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Why Is Online College So Expensive

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Why College is so Expensive

If the estimated cost of college for many schools looks too high, dont worry. As well as financial aid and national scholarships, there are other ways you can reduce your college cost and mitigate the rising college costs:

  • Local scholarships Local scholarships wont typically cover as much college tuition as national ones. However, they are also often less competitive. If youre worried about the average college cost, it may be worth researching these.
  • Dual enrollment Dual enrollment courses allow you to earn college credits as a high school student. The cost of these programs is often much lower than the average cost of college.
  • Commuting A large factor in the rising college costs is the cost of college accommodation. If you are keen to reduce the average cost of college, you might consider living at home and commuting to school. Check out this list of schools where commuting is the norm.
  • Advanced Placement Courses Many schools will award college credits based on high AP scores from high school. This can allow you to graduate early, reducing your overall college tuition.
  • Regional Exchange Program In regional tuition exchange programs, out-of-state students qualify for college tuition at a reduced rate. Sometimes this can be up to 150% of the in-state college costs. Find out more about how exchange programs can help you save on college costs here.

Learn out more about using the price of college when building your list in this college tuition webinar.

Most College Cost Calculators Will Ask You For The Following:

  • Basic personal information e.g. place of residence
  • A students dependency status
  • Parents income and asset information

Some college cost calculators will also ask about a students academic record. This helps the college cost calculator factor in merit-based scholarships to the total estimated college costs.

To get as realistic a reading as possible from the college cost calculators, share accurate information. Having a good sense of the price of college will help you make the right decision about where to study.

In addition, remember that a college tuition calculatoris notan application for financial aid. You will apply for financial aid individually through each university. For example, you might apply for support with Harvard College tuition here, Boston College tuition here, or Middlebury tuition here.

Finally, bear in mind that you may receive your college acceptance letter before you receive your financial aid award letter. For help reading your financial aid award letter, check out this article.

In summary, a college tuition calculator can help you to estimate the cost of college tuition for your target schools. However, the results of a college cost calculator cannot be taken as an exact prediction of college tuition costs.

How Do Online Classes Work

Online classes usually follow one of two formats. Synchronous classes feature set virtual meeting times. Enrollees log on for live lectures. Attendance often counts for course points. Online learners who prefer some accountability often prefer synchronous classes.

Asynchronous classes allow students to complete coursework at their convenience. Learners must still meet deadlines, but they benefit from more flexibility. Students watch pre-recorded lectures and participate in discussion boards.

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An Increase In College Administrative Positions

Another likely culprit in the rising college price tag is the expansion of administrative staff. The Department of Education found that between 1993 and 2009, the number of administrative positions at higher education institutions increased by 60%thats 10x the growth of tenured professors, according to an op-ed published in New York Times.

Thats not to say colleges dont necessarily need these staff members to implement new programs and take care of changes in the landscape of higher education. Technology, for example, is a vital part of everyones lives that didnt exist so universally 30 years ago. In 2015 alone, colleges and universities spent a combined total of $6.6 billion on IT.

Scholarships And Financial Aid


As college tuition has increased, so, too, has the value of scholarships and grants. While online students are eligible for many of these funding opportunities, they may not have access to all of the resources available to their on-campus counterparts. Scholarships and grants are important for you to research as you develop an estimate of what your college costs will be.

Like traditional students, online students typically qualify for federal financial aid. No matter your program’s format, you’ll start the process with the FAFSA. If you’re interested in applying for assistance with an online program, connect with admissions and financial aid counselors at your prospective schools to learn more.

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How To Make College More Affordable

While no college affordability policies have passed into law, a number of efforts at the state and national levels look to make college degrees more financially attainable.

For example, nearly half of U.S. states already offer some type of free tuition program for two-year institutions. Program participants can receive an associate degree for as much money as it takes to cover books and fees, then either enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year college.

Though plans for broader free community college seemed likely in early 2021 through Bidens Build Back Better domestic spending bill, late last October the provision was cut from the bill in a bid to gain the support of Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who both opposed the policy.

With these plans stalled for the foreseeable future, degree-seekers’ best choice is to take advantage of cost-efficient education options like free-tuition programs at two-year colleges and dual enrollment for high schoolers.

If you’re struggling to figure out how to afford college amid rising costs, check out the BestColleges guide to graduating debt-free.

How To Lower The Cost Of An Online Program

There are many different ways you can you lower the total cost of pursuing a degree online. Below, we detail five of the most common cost-cutting strategies for students in distance education programs.

