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Online schools come with benefits like a flexible schedule and potentially lower costs (and the option to go to school in your pajamas). If you’re considering a school like this, you might be wondering if you can pay for it with online college student loans.
Here’s what you need to know about student loans for online college:
- Check your school’s accreditation status for federal loans
- Fill out the FAFSA
- Check the rates on private student loans
- Only borrow what you need
Check your school’s accreditation status for federal loans
If you’re considering federal vs. private student loans, it’s usually a good idea to start with federal student loans. This is because they come with several borrower protections and benefits, including deferment and forbearance options, income-driven repayment, and student loan forgiveness programs.
To be eligible for federal student loans, an online college has to be accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. You can check the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to see if your school is accredited.
Some of the top accredited schools with fully online degrees include:
- Ohio State University
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- The University of Illinois
- The University of Florida
- Oregon State University
Learn More: How to Take Out a Student Loan
Fill out the FAFSA
Your first step in finding student loans for online colleges should be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA helps determine your eligibility for federal student aid, including federal student loans and grants.
It’s a good idea to fill out the FAFSA even if you don’t think you’ll be eligible for federal grants or student loans. After all, you might end up qualifying for other programs you don’t know about.
Once you’ve completed the FAFSA, you’ll receive a financial aid award letter from your school’s financial aid office. This letter will detail the federal student loans and grants you qualify for. You can then decide which aid you’d like to accept.
Some colleges and states have their own FAFSA deadlines, too. Be sure to check with your school so you don’t miss any important dates.
Learn More: Guide to Every Type of Student Loan Offered
Check the rates on private student loans
If you’ve exhausted your federal student loan options, private student loans could help fill in any funding gaps. If you have excellent credit, you might even find lower interest rates with private student loans compared to federal PLUS Loans.
It’s a good idea to consider as many private student loan lenders as possible to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare rates from all of our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)|
|4.84% - 12.39%6||1.59% - 11.37%6|
|4.25% - 12.35%9||1.25% - 11.15%9|
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 1Citizens Bank Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 6Discover Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
Citizens Bank Student Loan Rate Disclosure Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.17%. Variable interest rates range from 1.24%-11.39% (1.24%-11.00% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.25%-11.95% (4.25% - 11.53% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co- signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.
Only borrow what you need
If you’re attending an online school, you can save on common costs like room and board. This means you can likely pay for your education with fewer student loans than the average student.
Also keep in mind that while it can be easy to take out student loans, you’ll eventually have to repay the money you borrow. Be sure to borrow only what you need. This way, you’ll have lower loan balances to pay back in the future.
Learn More: How to Get a Student Loan With No Credit Check