Act Today to Reduce the Cost of Your College Education

Barry Lenson
Reduce the Cost of Your College Education Burck Smith, StraighterLine founder and CEO

Many forward-thinking educators are predicting that big changes are coming soon for American colleges and universities. As competition increases between traditional colleges and providers of online courses, for example, the cost of college could actually fall. That’s only one change that could be in the offing.

If you want to know more, take a moment to read this excerpt from testimony that StraighterLine’s founder and CEO, Burck Smith, gave before Congress on July 9th, 2013 . . .

“In higher education, accreditation, and the public subsidies to which it is tied, make it difficult for course-level competition to emerge. By my conservative calculations, accredited colleges receive well over $200 billion of taxpayer subsidies per year. These subsidies directly and indirectly support students through Pell grants, subsidized loans, 529 plans, tax credits, and colleges through state grants to public colleges, Department of Labor grant programs and non-profit tax status. To receive any of these subsidies, a college must be accredited. To be accredited, a provider must offer full degrees, not individual courses. Providers are judged on their inputs – like faculty credentials and departments – rather than their outcomes. Colleges have complete control over their credit recognition policies. Finally, accreditors are staffed and financed by colleges themselves. This means that it is difficult to `disaggregate’ the college experience because the college must be a degree `bundle,’ that colleges must have similar cost structures because their inputs must be similar, that they can deny credit from providers that are threatening and that there is little incentive to change the model.” 

What You Can Do Today to Limit What You Spend on College

The testimony above provides a glimpse of large-scale changes that could be happening soon. But chances are that you are wondering what you can do today to trim the costs of your education.

We have covered dozens of cost-minimizing strategies on this blog in the past. If you scan through the list of subject categories to your left, you will find posts that explain many of them. But for today, let’s examine just one strategy that you can start using now to cut your college costs.

Complete your general education courses online at StraighterLine and transfer the credits you earn to your regular college. Then pay regular per-credit fees only for the specialized courses that you will need to complete your major.

This strategy works because it is simplicity itself – you “buy” courses for less money here at StraighterLine, and then “buy” the more expensive courses that you need from your college or university.

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