Can You Get Student Loans for Online Classes or Online College?

Posted by in Loans | Updated on October 16, 2022

Not every student can physically attend classes at a college or university. Instead, they choose to take online classes and stay at home while studying.

But what do you do when you want a student loan? Can you get student loans for online classes or online college? Let’s find out!

>> Click here jump down to see specific student loan options for online college

Are There Student Loans for Online Classes & Online College?

Yes, there are student loans for students who take online classes and even attend college completely online.

Federal student loans are the best option for students taking online courses as they have low interest rates, a variety of repayment plans, and the possibility of student loan forgiveness in the future.

If you aren’t eligible for federal student loans or max them out, the next-best option is private student loans. These typically have higher rates than federal loans and are harder to qualify for, but they can still help you fund your education.

We take a deeper look at each of those options below, but first, let’s explore some options you can consider before turning to loans for your online courses. 

Before Your Turn to Student Loans for Online College

Before you decide to take out a loan, it’s more important to know what other options you have to pay for your online classes.

It’s always better to get funding that you don’t have to pay back as you do with student loans. Though the following options require some upfront work, they can save you a considerable amount of money in the long-run. 

Here’s what you should look into before applying for a student loan:

Scholarships and Grants

Even though you are studying from afar, that doesn’t make you any less of a student. Your situation is just different and you are doing things differently. So, despite thinking you may not have the same rights, you can actually access scholarships and grants to help you deal with your payments.

If you’re a distance learning student, there are special scholarship opportunities that are designed specifically for you.

Grants are pretty much the same thing as scholarships except that they are typically given for financial need as opposed to merit. Federal Pell Grants are the most common options that you can get by filling out the FAFSA (more on that below).

The cool thing about grants, as well as scholarships, is that you don’t have to pay them back. You receive them and you can use them without thinking of any repayment date.

School-Funded Aid

There are also many schools that give their students financial aid so they can deal with the tuition. More often than not, you can find information about it on the school’s official website, but if not, you can always ask the financial aid office for it.

You should fill out some applications that are required to grant you access to the school funds.

Federal Student Loans for Online Classes

Believe it or not, student loans used to be unavailable for students in online programs. It would’ve been too difficult considering the things that come into play when giving out loans. However, things have changed and now, student loans are also available for online degree program students.

Still, the eligibility is decided based on your particular situation. Each year, you should fill out the FAFSA to see what federal financial aid—including loans—you’re eligible for.

Filling Out the FAFSA

The application process for students attending online college isn’t any different from the one that traditional students are going through.

To get started, you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You’ll have to fill this out each year that you want to receive aid as soon as you can after October 1.

You can either ask for a copy by mail or fill it out online, after which you print it and mail it to the rightful location.

Here are the types of loans you may be eligible for by filling out the FAFSA:

Federal Direct Loans

Federal Direct Loans are the most common type of federal loans for students. But even with these, there are some subcategories to take into account.

Direct Subsidized Loans are for students that have financial need. The government pays the interest on subsidized loans while you are in school and during periods of deferment (such as if you lose your job). 

If you don’t have financial need, you will still be eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Loans which come with the same interest rates and repayment plan options as subsidized loans. The only difference is that you are responsible for the interest while you’re in school and during periods of deferment.

Direct PLUS Loans are for parents of students (Parent PLUS Loans) and graduate students (Grad PLUS Loans). They can be used to cover tuition, college living costs, and anything else associated with studying. PLUS Loans typically have higher rates than the other two types.

Private Student Loans for Online Courses

If federal student loans aren’t enough to cover your online college costs or if you aren’t eligible for federal loans, the next step is to turn to private student loans.

Private student loans typically have higher rates than federal loans—making them more expensive in the long run—but they are still a viable method of paying for your education.

In addition, private student loans will usually require that you have a good credit score or creditworthy cosigner (though there are student loans specifically for students without a cosigner).

We recommend comparing multiple private student loan lenders to find the one that offers you the best rate and repayment term that fits your needs. You should also keep an eye out for interest rate discounts for things such as setting up automatic payments or having a bank account with the lender.

Student Loans for Online Classes Tips

You should prepare yourself before getting a student loan so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises. You need to be responsible, as loans are not child’s play.

Here are some tips to help you when applying for your student loans for online classes:

Beware of Deadlines

There are a lot of deadlines to deal with. First of all, you have a deadline for the federal and state loans themselves, but then there is also the college deadline. It would be ideal if all of them had the same deadline so it would be easier to track them, but that’s rarely the case. So, you should always file your FAFSA before the first deadline that you have to deal with.

After the application, you usually get a financial aid offer from your school. It should also include federal student loans. Whether you accept them or not is up to you. Overall, it’s better to not accept federal loans if you still haven’t spent your scholarships and grants. But before doing so, be aware of how much cash you need to pay for your school.

Once you decide which funds to accept, you need to send a signed award letter back, so officials know what you have chosen. Keep in mind that a Mastery Promissory Note will also have to be signed before you are granted access to the loan.

Know the Loan Limits for Undergraduate & Graduate Programs

Even though you may be able to get multiple federal loans to deal with your tuition, there is still a limit to the amount of cash you can get.

For instance, for graduate schools, the maximum amount is $138,500, and it should be less in subsidized loans, respectively below $65,500.

Meanwhile, an independent undergraduate can get a maximum of $57,500, while a dependent one can get $31,000. However, the maximum amount for both of them in subsidized loans is $23,000.

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Final Thoughts on Student Loans for Online College

As we’ve gone over, it’s definitely possible to get student loans for online courses. We recommend starting out by seeing what scholarships and grants you can get, then maxing out your federal student loans, and, if necessary, turning to private student loans.

Need a Loan? Get One in 3 Simple Steps

If you are considering applying for a personal loan, just follow these 3 simple steps.


Apply online for the loan amount you need. Submit the required documentation and provide your best possible application. Stronger applications get better loan offers.


If your application meets the eligibility criteria, the lender will contact you with regard to your application. Provide any additional information if required. Soon you’ll have your loan offer. Some lenders send a promissory note with your loan offer. Sign and return that note if you wish to accept the loan offer.


The loan then gets disbursed into your U.S. bank account within a reasonable number of days (some lenders will be as quick as 2-3 business days). Now you need to set up your repayment method. You can choose an autopay method online to help you pay on time every month.


About Stilt

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We take a holistic underwriting approach to determine your interest rates and make sure you get the lowest rate possible. 

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