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20 Money Saving Tips for College Students

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College is difficult enough when you’re only worried about tests and papers, or about a crush or what you’re going to have for lunch. Worrying about money adds a level of stress that can have a dampening effect on all aspects of your life, including your grade.

Here, we’ve outlined 20 great money-saving – and earning – tips to help you reduce costs, increase opportunities, and have just that much less stress going into the semester.

numbers-money-calculating-calculationYou Need a Budget

Let’s start with something obvious but that many take for granted: You Need a Budget.
That’s right, not only is it true, it’s the name of some great budgeting software.
Regardless of how you prepare your budget: spreadsheet, paper, the envelope system, or an accordion file, you do need to track where your money goes if you ever hope to control it. Even if you don’t want to be frugal and utilize any other advice, we want you to manage your money in such a way that you have more to spend on the things you love by spending less on the things you don’t really care about. The only way to do that is to track and manage where you spend.
Luckily, YNAB is free for students for 12 months, rather than 34 days for the general public.
You can also use Mint for a less robust but very informative tool, or check out this list of 10 Best Budget Software Apps for more options.

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Limit Credit Card Usage

In line with your budgetary efforts, you should limit your credit usage. Debit cards are better, but cash is king.
Studies have shown over and over that swiping plastic is less “painful” than handing over cash and can cause you to spend up to 15% more than you would with cash. Debit cards in particular come with nasty overdraft charges if you make a mistake with your account balance. Worse, these overdraft fees can rack up into the hundreds very quickly. If you haven’t, call your bank and turn off overdraft protection. Better to be face embarrassment and be declined than to pay for it later.
Credit cards are insidious for another reason. Not only is it easier to spend, it’s easier to spend money you don’t actually have. It’s tempting to throw those new sunglasses or that morning bagel onto a credit card and forget about it until the end of the month. But piling up credit card debt just adds fuel to the financial fire by charging you interest until the balance is paid. Even a small balance can turn into dozens of dollars a month in interest fees, not to mention late fees or overlimit fees.
Be careful and use cash whenever possible. You can’t overdraft your wallet.

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Rent or Buy Used Textbooks

One of the most expensive out-of-pocket costs for a semester is textbooks. Even if you can bill them to your college tuition balance, the prices are astronomical for new editions and often even expensive for second-hand books purchased through your college. Textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars each and some classes require more than one. The problem is compounded if you’re in a science or technical degree program with new science textbooks costing upwards of $300. That doesn’t even include the lab book.
Thankfully for the budget-conscious student, there have been many changes in the secondhand textbook market.
First, there are textbook rentals. Amazon, the 800 pound gorilla, rents textbooks. Barnes & Noble rents textbooks, and many other sites do, too.
Second, there are a ton of used options out there. Check Craigslist, Facebook, or any social media or communication methods that students at your college use to find textbooks from last semester’s enrollees. Bonus opportunity points if you buy them at the end of the preceding semester, knowing you’ll be taking the class. Ebay, Amazon, and dozens of websites do this, as well. Check with your professor first, but a previous version will be significantly less expensive and have almost all of the same material, just organized differently.
Finally, you have the library option. Most school libraries keep a copy or two of each registered textbook on file for use within the library. Go ask – the librarians are there to help. It might feel like a cramp in your style to have to read your chapters at the library, but you might find it beneficial to your retention and attention span. You can also photograph important pages with your phone, or scan them to your email address.
No matter what you do, avoid paying full price for new textbooks!

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Utilize the Library

Since we’re on the topic, your school’s library has tons to offer for budget-saving ideas. Most college libraries have lots of entertainment options, often hosting art galleries, movie nights, and other cultural events.
The campus library can be used as a quiet study area, perfect for concentrating or getting a class group or club meeting together without having to meet at Waffle House for a study session where you’ll end up spending money.
On the same token, most libraries have great hangout spots in general, where you don’t necessarily have to keep it down, but you won’t have to spend on overpriced lattes to enjoy a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity in the evening.
Best of all, your library often has tons of free entertainment you can borrow. Many have large collections of movies on DVD or even *gasp* fiction books for you to borrow rather than buying them on Amazon. Your school library, or even the local public library, will often even have ebook borrowing for your kindle or tablet.

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Join a Club

Get a list of your campus-sponsored clubs and find one or two that interest you. First, you’ll meet new people who have similar interests. Second, you might make some new friends. Even better, you’ll get access to a hobby, pastime, or interest of yours that’s subsidized by the school itself.
Most colleges offer stipends to approved clubs that helps covers some measure of supplies and, often, food for their regular meetings. Play D&D, get into a sports club, join a martial arts club, or join a regular arts club! It doesn’t matter, there’s almost always something interesting to participate in. It will help you socialize a few hours a week without spending money on transportation, food, and drinks.
If you don’t like any of the clubs offered and just *love* knitting, find out how to start your own knitting club and get all of those crazy knitters to join you.

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Attend Campus Events

In line with joining a club or utilizing the library is the fact that almost all colleges host great events regularly. In an attempt to be part of the community and show that colleges bring culture to students and neighbors both, you’ll find your college prepares a ton of events throughout the year – many of them at no cost to you.
These events range from barbecues to ballets, concerts to cello recitals. You’ll often find outdoor movies (or indoor), art galleries, and interesting talks by famous people.
Attending these has many benefits. You could:

  • Get free food
  • Get free entertainment
  • Get some brownie points with a significant other
  • Earn extra credit for a class
  • Network with alumni and local movers & shakers
  • Maybe absorb a little culture that isn’t at the bottom of a red Solo cup

These events are well worth your time. Get a school calendar and make sure you get updates for new events and enjoy the shows.

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Ask for Student Discounts

Always ask for student discounts. Carry your student ID and always ask.
You may be surprised to find out who has student discounts. Often, you’ll find discounts at common attractions for students around town. Establishments like restaurants and movie theaters are common places to find some bonus with your student ID. Check with coffee shops, local attractions, theme parks, stores, and even transportation.
Your student ID could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of time.
It might seem obvious, but bring it with you and ask everywhere you shop. You’ll be happily surprised more than once.

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Reconsider Your Transportation

Cars are expensive and, believe it or not, most students don’t actually need one. Almost everything you’ll need in your day-to-day life as a student will be provided on-campus. Exceptions exist for large or spread-out campuses or for students who have jobs to get to off-campus.
Most schools are situated in such a way as to provide very reasonable public transportation or walkability. Check out both your school’s and city’s transportation offerings – they may even be free as a student (see above). Making public transportation work for you can save a lot of money over registering a vehicle on campus and paying for a parking pass.
If public transportation doesn’t cut it for your particular circumstance, consider the humble bicycle. It’s good exercise, it’s often as fast or faster than a car inside city limits, and it’s free to use apart from very minor maintenance. Invest in a good bike lock or bring it inside with you and a single, inexpensive bicycle will last your entire college career. Some campuses even offer inexpensive bike-sharing programs to release you from the expense and liability of keeping your own bike on hand. Bicycles are provide exercise, are easier to own and operate than a vehicle, and are great for the environment.
Finally, if you really need that gasoline power to get where you’re going, consider a small motor scooter (50cc engine). You can pick one up used for under $1,000, the insurance costs are almost zero, maintenance is minimal, and they often get 90-100 miles per gallon fuel efficiency. More environmentally friendly than a car and less expensive, a small-displacement scooter comes with many advantages. For a start, many states don’t require a driver’s license to operate a small scooter while the rest only require a car license rather than a specialized motorcycle endorsement.Small scooters can reach in-town speed (generally up to 40 mph), sometimes accelerating faster than a car. They’re also fun and can be very cool. The main drawback is weather: in many climates, a scooter is only appropriate for 7-8 months out of the year. That’s if you don’t mind getting a little chilly later in the year. If you can make public transportation work for you, or you can get your hands on a car for the winter to make up the difference, a scooter can save you tons of money and add a little extra fun to your life.

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Will Work for Food

Speaking of driving to work: do you have some sort of income-generating job during the school year? Having a paying job is a great way to avoid extra debt or even pay down your school debt so you can graduate with few to no loans. Additionally, where you work might help you spend even less than you normally would.
All else being equal (shift flexibility, pay), you should consider working somewhere that helps you offset some regular expense. That typically means working with or around food, since that’s a college student’s primary expense if he or she does not have a full meal plan. Consider restaurants, bakeries, and caterers. Food delivery can also be pretty lucrative, especially if you use that fuel-efficient scooter mentioned above. If all else fails, find a place to work that provides free meals during the course of business, or has a lot of catered meetings that you can ransack afterward. Hospital administrative wings have a lot of these opportunities.
The key takeaway is that it’s important to earn while you learn and to maximize the opportunities that can come with a menial, entry-level job.

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Cook Your Own Food

Let’s stay on the food thing for a few minutes. If you’re not working in a food-plentiful position, and you’re living off campus with no meal plan, stop eating out. McDonald’s is not actually cheaper than cooking for yourself, though it feels cheaper in the moment. The same goes for nearly any prepared food.
Instead, you should cook for yourself. You may not know how to cook, but there are tons of benefits to learning and utilizing this important life skill. You can:

  • Customize your food to your preferences
  • Impress your date
  • Create healthy foods
  • Impress your date
  • Eat any style of cuisine you like
  • Save money
  • and Impress your date

Did we mention that having one or two delicious go-to dishes can really impress a date, be they male or female? It works like a charm and is never a wasted effort.
For daily food, you really don’t have to be that impressive. In fact, we recommend prepping a week’s worth of meals ahead on Sunday to save time and money. Also visit /r/EatCheapandHealthy for great, budget-minded healthy meals.

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Don’t Shop While Hungry

This probably sounds like your mother’s advice that she got from her mother. But, like most sage wisdom, it’s just plain good sense.
Shopping while hungry will inevitably see you putting junk in your basket that has nothing to do with all of the planning you did at the subreddits above. Those Oreos you just had to have will undo your entire week’s gym duty.
Instead, have a snack before you go into the grocery store. Take all that you learned above and have a hard-and-fast list ready in your hand (or on your phone. Google Keep is good for this). Don’t stray from your list unless it’s for non-edibles. Really, try not to forget the deodorant.
The list is law, it’s what helps you stay on budget and healthy at home. The list decides what goes in the basket and what stays on the shelf in it’s attractive,advertisement of a box.
Have a snack, take the list, and take control of your menu at home.

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Save on Coffee

We know: sometimes you want to escape to a coffee shop and work or study, write your screenplay or code. We wouldn’t deny you that luxury, but that doesn’t give you free rein to get a $6 Starbucks every single day before class, or go out to get late-night coffees for your weekly all-nighters.
Instead, we’re going to recommend you start making coffee at home or in your dorm. Arguably better and definitely cheaper, homemade coffee can give you the caffeine a college student needs without breaking the bank.
That same $6 can buy you a whole pound of coffee – enough for a couple of weeks. Spend a couple of bucks more to get some better quality stuff if you want.
If you have easy access to a stove or an electric kettle, you’re going to want a french press or an Aeropress for hot coffee. They’re inexpensive and pretty much foolproof while turning out a consistently great cup of coffee.
If you have a microwave to heat water, an Aeropress would still work just fine. Another inexpensive option is a one cup pour over filter.
Follow the instructions on any one of these and you’ll have a better cup of coffee than Starbucks can offer in less time than it takes to get through the morning line, all while saving dozens of dollars per week.

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Kick the Soda, Energy Drink, Health Drink Habit

Soda is terrible for you. Knock it off. You don’t need to be spending money on poison. If you want the fizz, grab a sodastream and add some lime juice.
Energy drinks are terrible for you. Not only that, they’re expensive! Knock that off, too. Plan ahead, get proper sleep, and take your vitamins. If you need a caffeine shot, use your Aerorpress (above) to knock out a strong cup of coffee for a few pennies worth of grounds.
Kombucha is, they say, good for you. But it’s crazy expensive. This isn’t just for kombucha or kefir, but for any trendy health drink. Wheatgrass shots, acai berry smoothies, all of it. Cut it out. Get good nutrition by cooking for yourself and cut these out. If you really need kombucha, stop buying it bottled and make your own. It’s better for you and significantly less expensive if a little more involved.

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Split Rent

This might be a little obvious, but if you’re off-campus, try to get a roommate, or an additional roommate. If you don’t live off-campus, look into living off-campus to save money over dorm living.
Some roommates are awesome. Some are not. The keys to a good roommate experience are communication and setting expectations.
Let them know what to expect for expenses and how to split them, when they’re due, and the process for paying them. Let them know the expectations of what they’ll take as chores, what their portion of the bills are, and any other roommate responsibilities everyone might have.
You will also want to establish rules about food sharing. Splitting food isn’t generally recommended, as someone always feels like they’re being taken advantage of. Rather, it’s best to have separate shelves in the fridge and cupboards in the kitchen to keep as your own and avoid that friction.
With some guidelines like these for roommates, you have a better shot of working together and sharing expenses, a win-win all around.

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Cut the Cord

Cable TV is a nightmare. You pay to watch content real-time, or time shifted if you pay extra for a DVR, and the show is 20-30% advertisements. Almost a third of your money goes to paying to watch ads. You can do that for free on YouTube.
That, and cable TV offers few benefits to streaming or using an over-the-air antenna. You can always head to a sports bar, a friend’s dorm, or a campus event to watch any game you would otherwise miss, and everything else is available on Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go or Now for less than the price of cable. You should be using your parents’ accounts for those subscriptions, anyway!
This applies to every recurring expense: find it and kill it.
If you’re in an apartment, call your cable company and drop your internet speeds as low as you can possibly go without making it unusable. If you’re paying for your own cell phone, call the company and try to reduce your plan. Even better, switch to Straight Talk, Google Fi, or <http=”http://www,ting.com”>Ting and save even more money without losing sacrificing service.
Be ruthless. You don’t need a Birchbox, Ispy, or Popsugar subscription, and are you really playing World of Warcraft that much? Shouldn’t you be studying?

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Negotiate

In line with cutting the cord, we want you to negotiate every account possible. If you can’t or won’t reduce your plans, call the company and ask for promotional pricing. Be firm but polite – almost every company has some leeway in pricing for customers who are willing to cancel their services.
This also applies to rent – when looking at apartments, don’t be afraid to haggle, especially if you have good references and proof of steady income. A good tenant is worth their weight in gold, and maybe even a $50-100 monthly discount on rent! This works especially well when it’s time to renew your lease and you’ve been a great tenant.
One final note: negotiate with credit cards, especially if you’ve had them a little while. Call and ask to have your interest reduced if you haven’t had any late payments or late fees. If you have, call and ask them to waive the fees. The same goes for any other account. Remember: it never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is ‘no.’

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Avoid Fees

Related to negotiations, you can save yourself time, frustration, and money by avoiding fees in the first place. Starting with You Need a Budget, take control of your money and direct where it goes. Then build yourself a small reserve of cash in case something gets away from you.
From there, it’s simple; pay everything on time. Set up automatic payments for your credit card, your phone, your fuel-efficient/inexpensive vehicle, everything. Make sure you have cash in your account to cover them, and make sure your savings is ready in case you screw up. Don’t worry, it gets easier as you get used to it.
Any accounts that don’t have automatic payments available should be set up with reminders on your calendar app a day or two before its due. You might want to set up alerts for recurring payments to make sure there’s cash enough for those, too.
This is a big one because overdraft and late fees are just pure waste. If the company won’t refund you, you received nothing for your money other than lining their pockets.
Stay ahead on payments and avoid account-draining fees.
The same advice goes for tickets – parking, inspection, registration, speeding, seat belt, and cellphone-while-driving tickets are pure revenue generators for your city. You can’t afford to flush hundreds down the drain because of these infractions that are completely under your control.

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Read the Fine Print

Your college probably means well, but there are a lot of fees and charges flying around when you account for the whole school year.
Comb through your packets and your fee schedules and see if you can reduce or eliminate anything. Often, schools will automatically include a health fee for on-campus health services, but you can opt out of this if you have health insurance – personally or through your parents’ coverage.
If you live off campus, you might be able to reduce or eliminate your campus meal plan. Even on campus, you may be able to reduce your meal plan if you’re not an early riser and tend to skip breakfast in the cafeteria.
The same goes for any bills or payments you have – eliminate all unnecessary and unwanted features and fees that you can.

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Become a Resident Advisor

Becoming a Resident Advisor can offer a ton of benefits. Rather than getting an apartment, becoming an RA generally gets you:

  • Free, private living quarters on campus
  • Free parking
  • Free annual meal plan

Then there are the myriad ways to spend money in an apartment: utilities, cleaning supplies, snow removal, lost security deposits, etc.
There is a time commitment as an RA, but the rewards may far outweigh the costs. Apply to be an RA and save yourself some money, earn experience that can be applies to work (and works on your resume!), and help your fellow students.

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Apply for Scholarships

Don’t forget about this crucial task. Apply for scholarships every semester.
Thousands of scholarships and millions of dollars go unclaimed every year. Applying for scholarships efficiently can earn you thousands of dollars toward tuition or expenses. It’s nothing to sneeze at.
Check out an article titled How I won $100,000+ in College Scholarships for a great resource on the “whys” and “hows” of scholarship applications.
After applying for a few, you’ll find that you can even start to recycle your awesome essays, saving you time and increasing your productivity. Beyond that, do things that don’t scale: go to your career center and get a list of scholarships and apply to each one, don’t blanket email a bunch of online applications. It doesn’t work in the career world or the scholarship world.
It doesn’t matter who you are, there are scholarships just waiting for you to write in and claim them.

25 Affordable Items to Help You Win Fall Semester

25 Affordable Items Fall 2016

Fall semester is quickly approaching, and because of that fact, some shopping is in order. You might want to buy everything you see, but unfortunately, for the most of us, we can’t shell out thousands for our shopping sprees. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t buy a few of the essential, and a few non essentials while we’re at it. We have come up with a list of 20 affordable items that will help you win at fall semester.

Cyber Clean Compound

Cyber Clean Home and Office Compound

Have you ever looked at your phone or keyboard, and gotten a little grossed out by the dust and dirt hidden in the tiny crevices? Or do you just want a fun solution to cleaning your tech equipment? Well you are in luck with Cyber Clean. Cyber Clean is a cleaning compound that looks and feels like goop. Think of it like play dough that actually cleans stuff, too! Due to its goopy nature, it is able to clean those hard to reach spots on your equipment. It can clean the keys on your keyboard, the tiny divots in your cell phone, and pretty much any other electronic device you can think of.
The compound is so gentle, it can be used with your most sensitive tech equipment. The best and most economical part, is that Cyber Clean is reusable. That means you won’t have to constantly buy those expensive wipes. You can use the Cyber Clean until it turns color.

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Sleep Headphones

Are you the kind of person who needs to listen to music or rain sounds to fall asleep? Are your current headphones just too uncomfortable to fall asleep? Sleep heaphones are the solution. They are the perfect solution to bulky headphones which prevent sleep, and finicky earbuds that constantly fall out or break. They were designed to help people sleep without the use of prescription drugs or other more costly measures. You can be sure they are safe for you and your family, because they were developed by a physician with safety and effectiveness in mind.
These headphones will help you win at the fall semester for sure. If you plan to sleep in a dorm or college apartment with a roommate, these headphones will prevent you from annoying your roommates. Instead, you can focus on becoming friends, instead of a horror story they will tell in the future. Also, if you have a domestic partner or spouse, this product will allow them to get a good night’s sleep. They won’t be bothered by your your frog or thunderstorm sounds, and they can continue to focus on the important stuff to get angry about, like fighting over which way the toilet paper goes.

