If you are trying to decide which college to attend, it can feel almost impossible to know what the price of your degree will be.
You can usually find the list price and fees on a college website, but will not know the associated textbook and lab costs until after enrollment. In many cases, a college will often award scholarships to reduce the list price, but only after application. Credit transfer information can be difficult to find or complex to understand. And unfortunately, you often don’t know what federal or state financial aid you will receive until after submitting your FAFSA.
With such little pricing transparency, how can you hope to lower the price of your degree? We’re here to break it down.
How to Reduce College Costs
No matter how difficult it can be to determine the “real” price for a specific college, you can “really” reduce your overall expense by:
- Taking your general education courses online; and
- Reducing (or eliminating) costs associated with textbooks.
Take General Education Courses Online
Whether it’s taking courses from providers like StraighterLine or from a local community college, general education courses are always required at the start of a degree program. Transferring college credit from StraighterLine to a higher priced college can save thousands of dollars. Just compare costs per credit hour to see how much you can save.
According to recent research on college costs, the average costs of a credit hour (based on published tuition and fees) are as follows:
- Four-year private nonprofit: $1,586 per credit hour
- Four-year public (out-of-state): $1,148 per credit hour
- Four-year public (in-state): $448 per credit hour
- Community college/trade school (in-district): $158 per credit hour
- StraighterLine (online): $52 per credit hour (single course completed in month)
Most colleges will have a chart in their course catalog that details how they accept credits. For StraighterLine’s partner colleges, we’ve done it for you.
Eliminate Textbook Costs
One major obstacle standing in the way of college student achievement is the extraordinary cost of textbooks. We’ve seen the great lengths students have gone through to track down affordable textbooks, wasting valuable time, energy, and money. That’s why at StraighterLine, students have immediate access to the textbooks required in their courses, and we’ve included them at no extra cost. StraighterLine courses start at $59 (3 credit hours) with our $99/month membership. We’ve deliberately made the price of our courses clear and transparent so you don’t have any surprise costs that can slow you down.
Given all the attention on college affordability, the true price of a college degree will likely be easier for a prospective student to decipher in the next decade. In the meantime, it pays off to start with the few guaranteed strategies to reduce the price of your degree.
Source: Student Loan Hero: How Much a College Credit Hour Costs
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