Online Colleges That Pay You to Attend [2024 Guide]

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If you want to get an affordable education, you might be interested in exploring online colleges that pay you to attend.

Online Colleges That Pay You to Attend

A growing number of online programs offer generous financial aid packages that can cover up to 100% of tuition, student fees, and other expenses. This financial assistance allows students to get paid to go to school from home.

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This guide covers what you need to know about getting paid to earn a degree and finding online colleges that offer this incentive.

Online Colleges That Pay You to Attend

student attending online college that pays her

Getting paid to go to school online may sound like an unrealistic fantasy, but there are many ways you can receive financial aid to help pay for your tuition and living expenses while you study online.

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Here are a few types of financial assistance frequently offered by schools that pay you to attend online:

  • Full-tuition waivers. Several accredited institutions offer full-tuition waivers for all admitted students. Other colleges allow students who meet specific income requirements to attend for free. This financial aid enables you to earn your degree without paying a penny for tuition. But, you may still be required to cover other costs associated with your education, such as textbooks and school fees.
  • Work-study programs. Some colleges allow students to work for them part-time in exchange for free tuition. For example, you might get paid to provide remote peer tutoring for the campus writing center or perform administrative tasks for the admissions office. These work-study programs allow you to gain work experience while earning money to pay for your degree.
  • Tuition exemption. Many colleges allow their employees to take courses for free. You may also qualify for this benefit if your parent or spouse works for a higher education institution.

Choosing a program that pays you to attend offers many benefits. You can focus on your studies without feeling stressed about paying for tuition. Also, you can choose to use the money you save to invest in other life goals, like saving for a house or buying a car.

How to Get Paid to Go to College

student applying to get paid to go to college

Along with the options listed above, there are numerous ways you can get paid to attend college, including:

  • College financial aid. Many institutions offer internal scholarships and grants that cover some or all of your educational expenses. The eligibility criteria for this financial aid varies by school. Some colleges offer financial assistance to every admitted student. Others provide need-based aid to learners who come from lower-income families. Many schools require students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for assistance.
  • Community college education. Approximately 20 states allow students to attend community college without paying tuition. You may be required to meet specific criteria to qualify for this free education, such as residing in the same state as the college and completing community service hours.
  • Corporate tuition reimbursement. Your employer may offer to pay for a portion of your tuition as part of your employee benefits package. The requirements for corporate tuition programs vary. For example, you may be required to agree to continue working for the company for a certain number of years after you earn your degree to receive tuition reimbursement.
  • Merit and minority scholarships and grants. Colleges often provide merit scholarships for students with stellar academic or athletic achievements. You may also qualify for grants and scholarships if you’re a member of a minority group.

Students who enroll at online colleges with financial aid may have the opportunity to save significant money while earning their degrees.

How to Choose an Online College That Pays You to Attend

student checking on online colleges that pays you to attend

The price tag isn’t the only factor to keep in mind when researching colleges that pay you to attend online. These are some other considerations that can help you make an informed choice when selecting a program:

  • Accreditation. Accredited colleges have proven that they provide an excellent education and quality student services. Employers and graduate programs tend to regard these schools highly due to their strong reputations.
  • Course format. Many online programs offer evening and weekend classes. They often also have asynchronous courses that you can complete on your own schedule. Some offer self paced college courses that allows you to learn the material faster. These options give you more freedom to balance your online studies with family, work, and other responsibilities.
  • Curriculum. Coursework can vary drastically between schools, even for the same major. You can research each program’s curriculum to make sure it aligns with your interests and professional goals.
  • Graduation rates. Most colleges publish their graduation rates on their websites. Schools with high graduation rates may offer more support to help students finish their degrees on time.
  • Repayment policies. It’s beneficial to read the fine print before accepting financial assistance to ensure you understand the rules. For instance, some programs require you to repay financial aid if you don’t finish your degree.
  • Technology requirements. Online students typically need a laptop, a reliable Internet connection, and a webcam to attend virtual classes. You can ask programs of interest about the specific equipment needed to access course content.

You may also find it beneficial to speak to current students or recent alumni to learn about their experiences.

How Much Do Online Colleges Cost?

student getting his college degree online

The cost of tuition varies by school, but you can expect to pay between $80 to $500 per credit hour for an online degree. Community colleges tend to offer the most affordable credit hours, while tuition at private colleges may fall on the higher end of the spectrum.

