Save Money on College Tip Six: How to Get an Entire Year of College for only $760

Jeffrey Simons

Get an Entire Year of College for only $760By Jeffrey Simons

Today’s post is the six in a series of short tips on how to save money on college.

Today’s tip is . . .

Get an Entire Year of College for only $760

Do you want to save money on college and graduate sooner? Here’s a powerfully simple strategy for you.  Get an entire year of college for only $760.

How to Complete a Year of College for only $760

What if I told you that you could earn 3 college credits for only $95? You heard me right. $95 for 3 credits. That’s only $31.67 per credit. At that price, taking four 3-credit courses per semester, or 24 credits per year, you could pay for an entire year of college for only $760.

Want to know how? I’ll tell you, but I warn you now that there are a couple of catches. More on them later.

So, how do you get an entire year of college for only $760? It’s not a secret. It’s not a trick. It just involves a little outside-of-the-box thinking, and it’s a two-Step process.

Step 1: Take a Free MOOC.

MOOCs are Massively Open Online Courses. There are hundreds of MOOCs, and the vast majority of them are free. Some of them are taught by professors at some of the finest schools in the world, including Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Princeton. Anyone can take a MOOC, so even if you couldn't get into Stanford, you can take its course on Artificial Intelligence... for free.

One thing about MOOCs, though, is that they don’t give you college credits for taking them. But they do give you knowledge. And that brings us to Step 2.

Step 2: Take a $95 Credit-By-Exam and Earn Three  College Credits

Once you've completed the MOOC, and you know the subject well enough to pass a test on it, take a credit-by-exam on the subject at StraighterLine. A credit-by-exam (CBE) lets you take a single test, usually three  hours long, and if you score well enough on it, you can earn college credits.

We offer over 30 CBEs, including Excelsior College Exams in subjects from Financial Accounting and Macroeconomics to Introduction to Music and Social Psychology. Excelsior College Exams are produced by our accredited partner school, Excelsior College, and are accepted for credit by more than 2,500 colleges and universities.

The majority of our CBEs cost only $95 for three  college credits, although some cost more and may give you as many as 6 college credits.

A Full Year of College for only $760?

That’s right: by taking a combination of MOOCs and credit-by-exams, you can pay for a full year of college for only $760. And you can do it all online, from the comfort of your own home. (Although the Excelsior College Exams are administered at a local Pearson Vue Test Center, so you’ll have to get up off your couch for that.)

So, what about those catches I told you about?

Here they are:

Catch #1

Not every MOOC has a corresponding credit-by-exam. For instance, you can take a MOOC called “General Game Playing” at Stanford (yes, that’s a real MOOC!), but there isn't a corresponding CBE that will let you earn college credit for that subject. Check out our list of credit-by-exams to make sure the MOOCs you’re interested in won’t leave you stranded.

Catch #2

Before you start imagining that you can pay for all 4 years of college for only $3040, keep in mind that many colleges limit the number of credits they are willing to grant as transfer credits for credit-by-exam scores, and it’s unlikely that any college will give you a degree just for credits earned this way.

The MOOC plus CBE strategy can save you a ton of money, so you shouldn't mind doing a little extra homework to make it work. Check out your intended college’s credit-by-exam transfer policy before enrolling in any program. Make sure you get any transfer policies in writing.

While we’re on the subject, the following StraighterLine partner schools have what can only be considered liberal credit transfer policies:

Admittedly, the strategy of taking MOOCs and CBEs isn't for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable going it alone to this extent. But for not much money more – just $1299 – you can take an entire year of 10 online college courses here at StraighterLine, complete with online tutoring and student advisors to give you the help you need, when you need it. And our courses are guaranteed to transfer to our partner colleges on enrollment, so they've got that going for them too.

But if you want to pay the absolute lowest possible amount of money for a year of college, and you don’t mind going it alone, then it’s hard to beat the combination of MOOCs and credit-by-exams.

And that’s how you get an entire year of college for only $760.


Guest blogger Jeffrey Simons has been in advertising since the mid-80’s, when faxes were “new technology” and portable computers were the size of suitcases. Now, as Storyteller-in-Chief for his own social media consultancy, JL Simons Marketing & Advertising Consulting, he gets to tell true stories to interested readers for deserving brands.

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One thought on “Save Money on College Tip Six: How to Get an Entire Year of College for only $760”

  • Judy Murray

    This was one of the most helpful blog posts I have come across. With 1 child in college and another headed there in a year I am going to look into this for my kids. Kids today go to college for a variety of reasons, the experience being one. This would be an excellent option for older students who need the education with out the frills of Greek life, parties and everything else kids do away from home at school.

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