How to Secure Financial Aid for Your Online Master’s Degree

College-aged student writing test

There’s a common misconception that financial aid is available exclusively to on-campus undergraduate students. However, online graduate students can participate in loan and grant programs. Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, is the country’s largest provider of tuition assistance and offers more than $150 billion each year to help undergraduate and graduate students pay for education.

Some aid, through grants, does not need to be paid back; federal student loans, (typically long-term loans with fixed, low-interest rates), must be repaid. The Financial Aid for Graduate and Professional Degree Students provides detailed information on different types of financial aid available to you as a graduate student.

Common types of student aid for graduate students

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program This is the largest federal student loan program. Under this program, ED is your lender rather than a bank. There are two types of Direct Loans that graduate and professional degree students may receive:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Eligible students may borrow up to $20,500 per school year. Graduate and professional students enrolled in certain health profession programs may receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan amounts each academic year.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: Eligible graduate and professional degree students who need to borrow more may apply for a PLUS loan.

Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program This is a school-based loan program for eligible students with exceptional financial need. You may qualify for a Perkins Loan of up to $8,000 each year depending on your financial need, the amount of other aid you receive, and the availability of funds at your school.

Helpful links for graduate students

  • The U.S Department of Education provides a free application for student aid, referred to as FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA online is easy and takes about 17 minutes to complete.
  • The Office of Federal Student Aid has a financial aid estimator tool called FAFSA4caster, which helps students understand their options for paying for college and provides an early estimate of eligibility for financial aid.
  • offers detailed information about federal student aid and the FAFSA application process. The site includes helpful publications and tools for managing Direct Loans.
  • has information about completing the Master Promissory Note, Direct PLUS Loan requests and entrance counseling.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Spring Arbor University Online will work with you to help identify the different financial aid options available to you as an online student in one of our programs. We have researched and compiled information that can give you an idea of the financial benefits for which you may qualify, including student aid, military discounts and tax benefits. Complete the form on this page or call us at 1.844.621.0900 to learn more.