Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is an Online Education Worth the Cost of Admission?

Answer? It depends (but this piece is actually not very thorough in it's argumentation, unfortunately).

Here's the deal: State schools like University of Chicago Illinois are now offering their degree programs online, resulting in significant competition with private, online colleges.


With the credit crisis in America exploding, the magnifying glass is now on the online education sector. Student loan debt has grown larger than our credit card debt and is only second to the mortgage bubble. At least when you have a mortgage you have something tangible to show for your money woes.

For-profit colleges are being scrutinized for supposedly targeting low income students and putting them into programs that they can’t afford. The end result is still a bachelors degree, but is the cost of an online degree worth paying for?

The cost of college has been subject to the largest inflation rates in the nation. With the college tuition rate growing 8-10 percent a year, it makes sense that students are looking for more affordable options. Online education is thought to be an affordable option for students looking to avoid graduating with over 20k in student loan debt.

The Cost of an Undergraduate Degree Online

With online college advertisements constantly demanding our attention you have to consider them. They seem convenient, promising, and affordable, but how does the cost of an online education compare to a traditional undergraduate degree? The average cost of a 4-year degree from a traditional school is $50,000 and $25,000 for an online bachelors degree. That is a great deal of debt for a twenty-something to take on at the start of their career.

Keep in mind that universities can offer scholarships and based on the student’s need, they could even qualify for grant money. That goes for online programs, too. Prospective students should file FAFSA, Free Application For Federal Student Aid, and contact their university’s financial aid office for scholarship opportunities.

The online option becomes more appealing when you compare the cost, but there is more to consider. Just like traditional college, public programs are more affordable than private. State schools are now offering their degree programs online to compete with private online colleges.

With competition for enrollment between the online and traditional universities, students now have the option of completing a bachelors degree online from schools like the University of Illinois without ever stepping foot on campus. This is the biggest bang for your buck. The affordable cost for an undergraduate degree from a state school becomes more reasonable when obtained online.

Return on Investment

Many students are under the impression that when they graduate from college they will be able to pay off their loans with the amazing job they get. With today’s economy, students are finding it harder to find that dream job. Yes, when you have a degree your job opportunities open up, but you have the heavy debt burden that your education created. Be prepared to start with a lower salary and work your way up.

The majority of students will tell you that if given the option they would do it again, but students should consider more options when continuing their education.

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