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Is Online College a Cheaper Option for Your High School Grad?
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/is-online-college-a-cheaper-option-for-your-high-school-grad-788

Posted: 2015-06-09

by Ryan Hickey

Managing Editor of Petersons & EssayEdge, Guest Contributor

Hooray! High school graduation time! (Gasp! How are we paying for college?!)

When you're a kid, "school's out" means looking forward to summer fun, but as a parent, you're already looking ahead to the fall. If the coming months include college for your son or daughter, you're likely facing the dilemma of how to pay some steep tuition costs.

The cost of college seems to be an ever-rising tide, and the possibility of taking classes online looks like it may be a life preserver, but be careful about putting your hopes on the web. While savings are possible, they may not be in the places you expect.

In almost all cases, cost reductions come from the fact that online degrees offer flexibility rather than discounts in tuition.

The bad news: Why don't the classes seem cheaper?

In many cases, taking classes online are no cheaper per credit hour than they are at a brick-and-mortar university. And if you do see deals that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Be wary! You have to be careful that you are not being taken in by a "diploma mill" - a disreputable, for-profit online university that aggressively recruits students but provides a non-accredited degree (which can be a waste of money and time).

One of the best ways to spot a diploma mill is that they are very pushy when it comes to financial aid. Many calls and emails will give them away, because they are after your money first, and everything else is secondary. To avoid being suckered in, make sure you check accreditations (the U.S. Department of Education is a good place to start) and don't be fooled by "fake" credentials.

The good news: savings on the side

The savings for online college begin to pour in when you factor in details such as travel expenses, room and board, and often lab and material fees. There are no commuting costs in gas/car maintenance, and a student doesn't need to live on campus or get a meal plan. Also, classes offered online, while they will have expensive textbooks associated with them, avoid lab work, so materials are nil.

Room to work it

Another place where online degree flexibility is useful for savings is that it is often flexible enough to fit around steady part-time or even full-time work. That's why so many adults turn to that option when they already have a job and family responsibilities. For your students, that time could be spent getting more professional experience, and they'll be getting paid at the same time.

Resident of the world

You've heard that it's much cheaper to send your child to a state school if they can establish residency, but the web is worldwide. Though some online programs from state institutions are still priced for in-state and out-of-state tuition, many of the best of these programs have no such price gap. That means that your student can get an inexpensive degree at a reputable institution from anywhere. A friend of mine received an MBA from the London School of Economics, without leaving his job and while raising three kids in Chicago, and the degree was the same as the one given to those who wondered the hallowed halls in jolly ol' England.

Mix and match

Often the best way to approach the possibility of education online is to look at the benefits of both online and traditional schooling and maximize the potential of each.

  • Start out online. There could be a couple of reasons to take the first year or so of classes online, and cost is just one of them. Freshman year requires a number of prerequisites, and those 101 classes can be impersonal anyway. Taking them online might be a good way to transition to college without wasting money in travel and room and board. That will make the rest of college a three-year prospect, which might be easier to face money-wise.

    Also, if your child wants to go to a traditional state school in Florida, but you live in Illinois, he or she will need to establish residency to get in-state tuition. A good idea is to start taking online classes while biding time. Just make sure that those credits will transfer when residency kicks in.

  • Is your child already at college? Take pesky required courses at more convenient times. Scheduling is a bear at college, and sometimes, required classes for a degree are not offered at opportune times. This can force students to take summer courses or even extra semesters in order to finish out a degree. If some of these classes can be taken online, then they won't have to worry as much about conflicts and can perhaps finish school more quickly.

  • Finish up at home. Maybe your college student is already looking at working in their chosen field or has another reason to move home during the final semesters of college. Being able to finish a degree online opens up a number of options for students who want to start their career early. And a full-time internship is a great way to enter the workforce while still finishing a degree.

Ultimately, online education does save money, but almost all of the savings are due to flexibility--for work, living situations or otherwise. In my opinion, the possibility of mixing online and traditional courses presents an excellent option for cost reduction while still providing your student with the optimal college experience. After all, there is more to college than just a degree.

