If you're an adult and thinking of going to college online, you may have more financial aid options than you realize.
Yes, there are grants for adults to attend online college. In fact, adults (including online learners) are eligible for most of the same forms of financial aid as students who have just graduated from high school. That includes the federal Pell Grant, which can be worth up to $5,815 annually. There is, however, one roadblock: Not all online schools accept FAFSA.
No age limit on Pell Grant
The federal Pell Grant has no age limit. Students of any age can—and should—apply for this grant by completing the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA also acts as the application for other forms of federal aid, including grants and low-interest federal student loans.
The FAFSA is also often used by states and individual institutions to asses students for eligibility for additional grants and scholarships. See our guide for completing the FAFSA to get started.
And get this: Adult learners can generally receive federal financial aid, even with bad credit, or with existing student loan debt. The only caveat is that all student loans are current and not in default. See more about federal financial aid eligibility here.
Important: Check with the school first
It's important to know that most regionally accredited online colleges and universities accept the same federal financial aid as brick-and-mortar schools.
But not all online schools have regional accreditation and not all online schools accept FAFSA.
Before you apply to any school, check the financial aid page on their website. There, you can often quickly find out what forms of financial aid are accepted. You can also pick up the phone and call the financial aid department.
Some schools may state that they don't accept federal financial aid because they already have extremely low tuition rates. In those cases, it's still smart to do some comparison shopping before enrolling. Even though another school may have a higher "sticker price," financial aid may actually result in a lower overall cost.
Interested in exploring online college options? Check out our recent roundup of the 20 Most-Affordable Online Bachelor Degree Programs.