10 Colleges Offering Generous Need-Based Aid Packages for Online Learning 2024

Colleges Offering Generous Need-Based Aid Packages for Online Learning - featured image

Author: Rai Antonio / Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson, MS.Ed. / First covered: February 2024 / Updates: 1

Online students qualify for need-based financial aid from online colleges and universities. This is good news because the average cost of college has more than doubled in the past ten years. If you’re an incoming college student, you can spend $36,436 per year on average for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and living expenses. 

Need-based financial aid is money awarded to pay for college education-related expenses. Your need-based financial aid depends on certain factors. These include your family’s income, the number of people in your household, and other financial matters.

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Colleges Offering Generous Need-Based Aid Packages for Online Learning - fact

Your first step as an incoming college student is to fill out accurately and submit promptly the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Federal and state student aid is based on the information on your FAFSA form. You should be honest in your answers and be prepared to answer questions related to your personal and financial information. 

Online colleges and universities look at the FAFSA form for their need-based financial aid. But it’s also possible that student applicants will be required to complete a separate form. 

Many types of need-based financial aid don’t have to be repaid such as Pell grants, scholarships and grants. But loans must be repaid. Be sure to consult with your parents and financial aid advisors about your options. You want to make the best financial aid decisions so you can graduate with little to no student loan debt.

10 Colleges With Generous Need-based Financial Aid for Online Students

The colleges and universities featured here are excellent choices for graduating high school students considering online bachelor’s degree programs:

Yale University

New Haven, CT


Meets Demonstrated Need: 100% 

Average Need-based Financial Aid for Freshmen: $68,240

Annual Tuition and Fees: $64,700

While Yale University’s tuition and fees are astronomical, you can actually afford its Ivy League education even with modest means! But with Yale’s highly selective 6.2% (Class of 2023) admissions rate, you must be an exceptional student in high school. 

Yale’s extensive financial aid resources covers up to 100% of your demonstrated need. You don’t have to take out student loans to finance your tuition and fees during your four-year stay as an undergraduate student. Your financial aid application will be evaluated based on your unique circumstances. The factors include expected family contribution and estimated cost of attendance.

Families that earn an annual income of less than $65,000 can qualify for the Yale Scholarship. It provides full coverage of tuition and fees, room and board, and travel. There’s also a $2,000 grant for freshmen qualifying students. 

Yale offers several online degree programs. 


  • Top 5 national university
  • Small class sizes
  • More diverse


  • Competitive admissions

Georgetown University

Washington, D.C


Meets Demonstrated Need: 100%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $48,170

Tuition: $65,082

Georgetown University also meets 100% of its undergraduate students’ demonstrated financial need. But becoming a Hoyas is a challenge with Georgetown’s highly selective 12% acceptance rate. Once you become a Hoyas, you will find that financing your college education becomes easier with its generous need-based financial aid program. 

There’s only one online undergraduate degree program at Georgetown today. It is the the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Liberal Studies. Online students can apply for federal student aid on top of these financial aid options: 

  • Military education benefits 
  • Scholarships like the Osher Re-entry Scholarship, Crankstart Foundation Re-entry Scholarship, LaFarge Scholarship, and Phi Theta Kappa Bridge Scholarship

Online students must also complete the FAFSA form and CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service) for need-based financial aid.

Georgetown offers no merit-based academic scholarships. 


  • Top-25 national university
  • Small class sizes
  • High graduation rate


  • Competitive admissions

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL


Meets Demonstrated Need: 98%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $11,518

Tuition: $6,381 (in-state);  $28,658 (out-of-state)

As a Gator student, you can qualify for the four types of financial aid offered:

  • scholarships and grants
  • loans
  • student employment/work-study

Your financial aid package can consist of one or a combination of these types, depending on your unique circumstances. 

The University of Florida offers financial aid counseling services. The OneStop team will answer your questions about need-based financial aid during office hours and via phone or Zoom. 

You can earn a bachelor’s degree without visiting the Gator campus, too. Choose from more than 25 online majors, including:

  • business administration
  • computer science
  • biology


  • Top 10 public school
  • Smaller class sizes
  • More diverse


  • More competitive

Ohio State University – Columbus

Columbus, OH


Meets Demonstrated Need: 74%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $14,466

Tuition: $12,485 (in-state); $36,722 (out-of-state)

If you’re an out-of-state student at Ohio State University, your tuition and fees are nearly the same as in-state students! Most online programs usually have a $200 difference.

Online students can choose from:

  • Health Sciences
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Radiologic Sciences
  • Nursing

As a Buckeye, your financial aid options are:

  • Federal and state aid
  • Military education benefits
  • Institutional aid in the ScholarshipUniverse

The merit-based programs are:

  • Stamps Eminence Scholarship
  • Morrill Scholarship
  • Maximus, Provost and Trustees Scholarships


  • Nationally recognized public school
  • Smaller class sizes


  • Less diverse

University of Central Florida

Orange County, Florida


Meets Demonstrated Need: 63%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $7,245

Tuition: $6,368 (in-state); $22,467 (out-of-state) 

The cost of a college education at the University of Central Florida is among the most affordable in the country! Online students in undergraduate programs pay $105.07 per credit hour regardless of their residency status. 

The cost is made even more affordable with financial aid, which is available for both on-campus and online students. You can ask relevant questions and request referrals to resources from the Office of Student Financial Assistance, too. 

Students in UCF Online programs can apply for the scholarship opportunities offered through the Scholarships A2O. This is a one-time application that will match your qualifications with scholarship opportunities. 

UCF Online offers several bachelor’s degree programs in areas like:

  • anthropology
  • communication and conflict
  • emergency management, among others.