5 types of students who benefit from 529 plans




Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.






Managing Editor of Petersons & EssayEdge, Guest Contributor

Hooray! High school graduation time! (Gasp! How are we paying for college?!)

When you're a kid, "school's out" means looking forward to summer fun, but as a parent, you're already looking ahead to the fall. If the coming months include college for your son or daughter, you're likely facing the dilemma of how to pay some steep tuition costs.

The cost of college seems to be an ever-rising tide, and the possibility of taking classes online looks like it may be a life preserver, but be careful about putting your hopes on the web. While savings are possible, they may not be in the places you expect.

In almost all cases, cost reductions come from the fact that online degrees offer flexibility rather than discounts in tuition.

The bad news: Why don't the classes seem cheaper?

In many cases, taking classes online are no cheaper per credit hour than they are at a brick-and-mortar university. And if you do see deals that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Be wary! You have to be careful that you are not being taken in by a "diploma mill" - a disreputable, for-profit online university that aggressively recruits students but provides a non-accredited degree (which can be a waste of money and time).

One of the best ways to spot a diploma mill is that they are very pushy when it comes to financial aid. Many calls and emails will give them away, because they are after your money first, and everything else is secondary. To avoid being suckered in, make sure you check accreditations (the U.S. Department of Education is a good place to start) and don't be fooled by "fake" credentials.

The good news: savings on the side

The savings for online college begin to pour in when you factor in details such as travel expenses, room and board, and often lab and material fees. There are no commuting costs in gas/car maintenance, and a student doesn't need to live on campus or get a meal plan. Also, classes offered online, while they will have expensive textbooks associated with them, avoid lab work, so materials are nil.

Room to work it

Another place where online degree flexibility is useful for savings is that it is often flexible enough to fit around steady part-time or even full-time work. That's why so many adults turn to that option when they already have a job and family responsibilities. For your students, that time could be spent getting more professional experience, and they'll be getting paid at the same time.

Resident of the world

You've heard that it's much cheaper to send your child to a state school if they can establish residency, but the web is worldwide. Though some online programs from state institutions are still priced for in-state and out-of-state tuition, many of the best of these programs have no such price gap. That means that your student can get an inexpensive degree at a reputable institution from anywhere. A friend of mine received an MBA from the London School of Economics, without leaving his job and while raising three kids in Chicago, and the degree was the same as the one given to those who wondered the hallowed halls in jolly ol' England.

Mix and match

Often the best way to approach the possibility of education online is to look at the benefits of both online and traditional schooling and maximize the potential of each.

  • Start out online. There could be a couple of reasons to take the first year or so of classes online, and cost is just one of them. Freshman year requires a number of prerequisites, and those 101 classes can be impersonal anyway. Taking them online might be a good way to transition to college without wasting money in travel and room and board. That will make the rest of college a three-year prospect, which might be easier to face money-wise.

    Also, if your child wants to go to a traditional state school in Florida, but you live in Illinois, he or she will need to establish residency to get in-state tuition. A good idea is to start taking online classes while biding time. Just make sure that those credits will transfer when residency kicks in.

  • Is your child already at college? Take pesky required courses at more convenient times. Scheduling is a bear at college, and sometimes, required classes for a degree are not offered at opportune times. This can force students to take summer courses or even extra semesters in order to finish out a degree. If some of these classes can be taken online, then they won't have to worry as much about conflicts and can perhaps finish school more quickly.

  • Finish up at home. Maybe your college student is already looking at working in their chosen field or has another reason to move home during the final semesters of college. Being able to finish a degree online opens up a number of options for students who want to start their career early. And a full-time internship is a great way to enter the workforce while still finishing a degree.

Ultimately, online education does save money, but almost all of the savings are due to flexibility--for work, living situations or otherwise. In my opinion, the possibility of mixing online and traditional courses presents an excellent option for cost reduction while still providing your student with the optimal college experience. After all, there is more to college than just a degree.

5 types of students who benefit from 529 plans




Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.






 

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