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The Cost of Education and Online Solutions

Everyone who lives, breathes, and thinks knows that the cost of college or university education has increased geometrically over the last 30 years or so. The reasons for these rapidly increasing costs associated with obtaining a college or university education vary and probably are the fault of both the educational system as well as the state, to some degree. However, the reasons for the increase are a moot point since if one wants an education then whatever the costs are, they must be borne. One positive outcome within all this financial chaos caused by skyrocketing tuition and textbook sticker price is that educational alternatives are developing as a consequence and these are offering the student options that previously were not available.

So what are the costs increases in higher education in America? Well, 20 years ago the average community college cost approximately $320-$450 per semester or quarter which translates into approximately $640 to $900 in tuition per school year.

Books probably averaged between $20 and $30 and up to around $60 for some science and mathematics textbooks. Currently, Kim Clark writes in the U.S. News & World Report that students should expect to pay $90,000 for a four year degree completed in five years at an in-state, public institution. Translated, this means that the student can plan on $18,000 per year with approximately $8 to $12 thousand of that going for tuition and books. And textbooks have really begun to eat up a larger percentage of student expenses. While some classes such as English and humanities courses, offer myriad low price alternatives to expense textbooks, other courses, such as those in the hard sciences, can cost well into the hundreds of dollars. For example, a recent web search revealed that some medical school textbooks have topped $400 with Vaccines by Stanley A. Plotkin costing $407.99. Clearly this example is the extreme but it illustrates the massive across the board cost increases not only related to textbooks but to all expenses associated with higher education.

Many of the alternatives that have evolved as a consequence to these spiraling costs in higher education have been increasingly technology related and specifically associated with online education. A great many higher education alternatives have been introduced over the years that primarily concentrate on the online format and which, by virtue of their educational delivery model, allow students to work fulltime while attending college. This assures the student not only of maintaining their income levels but also the quality of life that they would prefer.

Some of these virtual universities are Cappella and the University of Phoenix but even traditionally formatted higher education institutions are pursuing online formats.
Since most traditional colleges and universities have introduced online solutions for some programs, this allows them to scale the educational delivery over a greater number of individuals serving to keep costs down since one instructor can now teach 100 students instead of just 20 or 30. Traditional universities such as Nova Southeastern in Florida now offer many graduate degrees completely online with the exception of annual colloquial meetings held on its main campus.

Additionally, the technology platforms that are being developed to support online education also offer cost-benefit advantages for traditionally formatted education programs because of their ability to reduce operating costs. For example, textbooks and reading material that would have been printed previously can now be distributed via email as a PDF document at little cost other than the licensing fee. Also, on campus services such as extensive research facilities can also be reduced because much if not most of this material is now available online. It is alternatives such as the online education delivery format and its associated technologies that is acting to curb the increasing costs of higher education and one in which the number of students availing themselves of this educational format and associated solutions, may soon outnumber the students tripping over themselves in their rush to get to classes in the traditional setting.













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