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Waterproof Shower Notepad

First of all, It’s just super exciting that Waterproof Shower Notepads actually exist. Everyone has their best ideas in the shower. Now, you don’t have to wait until you’re out of the shower to write them down. It would be a terrible shame to have a life changing idea, only to forgot the important details once you’ve dried off. These Waterproof Notepads will have you win at fall semester and beyond. You will most certainly wow your guests, and dazzle some friends. Everyone will think you’re so cool for having them. In fact, it will definitely give people the impression that your ideas are too good to wait even one minute, which is probably true anyway.
If you are a writer by nature, love poetry, or perhaps an artist, this notepad is essential. Imagine the stories you could tell if some of your best works were written or sketched in the shower. Even if you use this notepad for silly purposes, it will be worth the money. Think of all the silly messages and pictures you can write in the shower for everyone to see. You can have several hours of purposeful work or just plain old fun with the waterproof notepad.

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Cell Phone Night Light

Sometimes you just need a little light.
Maybe you need to pull an all-nighter but your spouse or roommate are trying to sleep. Maybe you need a little ambient light for reading or having friends over. Maybe you want a cool little gadget to show off to your friends. Maybe you’re just scared of the dark! Whatever the reason, you should definitely try the
Cell Phone Night Light.
If you really want to win at fall semester, then this is the item for you. If you bring this light out with you for a night out on the town, think about all the people that will come up to you and ask questions. It is quite the conversation starter. The Cell Phone Night Light might be more than just a device to help you read, it can be an instant friend maker. Well, at least it will take a little bit of the work out of starting a conversation anyway.

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Moldable Glue

Unfortunately things break. Replacing items every time they break can be both annoying and expensive. We have a solution for you:
moldable glue.
Moldable glue is perfect for practically anything that needs fixing. It can be used to bond items together, seal, and even cushion. One of the best things about this items is that it really works. You don’t have to be an engineer or handy person to make the product useful. It was designed with everyday uses for a variety of users.
This product is so easy to use that most people wouldn’t have any trouble using it straight out of the package. The moldable glue feels like Play-Doh when it is fresh, so that it’s pliable to use. However, once it’s dried, it turns hard and rubbery. This product is an easy, fun, and effective way to fix the broken items in your life, without totally demolishing your bank account.

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Tea

With the start of the new semester comes tests, assignments, and extra responsibilities. That basically translates into added stress. One of the best mechanisms out there to deal with stress, is a nice cup of calming tea. Set aside a little time everyday to enjoy a few cups of tea. Right now, it’s hot all over the country, so make some iced tea to cool you down and refresh you while you try to get calm. As the fall semester progresses, it is going to get chillier and chillier. That’s when you will want to cozy up with a warm mug of tea. There are tons of flavors out there to satisfy any pallet.
We like teas from the company Teamotions. The company was actually founded to help others cope with stress and loss. One of the founders lost two children shortly after they were born, and was stricken with grief. She found that one of the few things that brought her comfort was taking some relaxation time with a cup of tea. The founders came up with teas that are specially formulated to help relieve stress. With the use of adaptogen herbs, they have the perfect blend for both taste and benefits. All of the teas that are used are made to optimize immune function, fight stress, and reduce illness. The use high quality organic flavorings that are sure to provide solace on those stressful fall semester nights.

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Coffee Maker

Fall is quickly approaching. With it comes football, hoodies, and pumpkin Spice everything. It’s also the start of fall semester. The fall semester is a time where you will need every ounce of energy you can get. That is where coffee becomes quite handy. Coffee. The nectar of the gods. Well, really the juice from roasted beans. However you think of it, coffee has been known to save the day during many late night study sessions.
To survive and win the fall semester you need a pretty awesome and affordable coffee maker. Find a coffee maker that has a timer, automatic shut offs, and that fits neatly into your budget. You don’t have to have a machine worth a few hundred to make a decent cup of coffee. Just something that suites your needs. We recommend looking at this coffee maker from Hamilton Beach. It has everything a college student and working person could ever need. It even allows you to choose a brewing method, and has a space to fill a mug for a single use. This is the perfect machine for someone on the go. Now, just don’t forget to add pumpkin spice creamers, when the occasion calls.

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An Awesome Planner

Life can get confusing and overbooked at times. Invest in an awesome planner to help you relieve some of that mind clutter. With a decent planner, you will remember deadlines for classes, birthday parties, and every other even planned throughout the year. Try to find a planner that fits your needs, but also is stylish. You want a planner that shows off your personality a bit.
We highly recommend looking at the LifePLanner. It’s a mega planner that will help you stay organized and in control. LifePlanners allow you to view daily, weekly, and monthly agendas, so that you can closely monitor the needs in your life. They are also completely customization. You can add your own designs, colors, photos, and even your name. This planner will definitely help you win fall semester.

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Band-Aid Blister Cushions for Fingers and Feet

Unfortunately, blisters and wounds happen. It isn’t fun or glamorous, but it’s a fact of life. As a college student you might have to walk all over college campuses. Even if you are are getting your degree online, local colleges and universities are a great place to meet people for study groups and to make friends. Also, they are great places to use resources such as libraries and computer rooms. So, all of that extra walking can add up to some gnarly blisters.
Protect yourself with Band-Aid Cushions for Fingers and Feet when you are having a little bit of trouble. They help alleviate pain and reduce the symptoms of blisters immediately. Getting these band-aids will help you and your limbs win at the fall semester. You will get more relief, therefore you will also be more productive. It might not be a fun purchase, but it’s a necessary one.

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Index Cards

That’s right, the boring, old index card can help you win at fall semester.
Listen, jus buy a pack of index cards. Amazon has lots of options.
Index cards can be a lifesaver – reminders, notes to classmates, paper airplanes, or even an impromptu phone stand.
Mostly, we recommend index cards for memorization-heavy classes. Anatomy & physiology, organic chemistry, foreign languages, and many other core classes have their foundation in memorization of details. If you don’t feel like learning advanced memorization techniques, flashcards are a tried and true way to help you remember a surprising amount of detail, and index cards are the perfect thing for you to write your own custom flashcards and carry them with you while you prepare for your next big test. Lunch break? Flashcards. Waiting for a friend? Flashcards.
Index cards, when used as a learning tool, can truly help you win at fall semester.

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The Bedford Handbook

The Bedford Handbook is an indispensable resource for anyone in college, especially those who will be writing more research papers than average.
It covers the MLA style of writing and citation which is standard in college, versus the APA style you may have learned in High School.
This book will come in handy as many professors want to see appropriately-styled MLA work before giving full credit on an assignment, with poor styling often causing you to lose points. The MLA standard is non-intuitive, especially when it comes to citations from various sources, so make sure you have some sort of resource nearby to sort it out properly. The Bedford Handbook will help you win fall semester by giving you the resources to do your best work.
Before purchasing this book, make sure your college adheres to the MLA standard.

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Sriracha 2 Go Pack

Who doesn’t love Sriracha? That awesome hot sauce that goes on just about anything can now go with you.
Are you eating fast food between work and home while you run to get to your online class? Maybe you’re eating cafeteria food at work or at school and just get sick of the same, bland flavors.
Grab a Sriracha 2 Go Sriracha Lover’s pack. You get a branded mug, a small bottle of Sriracha, and some packets of the same. The pièce de résistance, however, are the two small key ring bottles meant to hold your Sriracha while you’re on the go!
Pop out your bottle of awesome sauce when friends are around to wow them, then pass the goodness around. Not only will having the best hot sauce on earth in your pocket at all times help you win, these kits make a great gift for the Sriracha lovers in your life.

speakers

Portable Dancing Water Speakers

These portable, rechargeable bluetooth dancing water speakers will be a hit at any small gathering.
Charge them up, take them with you, and pair them to a phone to belt out sound and light with a “dancing water bubble effect built right into the speakers. They’ll be the center of attention at any small dorm party, camping trip, or even a night time beach outing.
No get-together is the same without some music, and music is always better accompanied by cool lights. Grab these great little speakers to bring some life and color anywhere you go.

whiteboard

Dry Erase Wall Decals

Dry erase boards are so last year. Now there are dry erase decals!
These stick-able, reusable decals will adhere to a door, a wall, a window, or a desk without mounting hardware or sticky pads that leave residue behind. They’re styled to look like notebook paper but act as a regular whiteboard to help you track your daily to-do list, notes between family members or roommates, or announcement boards on the outside of your door.
Sticking one to your desk means you’ll barely notice it’s there compared to a regular whiteboard, and it can serve endless functions so you can stop leaving post-it notes everywhere.
They come in a three-pack, so you’ll have enough for all of your daily needs. You can also find dry erase decals that display world maps and much more.

cereal

Cereal To Go Containers

No matter what happens, when you’re taking classes you always feel like you’re on the run. Whether you work while taking online classes or have some traditional classes at your local college, you may not have time in the morning to sit down and eat breakfast.
But remember: a good breakfast can help you win at fall semester, and these Cereal To Go containers can help you bring breakfast with you and keep it cold until you can take a break and enjoy it.
This two-pack of containers holds your cereal, granola, or other dry ingredient separate from your wet ingredient, while the bottom cup has a freezable gel inside that will keep your (almond?) milk cold and fresh for a couple of hours while you find a place to sit and eat between classes, work, commuting, or rounds of ultimate frisbee.

battery

Battery Pack

A student is a person on the go. Online classes are often as demanding as in-person, and your phone or tablet may not make it through that last webinar before the battery runs out. What will you do?
Well, you’re a smart college student who plans ahead and you picked up this awesome battery pack. The Aukey 10,000 mAh battery pack supports Quick Charge, so if your phone has the feature this thing will top up the battery fast. It even holds enough juice to top up an iPhone 6s four times.
Any battery pack will work, but a student on the go, who lives and dies by their tablet or smartphone, would do well to have a little foresight and grab something with some oomph.

utensil

Multi-Purpose Cooking Utensil

Alton Brown doesn’t allow unitaskers in his kitchen, and neither should you. With the start of the fall semester quickly approaching, you will need to have a multipurpose cooking utensil to get you through the months ahead. While eating out or ordering prepared food every night can be a tasty splurge, it can also add up very quickly. Most people would blow their monthly food budget in the span of a few nights. So, find foods that you like to cook that are cheap and easy to prepare, and buy a reasonably priced cooking utensil.
We recommend looking at this 5-in-1 cooking utensil This tool can be used as a slotted spoon, turner, for cutting, as a solid spoon, and even a spatula. Having this multipurpose utensil will save you both time and money. You won’t have to search mindlessly through your drawers to find the perfect utensil for your task, with this device, you can cut down the amount of utensils you have to own. That will definitely cut down on cost as well.

binders

D Ring Binders & Accessories

This one is much more utilitarian than it is fun, but it’s a great way to keep your notes organized if you prefer paper notes to a laptop, especially if you’re taking classes on-campus.
What we’ll be doing is making sure your notes are always organized and never jumbled or in the wrong notebook. This will help come test time: you’ll know exactly which notes to study and exactly where they are. If your friend missed last Wednesday’s class, you’ll know exactly which notes to grab and be able to remove them to copy quickly.
First, grab some D-Ring binders (to keep your paper from tearing) – one for each class plus an extra for carrying around, explained below. Also grab some page dividers.
Next, fill the D-Ring binder with loose-leaf paper and the dividers, marked for each class. Mark each of the other, smaller binders with their class names. These stay in your room unless you’re taking one out to study from.
Take *only* the paper binder to class. When taking notes, mark the top of each page with the class’s name, the date, and page “1 of X and so on (fill in “X when you know how many pages you wrote that day). When finished with that class, move the notes into the proper divider.
When your day is over, take your notebook home and clip the notes into their appropriate binders.
This process is better and faster than regular notebooks, and it only takes a few extra seconds to date and number your pages to save you hours of headaches at test time. Best of all, you’ll never lose a single 5-subject notebook with your whole semester’s notes in it!

yogaball

Yoga Ball

But I don’t even practice yoga! We hear you, and that’s not why we’re recommending getting a yoga ball. Even if you do yoga, a quality, burst-proof yoga ball has another life as a comfortable, inexpensive, ergonomic desk chair.
This anti-burst yoga ball comes in two sizes, one for unfer 5’10, one for over that. It supports up to 2,000 pounds of pressure so should take whatever you can throw at it. Even if you puncture it by rolling over something sharp, it is designed to slowly release air rather than popping and dropping you on your tailbone.
A yoga ball is cheaper than a regular office chair, good for your core, and helps alleviate many of the symptoms of sitting by keeping you balancing and in motion.
If you want to go even fancier, Gaiam has a balance ball chair complete with rolling casters. It provides similar levels of ergonomics while offering the rolling mobility of an office chair.
Happy sitting!

cellstand

Clip-on Phone Holder

If you’re a multi-tasker, you may like to have some distraction when you are working on an assignment. Your phone is the perfect device to put on a movie without taking your entire attention away from tomorrow’s research report, but laying it on the desk doesn’t really help. Putting it on a little phone stand doesn’t work, either. You’d like it to be up high, near your computer screen for easy viewing.
Enter the Flexible Desktop Cell Phone Holder. It has a clip to hold it to the edge of a desk while you work, a table while you prepare dinner, or a bedside stand so you can fall asleep to your tenth viewing of the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones. Those dragons, huh?
The flexible support allows you to position your phone how you’d like, while reaching high enough to see it without craning your neck.
If you need to display a tablet, you can check out the FlexPro Clamp. It’s bigger and tougher to hold a heavier tablet, but still flexible in its positioning to give you just the right angle to view while leaving your hands free to work.

flashdrive

Flash Drive

There’s never enough hours in a day, or gigabytes on your phone or computer. Worse, transferring those many files between work and home, or home and school, or your computer and your friend’s…too difficult.
Everyone needs a flash drive nowadays. You probably already have one. But you might not have one like this. That is a 128GB Samsung Drive Duo. It has two USB ports: one for your laptop and one for your Micro-USB capable smartphone. And, in case Apple users feel left out, there are lightning-compatible flash drives for iPhone, too.
With that flash drive, you can transfer files to and from any computer or phone, so you can download PDFs or notes for school on one and transfer them to the other for bigger reading or portable reading, respectively.
With 128GB of storage, you can also keep movies on there and play them wherever you are without filling up your phone’s internal storage.
If you don’t have one, a flash drive is an important tool. If you do, you might want to consider upgrading.

chromecast

Chromecast

A Chromecast is a great addition for the student on the go. You can display your phone screen to any TV to give a presentation or share a website or video with a group.
Chromecast is a great entertainment tool to help you unwind between study sessions. You can use it to play your favorite android games, displayed on a big screen. There are even party games designed specifically to work with chromecast.
You can host movie nights without having to lug around a laptop – just stream the movie from your phone! It works with youtube videos, too. You can even use a chromecast to turn a TV into a giant picture frame with a slideshow. Show off your summer break or study abroad photos to make your friends jealous.
It’s only $35 and will help you win at fall semester, since unwinding is as important as working hard.

backpacks

Backpack

A good, organized backpack is the key to transporting your classroom-in-a-laptop (or tablet) wherever you go. You need a rugged backpack that looks good, has good organization options, and doesn’t break the bank like so many backpacks can.
The Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack has great retro style, comes in a number of colors, and costs only $99.99 (at the time of writing).
This backpack does it all with durable materials, lots of storage, and a laptop pocket that holds laptops up to 15 inches.
Another option for people who want serious laptop protection – but don’t mind a little more barebones style – is the Thule Paramount Daypack. It has a separate, padded laptop compartment with edge protection and a high visibility interior to help keep all of your cables and accessories organized while moving around. The Thule backpack is just under $99, so you’ll still be within budget.

pencils

Mechanical Pencil

Let’s turn to writing instruments for the last two points. You’ll be doing a lot of writing, why not make it a pleasure?
First off is something that you probably left behind in grade school: a mechanical pencil. But we’re not talking about the brittle, disposable Paper Mate clicky pencils, but an advanced mechanical pencil that will make your writing experience a better one.
At under $4.00 at the time of writing, the Uni-Ball KuruToga Mechanical Pencil is a very inexpensive start for a very advanced pencil. It automatically rotates the lead when you advance it to help keep the point sharp and your lines crisp. It also comes with extra dark pencil leads for clear writing.
If you’re taking technical drafting, art, or engineering courses, you want to go a little more expensive. The rOtring Rapid Pro Mechanical Pencil is a bullet-proof choice. Its metal body is nearly impervious to damage, its lead sleeve prevents lead breaks, and it has a built-in sharpener under the push button cap.
Either way, getting away from the standard #2 pencils will serve you well. Except when your luddite community college uses Scantron. Ugh.

pen

Fountain Pen

You may want to win at fall semester, but how can you win without being fancy?
A ballpoint pen is a barbaric writing instrument, with roller balls or gel pens being slightly better. What beats them all? The traditional fountain pen.
Last on our list, but certainly not least, is the not-so-humble fountain pen. Fountain pens have had a bit of a resurgence in the last few years, with an explosion of brands and price points. While fountain pens can be a little fussy to use, they exude character and charm while becoming a hobby. Cleaning and refilling can even be a bit of a soothing ritual for the right person.
The features of a decent fountain pen include smooth writing action, a wide variety of ink colors along with changing colors at each refill, and longevity with the nib adjusting to your writing style over time and just getting better with proper care. It’s a piece of art and personality tailored to you.
An inexpensive, standard starter pen is the Pilot Metropolitan. At $15, it’s a good pen that will last as long as you want it to, and comes in a range of colors. Make sure to grab a bottle of ink or some sample colors while you’re there. If you follow our binder guide above, you’ll probably want a fine tip to help avoid the ink bleeding through standard notebook paper.

23 Online Degrees to Secure Your Future

secure your future

Choosing the right online degree is one of the most important decisions of your life. You should choose an online degree that encompasses your interests, passions, and talents. Secure your future.

The following courses of study were chosen among online degrees based on growth metrics from the bureau of labor statistics. Each has a “faster than average” growth compared to other career fields and can help you secure your future.

Engineer

Engineering

Engineering is a growing field. As technological advancement continues to advance at a rapid rate, engineers are more and more in demand to help implement practical technical solutions to real-world problems. Engineers help integrate advancements into business, aerospace infrastructure, software, electronics, and even consumer products.

There are online degrees in engineering including software engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, and many more. Most engineering fields have online degrees available, with computer-based engineering programs being the most accessible online (for obvious reasons).

Best of all, engineering jobs pay very well compared to jobs with similar education requirements. Glassdoor has salary information for many engineering careers. We’ve chosen a couple of popular entry-level options below, with the median salaries listed:

Civil Engineer: $66,348

Electrical Engineer: $62,856

Software Engineer: $95,195

Mechanical Engineer: $70,466

Computer Engineer: $71,120

Steady (and growing!) demand for engineers of all types combined with high pay makes an online engineering degree a fantastic choice for any prospective student, and U.S. News says that online engineering degrees are being accepted by employers with similar rates as traditional on-campus schooling.

Paralegal

Paralegal

The paralegal profession is an important one, assisting lawyers with research and caseload and help justice get accomplished in an efficient manner.

The paralegal profession is seeing job growth as lawyers are needed by more and more of the population and caseload grows alongside. Computerized records are helping to ease the rigors of the job, and the education requirements are pretty straightforward. This makes online education options a great choice for anyone considering a paralegal career.

Glassdoor lists the average salary for U.S. paralegals at $45,637, but the actual salary can vary wildly from market to market. Larger cities (NYC) and cities with a large law market (DC) have some of the higher salaries and more opportunities for paralegals.

computer technology

Computer Technology

For some time, computers have been in the forefront of human communication, advancement, and career opportunities, and that continues to be true now more than ever.

Degrees in computer technology are a great way to enter a continually growing field. As computing enters every aspect of life, the people who design, program, implement, connect, and repair various electronic devices will be in high demand. This all equates to long-term career prospects and generous compensation for the motivated learner with the right skillset.

Below are a few computer technology careers that promise good growth within the field combined with respectable salaries:

Computer Support Specialists: $51,470

Software Developers: $100,690

Computer and Research Information Scientists: $110,620

Most of the careers listed above have a growth rate that is much faster than average, which means lots of opportunity and stability in the long run. Not only that, many of these technologies are what built online courses in the first place, so they are primed to provide a great education to the online degree seeker.

marketing

Marketing

Marketing is what makes the world go ‘round. Marketing works by bringing products to consumers, identifying and filling gaps in a market or needs in a community, and by helping people connect to goods and services that they may need or want to purchase.

