College is exciting, challenging, and fun, but it’s also a big investment – possibly one of the biggest you’ll make in your lifetime.
Though the cost may be rising, there’s good news – there’s a positive return on investment for higher education. Overall, college graduates earn more than those with high school diplomas.
Of course, you have to make smart financial decisions to get the best college ROI, and online courses are one way to help save on college and invest your money and time wisely.
Save on Campus Fees
One of the biggest added expenses students face when enrolled in a traditional on-campus program is room and board. Housing and a meal plan during four years of study can add up.
With an online program, you can live at home and prepare your own meals, leading to huge potential savings. You’re already paying for the roof over your head and your food, so you’re not adding to your expenses while attending college.
There are additional savings that come from remote learning as well. Your second greatest asset – time – is conserved with online courses.
If you would otherwise be commuting to school, you can end up spending a lot on fuel and car maintenance costs. Indirectly, the commute also adds to the time you devote to college, which may mean reduced work hours (and earning potential) while you’re finishing your degree.
The same is true of other on-campus responsibilities, such as scheduled classes at set times that may conflict with your schedule, meeting with other students or your professor outside of class or visiting the library. Online, this is all available instantaneously. Classes can be self-paced, allowing you to complete them at the time and speed that works best for you.
Finish Your Degree Faster
If you reduce the time you need to spend to earn a degree, you can reduce your overall costs and improve your college ROI. For example, motivated high school students often take Advanced Placement (AP) courses to earn college credit alongside their required curriculum.
There are similar options for college students. College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) tests help you receive college credit for the information you already know, all at a fraction of the cost of a full course. The exams cover core courses like American government, psychology, history, American literature, biology, calculus, and economics.
In addition, some institutions offer the option to take multiple courses each term or semester to earn your degree faster. For example, Sophia Learning has a subscription option to take as many as two courses at once, completely online and at your own pace.
Earn Transfer Credits
If you have your heart set on a specific college or university, you can still reduce your overall tuition with transfer credits. Across institutions, general education or core courses are generally equivalent – meaning you can take them at a low-cost institution and transfer them to your preferred college or university.
When you graduate, your degree will still reflect the institution and your degree program – as well as any prestige that comes along with it. For example, a well-respected STEM program at a top university may matter when you’re in advanced courses, but your general education courses are similar whether you’re at an Ivy League university or not.
Within the valuable subscription, Sophia Learning offers a range of general education courses in a variety of areas, including language, math, science, communication, computer science, business, and humanities. And with over 40 partner schools and over 1,000 colleges and universities that review Sophia courses for credit, you can knock out your basic college courses at a lower cost.
Be sure to speak to your advisor or an admissions counselor about your preferred university’s transfer credit policy, however.
Gain Career Preparedness
Online courses can maximize your college ROI both directly, through time and cost savings, and indirectly, through career skills you gain. While online learning offers fewer opportunities for networking, it teaches you valuable skills to assimilate into a remote or hybrid role.
Following the pandemic, remote and hybrid workforces are the “new normal.” Employers are more comfortable with remote employees, flexible schedules, and all the benefits that come with it. Still, there are unique challenges to remote work, and some people struggle to stay on track without in-office support and supervision – a skill you will gain as you learn to work independently earning your degree.
Remote work isn’t ideal for everyone, but taking online courses will help you develop the skills to stay motivated and productive in a work-from-home role.
Get Help Paying for College
You may be excited about going to college but less excited about the potential debt. Fortunately, you can save money with grant and scholarship money. When you apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), you will receive financial aid options at each school you’re applying to.
There are several grants that you may be eligible for, including the Federal Pell grant, as well as institutional scholarships – which also apply to online learning. Don’t hesitate to look for grant and scholarship opportunities outside of your institution as well. Many organizations offer scholarships for specific programs or groups.
Taking out some loans may be inevitable, but you don’t have to be crippled by debt. If you do need to take out loans, pay any interest while still in school. It can be tempting to hold off during your grace period, but some loans are accruing interest during that time. If you make partial payments on the interest while you’re still in school, you can save a lot of money over the life of the loan, owe less when you graduate, and boost your college ROI.
Boost Your College ROI with Gen Ed Credits from Sophia Learning
Pursuing a degree is a big investment with a potentially great payoff. If you’re ready to take the next step, start a free trial at Sophia Learning to knock out your gen eds!