Say "Not" To Student Loans: Ways To Save Tuition Dollars On An Online Degree

As an adult student, your company may help you with tuition. This assistance can range from a few hundred dollars to more than several thousand dollars a year. There are some companies that refund all tuition costs, but most companies don’t. Therefore, you will need to supplement the cost of tuition with an out-of-pocket payment or apply for a student loan.

Here are some ways to save tuition money on your curriculum, especially the more expensive online degrees:

  • Use Community College for your general education and lower division major classes. If you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration (one of the most popular online degrees), you can take your general education (math, English, history, science, etc.) at community college for about $ 300 per class. This compares to $ 1500 per class for many of the online schools. You can also take lower division business courses (economics, accounting, business law, etc.) at community college, and if you finish your associate’s degree in business administration, the savings can be about $ 25K.
  • Use school options like Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and Credit by Exam (CBE). PLA is an option to earn credits for life / work experience, credentials, certificates, and military. Adult students average 15 college credits using PLA, at a fraction of the cost of taking 15 units of regular classes. Credit by exam allows students to test courses, and the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is the most popular. Some popular tests are English Composition (6 units), Introduction to Management (3 units), and Child Development (3 units). The cost is $ 80 per CLEP exam and most colleges will transfer between 30 and 60 units of credit scores per exam.
  • Research less expensive colleges. Comparing cost per unit is just one way to see how to save tuition dollars. Some schools are on the trimester system, so each class has four times the cost per unit, instead of the usual three times the cost per unit. Accelerated programs offering 5-week classes will have 9 periods per year, so the total cost per class is multiplied by the number of periods. For example, a class with a tuition of $ 500 per unit is $ 1500 / class for 3 units. Multiply that by 9 terms per year and the total amount is more than $ 13K / year. Since the average tuition attendance is about $ 5K / year, you will have $ 8K out of pocket or a student loan.
  • Look for scholarships and grants instead of just student loans. You must repay student loans with interest (and interest may increase unless Congress steps in to limit that amount of interest), but scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid. Each college will have a list of grants and scholarships available.

Know the total amount you will need to pay for your degree and keep in mind that there are less expensive colleges available locally and online. Using Community College, Prior Learning Assessment, and Credit by Exam will reduce tuition costs. Slowing down your program to fit your budget and looking for scholarships and grants will also allow you to earn that degree for less cost.