How to Fit College into a Family Budget Part 3

Myth #4 - I have to work. I want to go to college. I won’t be able to find the time and money to do both.

The downside to a more traditional on-campus approach to a college education, beyond cost, is the inherent rigidity in a college structure. Often it’s schedule rigidity, which can act as a major roadblock for students who must work while going back to school. And many college students need to work. According to the most recent set of statistics, 40 percent of full-time students and 73 percent of part-time students work while taking college courses.6 

When you are an adult learner, the need for flexibility and the ability to earn an income while in college is often a financial reality. Going to college while working can be completed affordably and within a family budget when you do the following:  

  • Pursue programs that offer a high level of schedule flexibility, such as those that offer online college courses.
  • Enroll in self-paced courses that allow you to move as quickly through material as your time and ability allows. After all, the quicker you can move through college courses, the less time it will take for you to earn your degree. The less time it takes for you to earn your degree, the less overall tuition you will pay for college.
  • Take advantage of alternative college credit programs like PLAs or Excelsior College Exams that allow you to begin college with earned credits based on the skills and competencies you already possess. Doing so will reduce your time to degree.
  • Look into any employer-sponsored educational tuition assistance programs you or your family may be eligible for. 

You Can Afford to Take College Courses on a Family Budget If... 

If you can afford to buy a keg of beer, you can afford to take college courses.

Seriously. The cost of a keg of Labatt’s Blue is $99.7 The cost of taking online college course like nutrition through StraighterLine is also $99/month (plus a one-time course fee of $49). Instead of paying for a monthly kegger, you could use that budgeted money to complete your first year of college courses at StraighterLine for $1299. 

If you can afford to buy lunch at work, you can afford to take college courses

66% of American workers buy lunch on a regular basis at work. According to a Workonomix Survey by Accounting Principals, this lunch expense costs them an average of $37/week or approximately $2,000/year.8StraighterLine offers a customizable Freshman Year bundle of courses for only $1299! If you have the budget to buy lunch, you can afford a full freshman year worth of college courses for significantly less than it costs to buy that lunch on a regular basis at work. We don’t want you to starve, though: you can use the $700 that’s leftover for brown bagging it.

Don’t Let the Cost of College Discourage You or Your Family Members From Earning a College Degree

Trying to figure out how to fit college expenses into an already overstretched family budget can be discouraging, but it doesn’t have to be. You have options. Consider becoming a transfer student, be on the lookout for cost of college myths, avoid taking out excessive college loans, and use the power of an online education to transform your family budget into a powerful launching system for you to earn your college degree.

6National Center For Education Statistics, College Student Employment, 2012 p.1


8Accounting Principals Workonomix Survey, January, 2012 Slide 3.

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