  • More diverse


  • Larger class sizes
  • Lower graduation rate

Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona


Meets Demonstrated Need: 61%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $13,649

Tuition: $12,051 (in-state); $32,193 (out-of-state)

Arizona State University (ASU) Online offers more than 300 degree and certificate programs. They are completely online or hybrid. Students can choose from programs in high-demand areas. These include:

  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Health and Nursing
  • Humanities and the Arts

As a Sun Devil, you will love ASU Online’s quality yet affordable education delivered by world-class professors. You must complete the FAFSA form if you want to be considered for ASU’s generous need-based financial aid packages. 

You can complete your bachelor’s degree without setting foot on the campus, but we suggest you do so because it’s fun and fulfilling. You will love the personalized student support services, including:

  • academic advising
  • tutoring
  • career coaching


  • 90% acceptance rate
  • More diverse


  • Lower graduation rate

University of Illinois – Chicago

Chicago, IL


Meets Demonstrated Need: 54%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $17,117

Tuition: $17,811 (in-state); $32,833 (out-of-state)

The University of Illinois-Chicago is such a popular school that one in 10 Chicagoans with a college degree earned it from this public research university. UIC Chicago makes it more affordable for students to earn their college degrees through need-based financial aid. 

Online students can receive personalized counseling from the UIC Student Financial Aid & Scholarships (SFAS) team. You will find guidance and assistance regarding federal, state and institutional aid here. 

If you have been accepted as an online student, you are automatically considered for most university scholarships by completing the main admission application. The institutional scholarships include: 

  • Chancellor’s Fellows
  • Chancellor’s Laureates Award
  • Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois
  • Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver Program
  • Minority Teacher of Illinois
  • Merit Tuition Award
  • Tribal Nation Tuition Award
  • Lake County, Indiana Tuition Award

Online students choose from programs in business administration, health information management, and nursing.


  • Nationally recognized public school
  • Diverse student body


  • Lower graduation rate

University of North Carolina – Charlotte

Charlotte, NC 


Meets Demonstrated Need: 51%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $8,151

Tuition: $7,214 (in-state); $21,338 (out-of-state)

Online 49ers are eligible for the 1,600+ scholarships awarded to freshmen and transfer students. If you’re a 49er, you should open and activate your NinerNET account to access the NinerScholars Portal.

UNC Charlotte awards financial aid to nearly 75% of its students, including online students. While the financial aid amounts vary, students can receive one or a combination of:

  • scholarships
  • loans
  • work-study aid

You should complete the FAFSA form, too, to be considered for financial aid. 

Online degree programs at UNC Charlotte include:

  • business administration
  • elementary education
  • political science
  • fire and safety engineering technology


  • High acceptance rate
  • More diverse


  • Larger class sizes
  • Lower graduation rate

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR 


Meets Demonstrated Need: 51%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: $12,219

Tuition: $13,494 (in-state); $35,664 (out-of-state)

Online students at Oregon State University’s Ecampus pay the same tuition regardless of residency status and geographical location. Most of the scholarships awarded to freshmen and transfer students are automatically awarded to deserving students, but the selection process can be competitive. 

OSU’s Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) awards more than $118 million in scholarships and grants every year to students. There’s also the Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG), a state-funded program, which awards need-based grants for incoming college students. 

OSU Ecampus offers online degree programs in:

  • accounting
  • applied humanities
  • construction engineering management, among other areas.


  • High acceptance rate
  • Nationally recognized public school


  • Larger class sizes

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona


Meets Demonstrated Need: 51%

Average Financial Aid for Freshmen: 

Tuition: $13,494 (in-state); $35,664 (out-of-state)

Online students in the University of Arizona’s undergraduate degree programs pay between $500 and $600 per credit in tuition but can apply for financial aid. In addition, there’s no difference in tuition for in-state and out-of-state online students. 

Most financial aid comes in the form of federal aid, with 62% of online students being granted student aid. Online students can also find scholarship opportunities via Scholarship Universe. Transfer students from Arizona community colleges can also apply to the Bridge Scholarship program. 

Online students learn from the same on-campus professors and curriculum. Their diplomas are the same as with on-campus students, too.


  • High acceptance rate
  • More diverse


  • Larger class sizes

Frequently Asked Questions

Which colleges are the most generous with their financial aid?

These institutions meet 100% of the demonstrated needs of their students:

  • Princeton University
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

They cover the difference between your total cost of attendance and expected family contribution. 

The total attendance cost includes:

  • tuition and fees
  • room
  • board
  • books
  • supplies
  • personal expenses

The expected family contribution refers to your family’s financial capacity to pay.

What is the most that financial aid can give to college students?

There’s no definite maximum amount. Every student’s financial aid package differs depending on their unique circumstances. However, federal aid has maximum amounts that change on a yearly basis. For the 2023-2024 academic year, for example, the Pell Grant maximum award is $7,395 per student. 

What is the most common type of scholarship for college students?

The Pell Grant, a federal student aid, is the most common type of scholarship for college students. It is for college students from low-income families. The largest group of recipients are families earning less than $20,000 yearly. Students with exceptional financial need qualify for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. They get up to $4,000 a year.

What is the biggest advantage of college scholarships?

You don’t have to repay them! You can use scholarship money to pay for your:

  • tuition and fees
  • room and board
  • books and supplies
  • living expenses

You can also highlight merit-based scholarships on your resume since these are a source of prestige. There are terms and conditions that you must comply with in all of these.

What is the easiest type of scholarship college students can get?

There’s no such thing as an “easy scholarship” because you must demonstrate either financial need or academic merit. You must demonstrate your eligibility in both instances. 


  • U.S. News & World Report 
  • Education Data Initiative 
  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • College Board 
  • Federal Student Aid