Affordable Education: How Online Education Scholarships Make College Affordable


The Rising Cost of Online Education

Many people assume that scholarships are strictly for in person learning. However, online education scholarships are just one of the many perks to online learning. More and more people are signing up for online classes, especially since 2020, which set a record for the number of students. Universities are even starting new online courses to meet this demand. Everyone, from doctoral students to people who just like to keep learning, uses online tools to pick up new skills.

Here’s a quick overview of the percentage of distance learning enrollment from the National Center for Education Statistics:

  • In 2019, it was 36 percent.
  • By 2020, it shot up to 75 percent.
  • Then, in 2021, it dropped a bit to 61 percent.

Before, some people thought online education was only a temporary solution during COVID. But even after COVID, more students are still signing up for online classes than before the pandemic.

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One of the main reasons why students choose to continue online education is its cost-saving benefits. EDI reports that students in online degrees can save an average of $31,165 in earning a degree.

It’s evidently cheaper than on-campus learning. But is it really affordable?

However, the pursuit of technological innovation often comes with its own set of challenges. For one, the increasing need for better technology has urged universities to spend more on tool and software upgrades. Institutions must upgrade their digital infrastructure if they want to remain relevant.

What does this mean for students?

This means they would need to pay more for tuition and distance learning. The cost of online education will keep increasing, just with other living expenses.

One of the best ways to reduce out-of-pocket costs is by utilizing online education scholarships. These programs offer a way to cut costs and make college more accessible.

What Are Scholarships?

Scholarships are cash prizes for college students. Many seek these to ease the burden of tuition and college expenses. For some, securing scholarships for online degrees could mean the difference between going to college or not—a pivotal part of the journey.

These awards are granted by organizations or individuals to students who meet the criteria of an ideal candidate. Depending on the scholarship, the money may go directly to the student or the institution. Some scholarships for online schooling are one-time payments, while others are dispersed over the student’s academic tenure.

It’s important to note that not all scholarships are the same. Some scholarships require a post-graduation service to the provider as a form of repayment, while others are funds that students can keep without any obligation to repay. Either way, the goal of online scholarships is to offer students a more affordable online education.

Online college affordability is more important now than ever. Enrollment rates are dropping while dropout rates are increasing. Scholarships are a must!

Types of Scholarships Available for Online Students

There are several types of online college scholarships. Each will have their own set of required materials and criteria. It’s important to read the provider’s guidelines to ensure eligibility thoroughly. Here are some of the most common types of scholarships for online students:

Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit aid is given to students according to their abilities or academic achievements. These include outstanding test scores and grades. These types of scholarships are common tools used by colleges and universities to entice high achievers to their campuses by recognizing and honoring their commitment and aptitude.

If you get a merit scholarship, you typically need to keep your grades up to keep it. The National Merit Scholarship Program is a famous example of this. To qualify for it, high school students need to take a test called the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Applying for merit scholarships varies greatly. For scholarships from colleges, you often only need to apply to the school and complete the FAFSA. However, scholarships from other sources may require additional steps like essays or interviews.

Need-Based Scholarships

These scholarships are awarded based on how much financial help you need. The big challenge is proving you’re in financial need, like being a low-income student.

These scholarships typically have a predetermined limit. The administrators responsible for disbursing them establish the total sum available for distribution. Once this allocation is exhausted, no further awards can be granted.

The money you get might change each year. It depends on the volume of applicants and if your family’s money situation changes. You might get less scholarship money if your family starts making more money.

Some need-based scholarships might only help with certain subjects or specific schools. But others are more flexible, letting you use the money however you need. While some scholarships allow you to study abroad, others may only be used at certain schools or places.

Major-Specific Scholarships

Major-specific scholarships are monetary grants given to students enrolled in particular courses of study. They may be awarded based on merit, need, or academic standing, among other criteria. You may also need to meet other requirements like leadership, community service, athletic achievement, etc.

Students may receive a few hundred dollars for full tuition coverage, depending on the scholarship. Each university and academic program will have different requirements for qualifying and different scholarship awards.

Some majors have more scholarships available than others. Popular majors are given attention to include:

  • STEM
  • Business
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Social Sciences

If you have high GPAs and want to pursue one of these popular majors, you can expect a variety of scholarship opportunities.

Minority Scholarships

These scholarships are designed for students of minority groups. Minority students do not belong to the dominant racial or ethnic group in a region or country. These scholarships aim to mitigate the impact of prejudice and discrimination that minority students may face.

Applying for minority scholarships can vary. Some are simple and fast, while others demand more effort. Usually, fewer students go for the ones needing more effort, giving you a better shot at winning. These scholarships can range from one hundred to full tuition coverage as well.

Money is money. Don’t ignore minority scholarships with smaller cash prizes. They often have less competition, giving you more chances of winning.

Essay-Based Scholarships

These are some of the best and most inclusive scholarships for scholarships for online college students. Essay scholarships give students the chance to demonstrate their writing abilities. Applicants must often write 250–2,000 words long essays on a specific matter.

Given the time and energy required to write a strong essay, it’s no wonder that these scholarships often come with high payouts. The winners of essay scholarships could potentially receive substantial amounts—up to $20,000—to help fund their college education, making the effort well worth it.

How Scholarships Can Reduce the Cost of Online Education

The hefty price tag is a significant obstacle for students aiming for higher education. You still have to pay tuition and fees even if you’re enrolled in an online program at a supposedly “cheap” college. As a college student, you need to have a strategic approach to your finances, and what better way to finance college than to obtain gift aid?

Scholarships not only make college more affordable by covering part or all of the tuition fees, but they also have a direct impact on your academic performance. By relieving the financial burden, scholarships allow you to fully focus on your education, which can lead to improved grades. This is a win-win situation for you and your family.

Some scholarships go beyond tuition fees and also cover the cost of textbooks and learning materials. These resources are essential for academic success, serving as valuable aids in the learning process. However, the cost of these resources can be a burden. Consider that the price of textbooks has increased by a staggering 812% over the past 35+ years!

Scholarships can help alleviate this financial strain. Beyond covering tuition fees, online degree scholarships also promote fairness and social mobility in education. They ensure that all students, no matter their financial background, have the same chance to get a good education.

Finding Scholarships for Online Colleges

Finding an online scholarship is thought to be more challenging than competing for an on-campus one. Here are a few tips on how to find a scholarship for online college.

  1. Search for a college with a large online presence. These institutions are likely to offer a variety of scholarships tailored specifically to their online students.
  2. Utilize scholarship search engines and databases designed to help students find scholarships. These include websites like Fastweb,, and College Board’s Scholarship Search.
  3. Explore industry-specific scholarships. Some professional organizations and companies offer scholarships for students pursuing specific fields.
  4. Check with your employer or community organizations.

Review the eligibility criteria and requirements for applying to the scholarships you’re interested in. Deadlines, essay prompts, and required documentation can vary greatly between scholarships. Tailor your applications to highlight your achievements, goals, and how you plan to make the most of the scholarship opportunity.

Conclusion: Making Online Education Accessible and Affordable

Online education can be affordable, but they’re not free. There will still be tuition, textbooks and materials, and distance education fees that need to be paid.

Scholarships play a pivotal role in alleviating the financial burden of online students. They can help pay for tuition and learning materials, allowing students to focus more on their studies. But beyond financial gains, scholarships also promote Beyondity and inclusivity by giving all types of students a fair shot at higher education.