FAFSA: The First Step In Getting Student Financial Aid

If you want student financial aid, FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an important acronym to remember. FAFSA is the US Department of Education’s master loan application form. Whether or not you apply for or receive federal student financial aid, FAFSA is the form used by traditional and online institutions to determine eligibility for available federal, state and private student financial aid programs.

Federal Student Aid Programs Available to All

You’ve decided to earn an online degree, but as a working adult, aren’t sure if you qualify for student financial aid. Fear not — the U.S. Department of Education recognizes that many adults returning to college prefer to earn an online degree. Many institutions offering online degrees qualify for student financial aid programs. The first step in applying for any kind of student financial aid is to fill out the FAFSA online.

FAFSA: It’s Free to Apply

The FAFSA is available on the U.S. Dept. of Education website in early January, and must be completed by June of each year you’ll attend school. Filing the FAFSA application is free. Many companies charge a fee for completing the FAFSA, but if you complete the FAFSA on the U.S. Dept of Education’s user friendly website, it is free.

Getting Started: Have Your Information Handy

The FAFSA is several pages long, and depending on your circumstances, can take awhile to complete. It’s a good idea to read through the form and gather the information you’ll need:

  • Tax returns for prior year
  • Record of all income for previous year
  • Driver’s license and social security number
  • Your school’s FAFSA ID #

If you’re married, you’ll need to supply financial information for both you and your spouse. If you want to earn an online degree, check with your school’s financial aid office. They can help you complete the FAFSA, and will help determine your eligibility for student financial aid programs.

Flower Power: Getting An Online Degree In Floral Design

Do you ever wonder about the materials used to construct the Rose Parade’s famous floats? Everything on each float is constructed from plant material–blossoms, petals, leaves, stems, plant fiber, bark, and seeds. Plants and related materials can be a great medium for your artistic flair, and you can earn an online degree in floral design.

Speak the Language of Flowers

No, we aren’t talking about carnivorous plants that say “feed me!” Flowers have been given as gifts and used in ceremonies since ancient times. Each type of flower, and even its color, is said to symbolize a specific sentiment. As a florist, you will learn about how to care for plants and how to choose flowers for pleasing arrangements, decorative use, and special occasions.

Your knowledge of flowers and their symbolism will come in handy when helping your clients choose a special bouquet, corsage, or flowers for a certain occasion. If you’re interested in interior design, you online degree in floral design will help you incorporate plants and flowers into plans for home and office design.

Use Floral Scents, and Gain Business Sense

Your online learning program will likely include courses in visual design principles, horticulture, floral design styles and techniques, and care and storage of flowers and plants. You will learn how to create bouquets, garlands, wreaths, and various arrangements using real and silk plants and flowers.

If you want your own florist business, you will also need to learn about marketing, business practices, sales, and customer relations. Your online degree in floral design will touch upon the business aspects of being a successful florist. Your future as a florist can be enhanced by an online learning program in floral design.

Funding Your Online Degree With Federal Financial Aid

Accredited distance education programs offer many features that you would find in a traditional campus program, including eligibility for financial aid programs. Federal programs are just the beginning. They can also assist in qualifying you for state, local, and private scholarships and loans.

Many Online Degree Programs Eligible for Financial Aid Programs

It’s been a few years, or maybe more, since you’ve been in school. You’d like to earn an online degree, but are concerned about the cost. If you think that financial aid programs are only available to “traditional” college students who attend classes on campus, think again. Financial aid developed by the US Department of Education provides grants and low cost loans to suit almost any circumstance. At this time, repayment rates for student loans are reasonable, and the interest you pay on student loans is likely tax deductible. Once you’ve graduated, it’s possible to consolidate your student loans into one loan, and to extend the repayment term to lower your payments.

FAFSA Provides Access to Financial Aid

Once you’ve decided on a school, it’s time to complete the FAFSA online. What on earth is a FAFSA? It’s the US Department of Education’s Free Application for Student Aid. Note that the application is free, as there are plenty of scammers who will attempt to charge you a fee for completing this form through their website. In order to complete the FAFSA, you will need to supply the personal and financial information necessary to determine your eligibility.

Your online degree school likely has a financial aid department that can assist you with FAFSA, and can also tell you about scholarships offered by your school, community, and private organizations and individuals. The important thing to remember when shopping for distance education programs is to verify that the school is properly accredited and is eligible for federal financial aid programs.

Getting Started On Your Online Degree

You’ve decided to earn your bachelor’s degree online, but where do you start? Providing transcripts of any previous college work and planning your course schedule are important aspects of academic success. Here’s how to get started.

