This part of the guide will explain many advantages of online education, in order to emphasize what online students actually gain from this type of educational experience.

Chapter 4

The rising cost of a traditional college education has made it such that many people cannot afford to get the degree needed to achieve success in their adult lives. Tuition and fees for traditional colleges have vastly outpaced inflation, pricing many middle-class families out of this important part of life. For those who do initiate a traditional college or university education, many find themselves graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

For those majoring in lower paying jobs such as sociology and public service, they may have to live with high loan payments throughout their adult lives. These payments could make it difficult for graduates of traditional programs to buy a home, take the job of their dreams or to start a family. Online education can save both money and time for people who want to earn a bachelor's degree or even a graduate degree. Both the coursework and the degree can be a better financial option when done through online education.

Free and Reduced Cost Online Degrees

Some educational institutions, such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, have started to offer lower cost online bachelor's and master's degree programs. One such program, the online master's degree in computer science, costs only $6,600 for online students, compared to more than $42,000 for the traditional in-class experience at the same institution. This amounts to more than a $35,000 savings for online learners. The University of the People, which is an accredited online-only institution, now offers degrees with no tuition fees whatsoever.

Affordable Online Courses

For students who only want to take a few classes to work toward a degree or for their own personal or professional learning needs, massive open online courses (MOOCs), are an affordable option. These courses are open to anyone and are regarded as quality educational resources that can help to prepare learners for a degree. The edX online learning destination, created by Harvard and MIT, offers free classes from some of the world's top universities.

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Some of these institutions also provide college credits that are transferable to other educational institutions, such as community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. However, high-quality MOOCs can be expensive to produce, and not all institutions offering online courses are accredited. The lowest cost program is not always the best option.

Other Ways to Save on Online Education

Students can employ more than one method to cut down the costs of an online education. Studying online from home means that there are no excessive room and board fees. There is also no need to pay for services that the student does not use, such as recreational centers. Studying at home also means no commuting costs. The fees to use electronic books are lower than the cost of paying for a new printed textbook. Using recorded materials and computer-guided instructions means that the educator does not have to commute to campus, which cuts overhead costs. Students can also use college savings plans, which grow tax-free.