According to a statistical study on the educational attainment of Americans, only 37.5% of the population have completed their studies at a higher education institution. One of the factors that could potentially be affecting the number of people pursuing higher education after they receive their high school diplomas is the cost of enrolling in a college or university.
Higher education in the US costs thousands of dollars making it simply unaffordable for many people. Reasonably, those who cannot afford higher education feel discouraged to complete a degree. Those who do enroll in higher education, despite being in a tight financial situation, often end up getting a student loan which puts them in a deep debt even before they begin to earn a livable wage from getting a higher education diploma.
But with the pandemic pushing the educational institutions to move to remote learning, more students are given access to enroll in higher education as tuition fees drop to significantly lower rates. Digital learning has enabled a more affordable higher education because of the following:
Lower-Cost Online Higher Education Programs
For years, the cost of traditional bachelor’s or master’s degree programs continued to rise until it reached the point of outpacing inflation itself. This has made many people, even those belonging to middle-class families, opt out of this vital steppingstone in achieving a successful career. With online education, however, many educational institutions have offered more affordable courses to facilitate the students in completing their education despite the pandemic.
Instead of the average tens of thousands of dollars that costs students when they enroll in traditional college education, people can now get a higher education diploma for no more than $10,000. Some institutions have even waved their tuition fees to encourage more students to enroll in their online classes. Even in the new normal, online classes continue to be offered by various colleges and universities allowing more people to complete their higher education.
Because remote learning can be done in any space that is considered conducive for learning, many students have gone back to their hometown or stayed at home to attend their classes instead of having to pay their monthly dorm or boarding house rent. Not only are students able to significantly cut back on this expense but they can also save on commuting fees as they don’t have to leave home every day to attend their classes anymore. Educational materials are also accessible and distributed electronically and even though some apps or software incur fees, the cost is still much lower than purchasing newly printed books to serve as the students’ reference materials.
Moving the learning venue from the university or college to the individual homes of the students as well as the educators has enabled even greater savings, especially on overhead costs of higher education institutions. College savings plans, which are tax-free, are now also being made available for higher education students as subsidized by government sectors.
Flexible Credit Transfer Options
One of the main benefits that online learning offers in terms of cost-effectiveness is its flexibility in allowing students to transfer their credentials from previous courses they’ve taken whether in the same institution or not. Most traditional colleges require students to request for their credits to be manually assessed and transferred by the respective administration in the university. Although the process is the only main difference, traditional colleges still entail more cost because of the overhead expense required in housing an office, paying the staff who had to process them such as pulling out the necessary documents, and other cost-incurring processes.
Because online learning has migrated almost everything from daily lessons to massive databases on electronic programs, retrieving data is much easier and more time-efficient. This leads to an easier process ultimately reducing the overhead costs which therefore makes credit transfers more affordable for students.
Finally, the pandemic has pushed many higher education institutions to encourage more students to complete their degrees despite the adversities by allowing more courses from their previous programs to be credited under the current program they are in. With this, more students can finish their schooling at a faster rate and they are able to save on the number of courses they’d have to take as well. For example, instead of a student having to pay for five courses to get his diploma, two of his previous courses got credited and now, he only has three more to go instead of five.
Online learning is in fact more cost-effective than traditional learning for the reasons stated above. To truly level the playing field and make higher education accessible for even more people, several approaches must be deployed including modern technology integration, faster internet connection, continuous power supply, regular maintenance, and efficient administration of distance learning. By making the online learning option for higher education more efficient, the costs of enrolment could be further reduced allowing more people to finally complete their higher education.