Understanding Online Degree Requirements
Whether you’ve been to college or not, you’ll want to understand degree, subject, and course credit requirements. This will help you plan which courses to take and when to take them. It will also assist you in getting previously completed college courses credited toward your online degree program. A bachelor’s degree typically requires approximately 120 credits, including approximately 60 credits of core requirements. Core requirements are general education courses usually required of most majors.

It’s All in the Details: Navigating Admissions and Records
In order to get an online degree, you’ll need to submit official transcripts of all college work you’ve previously completed. The key word is “official.” This means that your transcripts must be sent directly from your previous college to your online degree institution. It can take several weeks to get official transcripts, so it’s best to know the admission requirements and deadlines for your online program ahead of time.

Academic Advisement: Plotting the Course to Your Online Degree
Once your online degree institution reviews your transcripts, they may admit you to the program of your choice, or indicate that you have not met the prerequisites for the courses you want to study. Prerequisites refer to courses that must be completed before you can enroll in either an entire program or a particular class.

Academic advisors can assist you in determining which courses you need and which courses you want, and will help you strike a balance between demanding or intensive courses and electives. Learning is supposed to be challenging and enjoyable. Take courses at a pace that suits you, and you’ll have your bachelor’s degree sooner than you think.

The New ECampus: Are Online Degree Programs For You?

Online degree offerings are growing: the amount of people pursuing online degrees has more than doubled in the past four years. This year, 1.7 million people are expected to earn an online degree. Over half of America’s universities consider offering online degrees essential to their long-term planning.

More and more students are choosing online degrees for their convenience, flexibility and affordable price tags. With no new city to relocate to and no out-of-state tuition hikes, online degree programs have become the education method of choice for millions of students in the U.S.

Why an Online Degree?
Aside from the obvious benefits, online degrees are now receiving more support from the government. Congress recently passed a law in support of online degrees, eliminating the face-to-face instruction requirement for federal student aid. Now you can get your online degree with the same financial support as a traditional degree program.

What’s Available
You can earn everything from your high school diploma to your bachelor’s degree to your MBA online. Online degrees in specific trades are available too, including teacher certification and even training in many healthcare fields.

If you’re considering entering an online degree program, be sure to research the school’s degree offerings and accreditation. Also check to see what concentrations are available for your online degree.

In two years, it’s predicted that one out of every 10 students will be enrolled in an online degree program. The real popularity of online degrees has is just beginning.

Sources
Washington Post, “Online Degree Programs Take Off”

Online Education Provides Advantages And Convenience

You want to advance in your career, or maybe it’s been a while since you were in college, and you’re thinking about taking a class or two. Online education provides a great variety of accredited courses, and you can study when and where it’s convenient. Many course formats are designed to accommodate today’s busy work schedules and lifestyles. Choose from individual courses or a complete online degree program, and enhance your life with online education.

Accounting to Zoology: Online Education Offers Something for Everyone
Thanks to the Internet and innovative educational technology, you can earn anything from a high school diploma to a doctoral degree online. If you’re not interested in a formal degree program, you can also take courses for personal enjoyment and enrichment. You can find a huge variety of online education opportunities, both on the Internet and locally.

Ready to get started? Here are some tips to help you succeed in online learning.

Finding and Starting Your Online Education Program
You’ll need access to the Internet and will want to be comfortable with basic computer skills in order to enjoy your online learning experience. It’s also a good idea to take your first online course by itself so you can become accustomed to online learning at a pace that works best for you. As you become familiar with online courses, you can add more courses.

Most online courses include access to technical support. The tech support folks can assist you in getting started and can help you determine what kind of equipment you’ll need to best support your online learning program.

There are many different formats for online education. You’ll want to check out several offerings for the course you want before enrolling. Some online courses provide chat sessions between professors and students, or may schedule specific times for an online class. Once you get started with online education, you may want to earn a certificate or college degree. It’s possible to meet many educational and career objectives through online learning.

Online Education: How To Make It Work

Education is what you make of it, whether you’re sitting in a traditional college classroom or in your home office, studying online. E-learning has ushered in a new era of options and flexibility in higher education–and it has become perfect for the hard-working, self-motivated professional who’s ready to move up in the world.

Wake Up!
With freedom comes responsibility. As Dr. Joe Boland, Director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Distance Learning, puts it, “Because distance learning allows so much flexibility for the student, it also requires a much higher level of discipline.” Boland reports that “the professor is moving from the ‘sage on stage’ to the ‘guide on the side.'” Gone are the days when a student could snooze away in the back of a lecture hall. To be sure, e-learning students can snooze away in front of the computer screen, but the lecture is still waiting for them when they wake up.

