Online education is an emerging field. As technology and new pedagogy open up exciting possibilities for digital learning, more students than ever before are choosing to enroll in online education programs. In fact, a survey conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group revealed that more than 6.7 million students are enrolled in at least one online course. It is quickly becoming one of the key ways students prepare themselves to compete in a global job market.
Financial aid programs are catching up with this new reality. Colleges and governments are offering scholarships and grants aimed at helping students cover the costs of online education. Below are four places to find the scholarships and grants you need to reach your learning goals.
1. Your College or University
Most scholarships and grants are administered at the college level. There are scholarships for the overall school or for particular departments and programs. There are scholarships that reward academic and extra-curricular achievement. There are also grants based on financial need. Your school is the first place to check for scholarships and grants.
Almost without fail, your school will have a financial aid department that handles their scholarships and grants. Vista College’s financial aid department is full of information on scholarships, grants, and loans. You will likely receive some information about financial aid via email or with your enrollment package, but don’t wait for them to come to you. Visit the financial aid office as soon as you can and definitely before the school year starts. Ask the financial aid staff for information on their scholarship and grant programs. Ask what you’re eligible for, what you should apply for, and what you may have missed.
Your college or university is ground zero for any search for scholarships and grants. Make sure you exhaust all options at your school while you settle your financial plans.
2. Government Programs
According to WhiteHouse.gov, the United States federal government invests over $150 billion in financial aid for students each year. Additionally, states collectively invest around $70 billion in colleges and universities. This financial aid is made available in the form of need-based grants, such as the Pell Grant, or state-sponsored grants or scholarships.
Federal, state, and local governments will all have financial aid programs to help students succeed. The federal government has lots of resources at its disposal — it’s a good place to start. Check out studentaid.ed.gov for information on everything from Pell Grants to how to prepare for college. Most of the widespread scholarship and grant programs will be run by the state or federal government, so make sure you become familiar with all eligible programs.
Luckily, these programs aren’t difficult to find. Counselors and staff at your high school should have extensive information on government grants and scholarships. Start there and look online to ensure you have all of these opportunities covered.
If you’re in an accredited distance learning program, you should have the same eligibility as in-person students. Be sure to check the requirements. If your program is properly accredited, you will most likely receive the same treatment from major government financial aid programs as traditional students.
3. Non-Profit Organizations
Private charities, community groups, and religious organizations all offer scholarships to promote their work. These organizations will often have specific eligibility requirements related to the causes they support. Scholarships and grants from non-profit organizations are some of the hardest to find, but they’ll usually be advertised on the organization’s website. This is where your research skills and dedication will come in handy.
Non-profit organizations range in size from national to local. They include well-known national organizations such as the NAACP and Teach for America. Ask your friends, neighbors, and your parent’s coworkers if they know of any local organizations that offer grants and scholarships. It may be hard to believe, but many scholarship and grant programs don’t receive any applications. That gives you an advantage if you’re thorough enough in your research to find financial aid programs other students have missed.
One example of a non-profit organization offering financial resources to students is the Career and Workforce Training Scholarship Fund. This foundation offers scholarships to students attending accredited post-secondary career colleges – including Vista College – in Texas, Utah, and New Mexico. These scholarships range in amounts from $1,000 to $2,000, and are awarded annually to qualified students as funds become available. This is just one example of the many non-profit foundations which may provide you with the financial support you need to seek a quality education online.
4. Private Companies
It’s rare for corporations and small businesses to offer scholarships and grants, but it happens. For example, Chick-Fil-A has scholarships for its team members, donating $1.6 million annually to a fund that helps employees attend college. Additionally, Intel awards up to 400 scholarships each year to the children of eligible employees to help them pursue two-year or four-year degrees. If you are working, ask your employer if they provide financial aid, or see if your parents’ employers offer any scholarships for children of their employees.
Sometimes employers may offer tuition benefits instead of financial aid. Children of university professors sometimes receive discounted tuition rates. Depending on where your parents work, or what causes the businesses in your state support, you may be able to find a scholarship or grant that will work for you.
The main thing to remember, when searching for aid for online education, is that finding the optimal financial aid options requires research and organization. It’s never too early to start looking. Make a research plan and start talking to your college counselors and financial aid officers as soon as you can.
Vista College offers many scholarships and grants. Visit our website to learn more.