Online Scholarships, Grants and Fellowships Enable Pursuit of Higher Education

Grants can take some of the pressure off paying online college tuition as a student works toward their degree. These forms of tuition assistance are available to adults, as well as high school graduates, and they typically dont have to be repaid. Not everyone knows how or where to look for them, however, and this lack of information can be costly.

Scholarships and fellowships work similarly to grants for college, although fellowships might involve fieldwork. Colleges and universities extend scholarships to students who participate in programs at their institutions. Government agencies, corporate giants, non-profit organizations and special interest, civic and community groups tend to make non-school specific scholarships, fellowships and grants for college available. Many of these offerings might be applied to online college classes and degree and certificate programs, particularly when online colleges, universities and vocational schools are accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

Scholarships, fellowships and grants for college might be offered based on minimum grade point average, financial need, leadership, specific studies or a combination of factors. Some of these offerings cater to women and minorities. Following is some guidance that might save time and take some of the stress out of the search for online college grants, scholarships and fellowships:

Go Local: Community groups, civic organizations, churches and synagogues often award scholarships and grants for college to students who are members or within their communities. Students might look toward groups such as Rotary International, Kiwanis, the Lions Club and chambers of commerce for online college offerings.

Think Big: Companies such as Wal-Mart, ATT, McDonalds, and Tylenol have been known to offer scholarships and fellowships for students from the high school graduate to doctorate level. Wal-Mart targets high school students with minimum grade point averages. ATT maintains a fellowship program that covers the cost of tuition, books, fees and more for minorities and women pursuing doctorate degrees in computing and communications.

Consider Yourself and Your Goals: Groups such as the National Science Foundation, the Hispanic College Fund, the United Negro College Fund and the American Association of University Women offer scholarships and fellowships tailored to specific demographics, fields of study or both. Single mothers can find scholarships tailored exclusively to them through non-profit organizations such as Raise the Nation.

Set A Foundation: Charitable foundations offer a variety of scholarships, fellowships and grants for college. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides scholarships to first-time, full-time degree-seekers, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation provides scholarships to high school graduates who have participated in an approved college readiness program. The Jack Kent Cook Foundation provides undergraduate transfer scholarships for community college students so that they can work toward their bachelor degrees; and the Ford Foundation provides fellowships that serve minorities and those with disabilities, as well as those working at the graduate level to become a professor at a United States college or university.

One-Stop Shop: The government offers work study programs and grants that are often based on financial needs. Students seeking government assistance for qualifying online degree programs can determine their eligibility by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid online. The results might include low-interest loans that dont require credit checks and collateral and dont have to be repaid until after graduation. Students might consider loans after other forms of assistance are deducted from the overall cost of tuition.