Why is College so Expensive? Part 4

Currently enrolled students realize how expensive college is every day. It’s not a theoretical concept. Once you are in college, you become increasingly motivated (at least from a cost perspective) to speed up the time it takes to earn a degree. It’s simple math. By reducing the number of semesters it takes to graduate, you will pay less in tuition. If you can earn transferrable college credits from elsewhere at significantly lower costs per credit hour than at the college you currently attend, then signing up for low cost online college courses just makes a lot of sense, as long as the college where you are earning your degree accepts those transfer credits.

However, is taking courses concurrently at two different programs of higher learning the best use of your time and money? Perhaps, in certain cases. In others, it occurs as a result of financial necessity, akin to financial triage. Before you enroll in college, take a step back. Ask yourself if it would be better for you academically and financially to take online college courses prior to enrolling in a degree-granting program? Or if you do still plan on taking online college courses while enrolled in college elsewhere, know exactly which college courses are guaranteed to transfer to your current institution.

Earning a college degree can be expensive, but taking online college courses can greatly reduce that expense – particularly if you earn transfer credits for online courses taken through online college course provider StraighterLine (with its innovative and affordable $99/month subscription plan). An online college course provider like StraighterLine allows you to save money up front (even bypassing a year or two of college!) and at the same time, setting the stage for a clear, low-cost academic pathway to a college degree at an institution from which you will ultimately graduate. 

Since College Is So Expensive – How Important Is College, Really?

At the end of the day, as you consider the rising expense and opportunity cost of college, you may ask yourself why is college so important?

The short answer is: doesn’t matter why, it just is.

The longer (but not too long) answer is:

  • Earning a college degree in today’s economy and workforce is an essential credential to be even considered for most professional jobs, even those that didn’t require a 4-year college degree years ago (such as police officer or nurse). An advanced education is absolutely required for jobs in the rapidly growing STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
  • Earning a college degree is tied directly to your lifelong earning potential. Young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned 114% more than those without a high school diploma and 50% more than someone with only a high school diploma.12
  • Having a college degree is important to the financial health of your family. The median income for families headed by an individual with a 4-year college degree was $100,096 – two times the median income for families headed by a high school graduate.13
  • Learning for the sake of learning is important. Learning new things directly increases your quality of life: it increases happiness levels, reduces stress, and offers a greater sense of self-fulfillment.14 Education is a good thing.

Since earning a college degree is so important and will have a lifelong impact on your finances, your lifestyle, and your well-being, be sure to take the time to truly understand about the costs and expenses associated with earning that degree. If you know what the reality is in terms of college costs, you can take steps now to mitigate those costs, and graduate with less college debt, or maybe even no college debt at all.

12National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education, Section 3, 2011. 

13College Board, Trends in College Pricing, 2012, p.4

14Cardillo, Donna, Can a College Degree Make You Healthier and Happier, 8/3/12, p.1

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