Financial Aid For Online Students
The cost of returning to college to earn your nursing degree can often seem daunting. Many adult learners fear that obtaining their degree online will be unaffordable, are confused about what financial assistance might be available to help them, or mistakenly believe that they will not qualify for any financial aid. Online nursing students have a wide range of financial aid options available that help pay for tuition, books, clinical fees, computers, school supplies and much more. In fact, thanks to the growth and popularity of online education, eLearners are eligible for the same federal financial aid programs as those who attend campus based schools are. RNDegrees.net is here to help you understand each option by providing comprehensive information about the various types of financial aid available to online nursing students.
The Department (ED) will provide more than $83 billion this year, about 60 percent of all student aid, to help millions of students and families pay for post secondary education.
This section of our site will provide you with in-depth information to help guide you through the process of funding your nursing education. We`ll start with a brief look at the major types of financial aid available for online students, and then provide more detailed information throughout the section. These major forms of financial assistance generally consist of:
- Fellowships & Grants
- Federal Student Aid Programs
- Employer Tuition Assistance
- Student Loans
Scholarships are financial gifts that are presented to the student for any variety of reasons and do not have to be repaid. Thousands of private foundations and endowments offer scholarships each year that help graduate students afford to continue their studies regardless of income level or employment status. Most scholarships are typically awarded on the basis of financial need, athletic abilities, or academic merit, but many are also awarded on a wide variety of factors which may include criteria such as organizational affiliations, ethnicity, hair color, or which hand you use.
Thousands of local, state, national, and school-specific scholarships are available and we`ll provide you with more detailed information about how to find them in the scholarships section of this site. The best way to find out what scholarships are available at the college of your choice is to start by filling out the Department of Education`s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and then work closely with your university admissions adviser to learn what other applications are required, and when. Find College Scholarships
Fellowships & Grants
Fellowships and grants are awards offered by institutions, foundations, government agencies, or other organizations to support post-graduate study or professional training, and they do not have to be repaid. While each fellowship has basic guidelines for eligibility, specific guidelines and qualifications vary between sponsoring organizations. Your academic adviser and financial aid officer can assist you with identifying and applying for specific fellowships. We will explore fellowships and grants in more details in the sections to follow, but to give you an idea about what`s available, here are the most common types:
- Fellowships offered by colleges and universities
Find College Scholarships
- Fellowships offered by foundations, institutions or organizations
- National Competitive Fellowships (Rhodes, Fulbright etc...)
- Fellowships and grants offered by federal agencies
- Professional Internships
Federal Student Aid Programs
The Department of Education`s Federal student aid programs are the largest source of student aid in America. Federal Student Aid programs to assist online nursing students include:
A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are awarded usually only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor`s or a professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant.) Pell Grants are considered a foundation of federal financial aid, to which aid from other federal and nonfederal sources might be added.
The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2008-09 award year (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009) is $4,731. For the 2009-10 award year (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010), the maximum award is $5,350. The maximum amount can change each award year and depends on program funding. The amount you get, though, will depend not only on your financial need, but also on your costs to attend school, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Just like Pell Grants, the FSEOG does not have to be repaid. You can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year, depending on when you apply, your financial need, the funding at the school you`re attending, and the policies of the financial aid office at your school.
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
The Academic Competitiveness Grant was made available for the first time for the 2006-2007 school year for first-year college students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2006, and for second-year college students who graduated from high school after January 1, 2005. An Academic Competitiveness Grant provides $750 for the first year of study and $1,300 for the second year.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), and Federal Perkins Loan programs are called campus-based programs because they`re administered directly by the financial aid office at each participating school. Not all schools participate in all three programs. Check with your school`s financial aid office to find out which programs they participate in. How much aid you receive from each of these programs depends on your financial need, on the amount of other aid you receive, and on the availability of funds at your college or career school. Federal Perkins Loans are low interest loans made through a school`s financial aid office that allow students with exceptional financial need to borrow up to certain limits while in school with repayment beginning nine months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time. Student loans, unlike grants and work-study, are borrowed money that must be repaid, with interest, just like car loans and mortgages. You cannot have these loans canceled because you didn`t like the education you received, didn`t get a job in your field of study or because you`re having financial difficulty.
