Understanding the Online Financial Aid Process

Understanding the Online Financial Aid Process

It’s true that paying for college can be overwhelming, even as an online student. Not only do you have to cover the cost of tuition and fees, but also books, equipment, and any personal supplies you may need to stay on track; all of these added together can make for an amount too expensive for many families to afford, and while nearly all online students are eligible for some form of financial assistance, the process to obtain it can seem daunting and unmanageable.

The good news? The majority of what you need to do to secure aid as an online student is the same as traditional students, and here at UC Online we’re dedicated to providing an education that’s attainable for everyone, no matter your circumstances. Below, you’ll find the answers and advice you need to navigate the financial aid process so you can map out the perfect path to earn your degree.

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is a form of funding — that comes from either federal, state, school, or private sources — to help you pay for college or career school. The amount you receive depends on the rules set by the various sources, as well as federal, state, and university guidelines.

What types of financial aid are there?

There are a variety of sources to help you pay for your education. The main eight to consider are:

  • Grants: A form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid.
  • Scholarships: A financial gift based on academic merit, talent, or a particular area of study.
  • University Business Partnerships: UC Online partners with many businesses — offering employees and their families partial tuition scholarships.
  • Aid for military families: Financial assistance given to veterans, future military personnel, active-duty personnel, or those related to veterans or active-duty personnel.
  • Aid for international study: Financial aid available for study abroad programs and for schools outside the United States.
  • Federal government aid: A form of financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education, which can help cover expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.
  • State government aid: A form of financial aid from your home state, which can help cover expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.
  • Year-Round Loan Distribution: While most of the nation’s online students are only awarded financial aid for their fall and spring semesters, UC Online’s students can get financial aid distributed year-round —  allowing students to benefit from loan assistance throughout their entire enrollment.
How do I apply for financial aid?

While applying for financial aid may seem complicated, the process can be completed in only five simple steps.

  1. Start planning early: It’s best to plan how to pay for college in advance — speak with school counselors and the UC financial aid office about grants and scholarships. Be sure to meet application deadlines and start saving before you begin your first semester.
  2. Submit the FAFSA form: To apply for federal student aid, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) before each year of college. Completing and submitting the FAFSA for online classes is free and easy, and gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for your education.
  3. Review your aid offer: After your FAFSA is processed, which typically takes 3-5 business days, you’ll be able to view your status in Catalyst, UC’s student portal. Your offer explains the types and amounts of aid you can receive and your expected costs for the year. Once reviewed, accept your FAFSA offer.
  4. Receive your aid: UC Online’s financial aid office will apply your aid to the amount you owe and send you the remaining balance to spend on any other costs you may have, but remember one of the requirements to maintain financial aid eligibility is that you must make satisfactory academic progress.
  5. Graduate and start repayment: After graduation, federal student loan borrowers have a six-month grace period before they need to begin making payments, so use this time wisely — get organized, choose a repayment plan that works for you and, if you start falling behind on your payments, contact your loan servicer to discuss your options.
Who can I talk with about financial aid?

At the University of Cincinnati Online, our Student Financial Aid Office is committed to helping you obtain the resources you need for your education. All applications and forms are available online, and any questions you have can be answered by reaching out to Jeremy Orndorff, our senior financial aid advisor.

Begin the Process for a Brighter Future

Your education is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make — an investment in yourself and your future. At UC Online, we believe you have the potential to afford the quality education we provide, regardless of your income, and we’re committed to making it as affordable as we can. Our financial aid advisors will guide you through the financial aid process, provide resources to help you pay for school, and find ways to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Whatever your question or concern, we’re here to make sense of it all.

So — are you ready to learn more? Speak with our Student Financial Aid Office to see how you can afford a University of Cincinnati Online degree; or take the first step in advancing your career by beginning your application today.

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