Online education has revolutionized the way people are learning, brushing up on their job skills, and getting certifications, such as degrees. Free online university courses and financial aid may seem to be contradictory, but not if you wish to acquire proof of completing your education, and yet you cannot afford the fees. Some websites offer both free and paid courses of study. Usually, if the courses are free, there is no certification awarded; although, this is not always the case. On the other hand, the website or university may charge a fee for the certificate or degree. Which choice you opt for depends on your current or future needs, as well as your financial circumstances.
You have options when it comes to paying for a certificate, degree, or diploma from online courses. You may pay for it out of your pocket if you can, but if that is not possible, then financial aid is available from several sources. Consequently, nearly everyone has a chance at an advanced education.
Free and Paid Online Courses
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are open courses for anyone around the world to sign up for in order to learn new skills. MOOCs (introduced in 2006), the online courses became popular in 2012. These courses are available to more people than a physical institution. There are many opportunities for learning online from all over the world and in many subjects, no matter your background or location.
Numerous universities, non-profits, and government organizations are partners with online course websites. Therefore, the websites offer a slew of free lessons, as well as entire series of courses called specializations. These courses are often offered free of charge. Some even offer certificates of completion so that you can show your school or employer the type of educational background you have outside of school.
On the other hand, some of the universities offer certificates, diplomas, and degrees through these websites. These credentials usually require you to pay a fee, either for the entire set of courses for that program or just for the certification itself. With these courses, you may have the option of still accessing a limited amount of the lessons without paying. You can opt to use the “audit the course” feature for free if you are not interested in acquiring a certification.
Online Certificates, Diplomas, and Degrees
As stated before, there are many different types of certifications and programs available. Basic courses are available for free. They allow the student to learn new skills, brush up on skills they already know, and (as a whole) broaden their knowledge. Most of the time, basic courses do not offer credentials; but they may offer a certificate of completion.
Alternatively, MOOCs may also offer courses and programs that are more academic and formal. These programs can grant titles of academic achievements, such as diplomas and degrees. The classes that offer certifications usually charge for the service, just as a normal university would. As a bonus though, the e-learning programs of study are much more affordable. The prices vary based on the credential, university, website, and courses.
Below are some of the programs that offer various credentials through MOOCs.
• Basic Classes: Free and paid courses that do not provide a degree. Sometimes a certificate of completion is offered.
• Master’s Degree: Learning that is more comprehensive in a specific career field. Work from anywhere and at your own pace, and earn this degree at a less expensive price.
• Professional Certificate Programs or Specializations: A series of courses designed to provide or enhance professional skills. Show this certification to current or potential employers to prove that you have the necessary skills to perform the job.
• Global Freshman Academy from EdX: You can earn transferable ASU (Arizona State University) credit for your freshman year, and pay tuition only if you earn a passing grade. You can learn from anywhere in the world, and this is a more cost-effective way of getting started with your education.
Although the MOOCs are more inexpensive, some people still cannot afford them. That is where financial aid comes in. There are several ways to apply for financial aid for these courses. Some websites offer their own financial aid; others will accept other forms of scholarships and grants. Help paying for the degrees and diplomas enables most anyone to earn a higher education; evening out the playing field between the wealthy and less advantaged.
Where to Get Financial Aid
You can get financial aid for different courses, degrees, and diplomas based on which website you use for your classes. You will not usually have as many options as people who pay for the courses and certifications themselves. You can go to each website and see what courses accept financial aid.
You can go to EdX and find more information about the programs for which they offer financial aid. EdX offers financial assistance for earning Verified Certificates to those who may not be able to pay the entire fee. If you are eligible, you may receive up to 90% off the certification fee.
Coursera also offers its own financial assistance. Unfortunately, not every course or specialization is eligible for financial aid, but many do. A specialization (a group of courses that all have related skills) is paid for differently than individual courses.
Assistance for a Specialization: If you decide you want to take one course at a time, then you must apply for financial aid for each course. You can get assistance 5 times a year. After you pass each course, you will be awarded a Course Certificate. You will have one year (unless the course information says otherwise) to complete the Specialization and You must earn a certificate for each course in the specialization and complete the Capstone Project in order to earn your Specialization Certificate. If you can afford the fees for the certification, there is also an option of paying for the entire Specialization in advance.
Of course, there are also courses and programs you can take directly from the colleges that provide them. The main problem with this though is that the price is much higher, and paying off student loans has proven to be a financial burden. Therefore, I believe that using MOOCs as much as possible will provide you with the same education at a much more affordable price. Financial aid is available at most universities. You can apply for financial aid from several sources such as the U.S. federal government, state where you live, the college you attend, or a nonprofit or private organization.
Take Online Courses Worry Free
Now you can learn new skills, or expand your current knowledge without worrying about financial concerns. Free online university courses and financial aid go hand-in-hand, depending on an individual’s circumstances. There are many options to choose from if you decide to continue your education. For example; what courses, specializations, or degrees you wish to obtain; as well as, how to pay for them (if they are not free). MOOCs have allowed nearly anyone, anywhere, to obtain a higher education, whether they have the money to pay for it or not.