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College Planning

College budget 101: Are online colleges and universities a good financial choice?

As the cost of tuition increases every year, more students are considering online colleges and universities. This article notes considerations for deciding between a traditional and an online college.
The price of earning a college degree is becoming costlier every year giving families a crash course in budget 101. But did you know that depending on the school you choose, you could be paying twice as much (or even three or four times) for the same degree at a different school?

The fact is, college degrees and their associated costs aren't standardized. And for this reason, many students are sharpening their pencils and doing some comparison shopping to understand how much is college tuition. They're also looking for alternatives to traditional learning programs, trading in their fancy cap and gown for lower tuition costs. By considering online colleges and universities.

Considering online colleges and universities

According to a report by the Babson Survey Research Group, nearly 6.3 million students in the U.S. are taking some type of online course, with 3 million students taking online classes exclusively.1 But while online learning can be an affordable alternative, not all online colleges are created equal.

But how do you know if what you're considering is a good financial choice in the long run? Moreover, what should you consider when researching online colleges and universities? Here's what you need to know.

Look for an accredited institution

Accreditation is where the rubber meets the road. It means that an online institution meets or exceeds an established set of educational standards. Even more important, courses from an accredited online college are most likely to be transferable to other colleges and universities, and degrees are more likely to be valued by both your current employer and prospective employers considering you for a position. The bottom line is that an online education can help to move you ahead in your career, but only if you attend a credible, accredited college or university.

Check on what credits can be transferred

Depending on what degree you are pursuing, be sure to check on how many credits can be transferred according to your long range objectives. For example, if you're planning on completing your associate's degree online and later hope to earn a bachelor's degree (online or on campus), check to see how likely it is your coursework will transfer over. By doing this, you can save yourself time and money.

Look into credits for prior learning

Many schools offer credits for relevant learning, work, and life experiences. For example, if you're pursuing a teaching degree and have experience working with children, you may be able to apply your experience toward your degree. This could help shave some big money off of your tuition bill, so be sure and ask.

Before you make any decisions regarding online colleges and universities, look closely at the type of majors they offer - and don't settle. Today, there are unlimited degree options when it comes to online degree programs. So with a little research, you're sure to find something that meets your needs. You can start your search on, or similar sites. There you'll be able to request information from over 100 online colleges and universities.





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