Get Busy
The online student is expected to take charge of his or her education and use the professor as a resource, not a taskmaster. Gary Witover, who has pursued both an online master’s in strategic intelligence and a physician assistant degree, finds that “[y]ou get out of it what you put in. If you just want a degree, you can do the minimum. If you really want to learn something, the resources are there and you need to take initiative to make the most of the experience.”

The Choice is Yours
Witover learned this firsthand in the course of his two online education experiences. In both cases he got what he came for–but what he came for were two different things. The online military master’s was a prerequisite for promotion, a “‘check a box’-type thing.” The physician assistant training, by contrast, “is an entire career change. It’s a vocation, not a formality–a chance to learn a different set of skills. I’m really doing it for the sake of learning the material, not just for the degree.”

So is online learning an education, a piece of paper, or nothing at all? It can be any of the above–you make the call.

Online Degree Programs For Working Parents

Carlyn Blake had two kids, not to mention a full-time job. When almost every new employee hired at her company held a master’s degree, she was inspired to bring her education up to date. An online degree program allowed her to do just that.

Distance Learning for a Working Mom
Online master’s degree programs may be a convenient way to advance your career while maintaining your current job, schedule and family situation. More and more online schools are popping up, offering degree programs in just about any subject. After weighing the education options available, many students choose online schools over on-campus ones because learning from a distance is their best option.

Such was the case for Blake, whose two kids and full-time job eliminated any chance of an on-campus degree program. Wanting to keep herself marketable, she researched online schools and enrolled in an online master’s degree program.

Four years later, she graduated from her online school. She says the distance learning paid off, and that her career has “absolutely taken off” due to her new degree.

Master’s Degrees Online
For a career in business, there are many online degree programs that may help you achieve your goals. Here are just a few:

  • Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master’s in Finance
  • Master’s in Accounting
  • Master’s in Information Systems
  • Master’s in Risk Management

Blake’s master’s degree program online took four years to complete, but there are other distance learning options with variable timetables. Some online degree programs take as little as 18 months. Depending on how many courses you take at once, your online degree program can be as gradual or as efficient as you like.

Sources
KABC Los Angeles, “Getting a Degree Online”

Online Universities For The Busy, The Disadvantaged–and You?

Full-time jobs, kids, even Hurricane Katrina–nothing prevented last year’s students at online universities from earning their degrees.

Though not all students getting their education online are college-age, they are all working hard. Many students in online degree programs have full-time jobs, not to mention families.

Finding a Port in a Storm
Jeena Seals just graduated from an online university last summer, and she used to tell her 12-year old daughter that the girl had no idea what homework really was. Distance learning was essential to Ms. Seals, whose family survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans while she was working on her online degree.

Education Online Provides Strong Finish
Karina Vega is another graduate of an online university. The California native began her education over 10 years ago. Thanks to an online degree program, she spent two years in distance learning and now has her degree. Ms. Vega said distance learning worked well for her, and she enjoyed working with classmates online and not having to attend classes in person.

Distance Learning For a Busy Mom
For one mom, education online was the only way to advance her career. Alamelu Arvind has a full-time job in addition to three children. Her husband often got more sleep than she did over the past two years; she was up late for 18 months getting her master’s degree online.

Now, at the end of that time, her career prospects have since blossomed. Thanks to her online degree, she now teaches at a higher position (with more pay).

Whether the challenges are kids, work, or the weather, an online university is always open.

Sources
Arizona Republic, “Online grads’ hard work rewarded”

Go The Distance: How To Succeed In Distance Learning Online

You’re busy 24/7, and don’t have time for college. There’s good news! Many colleges and vocational schools offer courses online. Distance learning online is a great way to earn a degree, or simply take classes for your own enrichment.

Making Distance Learning Work for You
The upside of distance learning is its flexibility and convenience. Distance learning is particularly appropriate if you have strong self-discipline and time management skills. Here are some tips for succeeding with distance learning:

  • Read the entire course syllabus (schedule, instructions, and assignments) before beginning.
  • Contact your instructor with any questions. He or she wants you to succeed at distance learning!
  • Schedule time to complete your coursework online as you would for a traditional class
  • Participate in scheduled chat sessions and bulletin boards. These take the place of classroom discussions, and are an important part of distance learning online.
  • Don’t procrastinate. A primary reason for failing in distance learning is putting off assignments.
  • Check your progress regularly to ensure you’ve received credit for work submitted online.

Succeeding at Distance Learning: Know Your Resources
The college or school offering your distance learning course is dedicated to your success. Check your school’s website, and make note of the contact information for the online education department. They can help with technical issues, and your instructor will assist you with questions about distance learning assignments. Although you may study alone, your distance learning experience depends on teamwork between you, your school’s distance learning department, and your instructor.