The number of higher education students who took at least one distance education course grew by 3.9 percent in recent years, according to a study by Babson Survey Research Group. More than 1 in 4 students now take at least one distance education course.
Distance education is comprised mainly of online education, and a small number of correspondence courses and similar studies. Before you sign up, Don Kerr, senior student lending manager for AAA Northeast, recommends doing some research.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask.
Is the school accredited?
Students attending unaccredited institutions aren’t eligible for federal student loans, which are helpful for students without credit histories. Check with the U.S. Department of Education or an institution’s financial aid office to find out if federal student loans are an option.
Does it work with lenders?
Some online schools partner with student loan lenders. While this can narrow your search for a lender, younger students without credit histories probably won’t qualify, may experience high borrowing costs and shouldn’t expect any repayment benefits.
What’s my plan?
If you’re in school less than half-time, you probably won’t be eligible for federal or private student loans. Be ready to pay the tuition in whole, accept a payment plan or research financing strategies.
Will my credits transfer?
Contact the institution you plan to attend to see if class credits are transferable.
And remember, these questions aren’t just for online. These questions also apply to in-person institutions. Where you’re going, your course load and your education goals can all impact your college financing decisions.