With shifting trends in both digital and traditional marketing, now is as good a time as any to enter the fray with a modern marketing degree. Explore the growth of social media as an outreach and trust-building tool, examine the history and standard models of marketing and how to apply those principles today.

Since much of the growth in marketing is happening online, enrolling in an online marketing degree program is a great choice for the internet age. Use your skills to secure and succeed in marketing in the internet age.

Education

Education

Education is an ever-changing field and always in need of fresh people, ideas, and leadership. Concepts in education are always being updated, and technology is poised to quickly change how younger generations receive their education. Online schools are often faster to incorporate new methods and new information into the program, as well as offering a variety of options for completing your degree on your schedule.

With the explosion of computing devices involved in teaching, online options for education degrees abound, and they’re getting better all the time. Pursuing your education degree online is a great way to save money and have a flexible learning schedule while you prepare for a career as an educator.

Accounting

Accounting

Accounting is an evergreen career. Serving individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses both small and large, accountants help retain and maximize revenues for their clients while dodging potentially ruinous litigation and tax errors.

Accountants prepare financial records and review them for inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and errors. They help optimize financial operations, minimize tax burdens, and ensure the continued viability of an organization.

According to the BLS, accounting is looking at an 11% growth rate, and the median pay for 2015 was $67,190.

Receiving your bachelor’s degree in accounting, and getting the accompanying certification, is a great way to get into accounting and make a great career helping businesses secure their financial futures while doing the same for yourself.

Web Development

Web Development

Much of our computing – mobile, home, and work – is moving to the cloud. That means that a large share of modern software is being made available via the web. Due to this migration, combined with increased internet access and usage worldwide, web developers are in high demand.

Web developers combine traditional software development with the needs of online businesses to incorporate common internet technology, social media integration, user accounts, and seamless scalability for many simultaneous users. There are a variety of technologies available to web developers, and the focus of your efforts can affect your income and the types of jobs that will be available. One major benefit of web development is that you can use it to create your own product or even work for an employer as a remote, location-independent employee!

Glassdoor states the average salary of a web developer as $66,238 nationally. Specializing in certain, more in-demand skills can certainly earn you much more than this average, and, as always, salary varies greatly by location.

An online degree in web development is a fantastic investment in your future, and online classrooms are a great way to deliver the content that shapes the internet.

Graphic and Web Design

Much like web development above, graphic and web design is growing more and more important as more and more of our lives and interactions move online. While graphic design is an art form, it pairs well with marketing and web design to bring a great visual experience to clients and users.

Web design is a more technical version of graphic design, and can range from initial design and wireframes to front end development with HTML, CSS, and Javascript to bring a website to life in the browser. Front end development overlaps with the web-development category above, but does include a great deal of work within the realm of design.

The design world can be categorized in a few ways, but there are normally a few categories, such as: Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Front-End Developer, and UI or UX Designer. UI and UX stands for User Interface and User Experience, respectively. Glassdoor gives national average salaries for these categories:

Web Designer: $47,281

Graphic Designer: $51,360

UI Designer: $87,739

Front End Developer: $70,000

Similar to web development, graphic and web design degrees are great opportunities to learn online as they’re very visual and work well in remote instruction, and the job opportunities often lend themselves to remote work, as well.

Information Systems Management

Information Systems Management

Information systems management blends technology and communication strategies with user and organizational needs. An Information Systems Manager is primarily an analyst who models information systems with current technology, integrates these systems with current usage and existing systems, and helps users and technicians deploy and use these systems efficiently and effectively.

This career path may relate to computer networks, database systems, communication systems, and resource management. The skills and knowledge gained from an online degree in Information Systems Management can be applied in any organizational setting, and is primarily put to use in business to manage the costs and efficiency related to use and installation of technology and related networks.

Various systems need to be designed, implemented, and maintained all across the world, and the opportunities are only growing for this career as the world gets more and more connected.

Glassdoor provides a national average salary for information Systems Managers at $98,529.

Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant helps with administrative tasks in healthcare settings. Depending on the practice and location, a medical assistant can perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Recording patient history and information
  • Measure and record vital signs for patients
  • Assist the physician with patient exams
  • Give patients medication or injections (varies by state)
  • Schedule appointments
  • Prepare laboratory samples or develop X-rays
  • Assist in other administrative or clinical roles

Often, medical assistants only require a certificate, which makes it a clear win to attend an online degree course. The BLS states that there is significant growth in the need for medical assistants, much faster than average, and they list the average annual salary for medical assistants at $30,590 annually.

Health Information Management

Health Information Management

Health information management deals with the organization and management of medical records and patient information. Technicians help maintain the quality and accuracy of patient information, as well as facilitating access to that information in a useful and expedient manner. Most importantly in today’s world, Health Information Management maintains the security of the data by limiting access, while optimizing compensation by categorizing and coding medical procedures properly.

The job of Medical Records and Health Information Technicians is projected to grow by 15%, which is much faster than average. This bodes well for the future of the career as more patient data is collected, compiled, and retrieved every day. In addition, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians earn an average of $37,110 per year.

Healthcare Administration

Healthcare Administration

Healthcare administrators direct the operation of healthcare facilities, ranging from individual departments all the way up to directing entire hospital networks.

A healthcare administrator plans, manages, and coordinate the delivery of healthcare and are responsible for ensuring department or facility goals, as well as compliance with local and regional laws pertaining to the care that their practice, facility, or department provides to its patients.

The BLS gives an amazing forecast for Healthcare Administrators (Medical and Health Service Managers), with a growth outlook of 17% which is much faster than the average career. This equates to stability in your chosen career, and likely many opportunities to improve your career over time. Combined with the fact that the average Healthcare Administrator earns $94,500 per year, the prospect of a long and fruitful career is a real one.

Nursing Home Administration

Nursing Home Administration

Nursing Home Administration is, surprisingly, a separate educational path from health care administration. We’ve given Nursing Home Administration a separate listing due to the fact that this is a position that is licensed at the state level and often requires a specific course of study in Nursing Home Administration.

A Nursing Home Administrator oversees the entire facility, managing and directing department supervisors, ensuring that the facility meets or exceeds state standards of practice.

Nursing Home Administration is a career with many opportunities, as there is often a shortage of qualified administrators to run the nursing homes. With the Baby Boomer generation aging, the opportunities will only increase.

The BLS lists the average salary for Nursing Home Administration at $92,126.

Nursing

Nursing

Nursing has always been a profession that offers security, longevity, and quality salaries. Now, as life expectancy goes up and a large portion of the population ages, nurses are in growing demand.

In addition, as medical costs grow in the US, nurses are taking on more technical roles to help offset doctors’ costs, with many specialties available at all levels.

Getting your Nursing degree online has never been easier, with a number of schools available to guide you in getting licensed as an LPN, an RN, or even a BSN. You’ll get classroom time online, and they’ll help you set up your practical hours with a local medical provider.

Nursing is a great way to get a stable career with tons of upward mobility with increased education and specialization.

We’ve curated a few nursing specialties and their salaries from the BLS:

Licensed Practical Nurse: $43,170

Registered Nurse: $67,490

Nurse Anesthetist/Midwife/Practitioner (Master’s Degree): $104,740

Business

Business

Business degrees can be applied to a wide variety of jobs and careers, and can give you the foundation to work in almost any aspect of business, including running your own.

Online business degrees are a great choice as the offer flexible study, and business classes are mostly informational and lend themselves to online study very easily. You can focus on accounting, professional speaking, communication, statistics and strategy, or leadership.

The BLS has a list of salaries for business and financial occupations and management occupation, a few of which we’ve included below:

Accountant/Auditor: $67,190

Financial Analyst: $78,010

Management Analyst: $81,320

Top Executives: $102,690

Hotel Hospitality Management

Hotel and Hospitality Management

A degree in Hotel and Hospitality Management can prepare you for a wide variety and rewarding jobs. Imagine a life where your work takes you on cruise ships to exotic locations, fancy hotels, five star restaurants, thrilling amusement parks, country clubs, convention centers, and destination marketing adventures. This line of work caters to people’s’ wants and desires, which is always a lucrative business strategy.

The degree itself follows similar curricula to that of a business degree, because the work is essentially running businesses. Some of the core subjects include: accounting, finance, marketing, human resource management, and public relations.

Here are a few examples of salaries that you can make with this degree:

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners: $46,840 per year

Lodging Managers: $49,720 per year

Food Service Managers: $48,690 per year

Human Services

A degree in Human Services can open you up to a lifetime of service to people in need. This is a field that must be entered into lightly. It requires dedication and passion for making a difference in your community and the world at large. People with a Human Services degree can pursue careers in case work or advocacy. Some examples of the jobs you can find with this degree are: Career Counselor, Sociologist, Child Welfare Specialist, Family Services Advocate, Addiction Counselor, and so much more.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a job growth rate of 12% for social workers between  the time period between 2014 and 2024, with a median salary of $58,560. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website is a great resource for potential social workers. The website has scholarships opportunities, current research in the field, and other applicable links.

Human Resources

Human Resources

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources jobs are going to grow rapidly within the coming years. At the entry level of this career, you can expect to help with recruiting, staffing, employee orientation, and many other administrative duties. As you continue to move up and gain experience, your responsibilities will grow.

This job is for people who love working with people. No matter what you end up doing in this field, you will definitely be working closely with others. That is why it is important to pick a school that will help you hone your interpersonal skills, because that will help you on the human resource field.  The BLS states that the median salary for a Human Resources Manager is $104,440.

Project Management

A degree in Project Management can jumpstart your career in the world of business. This major has all the basic education of a business degree with an emphasis on planning, coordinating efforts, execution, resource allocation, process efficiency, and achieving goals at the head of a complex team.

Project Managers are responsible for discrete outcomes with regard to a particular team, project, or process and it falls on them to properly monitor progress with each moving piece and identify and correct errors or personnel issues as they arise to make sure their goals are met within budget and on time.

The BLS has a document [PDF] about project managers, which states the median earnings of Project Managers is around $96,000 annually.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity deals with the protection of computers and network system, limiting access to system controls or sensitive information for users and organizations. Its aims include preventing malicious entry into systems by humans or software looking to gain a foothold. Cybersecurity also includes the prevention of social engineering attacks and phishing attempts through both technological and non-technological methods.

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere here, technology is growing ever faster. Our lives and, most importantly, our data is migrating into computer systems where they may be vulnerable to people with bad intentions. A safe only needs to resist physical attacks from people in the real world. Online accounts and storage is available for attack 24/7 to anyone in the world; it’s even vulnerable to never-sleeping software attacks.

All of this makes cybersecurity a growing field. As attacks get more sophisticated, those who try to defend it become more in demand.

There are a number of careers in cybersecurity. Below are a few job titles in the cybersecurity field, with average salary numbers from the BLS:

Information Security: $93,838

Information Security Analyst: $70,309

Network Security Administrator: $69,274

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice is an important field of work – helping to identify and bring to justice those who hurt others, take or damage property, or initiate force or aggression against peaceful people.

Criminal Justice degrees can lead you into many fields in law enforcement from an officer or a detective to computer forensics or criminal psychology.

There has recently been a push toward forensics to help determine the identify of criminals as they get more and more sophisticated and the ability to avoid wrongful indictment grows. Due to these factors the career of Forensic Science Technician has an amazing growth rate of 24% over ten years, which is much faster than the average career. Additionally, Forensic Technicians earn an average salary of $56,320, while Police and Detectives average $60,270 across the US.

Psychology

Psychology

Psychologists study, interpret, and identify human behavior, emotion, and cognition. They  Psychologists can work in a variety of industries and perform a variety of tasks with the skills they have learned. By and large, however, psychologists work in healthcare and education.

In health care, psychologists can work independently and treat patients directly, or work within a clinical team to assist with patient care and well-being.

Psychologists can also work in educational roles, supporting the mental and emotional needs of students to help them achieve the best education possible.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the field of Psychology is forecasted to have a 19% growth rate over the next 10 years, which is must faster than average. Psychologist also earn an average of $73,850, which makes for a lucrative career in an in-demand field.

Religion

Religion

When you think of getting a degree in Religious Studies, you may automatically think of a person who has a vocation, or calling to the religious life. However, any person who wants a well-rounded and thought provoking major can pick Religious Studies. In today’s multicultural workplace, it is important to have a deep understanding of world cultures and religions. In depth knowledge of other cultures will help you succeed in professional and personal relationships.

You can take your lessons from your religion major and apply them to several different career trajectories such as: journalism, education, counseling, social work, Peace Corps, government, and so much more. This major leaves your future open to many possibilities, including several graduate programs to narrow your focus.   

 

We hope this list has given you some food for thought regarding your future. Maybe getting an online degree to jump-start your career and change your future is just what you need!

2015 Holiday Gift Guide for College Students

ATH-M50X Headphones by Audio Technica – $187.99
ATH-M50x
[Amazon]

Everyone loves music, but a great pair of headphones offer so much more. Good headphones can make a big difference in the college experience. They can be used for blocking out noisy roommates while studying, listening to lecture material or audiobooks, or for relaxing after a long study session.

The Sound Guys rated the ATH-M50X by Audio Technica as the best headphones under $200 and one of the best headphones you can get for your money.

Bose SoundLink Color – $129.99
bose_soundlink_color
[Amazon]

We’ve discussed the fact that everyone loves music, but music also brings people together. Whether it’s a bonfire on the beach or a study session in the Quad, your group is going to want some tunes.

The Bose SoundLink Color is one of the best values on portable speakers. It has large sound, great bass, and recharges with a standard micro-USB cable. It plays for up to 8 hours on a charge and even provides voice prompts to make setup a breeze.

AAXA P300 Pico Projector – $367

p300_pico_projector_5

[Amazon]

Sometimes you need portable music, but what about portable video?

We live in the future where you can carry a theater in your pocket, or bring some visualizations to a get-together.

The AAXA P300 has a high contrast, a bright light, and has an optional battery for times where there may be no power. Pair it with the Bose speaker for a truly portable multimedia experience.

Tile Tracker – $25

tile

https://www.thetileapp.com

Losing your keys is expensive. In college, it can be even more expensive when you add in an expensive fee for key replacements. Don’t even mention misplacing your laptop bag or purse!

The Tile Tracker prevents you from losing your items – keys, backpacks, purses or anything else you can attach it to. The phone app will let you activate an alarm in the Tile within 100 feet. It even works in reverse – press the tile to find your phone! If the item is outside of Bluetooth range, the app will display the last known location of the item.

Eno Singlenest Hammock – $59.99

eno_singlenest

[Amazon]

Who said school is all about studying? Sometimes it’s about relaxing and hanging out with friends.

A hammock from Eno is just the thing for a college student to have – light, simple, and easy to carry when camping, swimming, hiking, or napping in the quad! Instantaneous stress relief is brought to you by Eno.

Drinkmate Mini Breathalyzer – $29.99

drinkmate

http://www.getdrinkmate.com/

Let’s face it: In college, alcohol happens. You can pretend it doesn’t, or you can help your collegiate stay safe when driving or riding with others.

The Drinkmate is the world’s smallest breathalyzer. It fits in your pocket with ease, and plugs into your Android smartphone (an iPhone version is on its way). Within seconds, it display’s a person’s BAC.

Goat Story Mug – $29.99

goatstory

http://www.goat-story.com/

The Goat Story mug is a modern redesign of the travel mug. Trendy, ergonomic, and just plain cool, the Goat Story mug is easily portable with a carry strap and an insulating ring that doubles as a stand in case they do actually pry the coffee from your hands!

Grab this fashionable, functional, and sleek mug for the coffee addict college student in your life.

Aeropress – $29.95

aeropress

[Amazon]

Let’s keep the coffee theme going for a moment: consider the cramped space of your typical college dorm room. Think about how hard it can be to get up early enough to make it to class, let alone make a coffee stop. Then think about the Aeropress.

Small enough to fit in a drawer, no heating element to remember to shut off with 4 hours’ sleep, and it produces what some consider the best coffee around. Pair this with an electric water kettle and your student can whip up some great java without endangering his or her dorm-mates!

Polaroid Snap Camera – $99.99

polaroid

[Amazon]

Remember Polaroid? Well instant photos are back and have gone digital!

The Polaroid Snap Camera uses Zero Ink (ZINK) Technology to print photos immediately. It also stores the photos digitally just like any other digital camera.

The recipient is sure to love the nostalgia, the photos, and most of all – the fun of instant gratification and sharing prints with friends. This is the perfect gift for the collegiate on your list.

MonoRover R2 – $499.99

monorover

[Amazon]

Campuses are big and college students have a lot on their plate. This is the most expensive item on the list, but sometimes it’s important to splurge.

The MonoRover R2 is the leader in the current crop of electric-powered personal transport. These self-balancing two-wheeled scooters can go up to 12 miles per charge at up to 7.4 miles per hour.

They’ll never have to worry about being late to class again!

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Counseling Degree Programs

Affordable Online DegreesLittle is more intrinsically rewarding than working as a counselor and aiding others in overcoming life’s many obstacles. Counselors have the job of forming helping relationships with diverse people to assist in achieving their mental health, educational, social, and vocational goals.

Whether they are specialized in community counseling, clinical mental health counseling, career counseling, school counseling, marriage and family therapy, or addictions counseling, these professionals use a variety of evidence-based techniques to guide their clients through changing their behavior and coping with difficulties.

Counselors typically collaborate with social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, educators, and other specialists to give comprehensive support to their clients. Employment of counselors is expected to grow much faster than average by 29 percent, thus creating around 48,200 jobs before 2022.

online counseling degree

Turning your hobby for community service, good listening skills, and compassionate spirit into an in-demand counseling career is a smart move. Before you can leap into this profession, you’ll first need to obtain a master’s degree and licensure to legally practice in most states across America. Since graduate programs cost an average $30,000 at public universities and $40,000 at private colleges each year, this step can be difficult for some to financially achieve. Luckily, there’s several higher learning institutions that are offering online counseling degrees that cut this average cost in half! Doing your homework to find affordable programs with quality counselor preparation can help you reap a solid return on investment while watching others make strides of progress in their improved well-being.

Ranking the Top Affordable Online Counseling Programs

In creating our program ranking, we started off by finding reputable online colleges offering graduate degree programs for the various diverse counseling specialties. Since we believe you shouldn’t have to compromise on quality to receive an affordable price, we focused in on online degrees or hybrid programs with significant online coursework that have been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This certifies that graduates will have the marketable skills and professional credentials needed to perform well on the National Counselor Exam (NCE). From there, we used the College Navigator tool from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to narrow down the online counseling degrees based on average in-state graduate tuition price.

To assist students searching for high-quality counseling programs, we used several other ranking factors to determine which affordable online degrees would be included in our final listing. Any universities with notable rankings from the U.S. News and World Report, the Princeton Review, Washington Monthly, or other surveys were given preference. Extra brownie points were given to schools with both cheap tuition and a high percentage of financial aid. We also considered criteria like student-faculty ratio, cutting-edge technologies, market reputation, field learning experiences, variety of specializations, residency requirements, job placement, and graduation rates. Without further ado, we present the following top 10 most affordable online counseling degree programs ranked from least costly to slightly more expensive.

1. The University of Montana

The University of MontanaAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,135

As the flagship site of the four-campus system, the University of Montana is a major comprehensive senior public research institution situated on a 220-acre campus in the lively college town of Missoula at the foot of Mount Sentinel. Comprised of 11 distinctive colleges accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA), UM serves more than 14,900 students every year with the state’s largest enrollment. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked UM as the 194th best university, 110th top public school, and 69th best college for veterans in the United States. The University of Montana has also been named among the top 10 nationally in Outside magazine and ranked 97th in the country for service in Washington Monthly.

