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Can You Apply for FAFSA for Online Classes?

WVU Online | Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Navigating the financial aid process can be nerve-wracking. There are a lot of questions and unknowns.

How does financial aid work? Can it be used for all types of programs? Can you apply for FAFSA for online classes?

The good news is that financial aid options are widely available for accredited online programs. In this post, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about applying for FAFSA for online coursework.

Understanding FAFSA and Online Education

While affordability is one benefit of online learning, a need for financial aid may still exist.

Fortunately, online learners can also apply for loans, grants, and scholarships to help cover the costs associated with online learning.

FAFSA is a term familiar to most. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

To be eligible for grants, work-study funds, and loans, learners must complete the FAFSA each academic year. Luckily, the FAFSA can be applied to many online classes as well as on-campus classes.

Eligibility requirements for the FAFSA include:

  • Demonstrating financial need
  • U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizenship
  • Possessing a social security number
  • Selective Service registration (for males aged 18-25)
  • Acceptance into an eligible degree or certificate program
  • At least half-time enrollment for Direct Loan Program funds
  • Adherence to FAFSA statements regarding loan/grant default
  • Proof of high school diploma, GED, or equivalent

Lots of universities, including WVU, offer handy links on their websites where you can check out program costs and find important details about financial aid.

But if you're someone who prefers a more personal touch, don't hesitate to reach out to your school's financial aid office. They're often available for a chat or a phone call to help you out!

Eligibility Criteria for FAFSA in Online Programs

There is no difference in FAFSA eligibility criteria for online students. What’s most important to know is whether your school of choice is accredited.

Accreditation guarantees that your school, and in some instances your program, meets the recognized benchmarks for excellence in education. Accredited post-secondary institutions are eligible to receive federal student aid, also known as Title IV funds, from the U.S. Department of Education.

Choosing an unaccredited college or university doesn’t mean you won’t receive a good education, but you will not be eligible to receive federal financial aid funds.

Types of Financial Aid Available for Online Students

Financial aid is what makes attending college attainable for many students, and knowing the different types of aid available can increase your options.

Grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study are all examples of financial aid. Below you will find a brief explanation of each option.


A grant is a type of financial aid that doesn't require repayment, except in specific cases such as withdrawal from school or failure to fulfill service obligations. While there are different types of grants, two that we’d like to call attention to are the Pell Grant and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

Federal Pell Grants typically go to undergraduates with significant financial need and no prior bachelor's, graduate, or professional degrees. Some exceptions do apply.

You may also qualify for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant if a parent or guardian died due to military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11.


A loan is borrowed money that you need to repay with interest. When applying for financial aid, loans may be included in the offer.

Student loans tend to come in two types: subsidized and unsubsidized. For a better understanding of who can apply, how much you can borrow and interest payments for each, please visit the student aid page.


Another great way to fund college is by applying for scholarships. Some college scholarships are merit-based, awarded for meeting or exceeding set standards by the giver, often for academic achievement or a special talent.

Others are need-based. Many target specific groups like women or graduate students or are tied to employment or background, such as military families. Scholarships can cover tuition fully or partially, but applying is worthwhile as it reduces educational costs.

Here are a few of the scholarships available to online students: Get Educated Distance Learning Scholarship, Non-Traditional Student Scholarship, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship, and the Support a Student Scholarship for Single Parents.


While this option may not be convenient for online learners who live far from campus, work-study offers students who may live closer to campus the opportunity to work on campus or for campus partners part-time. Work-Study employment often offers between $10.00-$11.00 per hour depending upon location. While funds assist students with earning potential, they also provide valuable experiences.

How to Apply for FAFSA for Online Classes

To apply for FAFSA for online classes, follow a few simple steps:

Create your account using your name and social security number. This will create your FSA ID, which will allow you to move through the FAFSA application quicker and with fewer errors.

If you're undocumented, getting an SSN can be tough, which means you can't finish your FAFSA. But if you're a DACA recipient and have an SSN, you should be good to go. If your parents or spouse are helping you out with the FAFSA, they don't need an SSN, that part of the form will just be blank and off-limits.

Login at and apply online. You’ll need to have the following documents ready:

  • Your parents’ SSNs if you’re a dependent student
  • Tax Returns
  • Record of any untaxed income, child support, interest, etc.
  • Current balances of cash, savings, and checking accounts
  • Net worth of investments, businesses and farm
  • Your SSN
  • Your driver license

Here are the key points regarding FAFSA deadlines:

  • The federal deadline for the 2023-2024 academic year is June 30, 2024.
  • For the 2024-2025 academic year, the federal deadline is June 30, 2025.
  • State and school deadlines should be confirmed with your school’s financial aid office.
  • The earliest deadline is the most crucial.
  • Filing the FAFSA early can potentially increase your eligibility for aid.

Once you complete the FAFSA, the colleges you’ve chosen will have access to your information.

After you complete your college application, your selected college can determine your eligibility for aid. Most of the time, this letter will accompany your admission offer letter.

Maximizing Your Financial Aid for Online Education

Mastering the FAFSA process is crucial for online learners in need of financial assistance. It's all about grasping eligibility criteria, hitting deadlines, and ensuring that all required documentation is filled out accurately and submitted promptly.

Whether you're pursuing undergrad or grad studies, online education brings flexibility and accessibility to the table. By making the most of financial aid resources, you can ensure that financial constraints don't stand in the way of your academic goals.

Of course, if you still have questions about your intended WVU degree or certificate, please feel free to reach out to any of our admissions coaches. We’re here to help.

FAQs About Financial Aid for Online College

Can online students receive Pell Grants?

Yes. Students who fulfill the FAFSA and demonstrate financial need can receive Pell Grants through the federal student aid program. These grants do not require repayment, making them an excellent resource for financing online college education.

Are online degrees more expensive, and how does that affect financial aid?

Online degrees are not more expensive than on-campus degrees. Online programs avoid some of the overhead costs that are typically associated with on-campus programs, allowing them to operate differently. Regardless, aid is awarded at the same level, based on need.

How do FAFSA deadlines work for online programs?

Deadlines follow normal FAFSA guidelines regardless of the mode of delivery.

Can financial aid be transferred if I switch from online to on-campus classes or vice versa?

If your enrollment status remains unchanged, transitioning to remote learning will not affect your financial aid package. The method of course instruction does not alter the terms of your existing financial aid arrangement.

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Call us, write us, or fill out the request information form. Whichever communication style you prefer, there will be someone from WVU Online on the other end waiting to help.

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