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Online Education Programs

Part 2 of 2

Colleges and Universities
A basic search for top online education programs will turn up almost as many lists as there are universities. Depending on what you're looking for, different universities are better suited for different needs. Consider tuition. Can you pay top dollar at a private university or do you need to stick with in-state public institutions? Do you need your education to come from a school with strong name recognition in the field of study? What about admission policies?

You will need to be able to meet minimum requirements such as ACT or SAT score. Do you need to pick up a couple classes to finish a degree or certificate? Are you just starting out and pursuing a fully online education? The answers to all these questions and others will determine the top school for you.

In the world of education, US News and World Report has gained the distinction of being the most trusted authority on naming top educational institutions. Their results can be found here.

No discussion of online education is complete without a mention of Liberty University, Ashford University, and Capella University. These programs were attracting students to quality programs before online education became mainstream.

Scholarships and Grants
While the total cost of a college education may be less through online schooling, that doesn't mean that it's affordable. Most students will want and need financial aid. Securing "free money" through scholarships requires a time-intensive online search and discipline to complete the specific requirements for individual scholarships. Scholarships for online education are very similar to scholarships for on-site education.

Tips For Landing Scholarships
Submit FAFSA - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid has become the first step for financial aid. Both the federal government programs and individual institutions rely on the information on this form to start the process of offering grants and scholarships. Basic requirements include that a student is seeking a degree from an accredited school. Scholarships consider merit and need.

Use your distinctions - Grants are available to people in specific demographic groups including single parents, unemployed, underemployed, returning adults, minorities, first-generation college students, military, and plus 50 students.

Explore companies and organizations - If you or a close family member works for a large corporation, you may be eligible for funding. Your hobbies and volunteer work in your community may have put you in connection with an organization which offers a scholarship.

Consider your institution - Go to the financial aid office and meet with a counselor. Funds may be available for tuition or books. See what it takes to qualify for the funds.

Apply for multiple scholarships - If you are eligible and able to meet the requirements, apply. Federal aid, scholarships from the institution, companies, organizations, contests -- granters allow you to combine scholarships from various sources.

Follow all directions -Applications that do not follow specific requirements do not get consideration. You must meet deadlines. If the scholarship asks for a 2-page essay, a 1- or 5- page essay will not work. Submit the required number of recommendation letters. Part of the scholarship lies in your ability to read and follow all of the requirements.

Avoid paying a fee - You will likely come across agencies promising you the best offers at scholarships when you pay a fee to become a member. Think carefully before joining such a group. Information about scholarships they will direct you to is likely free and available through your own online search.

Research indicates that 62% of colleges offer fully online degree programs, and now nearly every post-secondary degree is available online. Take a look at your interests, your future, your personality. Online education is the right choice for thousands of students who recognize that now is the time to invest in an education that will make a difference for themselves and their families.