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In addition to tuition, you might have other educational expenses. Charging distance learning fees for online college courses is common. These fees typically cover online resources, such as access to library databases and virtual tutoring. You may also factor textbooks and other supplies into your budget.

Are Online Colleges Legit?

student attending an online college

Many colleges that pay you to attend online are legitimate. You can ensure you receive a credible education by choosing online degrees that are worth it from an online school that has received regional accreditation.

To get accredited, colleges must demonstrate that they uphold rigorous educational standards. These benchmarks cover curricula, student-to-faculty ratios, student learning outcomes, and other aspects. Online programs that are not accredited may be considered less reputable by employers.

Additionally, many colleges don’t accept transfer credits from unaccredited programs, which could make it challenging to continue your education at another institution.

Online Colleges That Pay Students to Attend

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

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Students who attended an Arizona community college may be eligible for Arizona State University’s Earn to Learn program. Eligible students in this program deposit $500 into a savings account toward their education, and then an 8-to-1 match of $4,000 is awarded. ASU offers a variety of fully online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Areas of study offered include addiction psychology, art history, and electrical engineering.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bethel University

Bethel University campus

Bethel University offers opportunities to apply for work-study or positions to work on campus. Work study students may earn up to $3,000 during the year. Bethel offers online programs in fully online and hybrid formats. The school offers 35 online programs in fields such as divinity, special education, and business administration.

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

Boston University

Boston University campus

Boston University offers on-campus work-study opportunities to qualifying students. Students participating in the work-study program may earn an award up to $2,000, depending on their financial aid packages. BU offers a variety of fully online programs. Most courses are in an asynchronous format and are 7 weeks long.

Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco campus

City College of San Francisco requires the completion of the FAFSA to receive financial aid. San Francisco residents may be eligible for free tuition. There are also work-study opportunities to pursue. City Online allows qualifying California residents to earn an associate degree online and then transfer to a state college. Areas of study offered include art history and social justice studies.

City College of San Francisco is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Columbia University

Columbia University campus

Students attending Columbia University may be eligible for free tuition and grants to help with other expenses. Some students may also participate in work-study programs. Columbia offers select online and hybrid degrees through certain schools. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in fields such as social work, artificial intelligence, and executive education.

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

Cornell University

Cornell University campus

Cornell University offers federal and institutional work-study programs to eligible students who submit the FAFSA. The average amount of aid is $3,500. Cornell offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees through its online learning program. Most programs are in a hybrid format. Fields of study offered include human resource management, health administration, and legal studies.

Cornell is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Harvard University

Harvard University campus

Harvard University strives to make college more affordable. Once students are accepted, the school assesses their need and creates financial aid packages for them. Students are also expected to work during fall and spring terms. Harvard offers several degrees that are in a hybrid format with many courses available fully online. Areas of studied offered include data science and digital health.

Harvard is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Lipscomb University

Lipscomb University campus

Lipscomb University offers work study to help pay for school. Students receive jobs and funding on a first-come first-serve basis. Lipscomb offers fully online undergraduate and graduate degrees. Up to 30 credit hours may be earned for prior experience. Fields of study offered include business leadership and technology management.

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

University of Arizona

University of Arizona campus

The University of Arizona offers an Earn to Learn program to help students pay for college. Qualifying students deposit $500 into a savings account, and the school pays $4,000 to help cover school expenses. UA offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Courses are 7.5 weeks long. Fields of study offered include bioinformatics and nurse-midwifery.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of Missouri – Columbia

University of Missouri – Columbia campus

Graduate students at the University of Missouri – Columbia may be eligible for tuition support. Students must work as an assistant or fellow for 10 hours per week to receive funding. The University of Missouri – Columbia offers multiple graduate degrees fully online. Areas of study offered include English education, imaging sciences, and veterinary public health.

The University of Missouri – Columbia is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Paid to Go to College Online

Student getting paid to go to college online

If you want to save money while getting a degree, there are many schools that pay you to attend online. These colleges typically provide financial assistance through grants, scholarships, and work-study programs.

Also, some institutions waive tuition for all students or learners who meet specific eligibility criteria. Getting paid to go to school online or finding online colleges that accept FAFSA can help you reduce stress and focus on your education. This option can also give you a leg up by allowing you to save money for other expenses.

You can start exploring fast online degrees from accredited online schools that pay you to attend to see if this opportunity is right for you.

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Brianna has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida and an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include careers and professional development, digital pedagogy, and first-year writing.