Stafford Loans (FFELs and Direct Loans)
Both the FFEL and Direct Loan programs consist of what are generally known as Stafford Loans (for students) and PLUS Loans for parents and graduate and professional degree students. Loans are available as subsidized or unsubsidized loans. A Stafford Loan is one of the most affordable ways to pay for school. Stafford Loan rates are lower than other forms of consumer financing, and repayment is postponed until you are out of school.
- Subsidized: The government will pay the interest loan while you are in school and during grace and deferment periods. Students must demonstrate financial need to be eligible for a subsidized Stafford Loan.
- Unsubsidized: Students are responsible for all interest, although payment is deferred until after graduation. All students, regardless of need, are eligible for the unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
Refer to Stafford Loans (FFELs and Direct Loans) for further information about loan limits, rates, and new interest rate cap for military members.
PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students
Graduate and professional degree students are now eligible to borrow under the PLUS Loan Program up to their cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance in both the FFEL and Direct Loan Program. Graduate PLUS loans are federally sponsored, so they offer many of the perks of traditional PLUS loans, including eligibility for federal student loan consolidation, tax-deductible interest and a variety of repayment options. Further information is available from the Dept. of Education here.
Educational Assistance Programs For Active Duty Military, Reservists, and Veterans
If you are active duty military, you may be eligible for 100% tuition assistance. There is a new education benefit called the "Reserve Educational Assistance Program" available to certain reservists who were activated for at least 90 days after September 11, 2001, and most veterans of the armed forces are eligible for Montgomery GI Bill benefits. You may be even be eligible for more than one VA education benefit. *See Military Education Assistance Programs for more details.
Eligibility Requirements For Federal Financial Aid
1. Enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution pursuing a degree or certificate.
2. U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid U.S. Social Security number
3. Not currently be in default on any prior federal student loans, nor owe a refund on a federal grant program.
4. Registered for Selective Service (males only).
If you haven`t already done so, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online - (completing and submitting it online brings results more quickly than mailing it in). The FAFSA will help your financial aid advisor determine your expected family contribution (EFC). The difference between your cost of attendance and your EFC is the amount of funding you will need to obtain to pay your education expenses.
State Financial Assistance Programs
Each state has it own programs, requirements, and application deadlines. Your university financial aid officer will assist you with this process.
Employer Tuition Assistance Programs
A majority of US employers offer some form of tuition assistance programs to full or part-time employees who wish to advance their degree or obtain professional certification. Employer tuition assistance benefits help make earning your nursing degree very affordable for working adults. Read about Tuition Assistance Plans to learn more about how these plans work.
Private Student Loans
Try to minimize your borrowing needs by using as many non-loan resources as you can such as scholarships, student aid, and tuition assistance. If these forms of student aid fail to cover the total cost of your education, you can still get the money you need for college. Lenders make thousands of private student loans each year to online or campus based graduate students for tuition and fees, room and board, supplies, computers and other every day education related expenses. In fact, many lenders are now offering education loans specifically designed to meet the needs of adult learners and online nursing students. Most private lenders use the same criteria needed for Federal Student Loan Programs and require a good credit score as well.
Tax Credits for Continuing Your Nursing Education
There are two tax credits available to help you offset the costs of higher education by reducing the amount of your income tax. They are the Hope credit and the lifetime learning credit, also referred to as education credits. A tax credit reduces the amount of income tax you may have to pay. Unlike a deduction, which reduces the amount of income subject to tax, a credit directly reduces the tax itself. The lifetime learning credit is a nonrefundable credit. This means that it can reduce your tax to zero, but if the credit is more than your tax the excess will not be refunded to you.
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