Not only has the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences (COEHS) been acclaimed for hosting the 135th best online graduate education degrees in America, but it was also approved by the CACREP. Despite its very high academic standards, UM has the lowest graduate tuition rate on our list at just $4,135 per year for in-state residents. The COEHS offers two hybrid options for students to blend minimal face-to-face instruction with online courses to complete a counseling degree. Both of these programs in the Department of Counselor Education were structured to foster intellectual and emotional development in a stimulating learning environment to prepare ethical, competent counselors. UM is highly regarded for ranking sixth nationwide in producing Peace Corps volunteers for working with those in need abroad.

Students seeking to become licensed school counselors in Montana can take online classes to complete the Master of Arts in School Counseling program. Following a rigorous 51-credit curriculum, the program has the goal of blending online coursework with a total of at least 700 hours of supervised school counseling experience. There’s also a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program available at the University of Montana for students to spend two years full-time in developing intervention and diagnostic abilities. Students in this 60-credit program take online coursework and obtain 700 hours of supervised experience in a local mental health agency to become licensed. Some online courses could be applied towards receiving the Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision as well.

2. North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central UniversityAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,335

Initially founded by James E. Shepard in 1910, North Carolina Central University is a mid-sized comprehensive public senior historically black teaching institution with membership in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Enrolling more than 9,600 diverse students, NCCU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to grant bachelor’s, master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees. Along with its 135-acre urban campus in the heart of the Research Triangle in Durham, NCCU now offers 12 online degree options that can be completed from anywhere. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked NCCU as the 65th best regional college and 29th top public school in the South as well as the country’s 11th best historically black university.

Within the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, NCCU hosts an online Master of Arts in Career Counseling degree that has been approved by the CACREP for excellence. In-state students in this program can expect to pay North Carolina Central University’s very affordable graduate student rate of $4,335 each year. As the only online program of its kind in the United States, the 48-hour degree is structured to prepare graduate students for working as career counselors to guide individuals on their vocational opportunities. Featuring a total of 700 hours of supervised field experience, the dynamic curriculum unlocks job options in career services at colleges, universities, public or private schools, non-profit agencies, and private corporations.

For those looking for a traditional degree with some online courses, NCCU also offers a 60-credit Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling, which prepares students for meeting the qualifications to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in North Carolina. Evening and online courses can also be used for conveniently obtaining the 51-credit Master of Arts in School Counseling program and reaching K-12 licensure to practice as professional school counselors. All of these programs at North Carolina Central have been approved by the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs (IRCEP) to produce leaders for meeting complex human needs across the lifespan in our increasingly global community.

3. Adams State University

Adams State UniversityAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,428

Based near the Great Sand Dunes National Park on a main 90-acre campus in Alamosa within Colorado’s San Luis Valley, Adams State University is a small comprehensive public state-supported institution. Since its founding in 1921 as a rural teacher’s colleges, ASU has grown to educate more than 3,700 students annually. With accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA), ASU offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in a close-knit community. Adams State University is well-known for being the first federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Colorado with over $14 million in grant funding. ASU has been listed in the second tier of the top 120 regional colleges in the West through the U.S. News and World Report survey.

With an affordable graduate tuition rate of $4,428 per year, Adams State University has been accredited by the CACREP for offering a rigorous Counselor Education Department within the Graduate School. In addition to the traditional brick and mortar counterparts, there’s a unique Online Plus Program available for aspiring counselors at a distance. Built on the same curriculum, the online degree was created to satisfy the educational needs of students whose work or location won’t allow physical attendance. Students take predominantly online classes, but are required to attend one-week session on the Alamosa campus each summer to become acquainted with peer learning groups. The program seeks to produce professionally competent counselors with the therapeutic skills to excel in delivering individual and/or group counseling.

In the Online Plus Program, students have the option to follow one of two degree tracks. The M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling track is devised for students specifically wishing to meet the requirements for becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Colorado. Students in this specialization will develop a wide range of diagnostic techniques for working in mental health clinics, private practices, hospitals, corrections, and more. The M.A. in School Counseling track has a different focus for online learners to start joining a school’s academic team. Students are prepared with the advocacy and collaboration abilities to assist educational staff in ensuring achievement for all children as licensed K-12 school counselors in Colorado.

4. Columbus State University

Columbus State UniversityAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $5,264

First opened in 1958 as a junior college, Columbus State University is now a comprehensive degree-granting public teaching institution fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to provide bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Along with its main 132-acre suburban campus in Columbus near Georgia’s border with Alabama, CSU operates a satellite location on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and virtually from anywhere with an Internet connection. Enrolling more than 8,200 students each year, CSU serves the Southeast with stellar faculty, impressive facilities, small class sizes, and creative college experiences. In fact, Columbus State has been named among the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The College of Education and Health Professions (COEHP) at CSU has further been recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for having the 60th best online graduate education programs. This distinction includes the two master’s degree programs accredited by the CACREP for giving high-quality education to the latest generation of counselors. With an average annual graduate student in-state tuition rate of $5,264, the COEHP has the mission of giving an affordable pathway for students to unlock their fullest potential in educational, healthcare, and mental health careers. Both of the counseling degree programs at Columbus State University offer graduate students online options to blend face-to-face campus meetings and field practicum with online coursework at a distance.

Centered on a 48-credit curriculum, the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling program is focused on preparing graduates for achieving state certification to increase the social, emotional, and vocational development of growing minds in PreK-12. With 100 hours of practicum and two 300-hour internships in a local school district, the curriculum guarantees that counselors are well-equipped to implement developmental school counseling programs. Those with an accredited master’s degree could also the online Post-Graduate Certificate in School Counseling. The Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is also built around a similar 48-credit curriculum with practicum and internships to produce counselors for functioning in a wide variety of community settings.

5. Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville State UniversityAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,376

Named within the nation’s 90th percentile by the prestigious Princeton Review, Jacksonville State University is a major comprehensive public co-educational teaching institution that claims to have the “friendliest campus in the South.” Headquartered on a main 459-acre suburban campus in the city of Jacksonville, Alabama, JSU is home for more than 8,600 students in an array of traditional and online programs. Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), JSU has 40 bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees available. GetEducated.com has recognized Jacksonville State for being one of its “Best Buys” in online education. Not only does JSU have an affordable graduate tuition rate at $8,376 per year, but it also provides financial aid to 93% of students.

In the College of Education & Professional Studies, JSU is also acclaimed for hosting the nation’s 135th best online graduate education programs by the U.S. News and World Report. Featuring dual accreditation from the NCATE and CACREP, there’s two unique online counseling degree programs to choose from for Alabama licensure at JSU. Firstly, the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Counseling program is delivered online for graduate students with a master’s degree who wish to further their skills in addressing elementary and secondary students’ needs in academic, career, and personal growth. In the 30-credit curriculum, school counselors will take online courses, participate in a PK-12 internship, prepare a portfolio, and pass a comprehensive examination for degree completion.

At Jacksonville State University, there’s also the option to earn the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in Community Agency Counseling fully online from anywhere at any time. As a terminal degree program, the Ed.S. is focused on preparing graduate students for finding success in high-level leadership positions in community agencies across Alabama and Georgia with full licensure. In the 30-credit curriculum, counselors can expect to take courses in research methods, lifespan development, counseling assessment, professional ethics, counseling theory, career development, group procedures, diversity issues, and substance abuse counseling. It’s impressive to note that the JSU Counselor Education programs have achieved an average 90% completion rate and a 96% job placement rate since 1997.

6. Grace College and Seminary

Grace College and SeminaryAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,592

Following the motto “Character, Competence, Service,” Grace College and Seminary is a private evangelical Christian higher learning institution that applies biblical values to preparing students for careers of serving others. Fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA), Grace College is serving more than 1,200 students with high academic standards. Nestled on a main 180-acre rural campus in the historic resort town of Winona Lake near Warsaw, Indiana, Grace has over 65 major programs either on-campus or online in a caring Christian community. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Grace is ranked as the 46th best regional college in the Midwest. Grace College and Seminary was also distinguished by the prestigious Princeton Review as a “Best in the Midwest” school.

With 99% of students receiving financial aid, Grace College offers an affordable graduate tuition rate of $8,592 per academic year. Thanks to the Grace Placement Promise, students who fulfill certain criteria and don’t find employment within six months of graduation can earn one additional year of education without tuition. In the Department of Distance Education, aspiring counselors can start their career with an Online B.S. in Human Services. Adult learners in this program have flexible online courses to develop the intervention skills needed to help people overcome personal issues affecting their well-being. This is an accelerated degree completion program, which means students transfer with an associate’s degree and complete their remaining studies in just 18 months online.

Boasting approval from the CACREP, the Online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MACMHC) program at Grace College and Seminary was initially developed in 2010 to provide a more flexible format to the same quality degree. Within the two-year full-time program, students complete 60 credits from a Christian worldview to become competent professional counselors. While the majority of coursework is delivered fully online, there’s an annual 10-day residency required on-campus in Winona Lake to facilitate networking connections. Additional costs may be required for transportation, textbooks, hotel accommodations, and meals. Students completing this online counseling degree are qualified to seek LPC licensing in Indiana for working in any religious or secular counseling setting.

7. Liberty University

Liberty UniversityAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,360

Training champions for Christ since 1971, Liberty University is a major private non-profit Christian teaching institution that serves more than 13,000 residential and 100,000 online students each academic year. From its sprawling 7,000-acre suburban campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Liberty maintains the honor of being the world’s largest evangelical Christian university. Hosting more than 150 academic programs, Liberty is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). In fact, the U.S. News and World Report has ranked Liberty as the 80th best regional college and 37th top school for veterans in the South. Liberty University was named in the Young America’s Foundation “Top 10 Most Conservative Colleges” nationwide.

Along with the 79th best online bachelor’s degrees, the School of Education is widely acclaimed for giving students the 112nd best online graduate education programs. Within the Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies, graduate students have the opportunity to specialize in various online options given the check of approval from the CACREP. The mission of the department is to extend counselor preparation through cutting-edge technologies to students who cannot attend the traditional residential program. The M.A. in Professional Counseling program is offered online for 60 credits of comprehensive training in preparation for licensure and national certification. Graduate students apply biblical values to building the knowledge necessary to effectively shape the lives of others.

With four on-campus intensives, the M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program is mostly online for graduate students seeking to integrate faith into counseling practice with individuals, families, couples, and other interrelated groups. In the 60-credit curriculum, there’s required practicum and internship that must be completed to fulfill requirements for MFT licensing in most states. Liberty University also delivers a unique M.A. in Human Services Counseling program online with specialization tracks in Addictions & Recovery, Business, Christian Ministry, Criminal Justice, Crisis Response & Trauma, Executive Leadership, Health & Wellness, Life Coaching, Marriage & Family, or Military Resilience. It’s even possible for advanced students to receive their Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision online with 66 credits for leadership.

8. Messiah College

Messiah CollegeAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $10,710

Affiliated with the Christian College Consortium, Messiah College is a small comprehensive private non-denominational Christian liberal arts and applied arts institution enrolling around 3,050 students annually. Located on a beautiful 471-acre suburban campus in Grantham near Mechanicsburg and Pennsylvania’s state capital of Harrisburg, Messiah recently celebrated its 100th anniversary of educating men and women of character. Offering more than 80 majors in four distinct schools, Messiah College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Messiah as the 5th best regional college and 8th top value school in the North. Messiah College was also honored in the Princeton Review’s “Best in the Northeast” and “Great School at a Great Price” rankings.

Nearly 96% of Messiah graduates are employed full-time within six to nine months of graduation across all academic specialties. In the Division of Graduate Studies, students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution can enroll in the Online Master of Arts in Counseling program. With a reputation for academic excellence, this program has been fully approved by the CACREP to prepare competent counselors at the highest level of professional standards. From two to six years, the self-paced online counseling degree at Messiah College allows students to achieve work-life balance for pursuing a career and education simultaneously. All online courses are taught by Messiah’s expert faculty with small class sizes averaging just 13 students for personalized attention.

In the M.A. in Counseling program, students have the freedom to select from one of three distinctive specializations. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling track requires 60 credits to fulfill the standards for becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania, New York, and several other states. There’s a Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling track that follows a dynamic 60-credit curriculum towards LMFT state licensure to work within a relational context. Last but certainly not least, the 51-credit School Counseling track is available to produce graduates who are well-equipped for passing the Praxis II exam and becoming a certified school counselor for K-12 settings. Online learners can be accepted into any of these Messiah programs year-round with rolling admissions.

9. Walden University

Walden UniversityAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,925

Founded in 1970 by two teachers specifically for working adults, Walden University is a major comprehensive private for-profit institution providing higher learning for more than 48,900 students worldwide. Owned by Laureate Education, Walden is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA) to provide bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees fully online. From its urban headquarters in the downtown Mill District of Minnesota’s largest city at Minneapolis, Walden is one of the top 15% campus-based and online colleges ranked as “Military Friendly” in GI Jobs magazine. Walden University was also distinguished in the Top 100 Producers of Minority Graduate Degrees within Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, including in the health and mental health services categories.

Given the gold standard of excellence from the CACREP, the School of Counseling at Walden is dedicated to giving online students the chance to gain practical knowledge and scholarly research experience to excel in community practice settings. Since 2009, the School has offered a high-achieving Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society chapter for online students to build a greater sense of community. Students can choose from five online degree offerings. The M.S. in Addiction Counseling program features 90 quarter credits for students to treat people who struggle with addictive behaviors and pass the Examination for Master Addictions Counselors (EMAC). The M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is available online for Walden students to specialize in Addiction Counseling, Career Counseling, Forensic Counseling, Military Families and Culture, or Trauma and Crisis Counseling.

Over eight terms, the M.S. in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program included 90 quarter credits of online courses to prepare graduate students for evidence-based counseling practice and resolving interpersonal conflicts on the pathway to MFT licensing. Also accredited by the NCATE, the M.S. in School Counseling program includes 75 quarter credits online with two in-person residencies and field experiences in preparation for working in PreK-12 school counselor positions. Through the exclusive Walden Virtual School, online learners use simulation to learn various techniques and perspectives for functioning in school communities. There’s also an Online Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision program for those wishing to broaden their leadership into higher education.

10. Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian UniversityAverage Graduate Tuition Rate: $13,881

Since being created as the Denver Bible Institute in 1914, Colorado Christian University has evolved into a comprehensive private inter-denominational Christian liberal arts institution for cultivating a love of God. Boasting exemplary academics in over 45 degree programs, CCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA). Nestled on a main 53-acre suburban campus in Lakewood within just 10 miles west of Denver in the majestic Rockies, CCU enrolls more than 5,300 residential and online students. Colorado Christian University was one of just 21 schools nationwide to receive an “A” grade for their core curriculum for three straight years.CCU has an affordable graduate tuition rate of $13,881 and 100% of their students receive some form of financial aid.

Featuring a low student-faculty ratio of 14:1, Colorado Christian University is proud to deliver online degree programs through its College of Adult and Graduate Studies. The College has the mission of offering associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees specifically to meet the unique needs of adult learners from a Christian worldview. Following the standards set by the CACREP, the Online M.A. in Counseling program offers students a flexible training opportunity to participate in high-quality counselor preparation from their own local communities. Requiring a total of 60 credit hours, the dynamic program takes around two and a half years of intensive study. Online classes are typically completed in seven-week or 14-week sessions for convenient start times year-round.

With the same expert faculty as CCU’s In-Seat M.A. in Counseling Program, the online counterpart uses technology to help a cohort group of students build a solid foundation in professional counseling theories and skills. Courses will cover a wide range of topics, such as spiritual formation, counseling methods, personality, psychopathology, human development, crisis intervention, group therapy, marital counseling, research, psychopharmacology, group processing, and professional ethics. Although most coursework is online, students will be required to attend three separate five-day integrative intensive residential trainings in Lakewood. There’s also counseling practicum and a part-time internship completed over two semesters. In the end, graduates will be qualified to sit for the National Counselor Exam (NCE) for licensure.

Advancing Your Counseling Career Online

Some students are often skeptical whether they can truly receive optimal training in mental health while studying from afar online. While a lack of face-to-face interaction can be a challenge, advancements in distance education have made online degrees very similar in the content and rigor of their traditional brick and mortar counterparts. Online colleges go a step beyond to provide future counselors with the chance to maintain their employment and/or other life obligations while completing their degree. Most accredited counseling degrees even arrange practicum and internship opportunities in students’ local communities for convenience.

Online counseling programs today often allow students to roleplay their therapy skills and receive immediate feedback from experienced faculty through video chatting. There’s also the chance to build a more diverse virtual learning environment with students from across the country and the globe. If you’re looking to cut costs in your counselor education, online degrees save bundles of cash on transportation, room, board, meal plans, childcare, and other commuting costs. Consider applying to some of these top 10 most affordable online counseling degree programs to reap high-quality, accredited training for less than $15,000 a year!

Check out our Top Most Affordable Online Colleges for 2015

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References:
http://www.cacrep.org/directory/
http://www.petersons.com/graduate-schools/cost-graduate-degree-worth.aspx
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-1
http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Computer Science Degree Programs for 2015

Affordable Online DegreesIn today’s digital world, computers and mobile devices play a prominent role in the daily functioning of virtually every industry. Students who elect to receive a computer science degree will be trained to work with the latest emerging technologies and develop the technical expertise to master computer applications.

Whether students want to become software developers, computer engineers, and web designers or simply work with computers in any other job, the computer science degree can be the perfect fit. Due to the predicted employment growth of 45 percent in tech-related occupations, MSN Careers has placed computer science as the #2 best degree for jobs in the United States. Computer science graduates will have a slew of job prospects for applying their foundation of knowledge in all aspects of computing.

That being said, placing life on hold to invest in a computer science degree can be tough for individuals juggling both work and family obligations. This is why an increasing number of universities across the nation are making their computer science programs accessible 24/7 through the power of online learning. Students taking online courses set their own schedule for completing assignments in an interactive virtual classroom from anywhere with an Internet connection. Not only do online programs come with lower price tags, but they also help students cut the added expenses of room and board, meal plans, transportation, childcare, and other on-campus costs. Online education is a great option for aspiring computer professionals looking to make the most of their learning in a tight schedule and on budget.

computer science

Ranking the Most Affordable Online Programs for Computer Science

In uncovering America’s cheapest online computer science programs, we began by listing all regionally accredited online colleges featuring at least two degrees related to computer science disciplines that could be earned at a distance. Since the options were abundant, the universities were then narrowed down using the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator tool. Data was recorded on each university’s annual tuition cost for full-time undergraduate students living in-state. Next, the online colleges were arranged from least expensive to the most expensive and those with tuition over $15,000 were eliminated.

Since it’s our belief that choosing cheap education shouldn’t mean compromising quality, we then used a number of different factors to determine which offered the best computer science preparation. Any affordable schools offering an online computer science degree that received recognition from the U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Princeton Review, Military Times, or any other authoritative sources were given preference. Online colleges giving students freedom in tailoring their studies with various specializations were also prioritized. Other factors included financial aid, faculty credentials, student support, resources, job placement, and practical learning experiences. The following is our finalized list of online computer science degree programs ranked from least expensive to slightly more expensive.

1. Columbus State University

Columbus State UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $5,613
Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Columbus State University is a comprehensive public higher learning institution delivering a blend of on-campus and online degree programs to its more than 8,100 students. CSU is headquartered on a main 132-acre campus in the Midtown neighborhood of Columbus, Georgia, but students can also take classes at River Park, West Point, Fort Benning, and online from anywhere. Featuring a low student-faculty ratio, Columbus State has strived to provide a creative, deeply personal, and career-oriented college education since 1958. CSU is highly regarded for earning the “Regents Teaching Excellence Award” from the University System of Georgia.

