Comparison of inflation of college tuition and fees, medical costs, and cost of living from 1978 to 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Higher education in the United States has always awestruck the rest of the world! People from all over the world dream of coming to the US to attain their college education at some of the finest institutions. The world’s greatest universities such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT and numerous others in the US educate some of the world’s most brilliant professionals and world leaders.
And yet, since the beginning, the US higher education system has had numerous deficiencies. And with the current state of the economy, the need for a college degree today has become all the more urgent. A high school diploma has become quite inadequate in this day-and-age to ensure even a low paying job.
On the flip side, there are not enough young adults making it out of college either. There are simply too few skilled workers around to meet the demands of the job market, even in these troubling times when jobs are supposedly in short supply.
· Rising cost of higher education
In a recent article on Huffington Post, Jamie Merisotis of Lumina Foundation writes that college tuition has been continuously outpacing inflation for the last three decades!! Most people take huge student loans and find it almost impossible to re-pay the loans which also carry huge interest rates, penalties and so on.
On top of all this, there are so many economically-unfortunate youngsters that get left behind and never even get to college.
· Rigidity in the education system
Image via CrunchBase
Despite the relative flexibility of the US education system in comparison to other countries, there is still not enough opportunity or freedom for young adults to pursue their true interests and passion. Why else is it that some of the most prominent business leaders such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg dropped out of college early on to build their enterprises?
· Lesser focus on attaining knowledge
Getting into a good college is all about A grades in high school, superb SAT scores and so many more admission requirements. It is very little about figuring out if the college is actually right for that individual and if it will meet the intellectual aspirations of the student. Upon starting college, the rigmarole starts all over again, more tests and more deadlines. But unlike high school, now there is this added element of being able to pay the exorbitant tuition fees, more emphasis on sports arenas and student parties.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having fun and parties, but the extent to which it is glorified and the pressure to conform to these stereotypes simply makes a mockery of the education system.
· Inability to tailor college degrees to the needs of the job market
As per government statistical data, the largest population of college students study for either business or liberal arts degrees and some study to become teachers. In comparison, the number of students studying technology or engineering is almost negligible. Many who later on are lucky enough to develop their technology careers continue to hold degrees in totally unrelated fields such as psychology or history.
With many of these degrees, there is very little correlation between what the job market requires and what the individual actually spends years & tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars studying. Shouldn’t there be more governmental support for pursuing a degree in a field where there is actually market demand? Shouldn’t young adults receive better assistance in figuring out whether the degree is good enough for starting on a marketable career path?
Higher education -- Remember young man, your first step in the REAL WORLD is just 8 feet ahead. Best of luck !!! ...item 2..Men and women both have different ways to get from A to B (2 May 2012) .. (Photo credit: marsmet471)
Providing more student loans will not resolve this crisis! Something very fundamental needs to change in the current education system, right from college curriculums, governmental policies, regulations on fee increases and the frivolous construction of sports stadiums, or the ever-rising new college buildings for that matter!
Having more online colleges will not fix this issue. Yes, online education removes some of the traditional barriers of time, cost and accessibility, but nevertheless, the cost of online degrees today are not far behind that of their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Even the most affordable online colleges that award college degrees have inflated fees and costs, despite the fact that there is so much free education and courses available online.
Or perhaps the solution to these complex issues will rise from the innovative minds of our entrepreneurial community which has time and again delivered solutions to our most critical issues.
College costs are skyrocketing over the years. As per wikipedia, a 4yr bachelor’s degree at a private university such as Harvard costs $105,082 as of 2009, excluding room and board. The tuition cost of a 4yr bachelor’s degree at a public university is $28,080. The figures are upwards of $150,000 and $30,000 respectively for 2011. There are simply no cheap colleges out there, quite the contrary!
English: Study of rising college costs due to cost shifting from state funding to tuition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For many families, college costs are overburdening and quite unaffordable. The burden is equally high on both parents and students. Despite the income-based financial aid programs, most students and families are simply unable to cope with the huge tuition increases. Also, there are numerous discrepancies and inequalities created by the one-size-fits-many type of aid programs. Infact this history of financial aid programs has created the perfect system of incentives for universities to raise tuitions and other costs, whereby the financial aid feeds the college's vault , instead of assisting the student with completing their higher education.
Irrespective of their income level, a majority of families undergo a lot of hardships to get their children through college. Parents save money for years and years by sacrificing their own lifestyles and life savings. Many parents and students take up huge student loans to pay for college, and students end up having to repay a lot of these college costs after graduation.
