The Distance Learner

Advice on earning a college degree through distance education

Paying for College

Another article about paying for college comes our way courtesy of Fox News. It gives some interesting statistics about the average cost of college tuition and also provides figures on other expenses parents should be prepared to pay if their child will be living on campus.

*In 2002-2003, the average annual cost (tuition, room and board) at a typical four-year public university was $9,828, while a year at a mid-range private institution averaged more than twice as much, $23,940, according to Department of Education statistics. That should put the average cost of a bachelor’s degree at between $40,000 and $100,000.

That’s a lot of money for an average middle-class family to plunk down to send Johnnie or Sally off to school. Even figuring in the possible offset of financial aid, we’re still talking about tens of thousands of dollars. The above figures don’t include room and board, transportation, books, clothing, etc.

This brings up a fundamental question: is college an investment? If it is, it should be treated like any other investment. The costs, risks, and benefits should be weighed before making a commitment. Parents who take the time to weigh all of the options are making an informed decision. They are far more likely to escape dramatic financial suprises, even if their child ends up attending a traditional college.

Risk versus reward is a basic mantra preached by almost every investment adviser, and the same logic applies when deciding whether to choose a backpack and books over a workplace ID.

If the same logic applies then it would follow that college does have a benefit. This is only common sense. Parents have different opinions about what that benefit actually is, but most would list a good job with a healthy salary as the most important.

…it doesn’t take rocket science to see that a college degree can at least double your money-making potential.

This is true, but assuming you’re treating college as an investment, what kind of return are you getting on your money? If sending your child to a traditional college costs $100,000 per year and he ends up making $50,000 per year, is that worth it? What if your child could stay home and earn his degree via distance education for $10,000 per year, earn $12,000 per year as an intern during school, and make the same $50,000 per year after graduation? Would that be worth it?

Speaking for my brother and I, it has definitely been worth it. By pursuing degrees via distance education, we’ve received the same education at much less expense. We’ve avoided the costs of room and board, transportation, parking permits, etc. We’ve earned money while going to college. I graduated 100% debt free and David is on track to do the same.

Convention says that paying for college is supposed to be hard. It doesn’t have to be. Convention says that you should send your child out of state to a “name school.” This is rarely necessary. Weigh the options, make an educated decision, and be sure that your investment dollars are being used wisely.

Read the full article at Fox News.