is, there aren't any schools currently offering bona fide degrees at no charge. However, you should be able to get federal financial aid for most accredited online schools. If you qualify, you could end up paying little to nothing out-of-pocket.
Do online schools accept Pell Grants?
Yes, most accredited online schools accept Pell Grants and other forms of financial aid.
FAFSA, otherwise known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the main way to get federal aid. And yes, you can and should use it to get financial aid for online education.
Filling out the FAFSA qualifies for you federal grants and loans, as well as some state and school-specific forms of aid. Talk to the financial aid office at the school you're applying to, or check out our handy question-by-question guide for filling out the FAFSA.
Are there loans for online colleges?
Yes, online colleges generally have the same financial aid options as traditional colleges, including student loans.
Before taking out any loans, fill out the FAFSA to find out if you qualify for any "free money" from the federal government in the form of Pell Grants or other awards. If those awards aren't enough to cover your tuition, fees, and other expenses, it's generally best to accept federal loans before turning to private loans. Federal loans often have better interest rates and flexible repayment terms if you're unable to make your monthly payment.
See also: What’s the Difference Between Grants, Scholarships, and Loans?
You can also apply for scholarships and grants for online colleges. Be sure to speak to the financial aid department to find out about all of your options.
To learn more about financial aid for online learning, see How Much Financial Aid Can I Get Per Semester?