Posted in celebrate, Debt Free Degree, HS4CC, Sophia, Straighterline

Bachelor’s Degree at 18: Hannah’s Graduation Story

As the school year comes to an end, our normal monthly celebrations are not only including college credit celebrations, but GRADUATION stories too! Hannah Joy from Florida sent me her Homeschooling for College Credit graduation story, and while she gave me permission to cut and trim, I decided that each and every word she wrote was worth sharing. TEASER: Her degree from Liberty University came in under $8,000. She is an extraordinary young woman who took charge of her education in an extraordinary way. I hope you’ll take the time to read her story, celebrate with her, and find encouragement from her words. Bonus- she’s even taken the time to track EVERY CREDIT and every DOLLAR she spent for those who would like to develop a similar plan. Dig in!

My college journey began my freshman year of high school. I was discussing my coming homeschool year with my mom and began to think about college and how I wanted to do it. I knew I didn’t want to go the traditional route, but I wasn’t sure how to do college differently. I got in touch with a good friend of ours who had two kids that had completed their bachelors at 18. She was immensely helpful in explaining how her kids did it, and how I could do it too. I began mapping out a degree plan from there, and started studying for the Biology CLEP. I took the Biology CLEP and failed by one point. That was a major turning point in my degree plan. While I knew the Biology CLEP was a difficult one to start with, I realized that I did not want CLEP’s to be part of my degree plan. They did not fit my learning style and how I wanted to complete college.

I redid my degree plan and began taking classes at Studycom the spring of my freshman year. I loved the platform, and whizzed through three classes that spring. That gave me the motivation and excitement to plan for even more college classes the coming year. I wrapped up my homeschool books, and Sophomore year of high school was almost entirely college credit. I took many Studycom classes, some Straighterline, and some classes at Campbellsville University.

My degree plan kept changing. I was originally planning to get my degree from Thomas Edison State University, and then I switched it to Campbellsville University. That plan changed when I ran into a pretty major roadblock that had to do with gaining upper level credits as a high school student.

With that dead end, I began researching Liberty University’s Interdisciplinary Studies degree. I researched for hours, trying to figure out if it would work and how my classes would come in. It started to seem more and more promising. I flipped my degree plan to end up at Liberty and continued to take classes until December 2019 when I applied to Liberty. I was accepted, and transferred in all my classes. They all came in perfectly! I finished up a few more college classes in the spring of 2020 to bring me up to 90 college credits. I graduated high school a year early in May of 2020, and began summer classes right away at Liberty. Then in fall 2020 and spring 2021 I wrapped up my remaining 24 credits at Liberty.

As of this month, May 2021, I completed my final class and my bachelors degree was conferred!

Liberty was a great experience overall. There were small frustrations, but overall I loved my professors and classes! My professors were prompt to respond to emails, and graded fairly. Overall, they were very encouraging and helpful, and I enjoyed my classes at LU!


I do not have the exact breakdown for how much the 90 credits came to; however, it was about $5,500. I did have multiple discount codes that I used throughout my time of using Studycom
and Straighterline.

HS4CC tip: Planning those 90 credits ahead of enrollment requires resourceful high school planning and careful attention to the degree requirements.

The finances for Liberty worked out very well. I got 15% off tuition for every semester I took classes there because of taking a few Straighterline classes.

HS4CC tip: There are 15 Straighterline partner colleges that offer a discount (usually 15%) when you take a specific number of courses (usually 4).

I also got a full Federal Pell Grant (FAFSA) each semester, and a $400 SEOG grant per semester. This was all based on financial need. Learn more here:

Here is the breakdown per semester at Liberty:

Summer 2020(6 credits):

$50 – Application fee

$2,730 – Tuition

Technology fee was waived


$1,549 – Federal Pell Grant (FAFSA)

$409.50 – Straighterline 15% discount

Total Paid of Pocket: $821.50

Fall 2020 (12 credits):

$199 – Technology Fee

$4,680 – Tuition


$702 – Straighterline 15% off

$3,173 – FAFSA

$400 – Federal SEOG Grant

Total Paid of Pocket: $604

Spring 2021 (12 credits):

