A piggy bank on top of cash.

Earning a college degree is a rewarding experience with many benefits that no longer has to break the bank to pay for tuition and other related costs. According to U.S. News & World Report, you can use various financial aid resources to make earning a degree more affordable as an online college student, just like your in-person or on-campus classmates.  

When applying for financial aid as an online college student, it’s crucial to: 

  • Ensure your college is accredited.
  • Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) annually to earn federal financial aid and determine work-study eligibility. 
  • Research financial aid offices for additional financial aid (scholarships, grants, etc.).
  • Track deadlines and apply early.

Financial Aid for Online Students   

You can receive federal financial aid as an online college student if you attend a college accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. You can verify your college’s accreditation by checking its website or searching the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

Eligibility for federal financial aid is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meeting your university’s minimum enrollment requirements. Since most FAFSA questions regard your income, it’s the same process for both in-person and online students. Some states and colleges may also award additional financial aid based on your FAFSA report. 

SDSU Global Campus Financial Aid Options

Almost all of our students are eligible for financial aid, but it depends on your enrollment, term length, cost of attendance, and other unique expenses.  

You must be a half-time student and enrolled in a select degree or certificate program to qualify for aid. Undergraduate or teaching credential students must enroll in at least six units, and graduate students must enroll in at least five. 

SDSU Global Campus students also have access to more than 700 scholarships, just like their on-campus classmates. Both types of students also have access to the Graduate Equity Fellowship program, which supports economically disadvantaged graduate students.  

For more information on your financial aid options as an SDSU Global Campus student, check out our financial aid overview and checklist

Work-Study for Online College               

By completing the FAFSA application, online college students can qualify for the federal work-study program. This program helps part-time and full-time college students find work in return for financial aid. Students then pay off their tuition by earning money through work. 

While students involved in the work-study program typically choose on-campus jobs, online students have other options. Online students who live within driving distance of campus can take advantage of the same campus job opportunities as on-campus students. 

Online students who can’t commute to campus should discuss their options with their college’s financial aid office. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges made the program more flexible by offering remote work opportunities that still qualify for work-study. 

Who Should Apply for Financial Aid     

Any college student can apply for financial aid. If you think your income is too high to qualify for financial aid programs, you couldn’t be more wrong. 

In addition to federal financial aid, states and other institutions offer separate financial aid packages and scholarships. Merit-based financial aid is also an option that rewards students solely based on their academic performance, regardless of whether they are studying online or in person. 

All college students should apply for financial aid, regardless of income or academic achievements. You never know what financial hardships could appear or what aid you could earn.