How to Apply To an Online School
Enrolling in an online school is fairly simply due to the fact that everything can be done online providing you have access to a copier or fax machine. One item that is absolutely necessary before submitting an online school application is a high school diploma or GED (general equivalency diploma).
All students must submit proof that they have earned a high school diploma before enrollment procedures can progress. Students can either fax a copy of the diploma or make a copy of the diploma, download the copy to their computer and email it to the online school’s registration office.
Since online schools based in the U.S. are taught in English, another requirement is that you be able to read, write and speak English fluently before enrollment is finalized. The ability to use the English language correctly is determined by the school upon review of all completed documents as well as scores of the placement exams.
Prospective students will also be asked to submit the following documents:
- Driver’s license or other picture identification and social security card or number
- Application for admissions–asks for full name, email address, country of residence, contact phone number, city and state you live in. This application will also ask what level of studies to which you wish to apply (undergraduate, graduate) and if you have spoken to an admissions counselor.
- If you have accumulated previously earned credits from another university, you will need to submit an official transcript of these credits to determine how many more credits you need to obtain a degree.
- You may need to complete entrance exams that test your math, English and writing skills to satisfy enrollment requirements if you have never attended a higher learning institution.
Students who have test results below the percentage necessary to begin college level classes may have to complete one or more remedial classes to enhance certain kills that are necessary to obtain a degree.
When to Apply for Financial Aid
Students should apply for financial aid at least six to eight weeks in advance of enrolling in an online school. This gives the Department of Education time to review your application, determine whether you are eligible and submit the proper documentation to the school in which you wish to enroll. President Obama’s administration has made many changes to laws regulating student aid that could impact your ability to receive Pell Grants or Stafford Loans. You can read about these changes at federal student aid programs.
Basic requirements to receive U.S. student financial aid include:
- You must be a U.S. citizen, or eligible noncitizen
- You must have a valid Social Security number
- If you are male and between the ages of 18 and 25, you must register with the selective service before eligibility for aid can be transferred
- You must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA while taking online classes
- You must meet income guidelines and be enrolled at least part-time to be considered for financial aid
During the enrollment process you will talk to a financial aid counselor who can assist you in applying for the different types of aid for which you may be eligible. These aid programs are:
- Grants that do not have to be paid back
- Perkins Loans
- Direct Stafford Loans
- Direct PLUS Loans
- Direct PLUS Loans (for parent borrowers)
- Direct Loan Consolidation
You cannot begin coursework until the financial aspect of attending online school is satisfied. Either the school receives payment through the Department of Education or the student pays in full for his or her semester or becomes involved in a payment agreement with the school.
After the Enrollment Process is Completed
What happens after you have submitted all the necessary documentation and have settled your financial arrangements with the online school? You will then be assigned a student ID number and be given access to the school’s curriculum catalog that contains all the classes that are being offered that semester. You will also be given a personal guidance counselor who will help you in selecting classes appropriate for your major.
After you have enrolled online in the classes you need, read each class’s syllabus provided by the instructor of that course to determine what books or other supplies you will need. Access the school’s bookstore online and order the appropriate books. If you received a Pell Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, your books fees will be subtracted from this fund.
Any excess financial aid remaining after tuition and books have been paid will be remitted to you via check or electronic transfer to a debit card or checking account.
Be aware that although you will not need to reapply to a school each semester you attend an online school, you will have to reapply for financial aid each year by submitting a renewal form found at the FAFSA website (Federal Financial Aid for Students).
As long as you have proof that you completed high school in the form of a diploma or GED, applying to an online school is not time-consuming nor is it complicated. However, one other thing to consider before enrolling in online classes is your internet connection and the age of your computer. If you do not have a high speed internet connection, your ability to access certain media programs, videos and student forums may be limited or impossible.
In addition, older computers may not contain the hardware necessary to execute certain programs such as powerpoints, Java or Flash. If you think your computer equipment may not be able to handle an online school’s course materials, ask your counselor about computer requirements before the semester begins so you are able to start your classes on time and without problems.