12 Ways the Government Will Help Pay for Your Online Degree

Federal Loans, Tax Breaks, Scholarships, & More for Undergraduate Students

Paying for online college courses can take a toll. But, Uncle Sam wants to help. Here are twelve loans, grants, tax breaks, and scholarships available from the government:
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Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans

College student studying at table
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If you can demonstrate financial need and are taking at least a half-time course load, the government will give you a loan and even pay your interest while you’re still in school. Once you graduate, a variety of generous payment programs are available.
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Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

Students who can’t demonstrate financial need can still qualify for an unsubsidized loan. The interest will accrue while you’re taking classes, but you won’t have to begin payments until after you graduate.
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Federal PLUS Loans

If you still qualify as a dependent, your parents may be able to take out a PLUS loan. These lower-interest government-backed loans are designed to help caregivers temporarily augment the cost of schooling.
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Federal Pell Grants

Students from families making less than $20,000 a year are offered the federal Pell grant. The government provides them with several thousand dollars every year that does not have to be repaid. The money can be used to cover boarding and books, as well as tuition.
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Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

Students coming from extreme financial hardship are offered this specialized grant, available only at 4,000 schools nationwide. Recipients are awarded up to $4,000 a year and Pell Grant recipients are given priority.
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Academic Competitiveness Grant

Pell Grant recipients that completed a rigorous high school course, are on track for a 4-year degree, and have a college GPA of 3.0 or higher can receive this additional award for their first and second years of college.
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National SMART Grant

The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant offers up to $4,000 a year for 3rd and 4th year students excelling in math, physical and life sciences, technology, engineering, or foreign language. The grant is designed for Pell Grant recipients from lower-income families.
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Federal TEACH Grant

Students who plan to become elementary or secondary teachers can receive up to $4,000 a year for promising to teach in a low income school after graduation. There is no need to demonstrate financial hardship to receive this grant.
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Hope Scholarship Tax Credit

The IRS offers a tax rebate of up to $2,500 for students (or student’s families) attending college in their first or second years. The rebate is refundable, meaning that if you pay less than $2,500 in federal taxes the government will send you a check. Students or their families must make less than $80,000 to qualify.
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Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction

Those who don’t meet the income requirements for the Hope tax credit may take advantage of this deduction. Students may deduct up to $4,000 of their income for qualified educational expenses.
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Lifetime Learning Tax Credit

Through this tax credit, students can receive a refund of up to $2,000 a year for as long as they remain in school. The credit amount depends on the student’s income, tuition expenses, and financial help already received.
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Armed Forces Tuition Assistance

Active members of the Armed Forces have access to generous grants, the details of which are dependent upon the student’s division. Most qualify for several thousand dollars a year to cover tuition and other educational expenses.

Jamie Littlefield is a writer and instructional designer. She can be reached on Twitter or through her educational coaching website: jamielittlefield.com.