State colleges and other public institutions tend to cost considerably less than private schools, even for online learners. According to the NCES, students attending public, four-year colleges paid an average of about $19,500 in 2016. However, learners attending private, four-year institutions paid roughly $41,500 that same year, on average. The cost of your education can decrease even further if you qualify for in-state tuition or other financial aid opportunities available specifically to public school students.

Many colleges and universities allow prospective students to transfer in credits they earned at another institution, reducing their overall cost and the time required to earn a degree. If you plan to pursue a bachelor’s, you may consider beginning your education at a community college. Community colleges charge much less than four-year schools, and they often hold articulation agreements with public colleges and universities in their state. These agreements make it easy to transfer credits if you maintain a certain GPA and meet other requirements.

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Demand For College Degrees

According to Business Insider, the return on investment for college degrees has fallen and 40 percent of kids dont graduate within six years. Clearly, the benefits of pursuing a degree seem to be dwindling.

However, Business Insider also reported that US colleges expected a total of 20.4 million students in fall 2017, which represented a 30 percent projected increase since 2000. So, why exactly is the demand for college degrees growing instead of decreasing as it perhaps should?

Despite the mountainous cost, the pressure to go to college is actually growing. According to Georgetown University, 65 percent of jobs require some form of a college degree. This creates greater competition and demand for both students seeking admission and colleges seeking applicants. As a result, the large influx of students coupled with minimal government regulations allows colleges to set the price tag of their desirable degrees.

This ties into all of the other factors regarding college expenses. Like most businesses, higher education institutions try to justify their price tag by investing more and more into their services, creating a never-ending cycle. From first-class amenities and high administrative services to inefficient government support, the student loan debt will only increase further.

Private Colleges Private Funding

Why College Is So Expensive In America

Conversely, private colleges are privately funded, so much of their funding comes from both donors and college tuition dollars. This is why the price of private colleges can be so much higher than college costs at state universities. Additionally, the cost of college over time has increased. So, over the years, the average college tuition number at both private and public schools has risen.

Colleges and universities use college tuition money for lots of different things. After all, its expensive to run such large institutions! A colleges operating costs can include professor salaries, facility costs, programming, student and faculty resources, research, and other expenses. These are covered by the schools endowment and partially by student tuition. So, your college tuition costs are put to good use. Although the price of college has risen, schools do fund their programs through tuition money.

At many schools, part of the endowment also goes toward scholarship funding and financial aid. Well talk more about how scholarships and aid can lower the average cost of college later in this guide.

Overall, the average cost of college seems high, but there are ways to mitigate that cost. This is why its helpful to build a list of college tuition costs as you start your college costs analysis.

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High Demand For Graduate Degrees

To be successful in todays world, where a good job is important, one must have a good education. A graduate degree is a requirement to get certain jobs. This is because to move upwards in a company or occupation, you need more schooling and experience.

Many fields require advanced education or a masters degree that will set you apart from the competition. And because jobs for people with advanced degrees pay much higher than other jobs, a university degree is highly demanded.

The high demand for a university degree means more students apply to gain admission each year. That means more funds are required to manage administration costs, build more dorms, and lecture halls to handle the booming numbers.

A College Degree Is Perceived As A Necessity

In todays job market, a college degree is widely considered to be a necessity, even in many professions where it was once considered superfluous. This has contributed to an increase in students attending college to prepare for professions where they do not necessarily need degrees. Colleges are well aware of public opinion regarding college degrees, so they are also aware that they can set tuition almost as high as theyd like and still attract a sizeable student body. To combat this problem, American students would need to seriously reevaluate their life paths and decide whether they truly need a college degree in order to pursue their desired career. Professional, vocational, or technical training should be viewed as a viable alternative to a four-year degree, not a less worthy undertaking .

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Colleges Are Receiving Less Money From State Governments

A 2019 report from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points to cuts in statewide higher education funding for the rapid tuition increase in the last decade. Overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the school year ending in 2018 was more than $6.6 billion below what it was in 2008 just before the Great Recession fully took hold, after adjusting for inflation, the report reads. In the most difficult years after the recession, colleges responded to significant funding cuts by increasing tuition, reducing faculty, limiting course offerings, and in some cases closing campuses.

Though many colleges received federal funding during the pandemic and available financial aid for students continues to increase, neither of these factors solve the systemic issue of reduced state funding one of the primary contributors to elevated tuition costs.

College Executives Are Earning Large Salaries


However, in addition to the expansion of the number of administrative staff members, high ranking administrators are earning unprecedented salaries.

Public university presidents, in particular, have benefitted from enormous compensation packages. In 2012-2013, the median pay of presidents increased 5% to $478,896 and the number of presidents making more than $1 million more than doubled in 2013, reported the New York Times.

