Online Colleges That Accept FAFSA [2024 Guide]

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If you would benefit from financial aid for your schooling, then you’ll likely want to look into online colleges that accept FAFSA.

Online Colleges That Accept FAFSA

Just like on-campus schools, many online colleges allow you to pay for your education using government student aid. Securing such support could make all the difference in whether you’re able to afford a college education.

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As you look into financial aid for online schools, you may also want to learn more about how the FAFSA works and what it can do for you.

Online Colleges That Accept FAFSA

student checking colleges online that accept FAFSA

College can be expensive, so you might be specifically looking at online schools with financial aid. To get the most possible tuition help, it’s strategic to focus on schools that accept FAFSA.

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Most regionally accredited colleges, even online ones, participate in Title IV federal funding programs. Another way to say it is that they are FAFSA colleges. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that students submit so that they can access funding through federal programs. On this form, you’ll enter personal details about yourself and, if you’re a dependent, your parents.

You’ll often need the following information to fill out the FAFSA completely:

  • Alien Registration Number (for non-citizens only)
  • Records of any investment income you have
  • Social Security number
  • Tax records, such as W-2s and tax returns

If you plan to fill out the form online, you’ll also be required to create an FSA ID, which is an account on the Federal Student Aid website.

After you complete and submit the FAFSA, you can watch for your Student Aid Report (SAR) to arrive, which usually happens in less than a week. It’s beneficial to review this document carefully to make sure it doesn’t contain any errors. If it does, you’ll want to address those as soon as possible.

Perhaps you are wondering, “How does FAFSA work?” In other words, how does completing this form translate to receiving college funding? When you complete the FAFSA, you will also list the colleges you are interested in attending. Your SAR data will go to those schools. Then, a college’s financial aid department can provide you with details about the aid package you’re eligible to receive at that institution.

Please note that the FAFSA needs to be filled out annually. It’s best to complete it in the fall for the following school year. Technically, you may have until the summer to get it done, but the longer you wait, the less aid you may receive.

Types of Financial Aid for Online Colleges

Man applying for financial aid for online college

The FAFSA can help you access several types of federal aid. Your state and some private organizations may also review your results to determine your eligibility for their programs.

Here are various financial aid options:

  • Federal grants. Depending on your income, you may receive free grant money from the government that never needs to be repaid. Pell Grants are the most common type.
  • Federal loans. This is money that you borrow and repay. The student loans offered by the federal government typically feature lower interest rates than private loans.
  • Institutional aid. Many colleges offer financial incentives to students who enroll, particularly those with strong academic promise.
  • Federal work-study. This federal program allows students to earn tuition money through on-campus or schooling-related jobs. You may be eligible, but work-study is less common for online students than on-campus ones.
  • Scholarships. Organizations such as industry associations, community groups, and philanthropic leagues offer one-time or renewable scholarships to select individuals.
  • State grants and loans. Many states administer grant and loan programs that are similar to those run by the federal government.
  • Workplace support. Your employer may contribute to your education. It might be a built-in component of the benefits package, or your eligibility might depend on choosing a degree program that’s relevant to your job.

You may be eligible for multiple forms of aid, and you can often use them concurrently. In fact, the more well-rounded your financial aid package is, the more affordable college may become. For help in maximizing your assistance, you can talk to your school’s financial aid department.

How to Find FAFSA Approved Online Colleges

student researching FAFSA Approved Online Colleges

When you’re looking for online schools that accept FAFSA, you may first want to look into a college’s accreditation status.

You can visit the school’s website to find information on that. It’s also helpful to double-check by consulting the US Department of Education’s online database.

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If your school is regionally accredited, then there’s a good chance that it participates in federal financial aid programs. That’s not a sure thing, though. You can take the extra step of looking up a college on the Federal School Code List. Institutions listed there participate in Title IV funding programs, which means that they accept FAFSA.

It’s worth noting that many colleges specify their FAFSA eligibility on their websites. You may find that information in the financial aid department’s section of the site.

How to Apply for FAFSA at Online Colleges

student Filling out the FAFSA

Filling out the FAFSA is something you can do for every year of your college studies. Here are the steps you can follow for this process:

  1. Set up a Federal Student Aid account (FSA ID). This can be done ahead of time or as the first step when you complete the FAFSA.
  2. Gather essential documents. Completing the FAFSA requires you to know things like your Social Security number and your household income.
  3. Enter your personal data. As you fill out the form, you will reference the documents you gathered.
  4. List prospective schools. Put in the names of 1 to 10 colleges where you would like the results to be sent.
  5. Sign and submit the form. You can do this electronically or on paper.
  6. Look over your Student Aid Report (SAR) to confirm its accuracy. If corrections are needed, submit those.
  7. Consider the financial aid package that various schools offer. Once you decide which aid you are going to accept, you can complete the steps outlined by your school.

Typically, you can begin this process in October of each year. In some instances, the FAFSA portal will not open until December. It’s strategic to apply for aid as soon as possible after the application window opens.

What Is FAFSA?


