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

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Student loans are available for online classes and online colleges.
  • Federal student loans are preferred for low interest rates, flexible repayment plans, and potential loan forgiveness.
  • If federal loans are insufficient, private student loans are an option, but they often have higher interest rates and stricter criteria.
  • Before opting for loans, explore scholarships, grants, and school-funded aid; complete the FAFSA each year for federal student loans.

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!

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.

Best Private Student Loans for Online Courses

The digital age has transformed the landscape of education, ushering in a wave of online courses that cater to diverse learning needs and schedules. Whether you’re eyeing a complete online degree program or just a few courses to upskill, understanding your financial options is essential. While online classes often offer flexibility and potentially lower costs than traditional on-campus courses, they still require financial planning. Here are some top lenders who understand the unique needs of online learners and offer tailored loan solutions:

AmOne (Best for Okay to Good Credit)

AmOne offers a platform that excels in connecting potential borrowers to a wide network of lenders, making it especially handy for students pursuing online courses. For those with okay to good credit, AmOne provides a chance to find loan solutions tailored to the unique needs of online learning. With the rise of digital courses and the shift towards remote learning, having a resource like AmOne that understands the nuances and presents appropriate loan options is invaluable for many students.

AmOne Personal Loans

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

600

Fixed APR

3.99%-35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 600.
  • Fixed APR: 3.99%-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000.
  • Repayment: 1 to 7 years.

Qualifications

  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • While there’s no specific income requirement, a consistent source of income is essential for the applicant.

Pros

  • Suitable for individuals with lower credit scores.
  • No cost for the matching service.
  • Attractive loan rates.

Cons

  • Acts as an intermediary, not a direct lender.
  • Risk of multiple contacts from prospective lenders.
  • Lack of clarity on lender details.

Spotlight Loans (Best for Bad Credit)

Aimed at providing financial flexibility, Spotlight Loans delivers personal loan services that promise fast approval and disbursement, serving a broad spectrum of borrowers through personalized loan options and attentive customer service.

Spotlight Loans

4.8
Stilt rating
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

6.63% and up

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: n/a
  • Variable APR: 4.99% and up
  • Loan amounts: $100 – $5,000
  • Repayment: Depends on choice of lender

Qualifications

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a checking or savings account
  • Have regular income
  • Have a fair credit rating

Pros

  • Spotlight Loans is willing to work with individuals who have less-than-perfect credit, making it a viable option for those who may struggle to secure loans from traditional lenders​​​​.
  • Spotlight Loans offers same-day approval and funding, which is beneficial for those in urgent need of funds. This makes it a good option for emergency financial situations​​.
  • Unlike traditional payday loans, Spotlight Loans provides the option to repay the loan over a period of months, offering more flexibility in repayment planning​​​​.

Cons

  • One of the most significant drawbacks of taking a personal loan with Spotlight Loans is the potentially high interest rates. With APRs that can be much higher than traditional personal loan lenders, this can lead to substantial interest payments over time​​.
  • Spotlight Loans offers loan amounts that are relatively low, which may not be sufficient for all borrowers’ needs​​​​.
  • Spotlight Loans services are not available in all states, so it’s important to check if you reside in an eligible location before applying​​.

Spring Loans (Best for Bad and No Credit)

Online courses offer flexibility and convenience, but financing them can be challenging, especially for those with little to no credit history. Spring Loans steps in with a holistic financial evaluation approach, overlooking the traditional credit scores and emphasizing a broader financial picture. For students who might be venturing into the world of online learning and lack established credit, Spring Loans provides a lifeline, ensuring that digital education remains accessible and affordable.

Spring Loans Personal Loans

4.2
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

27.00%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.

Qualifications

  • Demonstrate a recurrent income.
  • Minimum age prerequisite: 18 years.
  • Validate U.S. citizenship status with an SSN.
  • Provide a legitimate U.S. driver’s license or a state identity card.
  • Establish a functional bank account for incoming deposits.
  • Adhere to any specific demands by the loan provider.

Pros

  • Open to applicants with any credit background.
  • Four-year loan period aids in structured financial management.
  • The $3,000 offer addresses several short-term financial challenges.
  • Wide-reaching eligibility criteria invite a broad spectrum of applicants.
  • The focus on dependable income over job title benefits varied income sources.

Cons

  • The set 27% APR is higher than many alternatives.
  • Restriction to a $3,000 loan might not cover all financial outlays.
  • Possessing specific IDs is mandatory, sidelining some applicants.
  • A prerequisite for an ongoing bank account may limit certain users.