The Chronicle of Higher Education provides data on executive compensation at more than 1,200 chief executives at education institutions. Renu Khator, the president of the University of Houston was the top-earning public college executive in the nation in 2015, with a total compensation package of $1.3 million.

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Choose An Online Education

As we mentioned earlier, housing costs have really skyrocketed on college campuses around the country. Part of what makes an online education so affordable is the fact that there is no need to move halfway across the country to study in a traditional college campus setting. You learn from the comfort of your own home. This one fact alone can save you THOUSANDS toward your college education.

Coping With High College Costs

There is a huge emotional side to paying for college. My experience in counseling hundreds of parents is that they don’t want to disappoint their kids, Pearson said. No parent wants to be in the role of diminishing their child’s dreams and expectations.

Even so, its important to be realistic about what your family can afford to pay for college. Taking on too much debt can set students back financially for decades, whether theyre shouldering their own student loans or supporting parents later in life who sacrificed their retirement for higher education costs.

So how can families avoid overpaying for college?

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Advantages Of Online College

Online learning features many advantages. See below for some benefits of attending online college.

Many online programs run asynchronously. Learners can complete classes around their schedules. Students can also work at their own pace. They can spend longer on new concepts and work faster through easier material.

The average cost of online college is less than traditional campus programs. Online learners do not pay for campus housing or meal plans. They also save on commuting costs. Students who commute to campus for class spend an average of $3,400 annually in transportation costs, according to An online learning format allows degree-seekers to attend the most affordable programs without relocating.

Online enrollees can listen to lectures and complete assignments from anywhere with an internet connection. Learners can complete classes while traveling or vacationing. Students with unpredictable schedules benefit from this flexibility.

Employers make no distinction between an online degree and a campus degree. An online format makes it easier for students to maintain a job or complete an internship. Many online classes allow enrollees to network with peers.

Fees vary by school. Some schools do not charge online learners fees for student activities or campus maintenance. However, online students may need to pay technology fees.

What Goes Into The Price Of College Tuition

Why Is College So Expensive?

Tuition and the total cost of attending a school are different, all three experts stressed. Tuition is usually separate from room and board, and other fees. Helhoski encouraged students considering attending a certain school to look at the net-price calculator on the institution’s website, which it’s legally require to have.

Generally speaking, tuition covers “anything that’s delivering the education aspect,” Helhoski said. This usually includes: faculty salaries, institutional support, research, student services, campus maintenance and more.

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Are Expensive Colleges Worthwhile

When evaluating the cost of various colleges, its important to look beyond the published price. Depending on what types of financial aid you qualify for, the cost could be significantly less than advertised. Be sure to compare schools net cost, which is the institutions price minus any scholarships and grants you get.

Generous Scholarships For Overseas Students

Most universities understand that their services are expensive for some international students. Thats why they offer a range of generous scholarships available to help you meet the costs of your degree.

Many universities around the world provide scholarships to international students every year. In fact, many universities offer full scholarships to international students, especially those from developing countries. You will be able to study abroad without having to worry about high tuition fees as a student from a developing country.

However, while this charitable act might be free to you and other beneficiaries, the costs need to be covered somehow. This may translate to higher tuition fees for regular students not covered by the scholarship.

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Where Did This Crisis Originate

Past generations were able to pay for college themselves with the hard-earned money they made working over summers. Those that came from more well-off families were able to help their children pay for their education. But in the past few decades, public funding was severely cut, forcing colleges to raise their fees, and in turn, leaving millennials with no choice but to take out hefty loans. The rest is history.

Are You Ready To Discover Your College Program

Why is College So Expensive?

Why is college so expensive? There are a lot of reasonsgrowing demand, rising financial aid, lower state funding, the exploding cost of administrators, bloated student amenities packages. The most expensive collegesColumbia, Vassar, Dukewill run you well over $50K a year just for tuition. That doesn’t even include housing! The cost of college is out of control. So what can you do to fix it? Well, nothing really, but if youre smart, you can work around it, especially with the opportunities afforded by the growing online college sector. We’ll find out why college is so expensive, and we’ll tell you how you can cut costs.

The cost of college is crazy. Take it from us. This is all we do and were constantly blown away by the eye-popping pricetag for some college degrees.

Do you know that tuition for public colleges alone more than quadrupled between 1980 and 2015?

According to CNBC, college tuition was far more affordable for older generations. Citing figures from College Board, CNBC reports that, adjusting for inflation, the cost of private schools rose by 129% since the 1980s. The cost of public school rose by an even more staggering 213%.

By contrast, wages across the board have increased by just 67% since the 1970s. A college degree still provides advantages to its holder, but Business Insider, concedes that these advantages are lesser than they were just a decade ago.

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