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Is Online Education Affordable?

2/08/2011 12:24 pm

online university, online educationOnline education has become increasingly popular in the last decade. Students are opting for the flexibility of at-home study in lieu of an on-campus experience. Colleges and universities everywhere are following suit, allowing their students to complete all or part of their degrees using distance learning. While online university trends are on the rise, some students may be wary of the credibility and cost of earning a degree online.

Is Online Education Quality Education?

Not all online degrees are created equal. This stems from the quality of the university, rather than the learning medium. The credibility and usefulness of your online degree depends entirely upon your university’s accreditation and curriculum. Before signing your tuition check, verify your university’s standing in the academic community. Check to see if the institution is accredited by a well regarded academic or government body. A reputable institution will provide you with a quality degree.

Online Education Cost vs. On-Campus Cost
One would assume that an online education would be more affordable than going to a brick and mortar university. However, this is not always the case. Many schools offer online degrees for the same price as traditional classes. Although online students may impose less overhead costs, many schools consider their tuition prices as non-negotiable.

Affordable Alternatives
If you think an online education is out of your reach, think again. There are several ways to reduce tuition costs, including:

  • The nonprofit route. Nonprofit universities occupy the majority of the higher education spectrum, however, there are very few all online nonprofit universities. The main goal of nonprofit institutions is to provide quality education as opposed to generating earnings for shareholders. Although some nonprofits can be expensive, their intent is to educate, not make a profit.
  • Financial aid. Low income should never stand between a dedicated student and higher education. Federal financial aid may be available to those who cannot afford tuition costs. Some universities provide additional assistance to those in need. Assess your financial situation and do some digging; you may qualify for more than you think.
  • Scholarships. In addition to financial aid, scholarships are available to help ease tuition costs. Scholarships are available for many types of students and can vary in amount, from full tuition for exemplary candidates to partial coverage for students majoring in a specific field. Do some research and find opportunities that apply to you.

With the right approach, attending an online university is an affordable and flexible alternative to on-campus degree programs. Due diligence, persistence and smart planning are imperative to your academic success. Start now by finding the online university program that fits your needs.

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