Comparing Scholarships For Online Degrees: What You Need to Know

comparing scholarships

Many students may not know that scholarships for online degrees are an option. If you’re looking to pursue an online degree and keep it affordable, you should definitely keep reading! Online education offers a more flexible pathway to a college degree. Students don’t need to relocate and leave behind their current lives to pursue a better path. They also save on transportation and relocation costs.

Although online colleges can be more favorable, they still require a significant investment. You’d still need to pay for tuition and other distance education fees.

The average annual cost of online colleges is $54,231, which might still be out of reach for many nontraditional students. Having solid financial planning before pursuing an academic program is very important.

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Scholarships for online degrees are very important. They help students offset the cost of tuition and other expenses. However, scholarship applications are becoming increasingly competitive.

In this guide, we’ll explore the nuances of online degree scholarships and provide a comprehensive review of them.

Why Scholarships are Important for Online Students

One of the main reasons why more and more students are pursuing online education is to save on educational costs. According to the Education Data Initiative, an online degree is $31,165 cheaper than traditional programs. This difference stems from reduced expenses associated with commuting, housing, and campus fees.

Online education is affordable, but did you know it can become even more affordable?

Gone are the days when providers doubted the legitimacy of online education. Now, it’s widely acknowledged as an important part of higher education. As a result, the number of online education scholarships is increasing.

Scholarships for online degrees can cover tuition fees, textbooks, and other educational expenses. This helps students to concentrate more on their coursework and less on concerns regarding their financial education.

Scholarships for online courses go beyond extending financial assistance to students.

  1. They prove a student’s dedication, achievements, and potential.
  2. They motivate students to achieve academic excellence and open doors to more opportunities.
  3. They help fix the gap between people with technology and those without it by giving them the tools they need to use tech stuff.

In essence, scholarships play a big role in making online education better. They allow more people to join in on the benefits of learning online. A scholarship for online courses helps make sure that everyone, no matter who they are, can have a fair shot at online learning. This is important in today’s world, where equal access to education is very important.

Types of Scholarships Available at Online Colleges

Online university scholarships are similar to those offered on campus. They’re vast and diverse, each with its own eligibility criteria and requirements. Here are the most common types of scholarships at online colleges:

Merit-based scholarships

These scholarships are for students who demonstrate excellent academic performance. This includes students with:

  • high GPA
  • high standardized test scores
  • significant participation in extracurricular activities

The main goal of this merit-based scholarship is to award students for their academic efforts.

Need-based scholarships

The government frequently offers need-based scholarships. These scholarships are directly for students based on financial need. They aim to make education more accessible for students who might not otherwise afford it. Students may qualify if they’re from a:

  • low-income home
  • first-generation college student
  • underrepresented demographic

These scholarships require students to submit the FAFSA or other financial statements. The amount awarded can vary depending on specific actors. These include household income, number of dependents, and other financial obligations.

Program-specific scholarships

These scholarships are tied to particular academic programs or majors. You can often find them in individual institutions and private organizations. These programs aim to attract more students to a certain field.

The top fields with the most scholarship offerings include:

  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
  • Healthcare and Nursing
  • Education
  • Business and Finance
  • Technology and Information Sciences
  • Social Sciences

Diversity and inclusion scholarships

Diversity and inclusion scholarships for online degrees help students who are often left out or face challenges in college. They give money, guidance, and support to those from different backgrounds. Their main goal is to offer opportunities to historically underrepresented demographic groups. These include:

  • racial and ethnic minorities
  • LGBTQ+ students
  • students with disabilities
  • first-generation college students
  • students from low-income backgrounds

These scholarships for online schooling aim to make colleges more diverse and welcoming by helping everyone have a fair chance at success.

Scholarships for working professionals

Scholarships for working adults help them keep learning or move up in their jobs. These scholarships come from different places, such as employers or schools. They help pay for classes, books, and sometimes even living expenses. They’re flexible, letting you study part-time or full-time, and might include online or evening classes for busy people.

