Even if you’re confident that your online degree will give you more earning power, you want to make an effort to get finish school with as little debt hanging over you as possible.
First you need to accurately estimate the cost of your degree. Don’t bank on just visiting a school’s website, seeing what they charge per credit, and multiplying that by the number of credits in a program to get the total degree cost. It’s not that simple. Here are some keys to consider in working out your real cost and understanding how much financial aid you’ll need to meet it:
The Cost Will Rise While You’re In School
Many financial writers have predicted that the cost of college is likely to level off in the coming years. But it’s not happening yet. In fact, one of the key things you don’t want to overlook is that that your tuition is probably going to go up about 7 – 10% each year. That means you may need more money for college than you think from just looking at this year’s tuition rates, because you’ll be paying far more at the end of your degree program than you did at the beginning. It’s a particularly important issue if, like many online students, you take some breaks from your study program and wind up using more than two years for an associates degree or more than four years for a BA or BS.
State Schools Are Cheaper – But Only To A Point
State schools and community colleges have traditionally been a great option for students with limited financial resources. But not all state schools have full-scale online degree programs, and economic conditions are forcing up the tuition at many state universities. Some state colleges in financially-challenged Michigan, for instance, have boosted tuition rates by 14% a year recently, while Illinois costs have gone up over 11% and the University of Kansas recently hiked its tuition rates by a whopping 16%. In fact, overall, The College Board says that from 2001 to 2006, the average tuition for university degrees online at public institutions jumped 35% after adjustment for inflation, the biggest jump ever recorded for a five-year period.
Online Learner Cost Advantage
A silver lining for online learners is that most state schools no longer charge higher fees if you are an “out of state” student, as they do with students who actually attend live classes. As a result, you can shop for the best bargains in distance learning on a national basis, rather than having to be restricted to your own home state.
Finally, remember that in estimating the cost of university degrees online, you need to look at more than just the tuition. Although distance learning eliminates travel costs, food plans and dormitory fees, you still need to consider the costs of internet connectivity, any special software you may require and computer hardware.
Average American Student College Loan Debt
According to the American Council on Education (ACE), the typical amount of total debt that students were accumulating on a bachelor’s degree was about $30,030. at public schools about just over $33,900 at private colleges (numbers are for 2017, the most recent year studied). Amazingly, according ACE’s numbers, 71% of all “professional” degree holders owe about $199,540. to various lenders. It’s of interest that ACE also found that 52% if American students to took on loan debt to pay for school felt that it was “not worth it.”
But it’s possible to pile up far more debt for college if you’re not careful. Obviously, as far as loans and other types of college aid are concerned, you want to consider how much you’ll earn in your particular career specialty once you graduate. Students are often willing to take on more debt for finance MBA than for a nursing degree, because they know the payoff will be bigger. Spend some time learning what you will be able to earn with your degree before you choose a school.
Biden Cancels Only Some Student Debt
You may have heard that the government is now forgiving student debt. That only try to a point. The Biden administration has, in fact, canceled or provided some other type of relief to many who have college loan debts. One key step was the cancellation of over $5 billion in student loan debt carried by disabled borrowers. Then interest waivers were provided to about 47,000 active duty military personnel who had not received and interest waiver previously. The president has also expanded loan forgiveness to students defrauded by their schools, which will cancel over $500 million in debt, and extended a pause on federal student loan payments through January of 2022.
But the government has not moved to cancel debt on privately issued student loans. They account for over $135 billion of the student debt out there. Several bills have been proposed in Congress to cancel private student debt but none have gone anywhere, and there are real questions about how much authority the government even has to cancel debts on loans from banks and other private lenders.