Students interested in attending a program from an online school can become qualified for student loans. This money can be used for tuition, books and other student expenses. The rising cost of higher education makes it essential for most students to secure as much funding as possible. However, student loans come with interest rates, and this will affect the future amount that is owed on the loans.
Applying for student loan money requires the applicant to fill out forms and provide supporting documentation. This process for getting student loans for online schools is identical to the one used by students attending traditional institutions in person. However, there are some differences in the way students must expect to communicate with their financial aid office when attending a program from an online college. Some school have extra aid for certain programs like teaching and education degrees, or in-demand nursing degrees. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the online college’s methods for communication, form submission, and specifics for your program.
FAFSA – Federal Aid Loans
It is essential for students to understand the basic rules that govern the student loan granting process. This includes criteria that apply to the online college and to the student. For example, federal guidelines require the school to have accreditation status. The student must research the school to ensure that the institution is accredited because not all online schools will qualify to receive federal funding.
The most important thing to understand about accepting any loan is the funding source. There are some loans that come from the federal government, for example. These are the loans that the student can get by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. These loans are offered by the federal government to the student, but the online school is not required to accept the aid money. Always check with your institution to ensure that the FAFSA aid will be accepted.
Understanding How FAFSA Loans Are Calculated
The most important number that will affect the amount of your student loan is called the expected family contribution, or EFC. This number is calculated by considering the income of the parents as well as the student, but this only applies if the student is dependent. Independent students might have an EFC if they have a high income. The EFC is subtracted against the estimated costs of attending the online school, and this is the amount of need that you must meet through sources like loans, grants, and scholarships.
Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans
In order to qualify, you must complete the FAFSA. It is important to fill out the application correctly and provide all of the requested information. This is critical for securing your student loan because missing a deadline can result in the loss of financial aid money. Whenever you need information about the deadlines for FAFSA, you can always go directly to their website.
The two following loans are the most common types that are available to students:
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to any student regardless of financial need, but the school determines the amount that the student is permitted to borrow. This can be affected by other financial aid, for example. The interest on this loan is due, but the student can choose to let it accumulate.
- Direct Subsidized Loans are only offered to students at the undergraduate level. The educational institution will determine the amount that the student is eligible to borrow, but it can’t exceed the amount of unmet financial need. The government will pay the interest on these loans under certain conditions, which must be maintained. For example, the student must remain enrolled at least half-time or be in a period of deferment. There is a six-month grace period where the loan’s interest doesn’t need to be paid.
Master Promissory Notes
The Master Promissory Note, or MPN, is a legal document that binds the student to the terms of the loan. It is important for students to understand the implications involved in accepting the loans to pay for school. This agreement legally stipulates that the student is agreeing to pay back all of the loans, fees and the interest accrued over time. Most of the institutions authorized to receive loan funds can make multiple loans under a single MPN for a period of 10 years.
Private lenders can provide another source of financing for unmet need, but it comes with a catch. These lenders have the ability to charge a higher interest rate, and this increases the total cost of borrowing for the student. In addition, these loans don’t qualify for certain programs for loan forgiveness unless you consolidate them in the future.
Summary of Student Loans
Submitting a FAFSA is critical for obtaining any student loan money from the federal government. The application must be submitted by the deadline, and all of the information provided should be checked for accuracy to avoid costly delays. To qualify, the student must attend an online university that is properly accredited. Once the school processes the FAFSA, you will receive a student aid offer in the mail, and you can accept or reject all of it or parts of it. In addition to the loans, the FAFSA might also qualify you to receive grants, and you can get scholarships through the school and other sources. Always accept the money from grants and scholarships before deciding how much loan money to accept. It comes with an interest rate, so be aware of the cost of borrowing this money.
Final Tips for Accepting Student Loan Aid
Make sure to confirm that the school has attained regional accreditation from one of the agencies that are approved through the U.S. Department of Education. This status means that there is essentially no difference between the online educational institution and a physical campus. Once you determine the schools where you wish to enroll, simply search their website for the school code number, which is necessary for submitting a completed FAFSA. The school code tells the Department of Education that the school qualifies to receive the loan money through the process of receiving regional accreditation. Stay in contact with your lender after graduation to ensure that you understand your repayment options.