Posted in Credit by Exam, Tuition

The 10-Million Dollar Year: 2018

The 2018 goal for Homeschooling for College Credit is that each of our member families initiates ONE CLEP or AP exam in their homeschool.   This single act will save the homeschool community $10 million dollars in tuition next year.

College tuition costs have reached a fever-pitch, and many homeschool families worry how they’ll pay these rising costs while usually raising many children on one income.  Even well-funded families are questioning the wisdom of borrowing tens of thousands of dollars with no promise of a degree or employment after graduation.  Homeschooling for College Credit believes that by resourceful high school planning, parents who inject college credit into their homeschool can reduce the cost of their teen’s college education significantly.  We are a team of volunteers who use these principles with our own teens and freely help other parents walk this journey with support and encouragement.

Our kids are average.  If we can do it, you can do it.

The “average” cost of college is hard to calculate.  While we have access to a lot of data, the choices a parent makes are really the biggest factor.  For instance, if someone asked you the “average” cost of going out to dinner, you’d have so many variables, that you’d both under-estimate or over-estimate for all but a narrow set.  Colleges are like restaurants.  Sometimes you’re looking for value- which is to say you want a return on your investment and at a fair price.  Sometimes you’re looking for an experience- which is to say you hope to have an unforgettable adventure.  Sometimes it’s about price- getting the most out of what little resources you have.  Finally, some are looking for something very specific- their favorite fried chicken.

The community at Homeschooling for College Credit doesn’t presume to know the “best restaurant” for your family.  That’s a personal decision, and there aren’t any wrong answers- what we do know, is that there are ways to save time and money in every case.  Parents in our community aren’t “one size fits all” and our member families aren’t all strictly utilitarian or all strictly academic, they’re a mix.  An in this mix creates a well-rounded and dynamic opportunity for parents on all paths to save a little -or save a lot– of money for their family.

Based on The Department of Education tuition data, the average tuition costs by school type:

  • 2-year community college costs $135 per credit
  • 4-year state college costs $435 per credit
  • 4-year private college costs $1039 per credit

A 2-year degree typically consists of 60 credits (60x$135) and costs $8100.

A 4-year degree from a public college typically consists of 120 credits and costs (120x$435) $52,200.

A 4-year degree from a private college typically consists of 12p credits and costs (120x$1039) $124,680.

Around here, we call these tuition calculations “rack rate” because they don’t take into account any scholarships (merit, academic, athletic, or other), a Pell Grant (government funded gift to everyone meeting income criteria) or special incentives (internal programs given to some students under special conditions).  But, we always proceed from the position of rack rate, because if you can’t get the cost down in some way, that is exactly what you will pay. 

Simple math to reduce rack rate

CLEP and Advanced Placement exams (college credit awarded by exam) award 3-9 college credits per passing score.  A CLEP or AP exam costs roughly $100 dollars and will usually result in 3 college credits.  A family that initiates just one exam for their teen can expect a return on their investment of several hundred, to several thousand dollars.

  • Each CLEP or AP exam that results in 3 college credits at a community college results in a net savings of about $300
  • Each CLEP or AP exam that results in 3 college credits at public 4-year college results in a net savings of about $1200.
  • Each CLEP or AP exam that results in 3 college credits at a private 4-year college results in a net savings of about $3000.


The 2018 goal for Homeschooling for College Credit is that each of our member families initiates ONE CLEP or AP exam in their homeschool this year.

When each of our 11,500 members initiates one exam in their homeschool, as a collective community, we will save

Over $3 MILLION DOLLARS off the cost of a community college degree.

Over $13 MILLION DOLLARS off the cost of a public 4-year college degree.

Over $34 MILLION DOLLARS off the cost of a private 4-year college degree.


Now, if those numbers are amazing, just imagine if each family took 2 exams?  Or 14?

Injecting credit by exam opportunities in your homeschool, and then guiding your teen into a college that awards credit for their score, is one way you can be pro-active in reducing the cost of your teen’s college degree.  While its true that colleges differ in how many exams they will accept toward a degree, but there are over three-thousand regionally accredited colleges to choose from!  You don’t have to deep-dive into every college’s policy in high school, it’s easy enough to find colleges that accept 15, 31, or more credits by exam – most do.

Why don’t colleges tell parents about this opportunity?  They have no financial incentive! Despite my own background working as a college administrator, I hadn’t heard about CLEP until I stumbled upon it myself.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that our community college not only allowed students to complete 75% of their degree via CLEP and AP, but we were also an official testing center.  (Information available to anyone who asked, of course.)

