One of the most common mistakes parents make is confusing a state’s graduation requirements with the admissions requirements of their state colleges. Knowing each is very important while planning your teen’s high school exit strategy.
Carol from Minnesota crunched the Homeschooling for College Credit numbers for her daughter. You won’t believe what she found. Continue reading “We just saved $96,780”
OPM is partnering with colleges and universities as a part of the continuing efforts to provide higher educational opportunities to the Federal workforce by providing current Federal employees with the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education at reduced tuition rates. Some of the agreements extend the benefits to spouses and legal dependents. Continue reading “Federal Employee? College Discount!”
Earning one college credit puts your teen ahead! But when they start accumulating a lot of credit it’s only natural that you start to wonder how their credits will apply toward their future degree. Continue reading “Insider Tip: Predicting Credit Placement”
Nine out of ten families decide that their children are college material as early as the day they sign up for preschool. In 2014, a kindergarten play was shelved so the 5-year olds could prep for college. We’ve created a sense of urgency around college admissions and attendance at all costs. Continue reading “Stupid Girl – What Was She Thinking?”
The Common App is a popular college application tool that many of you complete for college admissions. If your 12th grader is using the Common App, here are some important updates you need to know about: Continue reading “Using the Common App this year?”
The college tuition funding nut is a tough one to crack. You could be super rich with a fully stocked college fund for all of your kids (yeah!) or you could be like me, trying to cash flow college for 4 kids on 1 income. If you’re somewhere in the middle, you might be considering student loans- but what if your teen attends a college that doesn’t allow student loans? Can that help you or hurt you? Continue reading “Colleges That Don’t Allow Student Loans”
“My son is taking all his classes for 12th grade at the community college, he will be graduating in May with both his high school diploma from our homeschool and associates degree from our local community college”
-Jayne L., North Carolina homeschooling parent.
Updated for 2019
The topic of today’s post is targeted toward our North Carolina families, but the takeaway isn’t that you should relocate to North Carolina, it’s that in almost every state there are some strategies you can build around the resources you have available to you. I know many non-NC adults who “hacked” their education and earned AA or BA degrees for pennies on the dollar (I’m on that list!) For the motivated, there are a lot of ways to save money, but this post is my deconstruction and then reconstruction of the resources in NC, assembled in a way that maxes out the benefits available to parents. Continue reading “$2000 Bachelor’s Degrees in NC”
I have 1 over-reaching principle that guides what type of college content I share with you, and the University of the People breaks my rule.
(1) Colleges I share must be Regionally Accredited – this one isn’t.
So, why keep reading? Because this college is worth knowing about, even if it isn’t the right fit for your teen. In this post, I want to make a case for the University of the People. You probably know someone who would love to attend college if cost weren’t a barrier. Perhaps this IS a degree your teen would consider? University of the People is a university doing amazing things, and they’re worth considering.
I have to go there, just for a minute. My first rule, that colleges mentioned must be Regionally Accredited (RA), is important within the context of what we do here because many careers and professions won’t acknowledge a degree that isn’t RA. Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, Accounting, public school K-12 teaching, Engineering, college teaching, Dietetics, Social Work, Architecture, and many others – including those that require a state license, almost always specify a “Regionally Accredited” degree. Being “accredited” without the word “Regional” is not the same thing. If your teen earns non-RA college credit, it will almost never transfer into an RA college (all community colleges and public universities are RA), while RA college credit readily transfers into other RA colleges. So, as you can see, you can’t go wrong choosing RA.
Let me also add that when I tell you a handful of careers specify an RA degree, there are twice as many careers that don’t/won’t. For instance, careers in business, computers, fire science, technology, military, ministry, drama, music, management, law enforcement, and numerous vocational programs (culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive, plus others) don’t care. In fact, within certain fields, accredited is accredited; there is no distinction. I am quite comfortable suggesting non-RA colleges to mid-career adults who are already in their career and simply need to check the box with an accredited degree in something. I’m usually quiet when it comes to non-RA degrees for teens since there is usually so much uncertainty, but in this post, I’ll let you decide.
University of the People is accredited, but they are not Regionally Accredited.
