|Online Degree Program FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) |
How Do Employers Feel About Online Degrees?
Increasing numbers of older students are participating
in online courses or seeking full
degree programs online. These programs are an attractive
alternative as they help busy adults balance hectic
schedules. As the numbers of interested students steadily
increase, the number of colleges and universities providing
these online programs also continue to rise. According
to recent statistics, over 90 percent of traditional
institutions provide or plan to provide some kind of
program through distance learning.
In addition the degree earned online
is the same credential earned when attending a traditional
class. (For more information see, How Do Employers View Online Degrees?)
Are Online Degrees Accredited?
According to the Better Business Bureau, many fraudulent schools (better known as diploma mills) are profiting on the popularity of distance learning and are attracting students into their degree programs, often with the promises of a quick diploma. Marketing representatives take advantage of students lack of knowledge about college accreditation, and use the terms "fully accredited", "nationally accredited", or "accredited worldwide" to assure the student of the program's legitimacy. The key to finding a quality program is accreditation, the most widely known and accepted being regional accreditation. Today, there are hundreds of reputable colleges and universities, including well known traditional campuses, offering full online degree programs.
(For more information, see College Accreditation Frequently Asked Questions.)
Can I Get Financial Aid for an Online Degree?
If taking distance or online classes as part of a program at a traditional, regionally accredited institution, you will be assisted by the federal and state financial aid received for the full program. If it's an online only program offered by a traditional institution, you may be eligible for federal assistance.
Until recently, the U.S. Department of Education, through the Distance Education Demonstration Program, was testing funding for distance education among carefully selected participating institutions. To prevent abuse and fraud in student aid programs, the Department initiated the 50 percent rule, which required colleges to provide at least half of their courses on campus instead of online to receive Federal financial aid.
However, according to a recently passed Congressional Bill, the 50 percent rule has been eliminated, and colleges and universities no longer need to follow this guideline to receive financial aid. They can continue to increase their offering of online programs, and when enrolled in a regionally accredited program you will be eligible for aid from all Federal Title IV programs (including the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and the Federal Stafford Loan Program.)
Always ask about your financial aid options before you sign up for distance education programs.
How Do I Select
an Online Degree Program?
Following are some guidelines that will be helpful to you.
- What is the college or university's program accreditation?
In general, it is important to make sure the college
is accredited by an established and accepted accrediting
body, as well as any specialized accreditations. (To
learn more about accreditation and why it's important,
- What are the admission and registration requirements?
These may include age, academic qualifactions or prerequisites,
required testing, transfer of credit and other academic
- How new is the college's online program? Look for a program that has a proven success
rate, satisfied current students or alumni, or a history
of providing quality programs for the adult learner.
- What are the qualifications of the faculty and what
type of academic support is available? Do most of
the faculty hold advanced degrees from a variety of
schools, or did they most obtain their credentials
from the school itself? Is advising and
- Look at the faculty-student ratio, and how the faculty
and student interactions take place. Is the program
self-paced or on a fixed schedule? Look for a smaller
class size, as courses with a smaller number of students
can help you receive more personal attention from
the instructor if needed. It is also important to
know the school's total student enrollment, as a large
student enrollment is an indicator of a strong program
with many graduates. Ask the college how many students
have successfully graduated from the program and if
they can provide information about job placement rates.
- What are the school's tuition and fees, including
payment schedule? What is the reimbursement policy
upon withdrawal? What kind of financial aid, financing,
or grants and scholarships are available?
- Does the college or university provide good customer
service? Make sure the school
is highly customer service oriented and will provide
a personal academic advisor to assist with any questions
and help facilitate your course of study from matriculation
See also: The Online Learning Option, Should You Get Your Degree Through Distance Learning, Online Education
Gets Accolades, and Tackling
Online Degree Programs.