Financial aid offered to online students

The University might now have to compete for students attending classes online.

Jamie VanGeest

Students now have more options when it comes to the time and place of their education.

Last week, Congress changed a law that said only students who attend colleges that offer at least half of their courses in a classroom setting can qualify for financial aid.

Now students from universities that offer all their classes online can receive financial help. So students might not have to consider their finances as much when they choose the way they get an education

Either way, the change is going to be good for college students, said Kris Wright, the University’s director of financial aid. It will give students more schools that offer online courses to choose from.

She said the new law will not change the way the University operates its online courses.

University instructor Orville Weiszhaar said it’s good and bad Congress changed the law. Weiszhaar teaches Abnormal Psychology, Positive Psychology and Stress Management online.

Weiszhaar said it’s good for the University to compete for students who might be considering enrolling in an online university.

If it did turn out that the University had a hard time competing with schools that have only online courses, the University would have to examine the experiences its students are paying for, he said.

Some advantages Weiszhaar has found for students taking online courses include being able to take the class at their own pace and on their own schedule.

“You can do a lesson sitting in your underwear rather than, Oh gosh, I’ve got to get dressed; I’ve got to go somewhere,” he said.

Students from around the world take online classes at the University. Weiszhaar has students from England, Iraq and Afghanistan taking his courses.

Some of the disadvantages of online courses include not hearing the lectures in person and not being able to participate in classroom discussions, he said.

For example, a student can read about suicide, but if a fellow classmate shares in the classroom about a time they attempted suicide, the student gains a personal aspect to the lesson.

Also, with online courses, the student misses out on interaction with the professor. Weiszharr has students who got A’s in his class and he doesn’t even know what gender or age they are.

Eric Varghese, a biomedical engineering junior, said he thinks the change to the law in Congress, which might cause more students to enroll in online courses, isn’t a great option. Online classes have many disadvantages, he said.

Varghese agreed with some of the disadvantages mentioned by Weiszharr. Varghese also said he does not see how it would be possible to take classes with required lab components online.