Quick Back Story
In 2009, UoP was a tuition-free startup in California that nobody heard of and a guy surrounded by a few volunteers. They offered one or two degrees initially, and since the college wasn’t accredited, they launched without much love from the higher education community. In addition, they only accepted a handful of students (mostly non-American), so even if you didn’t mind their lack of accreditation, you still might not get in. If you got in, you couldn’t transfer in ANY of your previous credit, they didn’t accept CLEP, and it was a little disorganized. An early argument against their initiative is that it’s just as much work to earn an unaccredited degree as an accredited one. I got the impression that they were a MOOC that wanted to be a college, and that they would fizzle out shortly (or start charging tuition). If you’d like to see what the NY Times had to say about UoP in 2009, you’ll enjoy this story from their archives.
February 2014 UoPeople received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a U.S. Department of Education authorized accrediting agency. This can be verified at http://www.deac.org/
So, this got people’s attention. In addition, they started getting a lot of support in the university community. Their list of volunteer university leadership includes:
- President of Duke University Richard H. Broadhead
- President of Boston University Robert Brown
- UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks
- Oxford Vice-Chancellor Sir Colin Lucas
- President Emeritus of Columbia University George Erik Rupp
- President Emerita of Barnard College Judith R. Shapiro
- President Emeritus of George Washington University Stephen Joel Trachtenberg
- President of the Rockefeller University and Nobel Prize laureate Torsten N. Wiesel
In addition to the added credibility of a real leadership team and accreditation, they expanded their degree offerings to their current menu:
Community Health Science
For those who don’t need a Regionally Accredited degree, this university just got real. University of the People is now considered a legitimate online university and is listed in the US Department of Education Database as accredited. Wow!
University of the People is the first worldwide tuition-free university. They are totally online (no room and board cost), provide your textbooks (electronically, so no shipping or rental fees), and don’t charge tuition. But, they do charge a test proctor fee ($100) at the end of each course for the final exam. In addition, if $100 is a financial hardship, they also offer scholarships! From their website:
It is the University’s mission to provide affordable, tuition-free education for everybody. UoPeople is tuition-free, not free. You will never be asked to pay for courses, course material or annual enrollment fees. There is a nominal $60 Application Processing Fee for all applicants as well as a $100 Exam Processing Fee for each exam ($200 for the MBA). Based on this, an associate’s degree can be completed in 2 years for $2060, a bachelor degree can be completed in 4 years for $4060, and an MBA can be completed in 15 months for $2460. UoPeople will never request these amounts upfront, but rather students will pay each Exam Processing Fee by the end of each exam period. These modest fees ensure that the University remains sustainable and can continue to provide quality education for everybody.
There are scholarships available for those students who cannot afford the nominal processing fees of the University. It is the University’s belief that everyone deserves the right to an education, and that no one should be left behind due to financial constraints.
(from UoPeople website) What Credits Are Accepted at UoPeople?
University of the People will consider transferring credits earned at accredited US universities and accredited universities outside of the U.S. UoPeople will also consider credits earned from College Board AP tests or evaluated by ACE (including CLEP).
UoPeople will consider accepting transfer credit for a course in any instance in which the course content is equivalent to that of one of UoPeople’s courses or in which the course may be used towards an elective credit in a UoPeople degree program. UoPeople may award the transfer of up to 50% of the required program credits.
Ok – so, let’s talk about transfer credit, and how this applies to my second rule:
Colleges I share must be open to high school homeschooled students – this one isn’t.
It’s true that as a homeschooled high school student, you wouldn’t be eligible for admission. (18 years old and a High School Diploma are required for admission) but with their new transfer credit acceptance policy, you can DIY 50% of this degree while you’re still in high school. For those seeking an Associate’s Degree, that allows for 30 credits of transfer, and for those seeking a Bachelor’s Degree, you’ll be allowed to transfer in 60 credits.
Let me add, that while they will accept credit into their program, it is unlikely that you’d get to transfer course credit out of their program into a different program. In other words, if you start there, finish there.
Last comment: this is not a self-paced independent study program. They have 3 terms per year, an academic calendar, application and graduation cycles – the whole thing. So, if you’re considering the program, you’ll have to verify the application period in advance.
DIY 30 or 60 credit transfer plans by request: I want to extend an offer to help any parent or teen match up the correct CLEP, AP, DSST, or ACE credits to align with the max allowable credit accepted by University of the People.
If you or your teen plans to attend, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message and we’ll get started.
Any degree plans we create will be shared here to help others.
If you’d like to hear from someone much smarter than I am, the founder of Univerity of the People, Shai Reshef, gives a TED talk about how higher education is changing “from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all.”