While college costs continue to grow ridiculously, the standard of education continues to fall. A 2012 book by the Dean and Professor of English Richard Schwartz talks about how colleges routinely spend on expenditure which do not directly improve the quality of the student's education. Many who score poorly in high school or standardized tests are guaranteed entry due to the growing relaxation in admission standards. Its no wonder that many of such students are unsuccessful in completing college. This is despite the fact that many colleges routinely inflate student grades!! And ofcourse students still have to repay the student loans even when they are unable to complete college!
English: University of California, Berkeley students protest a 30% hike in tuition fees. They formed a circle of about 12 people at the north campus entrance on Herst Ave. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tuition increases have significantly outpaced inflation and tuition costs continue to rise even though the quality of higher education has not improved. One of the reasons for this rampant increase in tuition is that the government education subsidies are paid to the universities instead of being paid directly to the students. Textbooks are also quite expensive, and the requirement to use specific editions of specific textbooks creates a system where students have to spend more on new textbooks, rather than purchasing second-hand textbooks that are available for a lower cost. Added to this, the lack of planning on the part of our young students means that they purchase books at inflated prices at the college bookstore, rather than buying books ahead of schedule at a low-cost bookstore such as Amazon!
There are numerous debates among people as to why college is so very expensive. Many blame the expenses on the bloated college administration costs; others feel that professors’ salaries take up a lot of the student tuition charges. Many colleges are indeed run as large for-profit corporations and as long as the demand for college education exists, colleges will continue to charge huge tuition fees.
So what is the way out of all this mess? Do people simply put up with the current situation and just get through it? Or does one need to totally give up on college? Well, there is a way out; it is possible to get an “affordable” college education. Quite easily, anyone who has completed high school successfully can get a college degree for atleast 60% less than the cost of a traditional public state college/ university. There are a bunch of colleges all across the US which offer the same reputable and accredited 4 yr college degrees for much less than most colleges that people know of today. There are thousands of students from all walks of life who have already completed such 4 yr college degrees at these cheap accredited online colleges, with ease and with no burden of any loans or forced savings. We want you to be one of those people that make it through a 4 yr college degree this way, the “frugal” way.
So we inform you on these cheap accredited online colleges, and other distance or flexible colleges, including namely Excelsior college, Empire State college, Charter Oak college and several others. But that's just the starting point! We at FrugalDegree.com proudly claim to provide you with a better college experience than most, with a great support system of information, college classes and tools that will move you towards completing a college degree that you truly enjoy!
For more, continue through the free articles and also tune in for our site launch announcement and choice of easy subscription options!
Getting a US college education on a frugal/ affordable budget is certainly possible, in spite of the high cost of tuitions at most US colleges and universities today. When I see just how prohibitively expensive college education has become, and how people struggle to make it through these costs, it makes my blood boil!
English: Empire State College coordinating center at Saratoga Springs, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You should not have to sell a limb or more to get a quality education! I strongly believe in that and I’m a living proof to show that this is possible! As a matter of fact, I'd completed my bachelor's degree from Excelsior college many years back for a very affordable cost of less than $5000/-.
Education should be something that you are truly passionate about and which will also get you the college degree! It should not be simply something that you have to do in order to get ahead in your life and career …., you know what I mean!
For the most incredible things in life happen when you are working towards something that you are truly passionate about!
Only you can tell which topics or subject areas are right for you. Sometimes, you might even need to study a bit of a few different things to determine what truly interests you beyond your wildest dreams! Once you get to the one thing that simply blows your mind away, something that hardly feels like work but is still so fulfilling, the one thing which you do in which time just flies and you hardly even notice, at that point, you’ve discovered your true passion in life!
Another advantage of these flexible colleges is that, you can be located in any part of the country (or even the3 world!) and still be able to complete you college education at the same college. You can even travel the world if you like, while still continuing the same college degree. It is possible to take local courses from multiple locations, cities or countries, and combine all of those college credits. Any courses completed outside the US can be converted to US equivalent college credits by a process called foreign credentials evaluation. Each college might have their own set of approved foreign credential evaluators. Educational Credential Evaluators (www.ece.org) is one such agency that evaluates foreign learning for US equivalency.
Most people I’ve come across worry about the high cost of college. But a quality college education does not have to be expensive at all. There are a number of flexible accredited US colleges that award college degrees and college credits not only for classroom learning, but also for what a person knows. This makes it possible to reduce college cost drastically in comparison to the cost of a regular fulltime college.
