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 per year. There are some companies that finance everyone tuition costs, but most companies do not. Therefore, you will need to supplement the cost of tuition by paying out of pocket or apply for a student loan.
Here are some ways to save tuition dollars on your curriculum, especially those more expensive online degrees:
- Use Community College for your general education and lower division core classes. If you want to earn 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 the community college for around $300 per class. This compares to $1,500/class for many of the online schools. You can also take lower division business courses (Economics, accounting, business law, etc.) at the community college and if you complete your Associate of Business Administration degree, the savings can be approximately $25K.
- Use school options like Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and Credit by Exam (EPC). PLA is an option to earn credits for life/work experience, credentials, certificates, and military. Adult students earn an average of 15 college credits using PLA, at a fraction of the cost of taking 15 units of regular classes. Credit by exam allows students to pass 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 test and most colleges will transfer 30 to 60 units of credit per test score.
- Research less expensive colleges. Comparing the cost per unit is just one way to see the savings in tuition dollars. Some schools have a quarter system, so each class costs four times the cost per unit, instead of the usual three times the cost per unit. Accelerated programs that offer 5-week classes will have 9 terms per year, so the total cost per class is multiplied by the number of terms. For example, a class with a tuition of $500 per unit costs $1500/class for 3 units. Multiply that by 9 terms per year and the total amount is over $13K/year. Since the average tuition assistance 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 the interest may increase unless Congress steps in to limit that interest amount), but scholarships and grants don’t have to be repaid. Each college will have a list of available grants and scholarships.
Learn the full amount you’ll need to pay for your degree, and keep in mind that the least expensive colleges are 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 into scholarships and grants will also allow you to get that degree at a lower cost.