Take an Active Role in Your Financial Aid for Online Courses

In a previous article I talked about financial aid for online courses and how you can get a lot of money in grants and student loans to help subsidize the cost of an online degree. If you have not read that article yet, read it - Understand the Dangers of Getting Too Much Financial Aid for Online Classes - it has great information on how much money you really can get in Federal grants and loans for school, as well as a warning about not getting too much. Once you are all excited about the idea that you can get financial aid for online courses and actually go back to school, you will want to know how you can do this; well, you have come to the right article.

Where Financial Aid Comes From

Financial aid, as you will read in more detail on this site, can come from a variety of sources. You can get scholarships, federal grants and loans and private loans; most of your funding will likely come from traditional Federal Pell Grants and Federal Stafford Loans.  All of these types of financial aid for online courses can be applied for and received through your school's financial aid office. In fact, most scholarship, grants and loans will not send you money as an individual; they will only send money to your school, in your name. This is how they ensure that you are using the money to finance an education.

What Your Financial Aid Department Can Do For You

Your financial aid department is your best tool for getting financial aid for online courses. They will direct you to an online website called fafsa.gov, where you will fill out a form that starts your Federal financial aid application. This information is then sent to your school and it is they who actually determine if you qualify for Federal Pell Grants of Stafford Loans. Additionally, your financial aid office will have a list of various scholarship that they are aware of and lists of banks that offer private student loans if you need them. There is always a way to finance your education and your financial aid department can help.

What You Need to Do to Keep the Financial Aid Going

One of the most important things to remember about getting financial aid for online courses is not to be complacent; do not apply for your loans and then sit back and expect your school's financial aid department to find you to give you your check. Financial aid departments are busy. Between myself and my family, I've seen the receiving end of financial aid about eight times and I can tell you that six out of those eight times there was a problem. Not a serious problem, but a problem with the staff of the financial aid department dropping the ball somewhere.

When my sister went to college I went with her to the financial aid department. She filled everything out and they told her she was done. We left. Two weeks later we had heard nothing, but she wasn't worried. I was; I made her call them. They told her a paper was missing and they were waiting for her to bring it. This, just two weeks after they told her everything was done. So, she turned in the new paper. A week later, nothing. She called again and this time there was a different paper missing. Had she not called them both times school would have begun and it may have been too late for her to get her money in time; it could have cost her a semester of school. The point is that you have to be constantly asking your financial aid department for status updates on your financial aid for online courses, double checking that no new requirement has come up or that something is suddenly missing. Be proactive; do not wait for a problem to find you.

Have you had a run-in with your financial aid department in the past?

Share with us so we can all understand the value of being proactive with our financial aid.