At the affordable cost of just $5,613 full-time each academic year, Columbus State University offers great online degree options in the computer sciences to take our #1 spot. Through the D. Abbott Turner College of Business, undergraduate students at CSU have the ability to earn a B.S. in Information Technology completely online for 123 total credits. In a hybrid format with some online classes, students can also achieve a B.S. in Computer Science from CSU. Depending on future career goals, computer science majors have the freedom to choose from three specialized tracks in Applied Computing, Games Programming, and Software Systems. These programs are focused on training students to think critically and creatively within today’s ever-evolving technological environment.

Crowned a “Best Buy” by GetEducated.com, there’s also a Master of Science (M.S.) in Applied Computer Science program offered conveniently at a distance through CSU Online. Students from different undergraduate backgrounds are welcomed into the program to learn about the latest technologies playing a role in diverse business settings. In the 36-credit curriculum, online learners can tailor their studies by selecting a concentration in Information Assurance, Modeling and Simulation, or Software Development. Students can complete a master’s thesis research project with a faculty advisor or follow a non-thesis option with additional electives. It’s important to note that learners must show competence in installing and configuring their own software with personally licensed copies to study online.

2. Thomas Edison State College

thomas edison state collegeTuition Price Per Year: $5,871
Named in honor of the prolific inventor in 1972, Thomas Edison State College is a public state-supported institution located on an intimate two-acre urban campus in the heart of New Jersey’s capital in Trenton. Enrolling more than 28,000 students, TESC is approved by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) to provide associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in over 100 academic fields. Forbes magazine recognized TESC as one of the top universities in America for using technology to educate adults. Along with being among the top five “Best Buys” on GetEducated.com, Thomas Edison State College was given the Distance Education Innovation Award from the National University Technology Network (NUTN) for its renowned FlashTrack course system.

For students seeking a two-year degree in computer science, TESC has a variety of online options available at the low in-state tuition price of $5,871 annually. In a 60-credit curriculum, there’s an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Applied Computer Studies delivered fully online. Students can earn the Associate in Science in Applied Science and Technology (ASAST) online with specialized concentrations in Computer and Information Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, or Nuclear Engineering Technology. An Associate in Science in Natural Sciences and Mathematics (ASNSM) in Computer Science is also delivered online to provide a strong liberal arts foundation in technology before earning a bachelor’s. Students can even take open online classes at no additional cost from the Saylor Foundation.

Thomas Edison State College is approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees centered on technology too. In a convenient online format, students can receive a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Computer Science through completing 120 credits and an applied computer science capstone. Students may be interested in earning the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology (BSAST) online with a concentration in Electronic Systems Engineering Technology, Energy Systems Technology, Information Technology, Nuclear Engineering Technology, or Technical Studies. At the graduate level, a Master of Science in Applied Science and Technology is also available for obtaining leadership positions in various computer-based professions.

3. Florida State University

Florida State UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $6,507
As a major preeminent public sea-grant and space-grant research institution, Florida State University is home for more than 41,700 students on its main sprawling 1,391-acre urban campus in the state’s capital city of Tallahassee and online from anywhere. Across 16 academic divisions, FSU hosts over 320 degree options at the undergraduate and graduate level with approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The U.S. News and World Report has ranked FSU as the 95th best university and 43rd top public school in America. Even more importantly, Florida State is acclaimed for offering the country’s 161st best online bachelor’s programs and 20th best online graduate computer technology degrees in 2015.

Well-known for being one of the Fiske Guide’s “Budget Ivies,” Florida State University offers a high-quality education with unparalleled resources at the cheap price of $6,507 each year. This affordable cost makes it easier for students to earn their B.A. in Computer Science or B.S. in Computer Science fully online from FSU. The B.A. program is more based in the liberal arts to give a broad-based foundation for entering a career in applied computing. Approved by the ABET, the B.S. program is heavily scientific to develop core competencies in programming, database structure, computer operating systems, and information security. Regardless of the degree chosen, students can complete all 120 credits online within their busy schedule.

Graduate students wishing to attend FSU will pay a little extra, but there’s a wide range of online degree options worth the investment. In the College of Business, students can obtain the M.S. in Management Information Systems fully online to bolster their technical abilities for leadership. Graduates may be interested in earning the M.S. in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies from the College of Education to work in educational settings. Most decide to earn the 32-credit M.S. in Information Technology fully online with specializations in Information Systems Management, Usability Analysis, Data Management, or Web Design. Pursuing a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Architecture is also offered through FSU online.

4. Dakota State University

Dakota State University square logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $7,506
Following the motto of “Technically, We’re Better,” Dakota State University is a major tech-centric state higher learning institution that enrolls around 3,050 students. Along with traditional face-to-face instruction on its main 20-acre rural campus in Madison near South Dakota’s border with Minnesota, DSU offers online courses fully at a distance in a supportive virtual classroom. DSU has been ranked as the 80th best regional college and 24th top public school in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. DSU also named fourth in the United States in the Guide to Online Schools’ rankings. Students at Dakota State University can choose from associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in three divisions accredited by the North Central Association (NCA).

At the well below-average cost of $7,506 per academic year, DSU allows students to earn a variety of convenient, reputable online degrees with the same high-achieving faculty. Since DSU was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE) by NSA, online computer science degree programs are abundant. Students can earn an Associate of Science in Network and Security Administration fully online. For more in-depth learning to the 120-credit mark, DSU students can enroll in the online B.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Cyber Operations, B.S. in Information Systems, or B.S. in Network and Security Administration programs. Average class sizes for these degrees are just 25 for personalized attention.

Graduate students at DSU also have their pick of a broad variety of computer science-related degree programs delivered in a self-paced online environment by doctoral-trained faculty. The M.S. in Applied Computer Science program offers customizable concentration paths in Cyber Operations, Software Development, Forensics, Cryptography, and Hacking. Online learners could be interested in receiving the M.S. in Educational Technology, M.S. in Health Informatics, M.S. in Information Assurance, or M.S. in Information Systems programs too. Doctoral students can even achieve greatness by earning their Doctor of Science in Cyber Security or Doctor of Science in Information Systems completely online. All graduate students will benefit from honing their skills in emerging technologies for real-world application in solving operational problems.

5. Troy University

Troy UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $7,564
Considered Alabama’s international university, Troy University is a major comprehensive senior public teaching institution that was first founded in 1887. From its main 650-acre rural headquarters in Pike County, Troy operates four Alabama campuses, 60 extension centers across the United States, abroad locations in 11 countries, and a virtual eTroy campus by Internet. Enrolling more than 19,500 students, Troy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Troy as the 76th best college, 35th top public school, and 34th best university for veterans in the South. Consistently named one of Princeton Review’s “Best in the Southeast,” Troy is also recognized as the 25th best university for international students.

A wide range of online classes are available for aspiring computer professionals wishing to receive their undergraduate studies at Troy University. In a two-year format, there’s an Associate of Science in General Education program offered online with a major in Computer Science to give a broad-based introduction to computer applications. More in-depth training is available to eTroy students in the B.S. in Applied Computer Science program, which covers courses from software development and systems analysis to operating systems and applied networking. Some may also wish to pursue the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in Resource and Technology Management fully online. There’s an 18-credit Cyber Security certificate that can be added to any online bachelor’s program too.

Although there aren’t any fully online computer science programs at the graduate level, it’s possible to follow a hybrid format that blends online courses with face-to-face instruction. In either a thesis or non-thesis track, the Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science program at Troy prepares students for leadership with concentrations in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Network and Security, or Software Development. This program produces the advanced skills necessary for integrating cutting-edge concepts in the computer science field. Online learners may also be interested in receiving the Master of Science (M.S.) in Instructional Technology. Troy University requires that graduate students have an accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

6. Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University round logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $7,736
Enrolling more than 3,400 students with an affordable in-state tuition rate of $7,736 annually, Southern Arkansas University is a comprehensive public four-year teaching institution boasting a family-like atmosphere. Sprawling across a vast 1,418-acre rural campus in Magnolia within just 20 miles north from the state’s border with Louisiana, SAU offers degree programs in over 70 different fields that have been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA). Maintaining a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, SAU is acclaimed for hosting the 142nd best online bachelor’s degree programs in America by the U.S. News and World Report. SAU was also honored with the 16th Annual Governor’s Quality Award for performance excellence.

With support from the Magale Library, SAU is proud to deliver over 358 online courses every semester for students to earn credits towards their degree in a flexible manner. Undergraduate students at SAU can use online classes in completing the B.S. in Computer Science program from the College of Science and Engineering. This program includes a total of 120 credits for students wishing to learn the basic fundamentals of computing applications used in today’s fast-paced digital world. Students can even select an optional concentration in Computer Game and Animation Design, which is one of the few programs of its kind in the region. Individuals are prepared for working as game designers by building marketable programming and artistic skills.

At the graduate level, the Master of Computer and Information Science (MCIS) program is available at SAU in an on-campus, hybrid, or fully online format from the comfort of home. While completing the 30-credit curriculum, online learners can delve into rigorous training for professional knowledge in systems design, software development, communications, project management, network administration, and computer hardware infrastructure. MCIS graduates are qualified to advance in the workforce as information systems managers, systems analysts, data managers, computer scientists, and software development specialists or attend a doctoral degree program. GoGrad.org ranked this SAU online program 22nd nationally for its academic quality, affordability, faculty guidance, and student services.

7. Old Dominion University

Old Dominion UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $8,970
Since being founded in 1930 as part of the College of William & Mary, Old Dominion University has achieved its independence as a comprehensive senior public research institution with both space-grant and sea-grant status. Old Dominion is based on a main 251-acre urban campus at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia’s second-largest city in Norfolk, but its reach extends far beyond. ODU is acclaimed for being one of the largest online distance learning providers with more than 24,600 students. The U.S. News and World Report has recognized ODU for having the 31st best online bachelor’s programs nationwide. Old Dominion has also been honored by Forbes magazine for being the 124th best college in the South and 191st top research university in America.

Through video streaming, web conferencing, and the Teletechnet satellite delivery system, ODU creates the opportunity for students to choose from 60 different online undergraduate and graduate programs approved by the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools (SACS). Avid computer lovers at the undergraduate level can earn their B.S. in Computer Science degree completely online. Students benefit from learning a broad range of technological terminology while working on hands-on virtual laboratory experiences in the 120-credit curriculum. Other similar online degree programs include the B.S. in Computer Engineering Technology and the B.S. in Information Systems and Technology. An online Cyber Security Certificate can be tacked on to any degree with 12 additional credit hours.

Graduate students attending ODU online can achieve their M.S. in Computer Science program to receive in-depth training in bioinformatics, data mining, digital libraries, networking, cyber security, software engineering, algorithms, and more. After completing this online asynchronous program accredited by the ABET, graduates will spend 34 credits mastering the computational foundations for working in technology. Some students may wish to consider earning the M.E. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, M.S.Ed. in Instructional Design and Technology, or M.E. in Systems Engineering fully online. For admissions into any of the tech-focused master’s programs, students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a strong background in the C or C++ programming language.

8. Oregon State University

Oregon State University square logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $9,122
As one of just two elite universities in America to receive land-grant, sea-grant, sun-grant, and space-grant designations, Oregon State University is a major comprehensive senior public research institution hosting more than 200 academic programs. From its 422-acre suburban campus in Corvallis just 90 minutes south of Portland, Oregon State is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) to deliver traditional and online degree offerings. Classified as a Carnegie “Community Engagement” institution, OSU is ranked as the 138th best university, 70th top public school, and 38th best college for veterans nationwide by the U.S. News and World Report. OSU is also distinguished as having the 5th best online bachelor’s degree programs in the United States.

Despite being named in the top 200 universities globally by the ARWU, Oregon State University maintains an affordable in-state tuition rate of $9,122 each year. Students can take advantage of this cheap cost by reaping a great return on investment for their online computer science degree through the OSU e-Campus. A unique Post-Baccalaureate Computer Science Program is provided fully online for OSU students who have already earned a B.A. or B.S. degree in another field. Whether in a one-year, two-year, three-year, or four-year track, the program helps students catch up on learning programming fundamentals. By blending their other degree with a strong foundation in computer applications, career opportunities are virtually limitless.

While taking online courses, graduate students at Oregon State can also advance their career towards leadership by earning the M.S. in Computer Science. Concentrations are offered in Algorithms, Computer Systems and Networking, Human-Computer Interaction, Programming Languages, Software Engineering, or Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Online learners may wish to earn their Master of Engineering (M.E.) degree with a focus in Computer Science through completing 45 credits centered on management in technology. Although not available online, it’s possible for OSU students to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science in a traditional campus format for unlocking jobs in higher education. Online students take courses taught by Oregon State’s renowned faculty to earn the same degree as their counterparts.

9. Wilmington University

Wilmington University square logo colorTuition Price Per Year: $10,190
Situated on a main suburban campus in historic New Castle, Delaware, Wilmington University is a comprehensive private non-profit research institution that also offers courses in Dover, Middletown, Rehoboth Beach, Maryland, New Jersey, and online any time. Fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), WilmU enrolls more than 19,200 students in seven distinctive academic divisions in the Mid-Atlantic corridor. Forbes magazine has ranked WilmU as the 182nd best college in the Northeast and 201st top research university in America. Wilmington University was also recognized for having the nation’s 161st best online bachelor’s degree programs by the U.S. News and World Report. WilmU is crowned 2nd in the “30 Most Technologically Savvy Online Schools” from the Online Schools Center.

Earning an online computer science degree at Wilmington University will only cost $10,190 in in-state tuition every academic year, thus providing a solid ROI. Undergraduate students have the option to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer & Network Security fully online from this designated CAE/IAE institution of the National Security Agency (NSA). In the 120-credit curriculum, students earn academic credit for completing a practical co-op assignment in their local community. Other aspiring computer professionals may find it helpful to earn a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management or Bachelor of Science in Web Information Systems online too. Adding an online Management Information Systems Minor is available too.

At the graduate level, Wilmington University offers several online options that computer science majors would find beneficial in advancing their career towards leadership. The Master of Science in Information Systems Technologies (MS-IST) program has an online 36-credit curriculum that allows for specialized tracks in Information Assurance, Internet/Web Design, or Management Information Systems before a culminating internship. Others might wish to earn the online MBA in Management Information Systems, Master of Education in Applied Technology, or Master of Science in Homeland Security for Information Assurance. Advanced study certificates in Digital Evidence Investigation, Web Applications Development, and Health Information Technology are also offered completely online for graduates.

10. Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical UniversityTuition Price Per Year: $11,283
Celebrating its 50th year in higher learning, Colorado Technical University is a comprehensive private for-profit institution fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA). Headquartered in Colorado Springs, CTU is perhaps best known for serving its over 25,700 students with programs completed entirely or largely online. Classified as a doctoral research university by the Carnegie Foundation, CTU is dedicated to delivering career-oriented education in STEM disciplines. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Colorado Tech has the 125th best online bachelor’s programs and the 18th top online graduate computer technology degrees in America. CTU has also previously been named the #1 Best for Vets college nationwide in Military Times magazine.

Offering more than 100 different degree programs online, Colorado Technical University makes certain that distance learners receive industry-relevant curricula at the affordable tuition rate of $11,283 per year. Future computer professionals can start unleashing their full technological potential by earning the Online B.S. in Information Technology program, which comes with concentrations in Data Management, Security, Network Management, Software Systems Engineering, or Web Development. A B.S. in Cyber Security program is delivered completely online for students wishing to focus in Computer Systems Security or Information Assurance. It’s also possible for undergraduate students at Colorado Tech to earn a broad-based Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) focused in Information Technology.

For students who have already earned their accredited bachelor’s degree, CTU can help take the next step by receiving a master’s credential fully online in a busy schedule. Following a 48-credit curriculum, the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program can be completed in just 36 months online with a concentration in Computer Systems Security, Database Systems, or Software Engineering. The Online M.S. in Information Technology can be tailored with concentrations in Network Management, Project Management, and Security Management. Some online learners may be interested in earning the M.S. in Cybersecurity Policy, M.S. in Homeland Security for Information Systems Management, or the MBA for Technology Management completely online from Colorado Tech.

Conclusion

Enrolling in a reputable computer science program is one of the best ways to break into one of the market’s fastest-growing and most lucrative markets. Graduates with a bachelor’s in computer science often make a starting salary higher than many of their peers at $52,237 each year. However, attending a technology school with a big tuition price tag can significantly cut into future earnings due to loan debt. Thanks to the advent of online education, many elite universities are now making it possible to pursue a computer science degree fully online at an affordable price that won’t break the bank. Consider applying to some of these top affordable online computer science degree programs to earn a quality education and a good bang for your buck.

References:
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Top 10 Most Affordable Online Accounting Degree Programs

Affordable Online DegreesStudents with an interest in becoming a professional accountant must understand that in today’s shaky economy, making a sound financial decision concerning their future education is imperative to success.

Because so many online colleges and universities offer affordable programs, it makes perfect economical sense to find an accredited online school through which to pursue a degree in accounting. This will save the student money on commuting, dorm rent and the cost of hard copy textbooks. It is also a wonderful opportunity for nontraditional students, such as those with young children or individuals who cannot adhere to a set schedule from one week to the next to pursue their education. Provided the student is dedicated to earning his or her degree and is willing to invest the time and effort it takes to do so, online classes are an ideal alternative to traditional college enrollment.

Featured Accounting Programs:

affordable online accounting degree

However, with many top-of-the-line online universities from which to choose, many prospective students find themselves overwhelmed when the time comes to select an appropriate online accounting degree program. When searching for affordable online courses, it is important to understand that such institutions are not one-size-fits-all. For this reason, it is essential to evaluate each option with the seriousness it deserves. To choose the program best suited to one’s specific needs, he or she must weigh all aspects of the decision so that the most affordable college or university is selected.

Criteria

Schools offering the best and most affordable programs are evaluated in a variety of ways. Below is a list of the 10 most affordable online accounting degree programs. The criteria used to place the following schools on the most affordable list include rankings by US News and other reputable publications, financial incentives, tuition freeze, tuition reductions for military members and their families, postgraduate discounts, grants, and corporate and academic partner tuition reductions.

Kaplan University

Kaplan UniversityKaplan University is a well known online school that offers a bachelor of science in accounting degree. What makes this university generally competitive is that students are offered various “emphasis areas,” which allow them to essentially tailor their online courses to meet their individual objectives concerning their education. The emphasis areas from which one can choose include tax accounting, public accounting, managerial accounting, and auditing and forensic accounting. The total program includes 180 credits, with the emphasis areas comprising the program’s final 24 credit hours.

Kaplan also focuses heavily on teamwork, collaboration and communication, which is relatively unique among various degree programs offered online. Many students state that certain online degree programs make them feel as if they are completely isolated or working within a bubble without much help or support. The Faculty at Kaplan has attempted to compensate for this alienated feeling by heavily focusing on collaboration and teamwork, thus making their program stronger than many of the programs offered by their competitors.

Kaplan was placed on the most affordable list because of the many grants, scholarships and discounts offered by either the university itself or their academic and corporate partners, the latter of which is a particularly unique avenue through which to reduce the cost of tuition. Additionally, the University partners with various companies who are willing to offer reduced tuition to their employees who wish to enroll at the university.

Kaplan also caters to those who are serving or have served in the United States armed forces. Discounts are available for their spouses, as well. As much as a 55 percent reduction in tuition is available to active duty members and up to 40 percent for non-active military personnel. Kaplan University also provides one of the lowest online tuition prices available for international students, which is approximately 25 percent off the normal tuition price. That gives Kaplan University one of the lowest tuition rates for foreign students.

Additionally, at the end of the program there is something referred to as a “capstone project.” This project is designed to help students apply the concepts and theories learned throughout the course of their education at Kaplan University. Because such projects are a wonderful addition to a resume, they are considered a substantial benefit to postgraduate students who are seeking employment.

Another financial benefit of enrolling at Kaplan University is a substantial tuition reduction for alumni. For example, if a person obtained a bachelor’s degree at Kaplan, and he or she wishes to pursue a Masters degree, a 20 percent discount is available. This makes an education at Kaplan University a very good investment in one’s future.

