Financing education at any degree level is expensive; certainly getting an online degree can cost a lot. Fortunately, most school's have student financial aid departments that can help you find ways to pay for your education. The best way to pay for any college courses or degree is through Federal Pell Grants. These grants are free money that does not have to be paid back; they are given based upon need, not credit worthiness. When it comes to paralegal online degree programs, choosing an accredited degree program can make obtaining financial aid easier. But, you also have to be aware of the limits in financial aid.
You May Be Able to Get a Lot of Money
If you have a low income, and your family income is low or you are an independent (in that your parents do not support you and thus their income does not count against you) there is a lot of federal money to be had. If you qualify, you can receive a Federal Pell Grant of up to $5,500 a year to pay tuition to any of the qualified paralegal online degree programs. What does qualified mean? Well, the Federal government only gives financial aid to accredited schools and program, so if you need help paying for your degree, be sure to choose from among the accredited paralegal online degree programs.
So, now you are worried, right, because $5,500 is not enough to cover your tuition for the year. Well, worry not; in addition to this grant money, you can qualify for another $5,500 in Federal Stafford loans. As you move up in your education these loan amounts increase; as a graduate student you can borrow up to $20,000 a year.
Now, it is important that you realize that these loans are money that has to be paid back. And, there will be interest applied, sometimes still accruing even while you are in school. Be sure you understand all the fees and rules associated with your loans. But the loans are there and they are a great option for financing paralegal online degree programs if you need them.
How Much is Too Much
Now, before you get those starry dollar signs in your eyes, pause a moment to recognize some limits. Yes, the government wants to help you go to school. Really, they do - this economy thrives on people being employed and the government knows you are more likely to be employed if you have an education. So, they help you get that education. But they are also learning that they need to set limits so that you do not get yourself into trouble.
Recent legislation has started to limit how much money you can get for school depending upon your chosen degree; in short, the value of an online degree detects how much money you can get. The formulas are still in the works, but a basic rule seems to be that no one wants you to borrow more money than you anticipate making in your first one to two years out of school. So, let's break it down.
As a Paralegal you will probably make $30,000 your first year. Now, if you go to a school that has an accredited associate's degree for paralegals it might cost you $5,000 a year in tuition, take two years, and cost $10,000 in loans. You are fine. But the government will not let you borrow $80,000 to get a PhD in paralegal studies to earn just $30,000 a year. So, as you consider paralegal online degree programs, talk to the financial aid department at the schools you are considering; they can help you plan for how much education you can finance.
If so, share the process with us and let us know if you are able to cover all your tuition costs with grants or loans.