Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

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Finding Free Funds for your Online College Degree

For some, going to school online is like a dream come true. You can “go to class” in your pajama’s, you don’t have to deal with traffic or nasty weather, and you’ll never have a scheduling conflict between your class schedule and your work schedule.

Pursuing a college degree online makes sense.
Distance learning has been around longer than you might imagine; online college is just one type of distance learning that has become very popular in the past few years. You have probably seen the ads for University of Phoenix.  Founded in 1976, it is a private accredited university offering a variety of options for earning college degrees at all levels including an online doctorate.

Whether public or private, an increasing number of colleges and universities are offering classes online. The internet allows colleges to offer classes to a greater number of students; thus, increasing their revenue.  Students benefit also, online classes give them the flexibility and tuition and fees are often lower, not to mention the savings on commuting and campus housing.

Many types of college degrees can be earned online.
Whether you’re pursuing a two-year degree from a community college or technical school or a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, or even a PhD from a private, public or state university, there’s probably a program to meet your needs.  A continuum of options is available to educate yourself via your home computer.

Some courses are considered hybrids as a significant portion is online, but they have a classroom component to them; other classes are completely computer-based.  Some degrees can be pursued without ever setting foot onto a college campus; these are typically programs that require less hands-on training and are more conducive to online learning. But, degrees in music performance, physical education or teaching, for example, require brick-and-mortar settings for performance, internships or student teaching.

Know what you are getting into and know yourself.
Before pursuing some or all of your college education online you must be comfortable on the computer and have the right equipment (internet access and a compatible web browser). You must be organized, disciplined and a self starter.  Remember that college isn’t just about the classroom; a lot of college learning comes from social interactions. If you don’t require the social life of being on campus or the face-to-face interaction with your professors and classmates, then online education may be perfect for you.

First, you need to find out which courses and which degrees can be pursued online.  Be sure to read the fine print on eligibility for your specific situation.  And, expect to work at least as hard as you would in a traditional classroom setting.  Online college is definitely not for lazy people.

Accreditation matters.
Colleges and universities choose to be accredited; accreditation is not a requirement.  In the United States, there are regional agencies that govern and regulate the college accreditation process.
There are many reasons to choose an accredited college or university.  You are likely to get a better education. Your degree will have more credibility and clout in the job market.  And, perhaps most important, financial aid, loans, grants and scholarships are available to those enrolled only in accredited programs. Make sure your school of choice is accredited.

“Accreditation mills” are counterfeit accrediting agencies; “diploma mills” sell bogus pieces of paper that can be purchased without doing any of the work that goes into earning a legitimate college degree.  Again, do your research before enrolling in any of these programs or colleges.  Time and money are precious—don’t waste either of them.

Show me the money.
There is scholarship and grant money available for online education.  Some programs are unique to online programs while others are available for classroom and online college classes. The Perkins Loan and Pell Grant, both of which are part of Federal Financial Aid programs, are available for students at two-year or four-year colleges whether online or in a traditional classroom setting.

Some scholarships and free money is specific to your state or your college or university. Unique to University of Phoenix is the First Chance Program. Since 2006, this scholarship has been available to a selected group of “in need” students enrolled in Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programs.  It’s funded by a combined effort of various non-profit groups.

Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally, (the HOPE Program) is available in many states including Georgia, Tennessee and Illinois.  It is not a scholarship but rather is a tax credit for online programs in two or four year colleges.

Online college education may be the right choice for you.  Be sure you’re enrolled in an accredited school and an accredited program, and seek out one of the many scholarship programs for which you may be eligible.

Interested in going to school online? Get information about going to school online.

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