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that you turn in if you want the opportunity to receive federal financial help for college.

You’re required to turn in this form annually. On it, you’ll enter personal information and data about your income. This information will be used to determine the sort of federal aid, such as grants and loans, for which you qualify. Your state may rely on your FAFSA results as well.

There are both paper and online versions of the FAFSA available. You can use either, but the online approach is usually preferable.

What Factors Could Make You Ineligible for Financial Assistance?

student reviewing requirements for financial assistance

Many students receive government funding for college, but not everyone is eligible.

You may not end up receiving financial aid if you:

  • Are not a citizen and don’t have eligible noncitizen status
  • Choose not to fill out the FAFSA
  • Did not complete your Selective Service registration (male students ages 18-25 only)
  • Do not take enough credits in a semester
  • Have been convicted of certain crimes
  • Haven’t made enough academic progress toward a degree
  • Haven’t held to the terms of past student aid you’ve received

A school’s financial aid office can help you further explore your eligibility.

Can You Use FAFSA for Two Schools at the Same Time?

student preparing paperwork to apply for FAFSA for online college

Only one college can disburse government financial aid funds to you at a time. Even still, you may be able to use student aid at multiple colleges during the same semester.

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If you are enrolling concurrently at two schools, you can set up a consortium agreement. That way, the credits you are earning at each school will count toward your FAFSA eligibility. You’d have a home school and a host school. Your home school will take care of disbursing your funds. You may then be able to use some of those funds to pay the tuition at your host school.

Online Colleges that Accepts FAFSA

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited, accept FAFSA, and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Public University

American Public University campus

American Public University offers a variety of online degrees and accepts the FAFSA to help students finance their educations. Students may receive grants and loans for all programs other than interdisciplinary studies. APU offers fully online undergraduate and graduate degrees. There are start dates each month. Areas of study offered include data science, healthcare administration, and space studies.

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Baker College

Baker College campus

Baker College assists students in finding financial aid, including help with filling out the FAFSA. The school accepts grants, loans, and work-study. Baker offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in online and hybrid formats. Asynchronous options are available. Courses are eight 8 weeks long. Fields of study offered include accounting, information systems, and marketing.

Baker College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University campus

Students may apply for state and federal aid to attend California Baptist University by when completing the FAFSA. CBU offers over 40 online programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. There are start dates every other month, and courses are 8 weeks long. Fields of study offered include kinesiology, strategic communication, and educational leadership and administration.

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Grand Canyon University offers financial aid packages, including work-study and Pell Grants, to qualifying from students who complete the FAFSA. GCU offers a wide variety of fully online programs, including studies in advertising, graphic design, and autism and spectrum disorders through GCU. Convenient weekly start dates are available.

GCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University students who complete the FAFSA may be eligible for grants, loans, scholarships, or work-study. Liberty offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, some entirely online. Online courses are conducted in an asynchronous format with set weekly deadlines and follow a regular semester schedule. Areas of study offered include aviation, sports management, worship studies, and public policy.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University requires students to complete a FAFSA to receive financial aid. Financial aid may be offered in the form of grants, scholarships, or student loans. Penn State offers online associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and professional certificates. Most programs are asynchronous and fully online. Fields of study offered include Degrees include digital multimedia design and industrial engineering.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Purdue University

Purdue University campus

Purdue University’s Global learning program accepts FAFSA awards for grants, loans, and scholarships. Purdue designed its online program with working adults in mind. Undergraduate and graduate degrees may be earned fully online. Courses start once per month. Degrees are offered in fields like criminal justice, health education and promotion, and emergency management.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

Saint Leo University students may receive state and federal aid after completing the FAFSA. Potential forms of aid include grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans. SLU offers over 75 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, in fields of study such as biomedical and health sciences, homeland security, and marketing. Courses are offered in half semesters.

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University requires students to file the FAFSA to receive financial aid any scholarships offered by the school. Students at SNHU offers from over 200 online degree programs. Courses are 8 to 10 weeks long, and there are 5 to 6 start dates each year. Fields of study offered include sociology, nonfiction writing, and accounting.

SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

University of Florida

University of Florida campus

The University of Florida recommends that students submit a FAFSA after being admitted to the school. Students may be able to receive Federal or state aid or scholarships may be awarded to help attend the school. UF offers 24 fully online bachelor’s degrees along with several online master’s and doctoral degrees. Most courses are asynchronous. Fields of study offered include biology and psychology.

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online Colleges That Accept Financial Aid

student researching Online Colleges That Accept Financial Aid

Like many students, you may only be interested in online colleges with financial aid or online colleges that pay you to attend. Receiving grants, loans, and other forms of student assistance can make it possible to afford an education.

To use federal funding for your tuition, it’s necessary to attend a college that accepts FAFSA. You don’t have to worry about missing out on financial aid just because you’d prefer an online education. Many regionally accredited colleges with online courses are eligible for FAFSA funding.

You can start by narrowing your college search for fast online degrees only to accredited institutions that participate in FAFSA. That way, you can maximize your funding opportunities and get a quality education.

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Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.