A virtual college education is generally cheaper compared to brick-and-mortar universities. A study commissioned by Thomas B. Fordham Institute (Tamara Butler Battaglino) back in 2012 revealed that a student will spend about $6,000 for online college tuition compared to about $10,000 in traditional schools. Ivy League schools, meanwhile, cost five times more than the average private school.
An average graduate in the US will leave school with $25,000 in student debt (Care2). This puts an immense burden on the American economy, which is saddled with over $1 trillion debt from educational loans. More than 6 in 10 students will have to take out a loan in order to finance their education.
The fact is a large bulk of their college tuition expenses don’t go to pay for their education. Instead, it will go to the university’s operating expenses, administrative costs, scholarships and grants or sports teams, as well as the construction of new buildings. This explains the low tuition in online colleges since the construction and operating expenses are avoided altogether.
Avoiding Student Loan Debt
There are several ways in how people can avoid being riddled with student debt. Below are just a few examples:
VA Scholarship – The US Veterans Affairs extends scholarship grants to veterans and their families. Those who can take advantage of this benefit can get their educational expenses waived off 100%. Be wary however, there are strict requirements and those who violate the terms of the agreement may end up with student debt. Some of these violations include dropping classes (VA), leaving the school prematurely, and delinquency.
Keep track of finances – One way to avoid average student loan debt is to keep track of finances. Unfortunately, a good number of students don’t really know how student loans work (Chingos). According to the study commissioned by Brown Center on Education in 2014, half of freshmen students “underestimate” the amount of loans they have. In this regard, students should fully understand the nature of the scholarship, which can result in a very expensive mistake later on if they are asked to repay for failing to do their end of the bargain.
Perform well in high school – There are countless scholarships out there for all fields of bachelor programs. Unfortunately, the screening process can be very competitive. That’s understandable considering the number of deserving students in need of help each year. Unlike loans, scholarships are grants, and can mean avoiding college debt.
Specialized courses – Microbiology, molecular biology, actuarial science, marine science and environmental studies are just some of the highly specialized courses that can yield grant support, and help avoid student debt.
Study abroad – Another option to avoid student debt is to apply for scholarships to study abroad, which provides a stipend and book allowance apart from the tuition. There are also international exchange programs that offers the opportunity to travel to a different country and learn another culture, which can be more important than the diploma they earn. Students can also apply for a work visa so they can earn money while completing their education.
For families, going virtual to earn a degree is another option to avoid student debt. Online college tuition costs way less compared to brick-and-mortar schools (The Parthenon Group, Cost of Online Learning, 2012). The flexible schedule will also allow them to find a part-time job or spend time with family and friends.