First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)

Digital learning shouldn’t be hindered by past credit mistakes. First Premier Lending echoes this sentiment by offering loans tailored for those with bad credit. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by such students, especially in the realm of online education, First Premier Lending focuses on present potential rather than past financial missteps. This understanding and approach make them an attractive choice for online learners who’ve faced credit challenges.

First Premier Lending Personal Loans

4.2
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

27.00%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%.
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.

Qualifications

  • Maintain a consistent source of income.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Possess valid U.S. citizenship and a legitimate social security number.
  • Hold a current U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID.
  • Keep an active bank account for direct deposit.
  • Satisfy any lender-specific criteria, such as credit rating, borrowing history, or place of residence.

Pros

  • No minimum credit score requirement allows accessibility for those with varied credit histories.
  • 48-month term provides clarity and allows for long-term financial planning.
  • Specific loan amount of $3,000 can meet many short-term financial needs.
  • Broad set of qualifications make the loan accessible to a wide range of people.
  • Emphasis on consistent income, not necessarily employment type, allows flexibility for borrowers.

Cons

  • A fixed APR of 27% is relatively high.
  • Loan amount is capped at $3,000, which might not cater to larger financial requirements.
  • Requirement of a U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID could exclude some individuals.
  • Mandatory active bank account could be limiting for those who are unbanked.

College Ave (Best for Good Credit)

College Ave offers competitive student loan solutions for those with good credit, extending its offerings to cater to online learners. With a user-friendly interface and comprehensive tools to assist in loan decisions, College Ave makes it seamless for students pursuing online courses to find the financial support they need. Their competitive rates and diverse loan terms reward those with good credit, ensuring that online education is both attainable and manageable.

College Ave Undergraduate Private Student Loans

4.8
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

600 or better

Fixed APR

4.07% - 15.48%

Variable APR

5.59% - 16.69%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 600 or better.
  • Fixed APR: 4.07% – 15.48%.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $150,000.
  • Repayment: 5, 8, 10, 15, and 20 years.

Qualifications

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • For undergraduate loans: Part-time enrollment at an accredited college/university.
  • International students: Need a Social Security number and a co-signer.
  • For refinance loans: Must be 18 years or older.
  • For refinance loans: Graduation from an eligible school is required.

Pros

  • Prequalify with a soft credit check
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Offers co-signer release for private loans

Cons

  • Charges late fees
  • Must have graduated to be eligible to refinance
  • Half of repayment term must have passed to release co-signer

Sallie Mae (Best for Very Good Credit)

Sallie Mae, a stalwart in the student loan sector, recognizes the transformative power of online education and extends its premium loan options to digital learners. With a pristine credit profile, students can benefit from Sallie Mae’s top-tier loan conditions, ensuring their online educational pursuits are well-financed. The lender’s rich history combined with an understanding of modern educational trends makes Sallie Mae a top choice for those with excellent credit venturing into online courses.

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Private Student Loans

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

4.50-15.49%

Variable APR

6.37-16.70%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: Mid-600’s.
  • Fixed APR: 4.50-15.49%
  • Variable APR: 6.37-16.70%
  • Loan amounts: Minimum of $1,000 per year.
  • Repayment: 10 to 15 years.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a U.S. co-signer.

Cons

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Upgrade (Ideal for Good to Excellent Credit)

While traditional student loans may not be available for online classes, Upgrade offers personal loans that can be used to cover the costs associated with online education. With our emphasis on transparency and speed, students with good to excellent credit can rely on Upgrade’s efficient digital platform and swift loan approvals to finance their online education journey with ease.

Upgrade Personal Loan

5.0
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

560

Fixed APR

8.49% - 35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Fixed APR: 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years (7 years on some larger loans)

Qualifications

  • Possess an active bank account.
  • Able to provide a legitimate email address.
  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years (19 for Alabama residents).
  • Credit score of 600 or higher.
  • Annual income of $25,000 or more.

Pros

  • Willing to accommodate borrowers with a credit score as low as 560.
  • Offers flexibility with a range of loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000. This can be suitable for both small and large financial needs.
  • Provides options for repayment, allowing borrowers to choose a timeline that best suits their financial situation.
  • Once approved, borrowers can access funds in just one day, which is useful for urgent financial needs.

Cons

  • Origination fees can go as high as 9.99%, which might add a significant cost to the loan.
  • Apart from the origination fee, there are fees for late payments and failed payments, which can add up if one is not careful.
  • While there is an option to extend repayment for larger loans up to 7 years, it’s not standard for all loan amounts.

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.

Read More

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.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 100,000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn more about finance, immigration, and more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

Get the Checklist