I have to share my correspondence with one of our Minnesota members. She has graciously agreed to let me post it here:
“With CLEP and PSEO (dual enrollment), I just calculated we are saving $96,780 at the University of Northwestern St. Paul.
1/3 of that is in CLEP alone: 32 credit hours, which is about $30,260. Then, two years free through dual enrollment which is another $30,260 X 2 =$60,520.
We are saving far more money by CLEPping and dual enrollment than we could get in scholarships. -Carol Lang Frisk
She’s not exaggerating, I pulled the numbers to share with you.
It’s -seriously- phenomenal. Read on…
2017–18 Tuition & Fees
- Meal Plan……………………………………………$3,700
- Technology Fee……………………………………..$260
- Health Services Fee……………………………….$124
- Activity Fee……………………………………………..$150
- Personal Expenses** …………………………..$2,120
- Books & Supplies** ………………………………..$600
It’s worth noting that the green items with ** indicate variable expenses you can control to some degree. (Does anyone else think the college has under-estimated the cost of books?) So, to be fair, let’s round down to $40,000 per year- just the cost Carol’s family will be BILLED.
Without smart planning, Carol and her daughter may have wandered onto campus and signed up for a $160,000 degree! Thankfully, she’ll found a way to bring that cost down closer to $40,000.
Secondary savings and benefits gained by Carol’s plan:
In addition to reducing tuition cost, this family will cut items #2- #9 on the list by at least two years! She won’t have to pay the meal plans, health services fees, technology fees, etc. if she’s not there!
A scholarship, while saving cost, doesn’t save TIME. Injecting college credit in high school is extra work, but it is saving this student a full 2 years off the TIME it takes to finish her degree.
Graduating 2 years earlier than her peers puts her into her career 2 years earlier, thus accelerating her ability to earn a supporting salary.
If entering the workforce isn’t in the immediate future, she has time to travel, volunteer, serve, or attend graduate school while her peers finish their undergraduate degree.
If she does take out a student loan, she’ll begin repayment 2 years earlier than if she attended a full 4 years- which saves 2 years worth of interest.
The average in-state public college costs about $40,000 for 4 years- they’ve found a way to attend a private college for the same price.
Using CLEP exams allowed Carol to choose appropriate homeschool curriculum that aligned with their family values while earning college credit.
Using CLEP exams allowed Carol’s daughter to move quickly through subjects she easily understood, and spend more time on those that gave her trouble.
Using CLEP exams and dual enrollment allowed Carol’s family to make credit accumulation a “pay-as-you-go” situation, which is ultimately the most affordable option for many parents.
How much did they spend? What exams did she take?
Carol shared that her daughter earned 45 CLEP credits, but this college only awards credit for 32. Here’s her list, cost, and reward:
16 credits Spanish CLEP ($100) This college awards up to 16 credits for the Spanish CLEP exam but requires the student to pass a second college based test for verification. This will give her credit in Spanish I, II, III, and IV. (note: most colleges award up to 9 credits)
4 credits World Religions DSST ($100) DSST is nearly identical to CLEP.
4 credits College Composition CLEP ($100)
4 credits Western Civilization CLEP ($100)
1 credit Here’s to Your Health DSST ($100)
3 credit (CLEP) to be determined ($100)
TOTAL INVESTMENT: $600
Parents who inject CLEP exams into their homeschool by using it as a “final exam” don’t really have that much extra added cost- they’re buying curriculum anyway, so the risk is in paying for an exam. Currently, CLEP exams cost $80 but a testing center typically charges about $20 for proctoring services, so it’s safest to budget $100 per exam.
Since exams usually award 3-6 credits, the $100 investment is well worth the risk! You’d have to fail the CLEP exam 5 or 6 times before it’s more expensive than the college class.
Have you thought about using CLEP or DSST to help offset college costs for your teen? If so, what’s your strategy? Do you have tips for getting the biggest bang for your buck? Share them below!
Reader D.M. sent me this lovely note:
“Hi. I just wanted to share a story with you. I have struggled to get my almost 15yo daughter interested in taking CLEP exams. This has recently changed! She is now obsessed with preparing. What has changed? She started the Dave Ramsey financial curriculum and I forwarded the blog post you wrote about Carol Lang Frisk. She is now hoping to take and pass three exams this summer. I hope this inspiration continues!”