I understand that the economy is horrible and many people are re-evaluating their current financial situations. Some decide to go back to school to get an education to work in a different field.
It is a sad, honest truth that a Bachelor's Degree is that magic key that unlocks the door of opportunity. My question is what is the cost? Please spare me the "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance" comment.
My husband had been considering enrolling in this online school for some time and decided to begin the enrollment process. DH was happy, almost elated when he found out he had been "accepted" without any transcripts from the previous colleges that he had attended. That's Red Flag #1.
Once the enrollment process had begun, these "counselors" began calling every other day to push to get him started by the May 22nd start date. Wow! Talk about the fast track. We had submitted the request through CTU for transcripts to be sent from the previous schools and military. Still the phone calls persisted. Red Flag #2.
The counselors told my husband to call the college directly to "expedite" the transcript process. I reminded him that it is May. People are graduating and the Registrar's Office is probably very busy. They get to requests when they can.
When the counselor's couldn't get the papers they wanted (even though we faxed in unofficial transcripts from the schools), they said he would have to start out as a freshman, and the adjustments would be made accordingly after everything was received. This would affect the amount of financial aid rewarded. My husband had completed 3 years of engineering courses at Wright State University and would probably lose everything, except some general ed courses. Red Flag #3.
All the while, I'm asking what the damage is going to be for this wonderful education that will allow him to make approximately the same amount he's currently making as a project manager. Their reply? That it is only $328 per credit hour. How many credit hours to complete the program? 180 hours. Do the math. That adds up to $59,040!!! Mind you this is only a bachelor's degree. No Masters, no PhD. Don't fear, there's a 5% discount for veterans. That's a whopping $2,952 savings or $16.41 per hour. Red Flag #4.
The phone calls kept coming and I listened in on a few of them. Most were one way conversations with my husband not being able to get a word in. Do you remember the "Micro Machine Man" back in the 80's? They sound like that. It reminded me of a high-pressure used car salesman. When my husband said he wanted to wait for the transcripts to come in so his academic status would reflect a sophomore status. Need I say #5?
This institution also operates on a quarter hour and not semester hour system. A new set of classes starts every 5.5 weeks. They get you in faster that way I suppose. The "counselors" were also telling my husband that all you have to do is go online and sign a Master Promissory Note and all will be taken care of. Yeah, right. It sure will. In addition to the freshman status, we would need to pay an extra $350 per month to make up for what the Stafford Loans don't cover. Can I hear #6?
These salesmen (I'm through calling them counselor's now.) don't tell you that student loan debt is the only kind of debt that you can't walk away from. You can neglect credit card payments, mortgage payments, car payments, and even your bills. You can never let a student loan go to default. Student loans are the only kind of "loan" that you can never walk away from. The only way to do that is to die without a cent to your name.
Not once did these salesmen mention that the price tag is almost $60K! Three hundred twenty-nine dollars sounds much better. Did I mention that books are also included? Also due to the current economic climate, most loan companies are taking out 2% off the amount borrowed amount and keeping it for themselves. Sounds great, huh? Here comes #7.
On the plus side, the financial aid office took my call directly and helped break down the dollars and cents of the program. I really did appreciate the time this lady took to help explain everything. For that honesty, she gets a gold star.
So, before you decide to go do an online school that advertises in popup ads on Google and Yahoo!, I hope you explore all your options with your local colleges and universities. Maybe there's in-state tuition, which is probably about half the cost of Colorado Technical University Online. Many schools are going online now and your options are going to be more reasonable than $60K for a bachelor's degree. There are other options out there for less and they're just as good, if not better.
Virginia Beach, Virginia