We know it, you know it: distance learning education is a smart move. Especially if you also have a job and family. Plus, distance learning can mean whatever suits you best. It can be a certificate, a skill training diploma, Bachelor's and Master's degrees, as well as other vocational courses.
But you might also wonder if an online programme is as cost effective as they say. Well, if you're serious about improving yourself in today's highly competitive job market, the costs of distance learning online need not be an inconvenience.
Think about it this way. If you make a list with all the things you don’t have to pay for as a student enrolled in a fully online distance learning programme (housing, transportation, etc.), the final costs are definitely lower compared to what you would have to pay for a traditional on-campus degree course.
Of course, you will still have to cover application, tuition, and registration fees, as well as the cost of course materials required by your programme. But even online universities have scholarships.
At the end of the day, and with our help, you’ll see that you can find the most affordable option for you. Here are a few main steps you should take:
1. Find affordable tuition fees
The best way to make sure you don’t stretch more than your pockets is to start by filtering the online programmes and universities according to tuition fees. There are plenty of affordable courses out there, which can give offer you quality training. For example, here are some universities that are prestigious but also offer affordable tuition fees for Masters and Bachelors:
- York University: fees start at 2,000 EUR/ year
- The Open University UK: fees start at 3,900 EUR/year
- Nottingham Trent University Online: fees start at 4,000 EUR/year
- University of Birmingham Online: fees start at 5,000 EUR/year
- University of Essex Online: fees start at 5,000 EUR/year
2. Choose only fully online programmes
When it comes to distance education, you usually have two main options: to go for a fully online degree or for a blended course. Thing is, with a blended course you will also be required to attend some meetings on campus. This involves travelling and accommodation costs. If you don’t feel that would suit your budget and commitments, select a programme which is exclusively taught online. Some examples of universities that offer fully online degrees are:
3. Look for financial aid from the school
Financial aid enables thousands of eligible students to schools, colleges, or universities of their choice. As a distance learning student, you are eligible to receive financial aid the same way as on-campus students.
To get it, you need to contact the university you are applying to. After you fill out and submit your application for financial aid (taking care to observe the deadlines), the university has to determine if you are eligible to be awarded the funds. The decision will be based on many factors including not only your earnings but your savings, investments, and any other sources of income you may have.
4. Look for merit-based scholarships
Many universities offer merit-based scholarships by considering only academic results and overlooking financial needs. For this kind of scholarship, you don’t normally have to apply, you will be awarded as an incentive. The better your academic profile, the more chances you have to get a merit scholarship at that university or college.
5. Consider a student loan
If you’re not eligible for financial aid, you can also apply for a student loan. Student loans usually offer more favourable rates than ordinary loans; an (easy) pay-back schedule tailored to your individual circumstances typically begins several months after you have completed your studies when the skills and knowledge you have gained put you in a better work placement.
All these details about the financial aspects of studies can make you forget why you want to continue your studies in the first place. That is why it’s important to remember that while finances are important, your development is what truly matters. Take a deep breath, reconnect with your purpose and you’re surely going to find the best way to make your online education possible and affordable.