Part 2: Keeping college costs down with online learning

Keeping college costs down with online learning

Don’t let fear of high costs stop you before you even begin. If you struggle with the idea that taking college courses would be too expensive, you’re not alone. Women, particularly mothers, can easily use the perceived high cost of college as an excuse to not go back to school. In fact, only 14% of women who graduated from college agree that most people can afford to pay for college these days, compared with 26% of male college graduates.3

Although plenty of famous women actually went back to school as working moms, many women are seemingly almost preprogrammed to be caretakers at the expense of their own future. Becoming an informed educational consumer will show you how you can return to school on a new parent’s budget.

It’s true that the yearly costs at traditional institutions can be scary. During the 2008-09 academic year, prices for annual undergraduate tuition, room and board were estimated to be over $12k and even higher at over $31k for private institutions.4

Tailor-Made Education Options for New Moms

These costs, however, do not cover the full picture of possibilities of working towards your degree. There are alternatives, seemingly tailor-made for the new mom intent on obtaining a higher education. Enter the new era of online education where the total number of online students is now marked at 5.6 million.5

One such online alternative is Western Governors University, a non-profit online-only university, that offers basic tuition for most programs at a flat rate of just $2,860 per six-month term.6 Since they don’t need to maintain classroom buildings, a campus, and other non-academic programs; they can keep their tuition low. Another example of a quality online educator is Colorado State University Global Campus. Online bachelors program tuition rates start at $350 per credit with the average 3-credit course costing $1,050.7 Attending colleges such as these can save you over half the tuition found at a traditional college.

Moms -- this is important: before you sign up for any online classes at any online college or institution, do your due diligence. You want to be sure your college course credits transfer to accredited institutions, which ones, and that the online school clearly explains and facilitates this transfer process. Some so called “schools” are nothing more than diploma mills. Online reviews can be helpful to validate an online school’s reputation.

Excuse be gone

It’s estimated that a middle-income family can expect to spend about $226,920 to raise a baby to age 18.8 Graduates with college degrees earn, on average, about $650,000 more than those with only a high school degree.9 You do the math. However, the truth is only 54 percent of new moms have earned some college credits or obtained a college degree.10 Which side of the statistics do you want to be on? What kind of financial contribution do you want or need to make in your family?

Think about it: actively pursuing your dream to obtain a college degree may be one of the best investments you can make for your child and family’s long term financial well-being.

With quality online education, moms now have the flexibility they need to work around a baby’s schedule and the ability to keep costs down to accommodate a growing family’s budget. You may be a caretaker now, but it’s up to you to take care of your own dreams.

3 Pew Social and Demographic Trends, Women See Value and Benefits of College; Men Lag on Both Fronts, Survey Finds, Aug. 17, 2011, p.2

4 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2010). Digest of Education Statistics, 2009 (NCES 2010-013),

5 Sloan Consortium, Enrollment in Online Courses Increases at the Highest Rate Ever, Nov. 12, 2010

6 Western Governors University

7 Colorado State University Global Campus

8 United States Department of Agriculture, USDA Office of Communications. Expenditures on Children by Families, June 9, 2011.

9 Pew Research Center, Is College Worth It?: College Presidents, Public Assess, Value, Quality and Mission of Higher Education, Chapter 3

10 Pew Research Center, The New Demography of American Motherhood, Table: Share of Births by Education of Mother, 1988-1992 and 2004-2008

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