NORCROSS, Ga., April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A college education can easily be the most significant investment a person makes. However, anxiety over rising tuition costs is forcing many college applicants to pursue more affordable alternatives such as distance education — and institutions like Ashworth College are eagerly "opening their doors."
According to the College Board’s 2008 Trends in College Pricing study, tuition at public four-year institutions has risen by 4.2% per year over the past decade, leaving the average graduate more than $19,000 in debt. For the same student living away from home, housing costs, fees and textbook prices drive that number even higher. By comparison, an online bachelor’s degree from Ashworth can cost up to 46% less than a traditional college.
Economic impact on higher education
In today’s competitive global economy, a college degree is more important than ever. Most professional jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. In addition to record applications from graduating high school seniors, colleges are also experiencing an influx of professionals returning to school as a result of the economic downturn.
"When the economy suffers, many professionals return to school in hopes of becoming more valuable to their current employer," stated Dr. Milton Miller, Vice President of Education at Ashworth College, (http://www.ashworthcollege.edu) a world-wide leader in distance education. "Others are seeking re-training as a result of a layoff."
"We are seeing an increase in programs traditionally considered ‘recession-proof,’" he added. "Health care, technology, and legal studies programs are consistently popular. Even those in the skilled trades see the long term value in additional training."
Paying for college has become more challenging
Historically, there have been many ways to pay for a college education — a savings account built up over time, scholarships, grants and loans, to name a few. Unfortunately, many families counting on investments have experienced significant reductions in value. Now, these students are facing stiff competition for scholarships and loans.
While the new Economic Stimulus Package earmarks funds for higher education, it assumes families can make the upfront tuition payments in order to receive the tax credit. And in spite of an infusion into the federally funded Pell Grant program, competition will be stiff.
Given the current economic state and competition for limited financial resources, families are increasingly seeking more affordable alternatives to a traditional college education, such as online education.
Distance education as a viable alternative
Online schools are much more cost effective than traditional academic institutions for a number of reasons. There are no multi-million dollar campuses to construct and maintain, so the cost savings is passed to the student. Students can also save money by eliminating commuting costs, on-campus housing and childcare fees. In addition, accelerated degree options enable students to greatly reduce the time and expense required to complete their education.
As online education continues to gain in popularity (more than 3.9 million students took at least one online course in 2007), institutions like Ashworth College provide programs to recent high school graduates as well as working professionals wanting to continue or advance their education, sometimes while balancing family and career.
"In difficult financial times people are creative with their choices. Distance education is a highly effective way to earn a degree or learn new job skills," said Michael P. Lambert, Executive Director of the Distance Education and Training Council. "Not only are online education programs significantly less expensive, because study is self-paced, students can easily attend full-time or study part-time and hold down a job."
For parents and prospective students currently evaluating schools, Deepa Chadha, Ashworth College Director of Degree Programs also identified several areas where distance education schools like Ashworth College tend to excel over traditional institutions, including:
"Attending college online isn’t the same as sitting in a classroom and directly interacting with an instructor and other students," advised Chadha. "However, the benefits of being completely in control of your education make distance learning institutions such as Ashworth an attractive option for today’s students."
About Ashworth College
Ashworth College, a worldwide leader in distance education, offers students more than 100 career-focused high school, career school, associates, bachelor’s and master’s diploma and degree programs that are affordable and fit into their otherwise busy schedules.
Headquartered in Norcross, GA, Ashworth is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) and Ashworth High School is further accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA). For more information visit http://www.ashworthcollege.edu/about/news/.