The credit options at the flexible college are numerous and include credits for standardized exams such as CLEP and so on, credits for work experience, credits for training from accredited or non-accredited institutions and much more.
This will allow you to follow your passions, spend less on college, and get a quality college degree in a field of your choice. Also, there is the added benefit of not having to leave home and taking up boarding at a far away college. These flexible degrees can be undertaken right from where you live. Some of these colleges also provide affordable online degrees.
There are also ways to customize the degree requirements in such a way that it matches what you really want to study and learn more about! I will be describing some of those options in other articles on the site. If you need to know more, just reply to this article and ask your question/s.
Given a choice, I would choose to study frugally, in a highly flexible and customized way, while working towards something I love the most!
Granite State College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here are the 8 popular colleges that offer flexible degree programs:
I started FrugalDegree to enable young adults in the US to complete their college education affordably, and without the traditional barriers of high costs, student loans and the rigidity of the higher education system.
Academic (Photo credit: tim ellis)
Many years back, I was deprived of a college education due to a lack of finances and familial support. Through many years of hard work, I found a way to complete an affordable US college education in a roundabout way, after researching the cost of online degrees and cheap colleges. I studied many one-off college-level courses and also worked in my chosen profession for a number of years, with just a high school diploma in hand! Having gone through the process the hard way, I've spent years researching how I can make this process easier for other young adults who want a college degree.
Finally, through constant support and encouragement from my spouse (and my loving “better half”), I've developed a platform that will enable students to undertake college in the most innovative and convenient way possible. Students can take low-cost courses in classrooms or online or in many other ways, all through our web platform. Students can meet one-another, have study groups, or student parties, talk to tutors and get questions answered. And more importantly, students get to have all the right tools to quickly move towards completing their college degree. These tools allow students to track their own progress, understand what they need to do to complete the degree, and have an enjoyable and fun college experience in a completely personalized way!
There are a handful of accredited colleges across the US that award college credits (and college degrees) for learning that is acquired in several ways, both within and outside the classroom. These colleges value a person's knowledge and learning, irrespective of HOW the learning was actually acquired. This in turn opens all the doors of opportunity for you, thereby allowing you to use just about any form of learning to meet your college degree requirements.
Credits can be earned through a combination of ways, such as via CLEP or ACT exams, other training or work experience and so forth. By performing a thorough evaluation of the learning via various sources, these colleges have been awarding accredited college degrees since as early as the 1970s. Students enroll in colleges such as Excelsior or Charter Oak or one of several others, take these CLEP or other exams, take some online courses and also transfer any prior college credits easily. These can then be combined with other forms of credits from training or work experience. Even if you've completed college courses abroad, maybe while in the military or a foreign assignment, all of those courses can also be transferred to obtain valuable US college credits that are accepted by all the colleges such as Excelsior, Empire State, Charter Oak and many others.
Having completed my Bachelor's degree from Excelsior college years back the hard way, I've created a solution that not only allows students to complete a low-cost accredited college degree from one of these colleges, but also with substantial study resources and student tools to make this college experience both fun and innovative, and easy!
Community College Initiative (Photo credit: mayorgavinnewsom)
With the ever-increasing cost of a college education, many of us tend to wonder. Are there any cheap colleges in the US? Attending college for many is impossible without taking a bulkload of student loans. Come on! Who can afford to pay $25,000, $40,000 or even $100,000 for college. Very few I'm sure. And how do these students eventually repay these huge student loans for years and years to come? Do many who complete college even find jobs that allow them to repay the loans? Is it possible to ask for forgiveness from paying these loans, say if the student cannot find a job? Or can parents help pay for college for a majority of students, so they don't have to take these bloated loans in the first place? The answer to almost all these questions is “No”!
Many of us tend to think that community colleges are the cheapest route to a college degree. Well that used to be the case and still is in some cases. But the fact of the matter is, most community colleges are crowded with more and more students than what the colleges can handle. There are day classes and night classes, and despite all these classes, many students just do not find enough classes to suit their schedules. Nor are the community colleges as cheap as they used to be, though they are still cheaper than most 4 year colleges!
Another problem with colleges is that they provide the same instruction and same curriculum to all students year-upon-year. This one-size-fits-all approach is one of the main reasons many students never make it successfully out of college. There is simply no motivation or passion towards studying, since its not any fun! There is simply no freedom to study anything that interests you, its all generic, there is no customized study experience as per the interests and “unique” capabilities of the individual!
