Hidden Costs of Online College
- Application Fees
- Technology Fees
- Home Computer Expenses
- Long-Distance Travel
- Tuition Variations
Online college classes often help students minimize their expenses. Learners avoid spending cash on dorm rooms or cafeteria meals. Peterson’s reports that they generally pay lower tuition rates and fees. Nonetheless, this type of education still can involve unanticipated costs. Remember not to overlook these five online college expenditures:
Many online universities expect potential students to pay $40 to $60 when they submit applications. You could spend a considerable amount of money without enrolling in a single class. For example, one well-known Minneapolis college charges $50. These nonrefundable fees serve a legitimate purpose; they help pay staff members to process applications. This expense also discourages frivolous applicants from wasting university employees’ time. Fortunately, some educational institutions offer to waive this charge for individuals with low incomes. It’s also possible to find a few colleges that let all prospective students apply for free.
2. Technology Fees
Although online universities save cash by eliminating physical classrooms, they need to spend more money on computer hardware and software. Sophisticated technology enables learners to communicate with instructors in real time and receive course materials via the Internet. Colleges also need to provide technical support by employing help desk personnel. Many institutions use technology fees to fund these services. Such charges range from about $30 to $250. Depending on the specific college, undergraduates might pay this fee on each semester, course or credit hour. You may receive a discount if you take several classes per semester.
3. Home Computer Expenses
On-campus students don’t always need to spend money on Internet access or personal computer equipment, but this is usually essential for online learners. Colleges normally expect them to have high-speed connections that support streaming video and large data transfers. People who travel frequently might pay extra for hotel Wi-Fi or cellular Internet access. Furthermore, students must own relatively new computers. Some institutions maintain detailed lists of hardware and software requirements. The good news is that several online colleges supply learners with compatible notebook PCs at no extra cost. A few universities provide tablet computers instead, according to the Open Education Database.
4. Long-Distance Travel
Many prospective students don’t realize that an online college may expect them to visit the campus and attend classes for three to eight days at a time. Some institutions only require undergraduates to do this once. Others want them to travel two to four times every year. If you choose a university in a distant locale, this could result in substantial spending on fuel, airfare or bus tickets. You may also need to claim vacation time at work. On the bright side, a number of colleges supply meals and housing for students who take these trips. Residencies also provide beneficial opportunities to meet instructors and fellow students in person.
5. Tuition Variations
Some online learners may not recognize that they pay higher tuition rates than necessary. Universities frequently charge extra when you only enroll in one or two classes at a time. Another potential problem is that students tend to qualify for fewer grants and scholarships when they take Internet courses. Although on-campus learners maintain an advantage in this regard, more aid becomes available to online students each year. Most scholarship providers only want to pay for high-quality education from legitimate institutions. If you need financial assistance, it’s crucial to choose a fully accredited online university.
Other potentially hidden expenses include residency, graduation, transcript and placement exam fees. Don’t just look at the major costs when you consider attending an online college. To select a university that truly provides an affordable education, be sure to carefully add up all of the fees and related expenses.