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How Much Does an Online Degree Cost? 5 Ways to Finance Your Education

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piggy bank with a graduation cap on top of stack of books with rolled up diploma.

By Lauren Abraham
Communication Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Enrolling in an online degree program is a great way to earn a college education. There are many advantages to taking college courses online, especially for those who work during the day. Since students do not have to physically be in the classroom for online courses, they can complete their coursework when it is most convenient for them.

While there are many differences between earning a degree on a traditional campus and earning a degree online, the price of both options is quite similar. Your online degree cost will vary based on a number of factors, including where you have decided to go to school and the type of degree you are pursuing.

If you have decided that earning your degree online is the right path for you, do not let online degree cost hold you back. There are many options to consider when it comes to paying for your degree.

FAFSA

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ensures students can benefit from federally funded financial assistance for education beyond the high school level. Students can apply to determine if they are eligible for federal student aid or financial aid programs such as Pell Grants and work-study programs. Each year, the U.S. Department of Education awards approximately $150 billion in grants, work-study funds and low-interest loans to over 15 million students. Upon enrolling in an online degree program, be sure to complete a FAFSA application to potentially receive financial support for your education.

Transfer Credits

If you have already taken some college courses and are looking to finish your education online, you may be able to receive credit for your previous classes, helping to reduce your online degree cost. In addition, you may be able to earn credits based on your previous life experiences, depending on the university you choose to attend.

At Grand Canyon University, the College Transfer Center is a valuable resource for transfer students. The center assists students in evaluating and anticipating their transfer opportunities and needs, and informs students about the unique services GCU has to offer. For example, the LOPES Credit Evaluation is a free service designed to help students estimate how their credits will transfer and how quickly they can earn their degree at GCU. In addition, the Lifelong Learning Assessment (LLA) provides students with an opportunity to earn credits based on work and life experiences.

Student Loans

Another way to fund your education is by taking out a student loan, which can be applied to educational expenses and be repaid later. When considering taking out a loan, it is important to do plenty of research about the type of loan and expectations for repayment. There are many different types of student loans to consider. For example, federal student loans are designed specifically for students and often offer a lower-than-typical interest rate or an interest-free grace period before repayment begins.

In addition, private student loans are credit-based consumer loans that can be used for any education-related purpose. Typically, they cover the total cost of education minus any financial aid a student may have received. When researching loans, be sure to determine the repayment timelines set by the lenders so that you can determine whether or not the loan is right for you.

Scholarships and Grants

If you are considering an online education, be sure to look into available scholarships and grants. Scholarships and grants are amounts of money awarded to a student that do not need to be repaid. Scholarships are given for many different reasons, such as for athletics or GPA. Oftentimes, students who are given scholarships must continue to meet certain standards in order to keep their scholarship. For example, a student awarded a scholarship based on their high school GPA may need to maintain a particular GPA in college in order to continue receiving the funds each year.

On the other hand, grants are typically awarded based on need. Once you choose the university or institution you will attend for your online education, investigate scholarship and grant opportunities that may be available to you.

Employer Reimbursement

Earning an online degree can greatly enhance your career. Therefore, some employers are willing to help with education costs for their employees. According to a 2013 survey, most employers offer some kind of tuition reimbursement policy. This way, employees can continue to work for their organization while receiving an education to improve their skills, benefitting both the employer and employee. If you are currently employed and looking to further your education, have a conversation with your employer or contact the human resources department of your organization to determine if employer reimbursement is an option.

Earning an online degree is a great way to further your education. With the many options available for financing a college education, now is a great time to enroll in an online degree program.

Grand Canyon University’s online degree programs offer students the flexibility to get ahead and earn a quality education to help them thrive in today’s complex job market. To learn more about earning a degree from GCU, visit our website.