Financial aid for online classes is an important issue, especially with college costs on the rise. College is an expensive endeavor, to be sure. According to U.S. News and World Reports, one year at a community college can cost around $4,500, while a year at a public university can cost upwards of $17,000. Private universities can run nearly twice as much. This makes the idea of getting an online degree and paying for a college education seem daunting. However, much of that cost can be covered by grants and student loans, making college very affordable for many people. Unfortunately, this relative ease of getting money for an education also means that the temptation exists to take out too many loans, loans which might be difficult to pay back after graduation. It is imperative that anyone getting financial aid for online classes consider their anticipated income after graduation and take steps to minimize the financial aid they accept, not taking on more than is absolutely needed to get a degree.
How Much Money Do I Need?
When it comes to financing your education you need to be realistic. Financial aid exists to pay for your classes, not to give you an easy ride throughout your degree. You should be borrowing enough money to cover your actual tuition and fees, maybe books as well. That's it. Resist the urge to finance living expenses with financial aid, particularly loans. And, if possible, work while in school to pay your living expenses but also for your books or part of your tuition. At most, though, take out enough loans to cover your actual tuition and books.
How Much Money Can I Get?
So, that previous paragraph seemed obvious to you, right? Well, not so. Many community colleges and state run schools will cost only $2,000 - $6,000 per year for tuition. However, student loans will actually give you much more. You can get a Federal Pell Grant, that is money which is given to you without you ever having to pay it back, of up to $5,500 a year. In addition, those with a financial need can get thousands more in student loans. Your first year of college you can get up to $5,500 in Federal Stafford loans. Your second year it goes up to $6,500 and your third year $7,500. For graduate school you can borrow over $20,000 a year! That means that with financial aid for online classes you can borrow yourself into a world of debt.
How Much Money is Too Much?
Now you see that, if you can demonstrate a financial need, you can actually get much more money for college than you need to pay your tuition. And, it is not really all that difficult - your school's financial aid department will walk you through financial aid for online classes. However, taking out more than you need just sets you up for financial failure in the long-run.
Financial Guru and consumer advocate Clark Howard, who has his own money show on CNN Headline News and a national radio, encourages students not to borrow more student loans over the lifetime of their degree than they anticipate earning in wages their first year in their new career. When it comes to financial aid for online classes, the idea here is to be moderate; graduating from college with a ton of student loan debt simply sets you up for a life of debt problems and financial worry. Borrow what you need to get that all important degree, but borrow only what you need.
Share your story so that others may learn to be careful.