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How to Pay for Online College Classes?

Many students are now pursuing their degrees virtually, and they want to know how to pay for online college.  Fortunately, this guide highlights some of the main ways to pay for your online degree. Keep reading to look through some of the available options and answer some of your questions about getting an online degree!

First, why online classes? 

Attending college online is ideal for students with busy lives and/or like to learn on their own time. Online classes are especially appealing to adult students who have children to care for.  Parents can arrange their academic schedules to suit their family needs. For students who work, online classes offer the opportunity to earn a degree while supporting themselves. 

While the Covid-19 Pandemic forced many traditional age college students to attend college online, experts believe that online college classes are “here to stay.”  Many colleges and universities are offering a mix of online and face-to-face classes for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. 

How much does online college cost?

The price of online college varies, especially since you pay according to the courses you’re taking. These schools can range from $38,000-54,000, depending on which one you apply to and if you can qualify for in-state tuition. Fortunately, online college helps cut costs since you won’t have the added cost of room and board, but there are still going to be a couple of fees on top of tuition.

Is online college as credible as in-person?

If you’d asked this question five years ago, the answer would generally have been no. However, with changing technology and the shift to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a bit more complicated than that now. From 2017-2022, the number of online students has more than doubled, and after all universities went online to combat COVID-19, it became a more widely accepted alternative to in-person learning.

That being said, not all online colleges are created equal. Some online degrees will be more reputable than some in-person degrees, and vice-versa. Just like any in-person degree, you should be sure to vet the online degree you are considering. Check to see whether they are accredited, whether they are for-profit, and research their graduation rate, average income of their graduates, and other statistics to see if it is worth it for you.

Ways to pay for online college

Paying for online college is not all that different from paying for face-to-face college. Below, we cover a few popular ways to finance your college degree. 

College and university scholarships

Some colleges and universities offer scholarships for students planning to enroll,  so check out the financial aid website of the schools  you want to attend. Remember, scholarships are often offered on a “first come, first served” basis, so do your research early. 

Financial aid

If you’ve decided to attend online college, you should still fill out the FAFSA to qualify for financial aid. You may be able to qualify as an independent student if you fit certain criteria, which means your financial aid will depend on your own income rather than your parents’ income. Be sure to check which option is best for you to maximize your aid package. 

Related: Pell Grant eligibility: Do you qualify?


Applicants should also be on the lookout for outside scholarships in addition to the ones that their college might offer. Fortunately, Scholarships360 has a variety of resources to connect you with scholarships like the scholarship directory and the scholarship database

Also see: Top scholarships for online students

Tuition reimbursement

In order to receive tuition reimbursement, you’ll need to be employed by a business that offers a reimbursement program. It can be a part of the employee benefits package and usually, there’s a set amount that can be spent each semester for tuition and other fees. Some companies even offer to cover the price of attending certain partnered online universities, such as T-Mobile. The tuition reimbursement option helps with the expenses of a degree while students are also earning a salary. Any money that can be taken off is impactful, so take full advantage of tuition assistance. 

Also see: Top 15 companies offering tuition reimbursement

Work study

Internships and work study positions can help with paying college fees as well as building up experience for the workforce. It’s important to apply for FAFSA so that your work study funding goes toward your college’s tuition and fees. Work study jobs are usually part-time to allow students to stay on top of their assignments and exams. Be sure to check your college’s job postings as well as platforms like LinkedIn to find internships and positions that fit your field of study. 

Keep reading: Everything you need to know about work study

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Online college is a good alternative to get your degree, especially if you have a busy lifestyle, or if you like to learn on your own time
  • Some of the ways to make online schooling more affordable are scholarships, financial aid, tuition reimbursement, and work-study
  • Be sure to apply for FAFSA and other financial aid applications to cut costs, especially since your aid might depend on your independent income
  • Getting an internship or job can act as a work study position or give you access to tuition reimbursement benefits
Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about paying for online classes

Is online college worth it?

Do employers take online degrees seriously?

What are some jobs that offer tuition reimbursement?