$199 – Technology Fee

$4,680 – Tuition


$702 – Straighterline 15% off

$3,172 – FAFSA

$400 – Federal SEOG Grant

Total Paid out of Pocket: $605

Total Paid out of Pocket at Liberty: $2,030

Total Paid out of Pocket for entire degree: approximately $7,500

My Tips + Encouragement on Getting College Credit

  • Detours are normal and to be expected. At the time, it was often frustrating to run into roadblocks, but I kept pressing on. And looking back, I am so thankful for those changes of plans. As a Christian, I see it as God pointing me to exactly where He wanted me.

That’s a beautiful thing! His ways are often different than ours, but we can trust Him with everything – even which school we end up at!

  • Start with easy classes – yes, maybe even electives. This will boost confidence and determination. I started out with a super easy class, “Intro to the Vietnam War.” Being able to complete it in about 3 days was so motivating and exciting for me. If I had started with a harder class, like a big general education class, I think I would have become discouraged at how long and hard it was. This is not what most people say and I completely understand. If you’re spending the money, you want to be pretty sure that the classes will count. Yet, if it takes a couple of easy classes to get you or your child determined and excited about getting college credit then I think it’s worth the risk of them not transferring. If you’re considering a place other than Thomas Edison or Liberty’s INDS degree, then I would think a little more seriously before starting with electives. If you’re heading for either of those routes though, then I would definitely encourage you to give your child an easy class to start with! It’ll build their confidence, get them motivated, and help them become familiar with the platform! That is my opinion and what worked for me. 🙂
  • Take each child’s college journey individually. For me, CLEP was not my thing. I studied for a whole semester, took the Biology CLEP, and missed by one point. It was really discouraging. I know I did start with a hard CLEP; however, I still realized that CLEPS were not my thing. I liked to focus, get through classes in 2-8 weeks, and not have one test that decided my grade. Other people have completed almost their whole bachelors with CLEP, and that’s wonderful! It’s very cost-effective and awesome if you just want to stick with your homeschool curriculum yet still get college credit. However, if you or your child hates CLEP, look into other options! See what works best for them, with their unique talents and abilities. I know I never would have gotten my college degree (at least at 18) if I had gone with CLEP’s. I wouldn’t have been very motivated because they didn’t fit my learning style.
  • Take one day at a time. There were many times when I looked at the big picture (such as what I needed to do that week, month, or year) and felt overwhelmed. However, when I took one day at a time and chose to just focus on what I needed to do that day, it wasn’t that bad.
  • Enjoy the journey. It’s sweet to look back on my journey now and see how God wove it together so perfectly. This bachelor’s degree has taught me a lot. I remember many long days, tight deadlines, and moments of tears and frustration. However, I also remember the immense joy and satisfaction of pressing through the hard moments and celebrating every assignment and class completed! This dream of mine to get my bachelors degree at 18 is now officially a reality, and all the struggles to get here make me appreciate it all the more!
  • Learn to celebrate! Celebrate every exam taken, every week finished, and every class completed. Don’t get so focused on the end goal that you forget to celebrate and enjoy the journey and all the small victories!

Liberty Experience and Tips

  • If you ever have any questions, even just a small one, live chat with them. They are so helpful and will answer almost any question!
  • Before you are accepted, their answers to most questions are pretty vague. This is just because you’re not a student. Try not to be frustrated by this. Once you get in, they’ll answer those super-specific questions quickly!
  • Check your student checklist frequently up until you start classes. They often add documents you need to upload and other things you need to do. Be on top of that and don’t submit things last minute.
  • Use the transfer request form if you’re taking alternative credit after you’ve been accepted. That’s a great way to have peace of mind that your classes are going to count.
  • Grades DO NOT transfer in at Liberty Online. They simply come in as a Pass.
  • Use the course guides to decide on classes + their workload.
  • Use the Degree Completion Plans to figure out what the requirements are.