Capella University

Capella University vector logoCapella University online offers students a Bachelor of Science in Business with Specialization in Accounting. The program is suitable for both working professionals who want to further their education and recent high school graduates. The program involves the various strategies and techniques that are applied in a wide variety of business scenarios. The school’s graduate programs include both a Master’s degree and a PhD in accounting, both ACBSP-accredited and both available online.

A bachelor’s degree from Capella University is also a highly affordable starting point for any individual who wishes to eventually work in the field of accounting. What makes Capella unique is its tiered tuition structure. The price for lower-level courses is less per hour than upper-level courses, giving prospective students options they may not have at other online universities. Additionally, financial aid is available and Capella also offers specific grants to various students. In addition to the federal Pell grant, new students are welcome to apply for one of three different grants provided by the university itself. This is one of the most attractive benefits associated with Capella University. One grant offered by Capella, the SOPHIA Pathways for College grant, can save a student as much as $13,000 on tuition. Although there are different requirements for each grant and not all students qualify, those who do find that this additional help makes pursuing their education much easier. Capella also offers an armed services discount of up to 15 percent on tuition for military personnel and members of their immediate family.

Students who plan to pursue a Master’s degree at Capella University are also offered financial benefits, which ultimately make furthering their education more practical and affordable. Those enrolled in the university’s bachelor’s degree program can receive a substantial discount on something called a Combined Bachelor’s to Master’s degree program. The latter allows students to work on master’s-level online courses while still in the process of earning their bachelor’s degree. This unique option provides a discount, which will vary from one student to the next. It also allows students to apply their credit hours to both their bachelor’s and their master’s level degrees, simultaneously. This provides an ideal way for students to save a substantial amount of money and time.

Finally, Capella University offers extensive financial aid services to both current and prospective students, and no student is left floundering who needs help finding the best and most affordable alternatives concerning tuition. Because of its affordability, as well as the unique degree options offered to students, Capella University is a school worth considering by those who wish to earn an accounting degree online.

DeVry University

DeVry UniversityDeVry University is very well known in the United States and other countries. DeVry University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree. Something that sets this university apart from much of its competition is the fact that certain states provide an on campus option or a combination of both campus and online courses. This may be helpful for certain students, such as those who feel they have more success in the structured classroom environment. Yet, if such students find themselves in circumstances where they must revert to online studies, they have that option as well.

DeVry’s programs also have a slightly different focus from other major players in the online degree arena. For example, their accounting programs place a distinct focus on tax law at both the state and federal level. These fields are often far beyond the scope of traditional online accounting degree courses. However, they can be invaluable to those who wish to pursue a higher degree after their bachelor’s is earned, as students who have this foundation of knowledge do better when furthering their education than those who have not taken these topics.

The University also offers something called a Senior Project. This is a course designed for the purpose of linking real-world applications and theoretical learning. Although the course is intense, the results are an extremely well-rounded education, including true life experience. Such experience helps postgraduate students immensely as they search for employment.

DeVry University earned its spot on the most affordable online schools list by offering several beneficial financial incentives. For instance, the first six credit hours a student takes during a session are approximately $600 each, as of May, 2015. However, a 40 percent discount is then applied to subsequent credit hours remaining in the same session. This cuts the average cost of a full-time, five class load almost in half. Many students who have graduated from DeVry University list this benefit as one of the most advantageous.

Another unique financial benefit offered by DeVry is the University’s “tuition freeze.” Tuition costs at DeVry University are currently frozen at the 2012 rate, and students are offered an option of transferring credits from another school, which can further reduce the rate. It is not known how long this tuition freeze will be in effect, however. Therefore, those interested in enrolling at this university may wish to inquire about this fact in advance.

DeVry reports that financial aid is received by approximately 90 percent of its students, thus furthering the point that this institution is one of the country’s most affordable online universities. Like many other online schools, military members and their families also receive discounts from DeVry University. There are several categories for such discounts, and in certain cases, a student may save as much as 58 percent from the standard tuition paid by other enrollees. This is because such discounts can be used in conjunction with other grants or loans, giving military members a way to pursue a highly affordable degree online.

Penn State University World Campus

Penn State University round logoPenn State University’s World Campus is one of the country’s most prestigious schools, and for this reason it is ranked by US News as one of the top 40 universities in the United States. Many other lists consistently put it in the top percentiles. Additionally, US News ranks the University’s World Campus online bachelor degree programs as the third best in the country. Although this recognition is not specific to accounting bachelor programs, the seal is still prominently displayed on graduates’ degrees.

Name recognition is arguably the biggest advantage of an online accounting degree from Penn State. Not only is the University Pennsylvania’s largest secondary educational institution, but the school is also known worldwide. Online courses in accounting are available through the World Campus. Although the program is a Bachelor of Science in Business Degree, students taking this course must select an option as their degree is completed, and accounting is one of the options offered by the school. Even though it may seem as if acquiring a degree at such a school would not be affordable, this is not the case.

Penn State offers affordable tuition, and their rates rank among the most straightforward of schools found on various top 10 lists. This is because their “cost of tuition” page includes a mere 12 lines of text. Most universities, online or otherwise, offer a virtual labyrinth of fees and costs on their tuition pages through which prospective students must navigate. As of May, 2015, tuition at Penn State is broken down simply: $559 per credit for those with more than 60 credit hours and $518 per credit for those with fewer than sixty. Scholarships and financial aid options are available to virtually all students, and financial counselors work with any student who needs help to find the best combination of grants, loans, discounts and other avenues through which affordable tuition can be placed within reach.

Additionally, financial aid is available for members of the military and their families. However, in this specific category, the options are not quite as extensive as those available from some of the aforementioned online universities. Nevertheless, many individuals feel that this difference is insignificant when measured against the name recognition associated with a degree from Penn State University. When compared to other schools with similar worldwide name recognition, online accounting courses offered by Penn State are well worth the cost.

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology round logoFlorida Institute of Technology–also referred to and better known as Florida Tech–offers students two choices regarding online accounting degrees. These are a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a Specialization in Accounting and an online Bachelor of Arts in Accounting. Both courses can be completed online in their entirety, although they focus on different career goals. The Bachelor of Arts degree provides a broad education that is business based, including a wide range of disciplines in various aspects of business and business management. Students enrolled in this program learn about accounting and finances, as well as business management. This degree course is designed as a forthright bridge to a business graduate degree.

On the other hand, the BA in Accounting primarily focuses on the subjects required for students whose plans are to become certified management accountants–CMAs–or certified public accountants–CPAs. This program prepares enrollees for careers in auditing, tax planning, cost accounting and additional strictly accounting-based fields. For this reason, those who are considering Florida Institute of Technology for their online classes must give a significant amount of thought to their ultimate career goals in the field of accounting.

Florida Tech’s online classes are very affordable by essentially anyone’s standards. However, something that makes them stand out is the fact that in certain cases, the cost of basic tuition may be tax-deductible. The school also boasts a substantial number of financial aid options and reports that almost all students can be qualified for some type of financial aid. Financial aid faculty members state that 90 percent of students who apply for financial aid qualified for some type of assistance. In certain cases, a student can qualify for as much as $12,500 per year for his or her undergraduate degree.

Florida Institute of Technology also offers special financial aid packages for those in the armed services, as well as residents of the state of Florida. Both active reserve military service members and active-duty members can reduce their tuition to essentially zero if they apply for both Florida Tech’s military tuition aid and general military tuition assistance programs. The Florida Resident Access Grant is another option that can substantially reduce tuition for those who reside in Florida. These unique options for military personnel and other students have resulted in the school being recognized by US News as one of the top 10 online colleges in the country.

Liberty University

Liberty University round color logoLiberty University is the world’s largest Christian University and has been since 1971. Although its motto is “Training Champions for Christ” and most of the programs offered by the University are committed to Christian values, individuals of all faiths are welcome to enroll. Indeed, the University is known for a diversified student body, and its popularity among individuals from all backgrounds and faiths stem from the school’s affordability. As of May, 2015, tuition is a blanket $340 per credit hour for virtually all the university’s business programs.

Some unique facts about Liberty University include its regular updating of program material to reflect the latest and most cutting-edge accounting methods used in today’s modern marketplace. Many online schools do not update as often as Liberty, and because of the fast pace at which the business world moves, students may immediately have to learn new accounting methods upon beginning their first job, which can add unnecessary stress to their lives when they first become gainfully employed. This unfortunate scenario is unlikely to occur if one has received his or her education online through Liberty University.

Additionally, Liberty’s online courses are some of the most comprehensive available in the online venue. They include basic courses such as principles of accounting and accounting information systems, but also include courses in international business accounting, marketing, corporate finance, taxation, human resource management, operations management,business law, and government and nonprofit accounting.

Career options available to graduates of Liberty University who have received a bachelor’s in accounting include working at traditional accounting firms, government departments, corporate business offices, international business offices and nonprofit organizations of all types.

Because the university has an extensive financial aid department, help to fit each student’s individual needs is readily available. Approximately 85 percent of all students who apply for financial aid qualify for help of one kind or another. In addition, a broad range of grants are available to prospective students, and a financial aid representative from the school can evaluate each student on an individual basis to see if he or she qualifies for one of the many grants offered by the school and its affiliates. Because the chances are so high that affordability will not be an option for students seeking an education at this university, Liberty makes the list of the top 10 most affordable online colleges.

Walden University

Walden UniversityWalden University is an accredited educational institution that is established entirely online. Although some students prefer a school that has at least one brick and mortar office, because Walden University does not have such overhead, it has a global reach with a universal curriculum. Walden University is a particularly good choice for those seeking a degree in a specific business field, and the University’s Bachelor of Science and Accounting degree rates very highly with regard to customization options. Walden also offers a Master of Science in Accounting as well as several other graduate level accounting specializations.

Students enrolled at Walden University can accomplish their goal of achieving a degree without extraneous studying or difficult assignments. It is this fact that sets Walden apart from its competition. Students and advisers work closely together to design a curriculum that fits the type of job the student plans to seek after graduation. This allows regional issues to be taken into consideration when the online courses are initially mapped out for each enrollee. In addition, students typically learn only essential accounting methods and practices, and are not burdened with electives or mandatory courses that have little or nothing to do with the field in which they wish to work. This is a major reason certain students ultimately choose Walden University over other online colleges.

The accounting degree offered online by Walden covers everything from technical and functional knowledge an accountant must have, to his or her role in an organization. The school offers students the choice of one of two programs: a public accountancy program and a general accounting program. The former is geared specifically toward those who want to eventually take the CPA examination and obtain a license to work in this capacity. This is another thing that sets Walden University apart from its competition, as they offer a course that specifically focuses on the CPA test. The curriculum for the Gen. Accounting program is similar to that of most traditional colleges, but is not bogged down with extra courses or credits that serve little or no purpose in the real world.

Another of Walden University’s unique features is something called MobileLearn. This cutting-edge technology allows students to access classrooms via an iPhone or Smart Phone, and listen to course work on an MP3 player. These technological advancements make Walden University one of the most modern online universities in the country.

The bulk of the program is priced at $310 per credit hour, a cost that is even lower than schools such as Liberty, which is known for its affordable tuition. The University also provides fellowships, scholarships, private loans, state grants and financial aid. Military discounts are available as well on both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery G.I. Bill, more commonly referred to as the MGIB. Members of the military are also offered additional tuition discounts through programs such as the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program. These methods can all be combined, resulting in a very affordable way to obtain a degree in accounting.

Northeastern University

Northeastern UniversityNortheastern University is regarded as one of the country’s best schools based on a variety of factors. For example, the school’s online accounting degree program–Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting Management–is run through Northeastern’s Boston campus. This particular campus is ranked by US News as one of the top 50 United States Universities. For this reason, students are assured of a quality curriculum similar to that offered by America’s oldest traditional bricks and mortar colleges.

The programs provided by Northeastern University are generally geared toward those who wish to seek an advanced degree in accounting at some point in the future. Students have wide latitude in controlling their own education, although all students must follow the core curriculum required to receive a Bachelor’s degree. The online courses selected can be those designed for students who plan to pursue a higher education or those whose plans include immediate employment in the field of accounting.

The Northeastern University website estimates that the average student, with financial aid and scholarships, can enroll at Northeastern for a tuition cost that rivals the rates offered by community colleges. For this reason, it is considered one of the most affordable online schools at which a quality education in accounting can be obtained. Members of the financial aid department are available year-round to counsel students and suggest the most appropriate avenues through which to make such an education affordable.

Bellevue University

Bellevue UniversityBellevue University offers an online degree program–Bachelor of Science in Accounting. The primary objective of Bellevue’s online accounting program is to provide students with a foundation in both procedures and theories of accounting for the purpose of preparing them to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant examination. The curriculum of this program focuses on what students must learn who want to work as certified public accountants upon graduation. This university is also well-reviewed among several sources, such as US News, which lists the school as one of the top three online programs for veterans seeking a Bachelor’s degree in accounting.

However, Bellevue University also offers other unique opportunities, such as allowing students to pursue a Master of Business Administration through a 4+1 accounting program. What this program offers to students is an uninterrupted, easy transition between the undergraduate accounting degree program to an MBA with a specialization in accounting. Course work is entirely available online, and early placement in the MBA program is available. Additionally, the university is looking into new technology to offer students studying options, similar to those offered at Walden University, such as accessing course work from MP3 players and iPhones. Prospective students should check with Bellevue University concerning the time frame for such options.

Bellevue’s financial aid department states that its faculty is explicitly committed to providing avenues through which students can manage their baseline tuition costs and ultimately make them more affordable. The school has partnerships with certain organizations and companies, many of which offer grants and other assistance. Scholarships are also available through the University, and of course, as with other learning institutions, the Pell grant and other student loans can be pursued to offset costs.

The Admissions and Financial Services department at Bellevue are committed to ensuring that no student ends up taking unnecessary classes, and they also go the extra mile to ensure that each student’s credits are appropriated. They assist students with whatever help they need to give them every advantage to begin with the proper courses and scheduling that best meets their needs.

In addition to the loans, grants, scholarships and other reimbursements, Bellevue also provides a work-study option to students who have demonstrated financial need. Extra money can be earned by any student who is willing to work up to 20 hours per week.

United States veterans also receive a broad range of discounts, as Bellevue offers more than half a dozen different benefits to such individuals. Part of Bellevue’s mission statement is that serving military students is a top priority “from day one.” In addition to being ranked in the top three online universities for veterans by US News, victory media also included Bellevue on its list of military friendly schools in 2014. The university is affordable for essentially any student: however, members of the armed services can benefit even more than traditional enrollees.

Regis University

Regis UniversityRegis University has an impressive resume, and it therefore is worth consideration by any prospective accounting student. For the past 18 years, the school has been recognized as one of the Western World’s top universities. Additionally, it has also been recognized for its student engagement and teaching practices, ranking in the top four percent of United States colleges in both these areas. With regard to student technology and services, it is in the top 25 percent nationwide.

Tuition for students at Regis University is approximately $435 per credit hour, but various grants, loans, work-study programs and other options can significantly reduce this amount, making it a very affordable online university. Additionally, the school partners with a variety of different companies who provide both grants and general discounts, such as a reduction in tuition costs for any of their employees who enroll in one of Regis University’s online degree programs. Discounts are also available for members of the armed services; however such programs have a tendency to change from time to time. Therefore, students who feel they may qualify for such discounts should contact the school directly to determine the exact benefit for which they may qualify.

It is important to understand that the criteria for qualifying to enroll in Regis University’s online accounting degree program or other bachelor’s program is somewhat different from many of its competitors. Those applying for the Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting Program are required to have a minimum of 36 months work experience in the accounting field. This is because the accounting degree program offered by Regis is considered an accelerated program, for which a basic foundation of knowledge must have already been obtained. Those who graduate successfully from the program will be qualified to take the CPA examination in their state. Courses include basic principles of accounting and cost accounting, as well as advanced courses such as ethical decision-making in business, marketing principles, auditing principles and procedures, principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics, business law and introduction to statistics. Those looking for a decelerated online accounting course that is both affordable and prestigious should consider contacting Regis University.

Considerations

Because choosing a career and pursuing one’s education accordingly are activities that must not be undertaken lightly, spending an appropriate amount of time reviewing different options with regard to the selection of an affordable online accounting program is essential. It is never wise to base one’s decision on advertisements or sales material. Rather, the prospective student should fact check and research each of the online courses he or she may pursue. Additionally, those who phone for information should not feel pressured to make a decision on the spot, as emotional decisions sometimes have unsatisfactory results. Ultimately, anyone who pursues an accounting degree online is paving the way to a future that includes steady employment and financial stability.

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Top 10 Most Affordable Christian Colleges

Affordable College DegreesAttending a Christian college is a smart investment for faithful students who wish to follow a competitive academic curriculum within a close-knit, spiritual environment with like-minded peers. Christian universities are typically private, non-profit institutions that build upon biblical principles in a certain denomination to promote God-centered values in their students. Across the United States, numerous Christian colleges are giving both undergraduate and graduate students the chance to nurture growth in both mind, body, and soul. In a recent study by Christianity Today, researchers found that more than 52 percent of college students enrolling in a secular school will experience a decline in religious values. Therefore, it’s clear that Christian colleges excel at helping young men and women thrive spiritually to become compassionate servants of God’s will in today’s global society.

pensacola christian college church

Around 65,000 high school seniors make the wise decision to attend a Christian college each year, but it’s important that these students also do their homework to find the best values in Christian education to avoid breaking the bank. In America, the average tuition cost for attending a four-year private non-profit university is $23,698 each academic year. Even with financial aid, these costs can add up quickly and leave students scrambling with leftover student loan debt upon graduation. Luckily, there’s many privately funded Christian colleges who are dedicated to keeping tuition costs well below this average. These schools will help students realize their fullest intellectual, professional, and spiritual growth even on a tight budget.

Ranking the Most Affordable Christian Colleges

In forming our picks for the most affordable Christian universities in the United States, we began by searching through the data made publicly available through the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Using the College Affordability and Transparency Center tool, the list was narrowed down to private non-profit, four-year universities and sorted based on the lowest average tuition rates. Focus was then placed on the colleges that were affiliated with a church from one of the Christian denominations. For making the following program ranking as helpful and limitless as possible, we determined to only include Christian colleges that had a total student population of at least 1,000.

From there, every Christian university boasting a low tuition rate was checked through the directory maintained by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to ensure approval by a certified accrediting body and high-quality academics. Since we believe that getting a good value in higher education requires stellar educational experiences, preference was given to affordable Christian colleges with U.S. News and World Report rankings as well as other special recognitions. Student-faculty ratio, financial aid availability, graduation rates, spiritual growth opportunities, military assistance benefits, and range of academic majors were also considered. Below is the finalized list for the top 10 most affordable Christian colleges ranked from the lowest full-time, in-state undergraduate tuition rate to the highest.

1. Brigham Young University

Brigham Young UniversityAnnual Tuition Price: $5,000
As the largest and most affordable private non-profit religious university in the United States, Brigham Young University serves more than 29,600 students from its main 560-acre suburban campus in Provo, Utah along the Wasatch Front. BYU is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which is a Christian restorationist church based in Salt Lake City. Around 99 percent of the university’s student body includes members of the LDS Church and takes a two-year hiatus in their studies to serve as missionaries. Since the university is funded by the church’s tithing, tuition costs are extremely below average at just $5,000 a year for LDS members.

BYU proves that high-quality, faith-based education can come at a fair price. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Brigham Young is ranked as the 62nd best national university and 14th top value school with the 12th lowest student-incurred debt rate in America for 2015. Due to the university’s emphasis on research, BYU was also named #10 nationally for producing the largest number of graduates who eventually earn PhDs. Within the Wall Street Journal, BYU was acclaimed for being the #11 best educational institutions whose graduates are top-rated by business recruiters. Brigham Young University is also distinguished by the Princeton Review for having one of the nation’s top 10 libraries.

Fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), Brigham Young is separated into 11 distinctive colleges holding their own discipline-specific accreditations. Although BYU focuses on undergraduate education from a liberal arts perspective, there’s also 68 master’s and 25 doctoral degree programs to choose from. Studying abroad at BYU is simple because the university operates centers in London, Jerusalem, Paris, and 20 other global cities for international learning. Students at BYU will must follow an honor code created by the Church of Latter-day Saints, which includes meeting grooming standards, abstaining from extramarital sex, and not consuming alcohol or drugs.

2. Luther Rice College & Seminary

Luther Rice College and Seminary crossAnnual Tuition Price: $6,080
Initially founded in 1962 by Robert Gee Witty and five other pastors, Luther Rice College & Seminary is an accredited comprehensive degree-granting private Christian institution based in the city of Lithonia within the Metro Atlanta area. Enrolling around 1,500 students, Luther Rice is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention to provide predominantly distance education in Christian studies from a theologically conservative approach. With the most affordable tuition rate in the United States offered by any on-campus or online seminary, Luther Rice ranks in the lowest 10 percent of all tuition costs nationwide at just $6,080 each year.

Luther Rice has gained a leading reputation for being a non-traditional Christian school that delivers degrees professionally, academically, and honestly. Luther Rice College & Seminary was listed among the “Best Alternative Programs” in a guide published by the American Council for University Planning and Academic Excellence (ACUPAE). Due to the flexible availability of its online learning, Luther Rice earned a spot as a “Top Military Friendly School” within GI Jobs magazine. OnlineU.org also recognized Luther Rice for having the most affordable online religious studies degrees in the United States. In fact, an exit survey found that over 96 percent of Luther Rice graduates reported satisfaction with their learning experience.

For over a decade, Luther Rice has been offering fully online degree programs with no residency required in Atlanta. With a focus on affordable, sound biblical training, Luther Rice College & Seminary makes it possible for students to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, Master of Arts in Apologetics, Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling, Master of Arts in Christian Studies, Master of Arts in Leadership, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Divinity, or Doctor of Ministry online. All of these programs are accredited for excellence by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). Faculty at Luther Rice are dedicated to biblical-based, student-focused education.

3. Columbia College

Columbia College - Dorsey ChapelAnnual Tuition Price: $7,465
Since making history as the first women’s college west of the Mississippi in 1851, Columbia College has evolved dramatically to become a comprehensive private four-year institution serving more than 29,000 men and women nationwide. In addition to its main headquarters in the vibrant city of Columbia in Missouri, Columbia has extended campuses in 13 states, abroad in Guantanamo Bay of Cuba, and online from anywhere. Columbia College maintains a covenant with the Christian Church (Disciplines of Christ) to deliver faith-based liberal arts education. Named in all of the top 10 “Best Buys” from GetEducated.com, Columbia is proud to offer quality degree programs in small class sizes at the low annual price of $7,465.

Consistently named a “Best in the Midwest” college by the Princeton Review, Columbia has created an esteemed reputation for allowing students to engage in honest, thought-provoking dialogue inside and outside of the classroom for new discoveries. Along with being named a “College of Distinction” by Student Horizons, Columbia was honored as one of the “Best for Vets” schools in Military Times magazine for 2015. The U.S. News and World Report has also recognized Columbia for hosting the 98th best online bachelor’s degrees, 87th best online MBA program, 8th top online graduate criminal justice programs, and 112nd best online graduate education programs in America.

Columbia College has been formally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA) for nearly a century. Students from all regions are welcome to apply to its wide array of programs scattered across 12 unique academic divisions. Columbia offers 10 associate’s degrees, 62 bachelor’s degrees, and five master’s degrees. With over 800 accredited classes offered online, students can also choose from 32 fully online degrees ranging from biology and psychology to English and mathematics. Columbia courses are conveniently delivered in accelerated eight-week sessions starting in January, March, June, August, and October for earning a quick, affordable degree.

4. William Carey University

William Carey University ChapelAnnual Tuition Price: $11,400
Named in honor of the 18th century Englishman regarded as the “Father of Modern Missions,” William Carey University is a comprehensive senior private Christian liberal arts institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention since 1892. With a headcount of over 4,100 students, WCU is based on a main 120-acre urban campus in Hattiesburg with satellite locations in Gulfport and Biloxi along Mississippi’s coast of the Gulf of Mexico. In its close-knit Christian community, WCU students embrace the motto of “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great Things for God.” William Carey has the mission of preparing students to fulfill their diverse vocational callings by offering quality faith-based programs for $11,400 per year.

Despite its below-average tuition rate, William Carey University is consistently recognized among the top schools in its region for excellent learning experiences. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked WCU as the 37th best college and 3rd top value school in the South for 2015. WCU was distinguished for hosting the country’s 142nd best online graduate education programs for new teachers too. Honored with an A+ safety score for low campus crime, WCU was named among the “Colleges of Distinction” from Student Horizons. William Carey also has been placed among the top 15 percent of military-friendly universities in Victory Media for six consecutive years.

Every 10 years, William Carey University is re-accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Discipline-specific accreditations from the NCATE, NASM, CCNE, and COCA are given to certain programs as well. Across its seven academic divisions, WCU offers bachelor’s, master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees ranging from business to behavioral science and beyond. The College of Osteopathic Medicine was recently opened in 2008 to become Mississippi’s first osteopathic medical school. Students at WCU are encouraged to study abroad in England to explore London, Oxford, Ludlow Castle, and the town where William Carey lived.

5. Johnson University

Johnson University - Alumni Memorial ChapelAnnual Tuition Price: $12,050
With the distinction of being the second oldest continuing Bible college in America, Johnson University is a private co-educational Christian institution in operation since 1893. In addition to its main headquarters on a 175-acre rural campus in Kimberlin Heights just six miles southeast of Knoxville, Tennessee along the French Broad River, Johnson operates a second campus in central Florida in Kissimmee near Disney World and an online division from anywhere. Johnson is known for being a leader in Christian higher education by equipping more than 1,350 students for ministry work every academic year. Thanks to the support of donors, Johnson keeps tuition prices affordable and below-average at $12,050 with financial aid options.

Featuring an acceptance rate of 95 percent, Johnson University has created a positive image for its academic rigor, religious commitment, and affordability. Often recognized as one of the finest Christian universities online, Johnson boasts a low student-faculty ratio of 21:1 for the personalized attention students need to thrive. With an overall grade of A, Johnson University was named among the 100 most financially fit private colleges in America in Forbes magazine. Johnson also ranks 10th in delivering a quality, affordable college education among all 807 schools accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

In addition to its formal accreditation, Johnson has been approved by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). The university confers degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels. All undergraduate students at Johnson major in Bible, but graduate students can choose from a larger variety of degrees in education, preaching, marriage and family therapy, leadership studies, and New Testament. An honors program for high-achieving undergraduates allows double majors in history, English, and apologetics too. Johnson is well-known for preparing students to lead church-related vocations as ministers, pastors, teachers, counselors, chaplains, non-profit leaders, clergy, and mission directors.

6. Lee University

Lee University chapelAnnual Tuition Price: $14,280
Affiliated with the evangelical Church of God since its inception in 1918, Lee University is an elite comprehensive private faith-based institution that enrolls more than 4,900 students. Standing proudly on a 107-acre urban campus in Cleveland, Tennessee at the foothills of the majestic Appalachian Mountains, Lee is the fifth largest undergraduate college with membership to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). As a rather selective liberal arts university with a 64 percent acceptance rate, Lee is committed to providing a high caliber of education to students representing diverse faiths. Not only is the tuition price $14,280, but 72 percent of undergraduates also receive need-based scholarships that average $8,186 apiece.

With enrollment more than quadrupling over the past two decades, it’s clear that Lee is a top up-and-coming school with exceptional learning opportunities. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Lee as the 57th best regional college in the South with the 131st best online bachelor’s program in the entire United States. Along with being named among USA Today’s “20 Colleges Most Committed to Community Service,” Lee was honored with a spot on the prestigious President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Lee University has also been named a “Best in the Southeast” school by the Princeton Review for 15 straight years and recognized among the top 20 baccalaureate institutions for enrolling international students.

Lee University is formally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), but certain programs are also approved by the NCATE, NASM, ACBSP, CAATE, and CEPR. After completing the religion-focused core, students at Lee can choose from 50 different majors at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. After its choir appeared on the hit show The Sing-Off, Lee has quickly developed one of the finest music schools in the Southeast. In order to graduate, all Lee students will need to attend chapel services twice a week, complete 80 total hours of community service, and study abroad.

7. Louisiana College

Louisiana College - GuinnAnnual Tuition Price: $14,570
Established in 1906 by a group of churches affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention to deliver religious-based education, Louisiana College is a comprehensive senior private degree-granting higher learning institution. Serving around 1,400 students of all denominations, LC is nestled on an intimate 81-acre rural campus in the town of Pineville near Alexandria in the geographic center of Louisiana. As a predominantly baccalaureate-level school, LC offers full-time undergraduate students an affordable learning pathway at $14,570 per year. Over the past decade, Louisiana College has experienced great enrollment growth of 50 percent among students seeking select professional programs from a liberal arts and Baptist perspective.

Unlike large research universities, Louisiana College focuses on classroom teaching and has been recognized by The Templeton Guide as a top college for student character development. Students from LC have extraordinary success after graduation with 100 percent of education majors passing the Praxis exam and 96 percent of nursing students passing the NCLEX exam their first time. Nearly 95 percent of the college’s pre-law graduates are accepted into an accredited law school, which is more than double the national average. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked LC as the 74th best regional college in the South for 2015. Washington Monthly magazine also named LC as the 106th best baccalaureate institution in the entire United States.

Along with specialized accreditations from the ACBSP, CCNE, CSWE, NCATE, and CAATE, Louisiana College is proud to maintain full approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Across its 10 academic divisions, LC mostly confers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of General Studies, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. Teachers can also further their education by earning the college’s sole graduate program, the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). Louisiana College follows the mission of blending challenging academics with a supportive faculty, strong Christian foundation, and professional mentoring.

8. Mississippi College

mississippi collegeAnnual Tuition Price: $15,458
As another of the leading Christian universities in our program ranking with an affordable tuition rate below average at $15,458, Mississippi College is located on a 320-acre suburban campus in the town of Clinton just west of the state’s capital hub in Jackson. Since its founding in 1826, MC has been highly regarded as both the oldest and largest private comprehensive college in Mississippi with over 4,900 students. In fact, MC is the second oldest university in the United States with affiliations to the Baptist Church. Mississippi College also delivers more flexible degree offerings in evening hours at its Flowood Center in the heart of Rankin County.

MC has educated several notable alumni, including governor Phil Bryant, football star Fred McAfee, physician E.M. Toler, and professional wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Mississippi College excels at preparing students for success with quality, religious-based education. The U.S. News and World Report currently ranks MC as the 29th best regional college, 4th top value school, and 7th best university for veterans in the South. In particular, the physician assistant program is acclaimed for being the 57th best degree of its kind nationwide. Forbes magazine also recognized MC for its high graduation rate and affordability by naming it among the country’s top 25 “Best College Buys.”

Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Mississippi College has been approved by 16 unique discipline-specific professional associations for excellence. MC students studying on-campus or at a distance have their fair share of opportunity in more than 80 undergraduate and 15 graduate degrees. MC is well-known for hosting a unique Doctor of Professional Counseling (DPC) program that can be earned fully online too. Mississippi College has the goal of building on the teachings of Christ Jesus to promote the application of Christian values in several vocations.

9. North Greenville University

North Greenville University prayer chapelAnnual Tuition Price: $15,510
Situated on a spacious 380-acre rural campus in the small town of Tigerville at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains just minutes outside of Greenville, South Carolina, North Greenville University is a comprehensive private Christian institution first opened in 1891. Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, NGU enrolls more than 2,200 students of diverse faiths to develop quality educational experiences in a biblical, Christ-centered community. Along with having an affordable annual tuition cost of $15,510, NGU offers the Crusader Fellows Scholarship to cover full tuition for select South Carolina residents who carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.5 and score at least 1200 on the SAT.

North Greenville University stands out among national liberal arts institutions for having the 10th highest yield percentage of accepted students actually enrolling in its programs. The U.S. News and World Report has ranked NGU as the 25th best regional college in the South for 2015. In Forbes magazine, NGU was acclaimed for being the 309 best private college in the United States and the 106th top school in the South with a financial grade of B. Featuring a low student-faculty ratio of 14:1, NGU was listed fifth in the country for best professor credentials by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) too.

As a member of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities (IABCU), NGU has earned full accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) as well as six discipline-specific associations. Building on the foundation of the liberal arts and the Word of God, NGU confers degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level in eight academic departments. Online learning options are available through the College of Adult Professional Studies in majors like business, Christian ministries, criminal justice, legal studies, early childhood education, psychology, and music education. NGU students earn credit for chapel events every semester because truths found in the Holy Scriptures can be applied to every aspect of reality.

10. College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks chapelAnnual Tuition Price: $18,530
Referred to as “Hard Work U,” the College of the Ozarks is a major comprehensive private non-profit Christian liberal arts institution enrolling more than 1,500 students. Atop a hill overlooking Lake Taneycomo, C of O is located on a sprawling 1,000-acre rural campus in Point Lookout near Branson, Missouri within just an hour’s drive south of Springfield. Though it has the highest tuition rate on our program ranking at $18,530, the College of the Ozarks remains affordable thanks to its unique work-study program. Students at C of O are required to work 15 hours on-campus per week and two 40-hour work weeks during campus breaks to cover all tuition costs.

The College of the Ozarks is consistently recognized for its high-level of academic quality and its emphasis on character education. In fact, the Templeton Honor Roll for Excellence in Free Enterprise Teaching has named C of O among its list of the country’s top “Character Building Colleges.” The U.S. News and World Report has ranked C of O as the #4 best regional college and the #1 top value school in the Midwest with the #1 best undergraduate teaching. The College of the Ozarks has also received notable recognition within Money Magazine’s “Best Buys,” the Forbes’s “Top Colleges,” and Princeton Review’s “Stone Cold Sober Schools.”

From a liberal arts perspective, the College of the Ozarks has the mission of encouraging academic, spiritual, patriotic, cultural, and professional growth in students. C of O maintains full accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA). With a student-faculty ratio of 14:1, the College confers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in more than 40 different academic fields. Pre-professional programs in dietetics, medical technology, engineering, law, pharmacy, veterinary, and medicine are also available. Graduates from the College of Ozarks step off of campus with educational experiences that have developed their head, heart, and hands for a life of good citizenship.

Conclusion

For young people of faith, attending Christian colleges is an excellent higher education option that will offer a wide array of benefits that simply aren’t possible in a larger, secular university. Not only can students attending a Christian university prepare for a career while fostering the development of key faith-based values, but they can also reap a great monetary value for their education. Although some Christian colleges have high tuition costs, most apply their ideals of inclusion to their admissions process to prevent barring future leaders from an education simply due to finances. When looking for quality faith-based education from a worldview, consider attending one of these top 10 most affordable Christian colleges for freedom from loan debt.

References:
NCES
College Affordability and Transparency Center
CHEA

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Top 10 Most Affordable Online Undergraduate Degree Programs

Affordable Online DegreesSince the advent of the Internet, getting a degree has never been easier. Many students choose to get their degree online due to busy schedules and rising tuition costs. Online degree programs provide students with flexibility in scheduling and lesser costs compared to campus programs. Weather you are a student just out of high school, or a working parent looking to secure a better future, online undergraduate degree programs are a great option

Finding An Affordable College Degree

With so many options at your fingertips, it could be a bit overwhelming to find the right school. There are a number of things to consider. While price of tuition is often one of the biggest deciding factors, quality of the program is another thing to consider. In many cases, price directly affects the quality of the program. Many of today’s institutions have put a lot of money and resources into their online programs to help students succeed and get the most out of their education.

cash and cap

To help you find the best affordable degree program, we will be looking at more than just the price of tuition. The programs on this list have full regional accreditation and academic counseling. These schools strive to provide their students with a great learning experience and continued support throughout their education. These schools also offer job placement services upon graduation. In addition to tuition, these schools will be ranked based on their retention rate, program availability, and financial aid services. Student experience, faculty, and overall resources will also be considered.

1. Western Governor’s University

Western Governors University round logoWestern Governor’s University operates fully online. There is no campus, leaving the nonprofit university to put all of their resources towards their students’ success. They are based in Salt Lake City, Utah, but have attracted students from all over the world. The university is fully accredited and offers a number of different undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Faculty and Platform
Unlike traditional universities that have a single teacher, classes at Western Governor’s University are personalized with multiple mentors and guides. There isn’t the tradition group schedules and pacing. Students are lead by student mentors, course mentors, program faculty and evaluators. There are over 1,100 full time faculty members and an additional 200 part-time members to personally guide each student throughout their education.

Student mentors are the primary support members for students. They help provide advice, coaching, and support to students throughout their education. All mentors already have a degree, with most having a graduate degree, allowing them to guide students in the right direction. They are actively involved in helping students, directly speaking to them on a regular basis.

The platform is easy to understand and use. Students will use the platform on a regular basis to access the course material. It’s also the place to submit assessments and projects. Students can also use the platform to communicate with student mentors, course mentors, program faculty, and evaluators. This constant communication with faculty members and advisors will help students succeed in their program.

Programs
The university offers a number of different undergraduate and graduate programs separated into the following colleges:

  • Teacher’s College
  • College of Business
  • College of Information Technology
  • College of Health Professions

Tuition
Western Governor’s University only offers full time enrollment. Students are expected to complete a minimum of 12 credit hours (or competency units as the university calls them) each term.

The price of tuition is based on the degree program chosen. However, most undergraduate programs are less than $3000 per term, with the most expensive program costing just over $4000 per term. As of 2015, the price of tuition is as follows:

  • B.S. Nursing – $4250
  • Business Programs -$2890
  • Information Technology Programs – $2890
  • Teaching Programs – $2890

In addition to the cost of tuition, students may have to pay additional fees based on their program. All students will have to pay a resource fee. Individual programs may require additional resources, such as a lab fee.

Financial Aid
Western Governor’s University has a fully staffed financial aid department to help students find ways to pay for their education. The university is approved by the U.S. Department of Education to offer federal financial aid. Many students quality for federal aid, weather it is a grant or federal loan. Due to their low tuition costs, most students graduate with low student debt. The school also offers a number of scholarships to cover tuition costs.

Retention and Enrollment
The university has a fairly high retention rate of 89%. They have a student population of over 40,000 students, with over 30,000 of those being undergraduate students.

2. Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University square logoFort Hays State University is a public school that is known for its online forays. The university has a physical campus, but also has a virtual college with students from around the world. The main campus is located in Hays, Kansas. The virtual college is also based in Hays. The university is comprised of four separate colleges with over 40 affordable degree programs that are all accredited.

Faculty and Platform
Professional staff is there to help students throughout their education. Advisors can help to guide and direct students. Remote professors and advisors will have continual contact with students through telephone, e-mail, and Skype calls. Students have a number of resources available to them through the online platform. The platform provides students with an intuitive learning environment and various course materials.

Programs
The virtual college offers over 40 different degree programs. Undergraduate programs range from nursing, to political science, to marketing and science. The school even offers a unique Bachelors of General Studies to students who want more flexibility in their education. This program is fully customizable to the needs of the student. Advisors can help create a curriculum that will lead to success. It is a great option for students who have prior education or those who want to explore multiple areas of study.

Tuition
Fort Hays University Virtual College is incredibly flexible when it comes to enrollment and tuition. Students can either be full time, taking a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester, or work at their own pace by being a part time student. Tuition is charged based on how many credit hours a student takes. They charge $186.50 per credit hour for an undergraduate program.

Tuition covers the cost of education through the online platform. It doesn’t cover textbooks, so students will have to take this into consideration as well. There may also be additional fees based on the particular program a student is enrolled in.

