Paying for an Online Counseling Degree

The need for mental health counselors has grown significantly in the wake of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act of 2010. The law, which estimated that there are millions of untreated mental health cases in the United States, included mental health services under standard coverage provisions. With the updates to insurance funding, the demand for counselors has drastically increased, meaning that recent graduates have many opportunities to pay off loans and other debt related to their online counseling degrees.

University Resources

Your online college may match graduates with organizations that need counselors. Students still enrolled in online counseling classes may be able to participate in work-study programs in which students gain experience and income from part-time work in mental healthcare facilities. A leading model for this kind of program can be found at Drexel University. Drexel offers the use of a university job board for two full years after graduation, and the school also has work-study opportunities.

Job Settings

Public health organizations are a leading source of positions for mental health counselors. These positions exist in remedial and therapeutic settings such as in Veteran's Administration programs that deal with veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorders. State and federal-agency programs for substance-abuse treatment that incorporate outpatient counseling also rely on mental health counselors.

Online counseling graduates can also consider temporary work in other business, government, insurance, and administration settings to pay for their degrees. Health care organizations that provide counseling services to the public often work with insurance companies, government agencies, and other similar organizations. Paying off student loans by working in one of these related fields can lead to an expanded skill set and mental health-related career options.

Online Job Boards

There are websites where online counseling graduates can find positions, but many are sponsored by recruitment firms, so they are not portals for employers to select applicants. One example of a recruiter website is the Mental Health Job Board Network. Other viable options include federal, state, and local job boards, which post openings and permit application directly to the employers. For instance, job boards like the one maintained by The Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services can open the door to a mental health career and paychecks that will more than cover the cost of your online counseling degree.