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Top 10 Online Colleges That Accept the FAFSA

If you are planning on being an online college student, you may be wondering whether online colleges accept the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In this article, we’ll share a sampling of accredited online schools that accept the FAFSA. Our list includes schools that are known for their undergraduate and graduate programs. Let’s dive right in!

First, what is the FAFSA?

The Federal Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a crucial part of the financial aid process. The FAFSA is what will determine your eligibility for financial aid from colleges/universities and the federal government. Two of the most common forms of federal aid that students receive from the FAFSA are the Pell Grant and Direct Loans

It is crucial to fill out the FAFSA by your state’s deadline. So, get started if you haven’t filled it out yet! 

What qualifies a school for the FAFSA?

At the end of the day, being online or in-person does not determine whether a school can accept the FAFSA. Any school, in-person or online, can accept the FAFSA so long as it is officially accredited. Let’s get into what that means below.

What does “accredited” mean?

When a college or university is accredited, it means that one of the private college accreditation agencies gives a particular school its stamp of approval.  Accreditation is acquired when the school achieves and maintains certain academic standards. Students who attend colleges and universities that are not accredited are not eligible for federal financial aid. 

Further reading: What does “accredited” mean and why does it matter?

Online colleges that accept FAFSA

As a reminder, the following are a sampling of schools that accept the FAFSA. Remember, there are many accredited online colleges and universities that accept the same financial aid that in-person institutions accept. This list is a compilation of accredited schools with established online programs that accept the FAFSA. We included five undergraduate and five graduate schools to help get your search started!

Undergraduate online colleges

The University of Arizona Global Campus

The University of Arizona has a great reputation for their online options, as they are partnered with many major brands to help employees with tuition. UArizona is generous with funding, so naturally they also accept the FAFSA. This accredited university is a place to start your degree or continue on for the full four years. 

St. John’s University

St. John’s University, a private Catholic university based in Queens, New York, is a popular place to complete a bachelor’s degree. Not only does St. John’s University accept the FAFSA, but they also offer private scholarships. St. John’s also offers students and families resources to complete the FAFSA correctly so that they are on time with the application and get the most out of it that they can.

Concordia University – Irvine

Concordia University – Irvine is a reputable university that offers online programs for undergraduate and graduate students. This brick and mortar university is located in Irvine, California, but you can live anywhere in the world and access their online programs. Concordia says that they are still able to build community while remaining fully online, something that many colleges and universities cannot offer to their online students. Their financial aid is determined by the student’s financial need and meritorious academic achievement.  

University of Florida

The University of Florida prides themselves on the fact that whether online or on their campus, students are taught by the same professors and join the same large learning community. In addition to financial aid, students also spend less money on their degrees because of choosing to learn remotely. The University of Florida offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. 

Purdue University Global

Purdue University’s main physical campus is located in Lafayette, Indiana. With a diverse range of programs to choose from, Purdue University Global is one of the leading online undergraduate programs in the USA. Ranked in the top 10 most innovative schools in the country, Purdue University Global has a variety of tips and tricks to help you save money on your degree. 

Online graduate degree programs

When it comes to FAFSA for students working towards a master’s degree, one thing to keep in mind is that although you are allowed to file your FAFSA, anything above a bachelor’s degree is considered “independent.” This  means that you will not have to submit your parents information as you normally would when you are in your undergraduate years. 

Bradley University

Bradley University is a well-known university for online master’s programs. They offer a specialized education for master’s students– something they pride themselves on because that can be a difficult feat when it comes to online education. They also offer clinicals, practicums, and internships depending on what a student is studying. 

University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Maryland’s Global Campus offers over 40 different master’s degree programs, not including their military-specific programs. This gives students a wide range of options when deciding what they want to earn an additional degree in– from data analytics to strategic communications. The University of Maryland also offers helpful online tools that can make it easy to estimate your tuition costs.

Penn State World Campus

Penn State World Campus has 55 different master’s program specializations to choose from. Their online degrees have the same level of rigor as the in-person degrees. With world class faculty and many opportunities to learn, the Penn State World Campus offers a great number of options to build your own path. 

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University has tons of degree options, ranging from bachelor’s to doctorate programs. SNHU’s master’s programs in particular are diverse in areas of study and known for their flexible options for earning degrees. Students can also earn certain master’s degrees at SNHU in as little as 15 months. 

American Public University

American Public University offers an online master’s program that provides a cost effective option. They also offer dual degree programs that can be completed online as well. American Public University has online tools to help students calculate their tuition costs and figure out ways to pay besides loans and scholarships.

See also: Top scholarships for online students

Final thoughts for students

As you can see, no matter what degree you want to earn or what you are planning on studying, there are accredited online colleges and universities that accept the FAFSA. Most of the schools also have online tools on their websites that help students get a better understanding of what the bottom line cost is. Remember, loans should always be a last resort! 

Related: 10 tips for taking online classes

Additional resources

Now that you’ve seen a few schools that accept the FAFSA, it’s time to get started with the financial aid process. After your FAFSA is filled out, you can start applying for scholarships and, if necessary, loans. We can also help you choose between your online college options and decide how many to apply to.  

It’s always a good idea to start with applying for scholarships at your higher education institution of choice, but you should also apply for outside scholarships as well. At Scholarships360, we have you covered when it comes to looking for scholarships. Good luck with the rest of your college journey, and make sure to apply for all the scholarships you qualify for while you are eligible! 

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Frequently asked questions about top online colleges that accept the FAFSA

Do I have to send SAT/ACT test scores to apply to online schools?

Every school is different, so make sure to check out all the application requirements wherever you’re interested in applying. Not requiring test scores is becoming a more popular trend among college admissions. For example, the University of Arizona Online does not require test scores.

Does online school cost less than going on campus?

Some schools may offer discounts for their online programs, but the classes themselves are not guaranteed to be cheaper just because they are online. All together though, by going to school online you don’t have to worry about additional costs like room and board. Many online schools have tuition calculators to help potential students determine how much they will have to pay. You can also try using an online tool called the Net Price Calculator to calculate the cost of higher education.