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Determining the Real Cost of College

Determine the Real Cost of College
College costs are rising rapidly, and figuring out how to pay for those expenses can be tricky. It’s not too difficult to figure out how much tuition and fees will cost, but there are many other expenses that come along with getting a college education. Because of this, it can be extremely difficult to determine the "real" cost of college.

Average Costs
According to "Trends in College Pricing" from the College Board, for the 2005-2006 school year, the average cost for a four-year private school was $31,916. For a four-year public school, the average cost was $15,566. And those costs are going up at an average rate of around 8 percent per year. The good news is that despite those increasing costs, nearly $130 billion in financial aid is available. You just have to know how to get it.

Is It Worth It?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals who earn a bachelor’s degree can earn 62 percent more on average than people with only a high school diploma. That adds up to more than $1 million over your lifetime.

What does that mean?

It means that the thousands of dollars you spend for your education today will yield millions in benefits over your lifetime career.

How Much Does College Really Cost?
Your total bill for a higher education will add up to a lot more than tuition and fees for four years. Here are some other things you’ll need to take into consideration:

–Inflation: The cost of college today is not the same as the cost of college tomorrow. According to the College Board, the price for a higher education increases by an average of 8 percent every year. Keep that in mind when you calculate your real cost for attending college.
–The Five-Year Plan: You’d like to finish your degree in four years, but it might not be possible for you. To earn a degree in four years, you’ll need to take on a full course load, which becomes more and more difficult as you advance into higher-level courses. Another alternative is attending during the summer, but that will increase your cost as well. Most likely, you should estimate your costs as if you’ll be attending for five years. If you end up graduating in four, consider it a bonus!
–Interest: If you are relying on borrowed money to get yourself through school, then you should consider the interest as a part of your college cost. How much will you pay in interest over the life of your loan? Figuring that number out can be a powerful impetus to start building your savings now.
–Books and Supplies: You’ll end up dropping a hefty chunk of change on school books and supplies to get your degree. Don’t forget to take these kinds of costs into consideration when calculating your real college costs.
–Room and Board: You’ll need somewhere to live and something to eat while you’re in school. Room and board costs can add up to a large percentage of your total cost for attending college.

Online Calculators
Plenty of calculators are available online to help you determine a realistic figure for attending college. These take into account many of the above considerations. Use them to help you plan for your own future.

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What You Need to Know About Online Degrees: The Pros and Cons

Online Degrees can satisfy a wide range of needs for many people in diverse circumstances, but it’s not for everyone. For many adult students, the advantages of online degrees far outweigh the disadvantages and vise versa. This section discusses the pros and cons of online degrees and helps you assess what you need to know about online educational programs and if it is right for you.

Advantages of Online Degrees

1. Online Degrees are very time flexible. Happily, in most online degree programs, you do not have to be in a certain place at a certain time. You can learn and study as much as you can handle, when it is convenient for you.

2. Online Degrees are geographically flexible. With online courses, location is irrelevant. Whether you are logging in from your computer or on a business trip or hanging out with some friends, you can learn wherever a computer is present.

3. Online Courses go at your own pace. Online degrees are ideal for students who like to set their own pace and who learn best on their own. Although you are likely to have periodic deadlines, you can approach the work at a pace that suits your schedule, while meeting the courses load’s due dates.

4. Online Educations can save money. Although the tuition and fees for online degrees are usually comparable to those charged on-campus courses, you save money on commuting costs. Also, you can maintain a normal work week while attending your own classes. Money saved.

5. Online Degrees fit individual needs. You can often tailor a program to fit your particular educational or professional goals and take as many courses as you want from various programs.

6. Online Degrees provides you with a freedom of choice. Since you are not confined to schools within easy commuting distances, you can consider online degrees at any university around the world.

7. Online Degrees teaches you more than course materials. There is a huge writing aspect to online classes; therefore you can improve your computer and Internet skills, and reading and oral communication skills. Employers love these beneficial qualities.

Disadvantages to Online Degrees

1. Online Degrees require discipline and self-motivation. Online courses may require more time, self-discipline and dedication than traditional on-campus classes. Busy professionals may find that motivating one-self to do extra studying and learning surprisingly hard; therefore the dropout rates are higher for online degree programs than that for campus-based programs.

2. Online Degrees lack face-to-face interaction.  For some students there is simply not enough social contact to keep them enthusiastic and motivated to complete the online degree.

3. Online Degrees may take longer than a traditional amount of time.  Because online degrees are self-motivated, it is easier to postpone taking courses; thus increasing the time it takes to complete a program.

4. Online Degree students get poor student services. Most online degree programs offer online library access, but it does not compare to the on-campus students who have access to libraries/librarians, academic advisers, and tutoring centers.

5. Online Degrees still have the stigma of inferiority. Although employers are starting to accept online degrees, traditionally on-campus degrees are considered more valuable if you are contemplating apply for future prestigious graduate and professional programs.

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