Going Back to College and the Competency-Based Model Part 4

3 - You apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA.

You won’t have to fill out a FAFSA right away if you start your college education through a low cost online college course provider like StraighterLine. As a matter of fact, their college course costs are so inexpensive they don’t accept financial aid.

At StraighterLine, you’ll pay $99/month plus a one-time $49 course fee for unlimited access to online college courses. You can also choose to take advantage of StraighterLine’s Freshman Year of College plan for $999. Either option will allow you to delay taking out financial aid until you actually enroll in the college or university where you plan on earning your degree. Since this could potentially be semesters down the road, you could save substantial amounts of tuition dollars.

4 - You wait to see if you are accepted by your preferred college or university.

Competency-based education models aren’t about brand names or supply-versus-demand – it’s about what you know, not who you know or where you are from. As such, assessments and subject matter mastery prove your knowledge and prove you are worthy of becoming a college graduate.

When you begin taking college courses through an online college course provider like StraighterLine, you’ll be able to take advantage of their automatic college credit transfer agreements when you enroll in one of their partner colleges. And guess what? StraighterLine’s partner colleges include all the current leaders in competency-based education: Western Governors University (WGU), Excelsior College, Kaplan University, and SUNY Empire State College.

5 - You wait to see if you qualify for the type and amount of financial you need to pay for your college education

With an online college course provider like StraighterLine, you don’t have to wait for financial aid to start taking college courses. At $99/month, you can pay for college course access with your credit card whenever you are ready to begin. There’s no admission process. There’s no financial aid process.

6 - You pick a college and matriculate at the beginning of a semester.

With a competency-based education institution like Western Governors University, you can begin earning your degree at the start of a month (any month). Terms are considered in 6-month increments from your start date.5 How much learning you are able to fit into each 6-month term is completely up to you. An adult learner with considerable past training and education can move rapidly. There are no preset time constraints.

7 - You register for classes and hope you get the college courses you want when you need them.

Ahhhh...the beauty of online technology. Online college courses don’t fill up. Online college courses aren’t offered only during some semesters or quarters – they are always offered, always available.

8 - When the semester begins, you start taking prerequisite college courses.

With a competency-based college education, earning credit for prerequisite college courses can begin before you even start thinking about where you are going to go back to school. Your can earn real college credit for past experiences through prior learning assessments (PLA) . A PLA will allow you to earn college credit for what you already know for a far lower cost compared with taking college courses at current college tuition rates.

Keep in mind, you can also begin taking low-cost prerequisite college courses for credit through online college course providers like StraighterLine whenever you are ready to do so.

5 Western Governors University, College Admissions Requirements, 2012, p.1.

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