Comparing Scholarship Amounts Among Top Online Colleges

Mississippi CollegeFirst-year students and transfer students with a GPA of 2.5 or higherVaries
Southwestern Assemblies of God UniversityMinimum 2.5 GPAVaries based on the student’s GPA and financial need
Eastern Kentucky University4.0 GPA and ACT 34+$7,000 renewable scholarship
Texas A&M – TexarkanaFirst-year students with a 3.65 GPA and a minimum ACT score of 26.$8,000 renewable scholarship
Capella UniversityNew and returning BSN student$15,000
Penn State World CampusUndergraduate students with a GPA of 2.0 or better. 
Grand Canyon UniversityPursuing teacher degrees32% off tuition for undergraduate and 25% off tuition for master’s degree  
Liberty UniversityDemonstrate financial need and academic excellence15% off tuition
Arizona State UniversityStudents with FAFSA are automatically consideredVaries on merit and financial need.
Colorado State University GlobalGPA of 3.70 or higherVaries

Availability and Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility for scholarships for online students varies greatly. Each provider will have their own criteria, requirements, and selection process. Here’s a breakdown of some common eligibility factors:

Academic Achievements

Academic achievements are often key in determining eligibility for scholarships, whether for online or traditional students. These scholarships require

  • minimum GPA requirement
  • the SAT or ACT for undergraduate students, or the GRE or GMAT for graduate students
  • academic honors, awards, and distinctions
  • relevant experiences such as internships, research projects, or academic presentations

Financial Need

Financial need is another common eligibility factor for scholarships, and it’s particularly important for many online students who may be balancing work, family responsibilities, and educational expenses.

It’s important to be honest and transparent when applying for these scholarships. Stretching the truth or presenting your financial need inaccurately could hurt your chances of getting the support you need. The provider may alert other scholarship providers about dishonesty in applications, which could also affect your chances of receiving aid from other sources.

Luck-based scholarships

Luck-based scholarships provide an unconventional approach to financial aid. Winners are selected randomly rather than based on achievements or needs, ensuring equal opportunity for all applicants.

While appealing to students with academic challenges, the influx of applicants often leads to low odds of success. To enhance chances, seek out lesser-known luck-based scholarships with fewer entrants, maximizing the possibility of securing funds for education.


The great majority of organizations consider both extracurricular and academic accomplishments. This is known as a killer combo. Students demonstrating excellent academic performance and leadership qualities through extracurricular activities often stand out in the scholarship selection process.

For example, a straight-A student with impressive leadership roles in student government and community service projects. Similarly, a student who excels in academics and athletics may serve as basketball team captain while maintaining top grades.

The best way to know if you’re eligible for a specific scholarship is to read them thoroughly and determine which ones align with your unique qualifications and goals. If a scholarship is meant for students from certain places, your eligibility might be based on where you’re from. For program-specific scholarships online, the program you are enrolling in will also affect your eligibility.

University scholarships usually require you to be accepted into that particular university’s program. Government scholarships might have money for both international and local students. So, make sure you’re applying to the correct program before you start your application process.

Here are a few tips when applying for scholarships for online college:

  1. Find ones that match your skills, interests, or background.
  2. Keep track of deadlines and requirements in a spreadsheet.
  3. Customize your application to highlight your achievements and leadership.
  4. Write essays showing who you are and your goals.
  5. Choose recommenders who know you well.
  6. Explain your financial situation if needed.
  7. Apply for different scholarships to increase your chances.
  8. Make sure your application materials are received.
  9. Thank your recommenders and supporters.
  10. Seek feedback and keep improving, even if you face rejection.


There are various types of scholarship opportunities for online college students. We’re sure there’s one out there for you.

Before applying for scholarships, always compare eligibility requirements and scholarship amounts among different providers to find the best fit for your situation and goals. Remember, scholarships can greatly reduce the financial burden of pursuing an online degree, but they can also be competitive. It’s also important to apply early to increase your chances of success.

The benefits of online college scholarships extend far beyond financial gains. They also encourage inclusivity, diversity, and academic excellence.