Women make up a good portion of students enrolled in online college classes. In the next three to six years women are expected to account for nearly 60 percent of the undergraduate population at colleges and universities, as well as a good segment of growth in the labor force. Many will complete their courses via a university distance learning degree program.Many of the women enrolled in online degree programs have community and family responsibilities and before online college classes and degree programs had rigid campus class schedules and child care to worry about. Into the 21st century, they said, online college alternatives allow them to “fit education into their work and family schedules, rather than trying to fit their lives into the schedules of traditional education”, according to an American Association of University Women study. Scholarships, fellowships and grants for college are also available to make higher education more affordable for working women.Online college costs were a common point of discussion for women interviewed for the 2001 study, “The Third Shift, Women Learning Online”. Many of the women were pursuing online degrees; others were taking online college classes simply because they enjoy learning. “Internet learning is a dream come true for women like me with families and full-time jobs”, a computer lab technician told “Third Shift” interviewers.College classes and online degree programs, they noted, provide excellent opportunities for women who have children, heavy work responsibilities, disabilities or tight schedules, or who reside in geographically isolated areas. With online college classes and online degree programs, many women try to do their coursework while other family members are sleeping, or they postpone taking courses until their children are older and more independent, the study reports. Respondents cited positive online college aspects such as minimized commuting time and travel costs.The costs for online college classes and degree programs are typically about the same as their traditional counterparts, and many colleges with online classes and degree programs are now accredited. In addition to low interest federal loans and grants for college, working women can look toward civic organizations, labor unions, large companies, non-profit organizations and veterans organizations that offer scholarships, fellowships and grants for college. The Ford Foundation is among them, as is a major soft drink company.The American Association of University Women alone for the 2009-2010 academic year plans to provide more than $3 million for more than 200 fellowships and grants for college, according to its Web site. The association offers career development grants for college that are designed for women with bachelor degrees to advance their careers; its fellowships are provided for research in the United States and abroad.Some women don’t have to worry about tuition costs or qualifying for fellowships, scholarships and grants for college. They might work for employers who offer tuition reimbursement. The rising number of working women has, in fact, been credited as one of the reasons for the growth of distance education itself.Of 121 million women ages 16 and older, 68 million were employed in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. A 2001 U.S. Senate document cited in the American Association of University women study described the average online college student as female, 34 years old, employed part-time and maintaining previously earned college credits. Women are projected to account for 49 percent of the increase in the total labor force growth between 2006 and 2016. And, by 2013, the number of women enrolled in undergraduate classes is expected to climb to 8.9 million, accounting for 57 percent of the undergraduate population, the U.S. Department of Education reports.