Students of Saint Mary's Hall (Photo credit: Robert of Fairfax)
Now here's the good news! There are some colleges which award 4 yr Bachelors and some Masters degrees in the US that are extremely cheap. Well how do I know? For one, I studied in such a college myself, Excelsior College. There are some more even cheaper 4 yr colleges, to name a few, Charter Oak college, Empire State college, Granite State college and more.
Generally these are considered distance or adult-focused colleges, but guess what, there is nothing preventing any high school graduate from enrolling into and successfully completing their Bachelor's degree from one of these colleges. When many of us think college, we want to meet other students, make friends, have a great college experience, and also get a lot of help with the studying/learning part, am I right? Aha, now here's where FrugalDegree.com comes in.
We give you all the information and resources to ensure that you not only get an affordable and accredited college degree, but also have the greatest college experience and learning opportunity ever! There's also so much more we do, but we'll leave that out for you to explore for yourself :) And how much do we charge? A low monthly subscription fee, about as much as you would spend for a breakfast at Starbucks!
At FrugalDegree.com, we neither award any college degree, nor any form of college credits. But what we really do is outline a process that can help reduce your college degree cost by over 60%. We do this by providing you the following resources:
Our first-hand experience in completing an affordable college degree at one of the accredited and affordable colleges we recommend
Articles and eBooks to enable you to complete an affordable college degree this way, the frugal way!
Tools to enable you to track your progress until degree completion
Ability to share and network with other students and tutors
Undertake low-cost courses and classes using our platform
So overall, we enable you to begin your college degree at an extremely affordable college, whereby you have all the resources and information to undertake such a college degree successfully.
These “frugal/ flexible” colleges will allow you to use numerous forms of learning to acquire college credits and evaluate them for inclusion in your college transcript. Some learning methods include:
Previously-completed college courses: via free Credits Transfer
Exams such as CLEP: via directly assigned college credits
College courses: via direct credits transfer
Industry training/ certifications that have ACE credit recommendation: direct credits
Other trainings/ certifications: via Portfolio assessment
Work experience: via Portfolio assessment
All other learning using free online resources and/ tests: via Portfolio assessment
So here's where the cost savings part comes in:
College tuition cost is greatly reduced. In most cases students would spend about 10% or so on tuition than what they would at other brick-and-mortar, part-time or online colleges
Since all the college study can be completed anywhere the student lives, the cost of room-and-board is eliminated. Note that these are not distance colleges, their flexibility and openness simply allows you to use many different ways to obtain college-level credits
Newsweek print ad for Excelsior College (Photo credit: eliteventure)
For detailed information on the costs associated with each college, checkout their websites:
Though the costs at these colleges increase over the years, they appear quite inflation-adjusted and increase by a much smaller percentage year-upon-year than most other colleges and universities.
Of course, there are other benefits that are not directly related to cost, such as the fact that students are not rigidly required to complete any specific/ mandatory classes and so on. What a student has to study to complete the degree is only controlled by a broad set of degree topic requirements, other than that its up to the student to choose.
Once cost is not a problem anymore, students can also try out some new courses, before deciding if they want to study more courses on that topic or not. This provides a lot of freedom to choose, and really figure out one's true passions and interests, before embarking on a well-defined degree specialty and career path.
Here are some additional tips to further reduce the cost of college, the enhanced frugal way:
Use our cost calculator (for subscribed students) to manage your college costs in an ongoing basis
Buy our eBook as it provides details on many great ways to further reduce your college costs at these frugal/ flexible colleges
Use all freely available resources such as:
Private/ group study rooms at the libraries
Numerous free courses posted by large universities online other free online study resources
Purchase textbooks ahead of time, preferably used books from sites such as Amazon.com
Signup for low-cost online college study resources
Checkout the many affordable college specific products that we post throughout our site. These third-party products are hand-picked to maximize your cost advantages and quality of college learning
Throughout the college degree process, its important to stay motivated and confident, as these 2 things will help you to make the right cost and time related decisions for your college degree goals. Remember, the faster you are able to complete college, the more affordable and easy the whole process will be. Here are our general tips for motivation (a key ingredient for any endeavor!):
Pick mentors among your tutors and senior students.
Think of us at frugaldegree.com as your companion and mentor. We've been there and know what its like to be a cash-strapped college student. If you have any questions for us, just post them in the forums upon subscription.
