Homeschool families usually live on one income, so they have to be frugal. But how can you save money when paying for college? While it’s possible to obtain an inexpensive college degree – an Associate’s or even Bachelor’s – almost entirely through testing and distance learning, many homeschoolers want a traditional college experience. The following guest article offers some great tips for college degrees that won’t cost a fortune, whether you’re a recent high school graduate or a parent returning to school after homeschooling your children.
By Michelle Maltasm
Making the decision to go to or return to college means deciding to invest a lot of money in yourself. A college education, any kind, costs more these days than ever before. Because of this, the most important question that comes up is two-fold. First of all, is it worth it? Secondly, what’s the best way to get value for your money? Here are the best options to consider if these questions are important to you – which they should be.
An Associates Degree
Maybe the job you want doesn’t require you to have four years of college education. Even if that’s the case, you should work toward obtaining an associates degree. This means that you will have a two year degree from a community college. Not only are community college generally much less expensive than four year universities, you will also have to pay for only two years of schooling, so it’ll end up being very affordable. Some four-year schools also offer AA’s, including some very prestigious ones, like the Harvard University Extension School.
If you already have a BA but want to go back to school, you’re likely trying to choose between an MA, Ph.D., or something else like a JD or MBA. One thing to keep in mind is that, you often won’t end up paying for a Ph.D. program. If anything, you might even get paid to go to school with a stipend. This varies at different schools though, so be sure to check into the specific parameters. You normally have to get into a Top 50 school – the east coast, west coast, big 10 and big 12 schools have the vast majority of funded programs. And if you’re not sure if a Ph.D. is really for you, consider doing two years at a funded program and leaving with a (free) Masters’ degree.
Many people tend to rack up their college bills because they opt to obtain a degree that requires another one afterwards! Many programs more or less max out early on though – for instance, in the humanities, a Masters degree in theatre or journalism won’t really do you much good, so there’s no need to worry about an advanced degree when you graduate from college. There are also many terminal masters degrees where you won’t need to worry about paying for a PhD (or foregoing salary, even if the program’s free) to get a good-paying job – geology and public policy are great examples of this. Furthermore, many schools now offer five year programs where you can earn both a BA and MA, at a great cost. This is becoming more and more common with public health and international affairs programs.
The Ol’ Reliables
A few disciplines will always yield great jobs, no matter where you go to school or how long it takes you. If you want nothing more than to get in and out of school quickly and land a good job within a few months consider fields like education, nursing or engineering. These fields always face shortages in staff, so you will be paid decently in either pay or benefits. If you have a high student debt load, consider one of the latter two professions – your salary will likely be double that of the first path.
Going to college is generally not considered to be a frugal undertaking. From the cost of classes to the price of books, you’re going to wind up spending a lot of money. However, many ways exist to make the cost less than detrimental to your financial outlook.
Michelle Maltasm writes all about finance and education. Her recent work is on the Top 10 Online Security Degree Programs.