Financial Aid
The university has a Financial Assistance department that will help campus and online students. The department helps student find ways to pay for college, whether it is with financial aid or loans. They can help students figure out if they qualify for federal loans, grants, or scholarships. The school provides a number of different scholarships for qualified students. They also offer veteran benefits.

Retention and Enrollment
The university, as a whole, has a student population of over 13,000 students. This is a fairly small number compared to its faculty size, allowing students to have more personalized interaction with faculty advisors and instructors. Of this number, over 6,000 students work online. The university has virtual students from over 20 different countries. They have a retention rate of 68%.

Unlike other online programs, Fort Hays University does have admission standards. Upon application, a potential student’s educational merits will be reviewed prior to acceptance. The school has a fairly high acceptance rate, at around 81% of applications being accepted into the university.

3. University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming square logoThe University of Wyoming is another traditional public school that provides many online programs. Currently, the school offers over 30 programs, with 9 of those being undergraduate bachelor programs. These programs are taught through a variety of methods, allowing students to get their education at their own pace, the way they want.

Faculty and Platform
Qualified professionals teach students in their field of study. Professors and advisors are in constant communication with students, whether it is through e-mail or phone. The unique thing about the University of Wyoming is the school’s course delivery methods. The Outreach platform is accessible virtually anywhere. There is a mobile application that allows students and instructors to communicate and get work done.

In addition to the traditional online platform, students can take advantage of video and audio conferencing to speak with instructors and classmates. For ultimate flexibility, students can work completely independent of other classmates. The Semester Based Independent Learning Method allows students to work on an agreed schedule, completing all of the course work on their own throughout the semester. The school even offers hybrid learning methods. Online students can go to a campus for intensive days of hands-on learning.

Programs
The school offers numerous online degree and certificate programs. The nine available undergraduate programs are as follows:

  • Accelerated BSN (nursing)
  • Applied Science
  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Elementary Education
  • Professional Child Development
  • Psychology
  • RN/BSN Completion
  • Social Sciences

Tuition
Tuition at the University of Wyoming is based on credit hours. Students can choose to be full, or part time students. While the cost of tuition fluctuates, as of 2015, the price of tuition is $227 per credit hour for non-Wyoming residents. Wyoming residents are only charged $113 per credit hour.

Students will also have to pay fees for their chosen delivery method. Students have to pay an additional $25 per credit hour to get video or audio conferencing. There are also administrative fees and additional costs for intensive learning methods.

Financial Aid
The University of Wyoming Outreach program offers many forms of financial aid. Advisors can help students determine federal grant and loan eligibility. Upon application for federal aid, advisors can also help to determine if students are eligible for one of their many scholarships. Approximately 73% of the school’s current student population is receiving some form of financial aid.

Retention and Enrollment
The school has over 12,000 students currently enrolled, many of which partake in the Outreach online program at some point during their education. They have a retention rate of about 76%.

To get into the University of Wyoming, potential students must meet certain requirements. Currently, the school requires a high school GPA of at 3.0 and an ACT score of 21 or combined SAT score of 980. Despite the requirement, the university has an incredibly high acceptance rate of 95.5%.

4. Columbia College

Columbia College square rings logoColumbia College, established in 1851, has a growing virtual school that offers 29 degree programs. The school is accredited with the Higher Learning Commission. The school has a main campus located in Columbia, MO. There are also a number of satellite campuses located in 13 states and Cuba. The school has a unique educational approach, teaching students in 8-week sessions rather than the traditional semester.

Faculty and Platform
The school prides itself on its small class size. In fact, there is one faculty member for every 11 students enrolled. This is beneficial for both students and faculty. Students get the chance to have more personalized help with professors, ensuring that they get the most out of their education.

Most of the professors at Columbia College are experts in their field. 80% of them have the highest degree in their field of study. Students will learn from the best. In addition to renowned professors, students will be in direct contact with advisors and counselors to help them succeed.

The online platform is pretty straightforward. It is not as flashy and interactive as other platforms, but it is easy to use and understand. Students get their materials and assessments from a course page. They’ll also be able to participate in class discussions and contact professors as well.

Programs
The school offers 29 degree programs that can be completed online. Majority of those programs are undergraduate, with a number of graduate and associate offerings as well. They provide students with an affordable college degree in the following departments:

  • Business Administration
  • Computer and Mathematical Science
  • Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services
  • History, Philosophy, and Political Science
  • Human Services
  • General Studies
  • Humanities
  • Nursing
  • Psychology and Sociology

Tuition
Columbia College charges $260 per credit hour for undergraduate online degrees. Because classes are taught in 8-week sessions, students are only permitted to take two classes at a time. This equates to 6 credit hours per 8-week session. The school also charges fees for the application and graduation.

Financial Aid
The school provides prospective and current students with a straightforward financial aid process. Students can complete everything online. They have access to the application and can even apply for loans and grants. If they need more help, the school has a financial aid department with advisors as well. The school also offers a number of scholarships catered toward online students specifically.

Retention and Enrollment
There are over 16,000 students spread throughout the school’s many physical campuses and online platform. Online students account for over 6,000 of the student population.

The school doesn’t have open enrollment, instead requiring applicants to take the ACT or SAT. To get into the school, students must score in the upper 50th percentile on whichever test they choose to take. Furthermore, students must have a high school GPA of at least 2.5.

5. Walden University

Walden University square logoWalden University is a college that works completely online. It is accredited and offers a number of different affordable degree programs. The school caters to working adults, allowing them to get a degree on their own time. Walden University is a popular choice among military personnel as well.

Faculty and Platform
The school has a teaching staff comprised of professionals with numerous merits and awards. Many members of the staff are professionals with published material, awards, and grants. In terms of administrative staff, the school boasts a large list of professionals with doctorates and experience working in their field.

The learning platform of Walden University is incredibly intuitive. Not only do students get to interact with professors, but the platform allows them to collaborate with other students as well. Because the university operates online only, the school has put a lot of resources into creating an effective learning platform. Students can access their materials on the platform or mobile devices.

Programs
The school offers 18 undergraduate degree programs and even more graduate programs. They even offer license programs and certificates. Walden University offers everything from nursing, to accounting, to psychology.

Tuition
Tuition costs vary from program to program. On average, students can expect to pay around $280 per credit hour. There are also technology fees that must be paid each term. Prices for tuition are the same for every student, regardless of location.

Financial Aid
The university has a number of financial aid resources available. There is a fully staffed financial aid department available to students. Advisors will help find the right type of aid for each student based on their financial situation. Over two thirds of the student population are on some type of aid. The school also offers scholarships, military benefits, and a payment plan.

Retention and Enrollment
The university has a population of over 50,000 online students. Majority of those students are graduate students. Only 9,000 or so students are working towards their undergraduate degree. There is a retention rate of 80%.

Getting accepted into the university is fairly easy. However, the school is catered towards adults. To get into the university as a new student, you must be at least 24 years old. The school does not accept students younger than 21. If you are at least 21, but less than 24 years old, you must have at least 12 transferable credit hours.

6. American Intercontinental University

American Intercontinental University vector logoFounded in 1970, American Intercontinental University offers many affordable undergraduate degree programs. The online program started in 2001, and has since become the university’s mainstay. While they do have campuses, 80% of the school’s student population works solely online. The school provides multiple accredited degree programs over 7 departments.

Faculty and Platform
Classes are taught by highly seasoned professionals in various fields. Many of the school’s faculty have decades of experience. Students will have a chance to interact with professors and advisors regularly to ensure that they understand the material and succeed.

American Intercontinental University has a few unique ways to approach your education. The virtual campus provides students with everything they need, from course materials to addition resources. Furthermore, students can choose how they want to work. Intellipath allows students to skip over what they already know and focus on areas where they need work. M.U.S.E. is another custom learning system where students can choose how they want to approach their studies.

Programs
American Intercontinental University focuses mainly on undergraduate degrees, though they do offer a few graduate and associate degree programs. The university offers multiple undergraduate degrees in these areas of study:

  • Business
  • Information Technology
  • Healthcare Management
  • Criminal Justice
  • Design
  • Accounting

Tuition
American Intercontinental University charges $302 per credit hour for undergraduate programs regardless of location or program. They also have administrative and graduation fees that need to be paid. The university provides a detailed chart about tuition costs based on each program. The chart helps to better determine how much students will be paying for their degree program.

Financial Aid
The school has a financial aid department to help students go through their options. They’ll also help students throughout the federal aid application. The school provides students across all programs with many grants and scholarships as well.

Retention and Enrollment
The university has a retention rate of around 37%. The school currently has a student population of over 14,000. Over 12,000 of those students are undergraduate.

To get into the university, students must prove their proficiency with English and mathematics. Students who do not speak English as their first language must take a proficiency test. Additionally, students will have to take an academic test that allows advisors to better understand where they are in their education. Other than that, the school has no minimum GPA requirements.

7. Capella University

Capella University vector logoOne of the most popular online universities, Capella University boasts a large student population and over 1600 courses. The school offers a number of different affordable degree programs covering different areas of study.

Faculty and Platform
Capella University uses competency-based curriculum to ensure that students learn efficiently. Students are taught by highly skilled professionals in their field of study. In fact, 86% of Capella University faculty earned a doctorate degree. In addition to experienced professors, students have a number of different resources at their fingertips. They can speak to different advisors throughout their education for guidance.

The learning platform of Capella University is intuitive and asynchronous. Students can also work at their own pace with a Flexpath program. The platform uses different forms of media to introduce concepts and assess competency. The university uses interactive modules to provide a hands-on feel to learning.

Programs
Capella University offers a number of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. If you have trouble finding out what program is right for you, an advisor can help guide you in the right direction based on your needs and expectations. For undergraduate studies, Capella University offers multiple degrees the following categories:

  • Business
  • Healthcare
  • Information Technology
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Public Safety

Tuition
Depending on the program, students can expect to pay anywhere between $315-371 per credit hour for an undergraduate degree. This is for all students, regardless of location. If a student chooses to go with a program that offers the FlexPath option, students will pay $2000 per quarter.

There are also other fees to consider. If you’ve gone to school before, you will have to pay for an assessment prior to enrollment. Additionally, textbooks and administrative fees need to be considered.

Financial Aid
Capella University has a very in-depth financial aid policy. Counselors can work with students to find ways to pay for college and how to plan accordingly. They’ll even help to determine how much a student needs, including learning materials and Internet access.

Retention and Enrollment
Currently, Capella University has over 35,000 students enrolled. Of that 35,000 students, over 8,000 are seeking an undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, Capella University has a low retention rate, at 20%

Admission standards have increased over the last few years. At one time, Capella University had open enrollment. However, they now require a minimum GPA that varies based on the department. They also require an assessment of competency prior to enrollment.

8. Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University round logoColorado Technical University is a flexible learning option that is catered towards adults. The school has two physical campuses, located in Aurora and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their online degree programs are a popular choice among students, due to their flexibility. They offer 38 undergraduate degree programs and numerous graduate and certificate programs.

Faculty and Platform
The university has a staff of highly educated and experienced faculty. They focus on delivering current information on the particular industry of study. Faculty members work to provide students with “real-world” education that can easily be applied to a job after graduation. Students will have the opportunity to communicate with faculty on a regular basis to ensure that they understand the material.

Colorado Technical University utilizes Intellipath technology. The online platform is incredibly intuitive and personalized. Students will be able to learn at their own pace, the way they want. The platform provides students with complete control of their education, ultimately letting them succeed.

Programs
The school has a number of different degree options. Students can work with advisors to find a suitable program. They offer 38 undergraduate programs in the following areas of study:

  • Business and Management
  • Security Studies
  • Information Technology
  • Healthcare

Tuition
The price of tuition varies depending on the program. On average, students can expect to pay around $325 per credit hour. Fortunately, students have the opportunity to save up to 30% on their tuition. They can take a self-assessment, called Fast Track, to determine where they are in their education. Ultimately, students can save money and graduate faster.

Financial Aid
The school provides prospective students with a number of resources to pay for their education. They have a Department of Education’s Funding that helps students find programs, scholarships, discounts, and more

Retention and Enrollment
Colorado Technical University has a very small student population of around 2,500. Over half of these students are working towards an undergraduate degree. The school has a retention rate of 47%.

Getting into the school is not that difficult. While there are no specific requirements, students must be interviewed by an admissions representation prior to enrollment so that the school can determine if they are a good fit.

9. Bellevue University

Bellevue University large logoBellevue University is a private university that has a very renowned online program. They have a physical campus located in Bellevue Nebraska. However, the online programs have earned them numerous awards. They ranked on U.S. News 2014 Top Online Education Programs list and multiple other lists. They offer over 50 affordable degree programs for students located all over the world.

Faculty and Platform
The university has award-winning faculty that students can regularly communicate with. They’ll also have correspondence with advisors and support staff on a regular basis. In addition, students have the opportunity to work with other online students through discussion boards.

The online platform, called Cyber-Active, is very similar to other online classrooms. It is a Blackboard system, making it familiar to anyone who has taken an online class in the past. The platform provides students with their materials, assessments, and all of the interactive lessons they’ll need to learn the material.

Programs
Bellevue offers a number of different undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. Many of their campus programs are also available online. They have undergraduate programs in the following areas of study:

  • Business
  • Information Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Psychology
  • Marketing

Students can also choose to go with Flexxive programs. These programs are more flexible than traditional programs. They are reserved for students who have more than 60 hours completed.

Tuition
For online students, Bellevue University charges $385 per credit hour. They charge different prices for tuition based on the type of program that is studies. For example, a Flexxive program costs $250 per credit hour for less than 12 hours, or $3000 a semester for over 12 hours.

Financial Aid
The university has a number of different financial aid options available. In addition to federal and private student loans, the financial aid department can help determine financing options and payment plans. Advisors will work with students to make their education more affordable and manageable.

The university also uses a special scholarship program to help students find more aid. The student simply puts in their information into the program. The program then finds scholarships that they qualify for, making it easier to find and use scholarships.

Retention and Enrollment
Bellevue University has a pretty low student population count, at less than 10,000. This provides students with more chances to get personalized help and guidance. Over half of the student population is undergraduate students. The school has a relatively low retention rate at 17%.

10. Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University round logoAppalachian State University is an established school with a unique online program. Their online undergraduate degree programs are designed for returning or transfer students. They are upper-division only, meaning that college juniors and seniors only can attend. Online students often choose to transfer to Appalachian State University to take advantage of their resources.

Faculty and Platform
Appalachian State University is known for its expert staff and professors. Online students work closely with professors in addition to support staff and advisors. The university puts a lot of resources into their online platform, ensuring that students have full support in their education.

Virtual students work on a unique platform, called AppOnline. Students can access their course materials, view audio and visual components, contact professors, and submit course work on this platform.

Programs
Appalachian State University has a very structured online program, with requirements on certain degree programs. Some programs require distant and on-campus learning. Others require full time enrollment. If you are looking for online-only programs, the university offers 6 undergraduate degrees:

  • Business Education
  • Communications – advertising
  • Communication Studies
  • Health Promotion
  • Management
  • Nursing

Tuition
Tuition is based on credit hours and specific programs. For an undergraduate program, out of state students can expect to pay over $500 per credit hour. In state residents save a lot more money, paying only $127 per credit hour. There are also addition technology fees added to every credit hour.

Financial Aid
Online students are offered the same opportunities for financial aid as on-campus students. Advisors will work with online students to find federal and private aid. The school also offers military benefits to active duty students and their dependents.

Retention and Enrollment
Appalachian State University has a high retention rate of 78% with over 25,000 students. There are fairly strict requirements to get into the online program. Because it is an upper-division program, students are at the discretion of the admissions board. Students must have a certain number of credits completed prior to enrollment. There is an acceptance rate of about 60%.

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What costs will I incur in addition to my tuition for an online education?

college costsTuition expenses may not be the only costs associated with an online education. There may be several expenses outside of the initial cost of going to school. Here are some of the additional costs that may be expected.

1. Fees

There are a lot of hidden fees that are tacked on to online tuition. Students should pay attention to these fees when researching schools and add the costs of fees into the tuition fees to gauge how much he or she will need to pay out of pocket for additional costs.

  • Assessment fees:
  • Even though students might take the majority of tests online or through the online student portal, they may need to pay for some assessment tests and fees for tests that are taken through the college or through local certification. These fees can vary from school to school but need to be paid and are usually added on to the student’s final bill. The student often will not be able to pick up his or her diploma until these fees are paid.

  • Graduation fees:
  • Students who wish to graduate with the rest of their class need to pay up for graduation fees. Caps and gowns are not included in the price of online tuition and should be budgeted into the total cost of tuition.

  • Parking fees:
  • Even students who complete a 100 percent online program will still need to head over to campus from time to time. School campuses almost always charge parking fees—even for their own students. When a student needs to visit the library or speak to an advisor, he or she will need to obtain a parking pass from the school’s office. These passes can often be purchased by day, week, month or semester, depending on the school.

  • Transcript fees:
  • Schools always charge fees to students for every official copy of their transcript they request. Though these fees are generally low (usually around $10), they can add up and should be included in the final cost of tuition.

  • Printing and copy fees:
  • Students are still responsible for their own printing and copying fees—sometimes more with an online program than with an onsite program. Since onsite programs often allow teachers to copy or print materials to hand out in classes for free, students do not bear this financial burden. When a handout or article is distributed through an online course, the student is responsible for printing the article out themselves.

  • Student ID fees:
  • Many schools charge students for student IDs. Since a student will probably still need to use onsite facilities, like the library or labs, he or she will need a student ID card to access these areas of campus or to check out materials.

2. Equipment

Students who take online classes are still responsible for purchasing all the equipment and tools they need to complete their program. They might need to pay for lab fees, supplies and other equipment they need to complete a specialized degree. Some students might be required to travel on self-guided field trips to museums or other research facilities to gather information for their classes.

3. Books

Students are still required to purchase their own textbooks to complete their coursework. Since professors use the newest version of textbooks each semester, students must often purchase these new text books in lieu of the less expensive used versions. Some students may be able to rent textbooks through online services such as Amazon.com. Amazon even offers some students to rent text books via eBook platforms to further save on costs. Textbooks can be one of the most expensive items a student will need to buy—whether they are enrolled in an online or traditional on-site course.

4. Technology

Students are responsible for purchasing and maintaining all the technology they need to access the online classroom portal. Technology expenses incurred can include:

  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • This is one of the heftiest fees that can plague students taking online classes. Though cheap laptops can be purchased for under $500, the type of laptop that can handle the videos and programs needed to complete an online degree will generally cost more. Maintaining a laptop or desktop can be extremely expensive also. Students will need to buy software to protect their computers from malicious software and hackers. They also might need to pay for pricey updates to keep their computers running smoothly throughout the semester. They might need to pay a computer technician to routinely make sure their computers are working smoothly. To protect their work and their grades, they should invest in a backup system. If they do not have an external hard drive they can store their information on, they should invest in a cloud subscription or USB drives to keep their school work properly saved in case something should happen to their laptop.

  • Internet and Wi-Fi charges
  • Though many students might already have an internet connection, the connection that is required to access the online portals often needs higher data speeds. Students often need to download videos, lectures, sound recordings and software that allows them to access the online chat rooms. Students will usually need a router or other equipment that allows them to get online.

  • Other Services
  • Students might need to pay additional charges to get access to online services and databases where they can watch syllabus videos and download old copies of newspapers and magazines for research papers.

  • Microsoft Suite
  • Many programs require students to use the Microsoft Suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Since most universities use Microsoft, they do not allow students to download a free version of these programs as the free versions are often not compatible with the paid one.

5. Travel

Most online degrees aren’t offered completely online. Many schools require students to travel to a campus on a weekly or monthly basis. Harvard’s online extension program requires students to take classes for one week out of the month on their campus. Some schools do not require this, but many want students to make an effort to get to campus every once in a while to take part in student life.

  • Gas and tolls:
  • Students will need to pay for gas or public transportation to get to and from their campus on days they need to get to school.

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