With most regionally accredited colleges and universities accepting CLEP and or AP credit in some amount, it’s easy enough to take 1 CLEP or AP exam at the very minimum and use it at the school of your choice.   If you want to be a little more extreme, there are a small number of colleges that don’t cap the number of CLEP and AP credits you can bring in.  They are affectionately called “The Big 3” by those of us who obsessively look for opportunities in this category.  The Big 3.

Take encouragement from other families who have started this journey and have shared some of their success on our Facebook page.

We asked:  Has dual enrollment or testing out of a college course saved your family any tuition dollars?

Christine (Ohio) My daughter finished enough credits with CCP that she started as a sophomore. So she will have saved one year of college when she graduates.

Rena (Minnesota) About $25,000 so far.

Lori (Indiana) My son just completed a CLEP test and the cost of the class would have been over $500.

Karen (New Mexico) My son is going to start college with 32 hrs, maybe more if he takes any classes this summer. So, I would say that we’ve saved $12,000-$30,000 in having a year of college done.

Robyn (Florida) My daughter did AP and Dual enrolled. She received credit for all. She is only a sophomore in college now but a junior by credit. It was a nice cushion – but she will probably still spend 4 years at her University to graduate with the dual degree she wants.

Jennifer (Georgia) My daughter took 2 AP tests, 3 CLEPs, did dual enrollment at 2 different colleges and then used my husband’s GI Bill to continue her education. She’s 18 and will be graduating with her Bachelor’s degree this spring with zero college debt!! 

Jude (Iowa) I’m going to quietly admit savings of over 20k using Iowa tuition charges if I paid out of pocket. Net value is MUCH more, as her current school would have charged over $1k per credit hour had we not completed those courses.

Jenifer (New Jersey) AP tests saved us almost a full year of tuition (plus room & board.)

Tanya If we would have paid for last semester of Dual Enrollment it would have been $1100. To date, she has 39 college credits and is taking 11 this semester ($0). Thankful we chose this route.

Julie (Texas) My oldest two of six children both have debt-free college degrees, only possible because they did dual credit and credit by exam throughout high school. They each had about 70 hours before high school graduation.

Mary (Illinois) Between the reduced fees for dual enrollment and scholarships my daughter is expecting to get her associates degree the week after she gets her high school diploma for very little. It is worth looking into and pursuing this option. Besides it completely confounds most college representatives with the fact your child is graduating with college credit!

Susan (Ohio) We spent a total of around ten thousand dollars on my oldest son’s bachelor’s degree, including books! He used cheap community college classes, CLEP exams, DSST exams, and FEMA credits to save money before transferring to his final school for his bachelor’s degree, Thomas Edison State University.

Carissa (New Mexico) By the end of 2018 spring semester, my 15-yr-old will have 21 hours of college credits (and four **free** IT certifications) completed via dual enrollment. He is preparing to CLEP out of French I & II, all History requirements, Psychology, Sociology, all English requirements, and all Economic requirements.

Victoria (Missouri) To date, my daughter has taken 3 CLEPs, resulting in 11 credits (biology transferred to her community college as 5 credits). The cost, including testing center fee, for all 11 totals $300 plus about $50 for study materials (InstantCert and one or two used CLEP guides). So let’s say $350. If my student had taken the same classes at her community college at the current rate of $103 per credit, that would work out to $1133. Plus textbooks for the equivalent courses at about $250 (renting at today’s price). So at least $1383. Total savings so far: $1033.

Wendy (Texas) My dd is going to a private university, and she will go in with 9 hours of dual credit. That will save us about $8400. We are hoping to CLEP some, and each one will save us $2800ish. It is significant savings when going to a 4 yr school.

Teresa (Texas) First student graduated high school with 45 college credits. All transferred. And all but 5 (mostly 1 credit electives) count for the degree choice he made after attending4-year university. It is his second semester at the university and he is 2 credits from being a Junior. The tuition at his public university is almost $11,000/year (living at home), so to answer your question …..Y.E.S.!!! About $22,000!!!

Carol (Minnesota) – she used CLEP and dual enrollment to save SO much money that I wrote a story about her:   We just saved $96,780

Has dual enrollment or testing out of a college course saved your family any tuition dollars?  If so, let us know! Be part of our 10-Million Dollar year!