Liberty’s Degree completion plan (DCPA). Here is the one for Bachelors in
Interdisciplinary Studies –

Homeschooling for College Credit –

Straighterline transfer chart –

Studycom transfer chart (some of the classes did transfer differently, and some transferred better than I thought) – and

Degree Plan

CU – Campbellsville University (through their Dual-enrollment program)
SL – Straighterline
LU – Liberty University
NOTE: I had Univ 104, THEO 104, and RLGN 104 all automatically waived

Hannah uses “UL” to mean “upper level” credit was awarded. This is the hardest type of credit to find alternatively, making that indication especially noteworthy.

This is my experience and the classes that they accepted when I enrolled. Things may have changed already or they could change in the future and so you may have a different experience. I’m not guaranteeing that everything will work as smoothly as it did for me; however, I loved Liberty and I hope it will work for you too!

General Education Status Credits
Communications + Info Lit. ……………………………………………….. ……….. 12
Comp + Rhetoric English Comp I @ CU DONE 3
Communications Elective Interpersonal Communications @ SDC (UL) DONE 3
Info Lit Elective English Comp II @ CU DONE 3
Info Lit Elective Civil War and Reconstruction @ SDC (UL) DONE 3
Technological Solutions ………………………………………………… ………… 3
Technological Solutions College Math @ CU DONE 3
Critical Thinking ……………………………………………….. ……….. 3
Critical Thinking Elective Ethics in America @ SDC DONE 3
Civic and Global Eng. ………………………………………………. ……….. 3
Cultural Studies Elective American Government @ SL DONE 3
Social and Scientific Inq. ………………………………………………. ………. 6
Natural Science Elective Environmental Science @ SDC DONE 3
Social Science Elective Psychology @ SL DONE 3
Christianity + Contexts …………………………………………………. ……… 6
BIBL 110 Intro to NT @ CU DONE 3
BIBL 105 Intro to OT @ CU DONE 3

……………………………. MAJOR ………. 48
Area of Study 1: Soc. Sci ………………………………………….. ………… 15
HIUS – UL @ LU Intro to Missiology @ CU DONE 3HIUS – US History II @ SL DONE 3
Sociology @ SL DONE 3
GLST 200 Intro to Global Studies @ LU DONE 3
HIUS 380 – UL American Military History @ LU DONE 3
Area of Study 2: Fine Art ……………………………………………… ………. 15
UL Digital Photography @ LU DONE 3
UL Digital Imaging @ LU DONE 3
Art Appreciation @ LU DONE 3
Intro to Graphic Design @ LU DONE 3
Drawing I @ LUO DONE 3
Area of Study 2: Education ………………………………………………….. 15
EDUC Foundations of Education @ SDC DONE 3
EDUC – UL @ LU Differentiated Instruction @ SDC DONE 3
EDUC Technology in the Classroom @ SDC DONE 3
EDUC – UL @ LU Classroom Management @ SDC DONE 3
EDUC – UL @ LU Teaching Elementary Math @ SDC DONE 3

………………………….. ELECTIVES ………. 39
Understanding Music @ CU DONE 2
Essentials of Managing Conflict @ Sophia DONE 1
Developing Effective Teams @ Sophia DONE 1
UL @ LU Ethics @ The Institutes DONE 2
Intro to Computing @ SDC DONE 3
History of the Vietnam War @ SDC DONE 3
Christ and Culture @ CU DONE 3
Earth Science @ SDC DONE 3
Special Ed History @ SDC DONE 3
UL @ LU US History I @ SDC DONE 3Library Science @ SDC DONE 3
Intro to Christian Evangelism @ CU DONE 3
Student Success @ SL DONE 3
UL Digital Photography @ LU DONE 3
Media Design @ LU DONE

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at I am happy to
answer your questions as best I can!

Hannah Joy, Liberty University May 2021

Liberty University “You’re a First-Time College Student”

I write a LOT about the classification of students.  For financial aid and college applications, your teen is either a first-time freshman applicant or a transfer student.  It’s important that parents understand which type their teen is, but recently in another group a question was raised about how Liberty University handles admissions.


Site Owner, Homeschooling for College Credit

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