Checkout the cool jokes and famous quotes on our subscription site. Or add some of your own to share with your fellow students.
English: Atlantic Ocean (Jun. 18, 2003) -- Seaman Kandis Barott reads up on the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) in the Training Department aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan (LHA 2). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Latrice Ames. (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are several accredited colleges all across the US that give college credits for exams such as CLEP/ DSST. Each correlates to a specific number of college credits that can be earned by successfully completing an exam for a chosen subject.
The most popular exams for college credits are:
CLEP – College Level Examination Program – This is widely accepted by most colleges for college level credit.
DSST – DANTES Subject Standardized Tests – These are typically undertaken by military personnel, but the exams are also available to the general public for earning college-level credits. They are also widely accepted, similar to the CLEP.
ECE – Excelsior College Examinations – These are accepted by all the flexible colleges and numerous other accredited US colleges for college-level credit.
ACE-evaluated exams – American Council on Education exams – These are mostly training courses or certifications that are awarded ACE college credits.
ACT- Generally undertaken to acquire college-level credits while still in high school.
TECEP – Thomas Edison College Examination Program – Some of the flexible colleges accept TECEP exams for college-level credit.
Of the 120 credits for most bachelor’s degrees, about 60 credits or so have to be earned in the Arts and Sciences component. This includes Humanities, Written English, Social Sciences & History, Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
It is possible to basically complete all of these 60-credit general requirements via CLEP exams. Take a look at this link for more information. Successful completion of each exam provides anywhere between 3 and 6 college-level credits, depending on the individual exam specifics.
The cost of each exam is about $70 plus a $15 test administration fee for the test center where you will be taking the exam. CLEP is one of the most popular and affordable of all the standardized college-level exams.
Individual study guides cost about $10 each. Other than that, regular college textbook resources can be obtained at most online bookstores including at amazon.com.
DSST offers a nice complement to the CLEP exams. There are a number of exams offered for humanities, social sciences/ history, natural sciences, business, mathematics. Most exams award about 3 college credits and some of them award upper-level credits. The official DSST website is located here .
The exams cost about $80 per test. Practice exams are provided online by Prometric and cost $5 per subject. Other study courses can be found at iStudySmart.com. The annual/ 2-year subscription plans are the most affordable option if you’re planning to obtain a number of your college credits via standardized exams.
The study courses are generally suitable for CLEP, DSST and ECE exams, but be sure to check with them in specific for each course before committing to their subscription plan.
Excelsior exams are available for Arts&Sciences, Business and Nursing topic areas and provide both upper and lower level college credits. In my opinion, the main drawback of the ECE exams is the slightly increased cost of the exams themselves, plus the higher cost of the ECE study guides and resources.
Many of the ECE exams cost in the range of $250 to $350, but some specialized subjects cost much higher in the $900 range. The official practice exams cost about $60. The exam study guides are again in the range of $250 to $350 and textbooks and other study resources may also be needed in addition to the study guides.
Other outside vendors also sell ECE study guide. One way to limit the expenses on ECE study guides is to take a annual iStudySmart subscription for a fixed fee covering a number of exams.
ACE EVALUATED EXAMS
A number of certifications, industry specific exams and training courses award ACE recommended college credits which can be directly transferred to your degree programs at a flexible college. These courses are also recognized by many colleges all across the US for college level credits.
These are accepted by some flexible colleges, but may not be accepted by all of them for college level credits. Be sure to check with your college prior to considering taking any TECEP exams. TECEP exams are most suitable if you’re planning on enrolling into the Thomas Edison State college.
The college’s enrolled students pay about $80 per credit attempted. So for a 3-credit exam, the exam cost would be $240. Students who are not enrolled in the college and wish to appear for the exams as external students have to pay about $160 per credit attempted. This would be about $480 for a 3-credit exam for external students. Added to this would be the cost of the study guides and practice exams. Please contact the college directly for more information on the specific exams you wish to take.
The best choices for completing the general requirements of the college degrees via standardized exams would be to take CLEP/ DSST tests. They are the simplest and the most economical. Also, they cover all the general papers that are required for completing the general education requirements of most college degrees at the flexible colleges, or even any of the other regular colleges.
ECE exams may be more suitable if you want to pursue Nursing degrees at Excelsior. Excelsior has very high quality exams for Nursing specialty and also offers packaged pricing plans that can cover many ECE exams and practice exams for a fixed fee.
Let me know your feedback, or if you have any additional questions on the standardized exams.