Contrary to the popular misconception, you can receive financial aid for online colleges and online college courses. This means that the already minimal cost of online classes just got even cheaper!
Federal aid comes from the government. This is money that individuals who are U.S. citizens (or have the proper forms) can access to help cover the costs of their education. The FAFSA is the most primary form to apply for financial aid, and includes subsidized loans, which are loans that don't accrue interest during your education period (and six months afterward); unsubsidized loans, which are loans that do accrue interest; federal grants, which are basically free money -- provided you meet the requirements; and of course, there are Pell grants, Perkin's loans, and a host of others that all derive from FAFSA.
Non-Federal Student Loans
These are loans which come from banks and major lending institutions. They allow students and parents access to a lot more money, but they also require good credit and have higher interest rates. Exmaples of non-federal student loans would be the Parent PLUS loan from Sallie Mae, or private loans from banks such as Chase, and Bank of America. The benefits of these is that you can often use a single, consolidated loan to pay for your education.
Scholarships & Grants
Scholarships are monetary awards given to students, usually by business or individuals for specific purposes, like tuition, books, or housing costs. For online college students many of these needs are irrelevant, however there are still a host of scholarsihps available to help individuals receive an education. Check with your college or university or the Internet for a list of available ones.
Grants are similar to scholarships, with a few key differences. Grants are more flexible, because they can be used for anything from housing costs to tuition, and are usually awarded through governmental or nonprofit institutions.
Both grants and scholarships have to be applied for, often with essays or merit-based qualifications. The competition can be stiff, since the money is often finite and only available at certain times.
If your field of study relates to your current employment, you could be lucky enough to receive financial reimbursement from your boss! Employers are constantly looking to increase the quality of their staff, and training in-house can be time consuming or not practically feasible. Employees who seek to further training in their field can expect their companies to see this as a good investment. A further benefit is that employers are likely to be sympathetic when scheduling time for you to work around your classes! But be sure to check with your boss before making any decisions, as different employers have different requirements and regulations.
Be sure to take advantage of any financial aid resources available to you, as these will likely allow you to focus less on work and more on school. A few shorter shifts while getting more credits ensures that you spend less time getting your degree; and that means you can get back to work faster, with more money saved up, less debt, and best of all: Your education is going to pay dividends on top of everything else!