As one of the most common requirements to be employed in any salaried position, a bachelor’s degree opens opportunities in almost every industry. The number of individuals with bachelor’s degrees has soared since 1940, increasing from 4.6% to 32% of the population age 25 and over in 2015. In addition to having increased job opportunities, bachelor’s degree holders also have more resilience to fluctuations in the job market and the economy: at the peak of the 2008 recession, bachelor’s degree holders had a 5.9% unemployment rate compared to 17.9% for high school graduates. If you want to build a career that will eventually get you to a mid or senior level position while providing long term job security, then a bachelor’s degree is probably the best place to start.
What Can You Do With an Online Bachelor’s Degree?With an online bachelor’s degree you can do almost anything. Below are the Top 5 highest paying jobs for people with a bachelor’s degree. This is just a small sample of the possibilities that will be open to you.
5 Highest Paying Jobs for People With a Bachelor’s Degree
Dollars and CentsTraditionally you need 120 credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. If you multiply your school’s cost per credit hour by the number of hours it takes to get a degree, you will get a number that roughly approximates how much your bachelor’s will cost. However, there are a number of costs and fees that students may forget to consider when calculating the price of an education. Outside of your cost per credit hour, here are some other expenses to keep an eye on:
|Estimated Maximum per Semester$800||Estimated Minimum per SemesterFree|
|If you buy your textbooks new each semester, you can sometimes pay up to several hundred dollars for a single book. This can quickly add up to well over a thousand dollars per year. Luckily, most bookstores offer used textbook sales or even textbook rental programs. Using a combination of these methods you should be able to keep your book expenditures to a reasonable level.||For the truly frugal, you can get away with not buying your books, though this can often times make classes difficult. Your school library should have versions of your textbook available on loan. These are often checked out very quickly though. If they don’t have the book, check if they have an earlier edition. You can also see if you have any close friends that have taken the class previously and will be willing to lend or give you their book. If all else fails, you can ask a classmate to borrow their copy.|
|Estimated Maximum per Semester$150||Estimated Minimum per SemesterFree|
|If you do not live on campus, you will likely want to pay for a home internet service. These prices vary depending on your location and the speed of service you want, but on the high end they often max out around $150. ISPs usually offer discounted services for new subscribers though, and you should be able to get internet for around $20/month if you do a little research.||If you live on campus, you should have access to wi-fi in most on-campus locations. The fee for this service is included in your housing and facility fees. If you live off campus, you can use your public library to get free internet. If there is not a convenient library nearby, you can use the internet at a coffee shop, but be aware that you will have to purchase something and that cost can quickly add up.|
|Estimated Maximum per Semester$1,500||Estimated Minimum per SemesterFree|
|It is hard to provide a definitive figure for potential housing costs, because they vary significantly depending on your location. If you live on-campus, your housing will be covered in your room and board fees. If you live off-campus, you shouldn’t be paying more than $1,500/month as individual. If you live with roommates you can significantly lower this cost to several hundred dollars per month.||It is possible to get your housing costs down to zero, if you can find a friend or relative that will let you live in their home for free. This is easiest to do for online students who live with a relative or for campus students who attend their local university and have a relative living nearby. Keep in mind that for many young students, college is exciting because it is their first chance to live away from home. If that is important to you, you should look into affordable housing options.|
|Estimated Maximum per Semester$725||Estimated Minimum per Semester$15|
|If you live off-campus and commute by car, you may be spending up to $725/month after insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs. Though having a car is a convenient luxury, you may want to consider forgoing it. Look into biking, walking, ride-sharing, or public transportation as a means of getting around. Using these methods can easily bring you transportation costs under $100/month.||If you can find a housing situation that allows you to walk to campus and walk to a grocery store, you can cut your transportation budget to almost zero. If you are an online student and don’t need to travel to campus, try and find housing that has everything you need within walking distance. It’s not realistic to expect to never spend any money on transportation, but with careful planning you can make these costs very low.|
|Estimated Maximum per Semester$200||Estimated Minimum per Semester$0|
|Medical bills, auto accidents, traffic tickets, deaths in the family, all these expenses can come unexpectedly and put students in a situation where they are scrambling for money. Ideally you can put away between $100 and $200 every month to help offset the costs of emergency expenses.||You can also take the risk of not saving for these types of incidents. Many students get through their education without ever experiencing an emergency situation, or they rely on family to help them out in the event of an emergency. This is a personal decision and may be an expense you forgo if you are on a tight budget.|
The Quickest, Cheapest Path To a Bachelor’s
|Why it’s important||College admission officers heavily weigh ACT and SAT scores when reviewing applications, and individuals who score higher will find that they are eligible for a wider range of schools. These scores are also taken into account when students apply to scholarships and other types of financial aid, meaning high test scores can help them cut tuition costs.|
|Associated Costs||Registration Fees:
Test Prep Fees:
Getting Credits (AP scores)
|Why it’s important||
Earning college credit early on can help ease the costs and time spent completing a bachelor’s degree program. One way to do this is by testing out of colleges courses through the Advanced Placement Program (AP), the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. All of these options work similarly, but for brevity’s sake, we will explore only the first one in detail.
Almost all US colleges and universities award credit and/or placement for qualifying AP scores, allowing students to bypass introductory college courses or fulfill a general election requirement. Students who get a head start on college with AP credits will ultimately end up investing less time and money in earning their degree. To see your prospective college’s policy on AP credits, visit the AP database here.
|Associated Costs||Registration fees:
Advanced Placement courses are usually offered through all private and public high schools at no additional charge; the fee for each exam is $92.Test prep fees:
Students can purchase AP test guides to help prepare for the exam. They may cost anywhere from $10-$30 per subject.Sending scores:
Students get one free score send by designating a college/university on the AP registration sheet. It costs $15 to send scores to any additional colleges/universities. Rush processing costs $25.Ways to Reduce Costs
Getting Credit (Community College)
|Why it’s important||
Another cost-effective way to earn credit towards your bachelor’s degree is through community college courses. An increasing number of outgoing high schoolers opt to earn their associate degree at an affordable two-year college, then transfer the credits towards their bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution.
Students also have the option of starting their college studies even earlier by taking individual classes at a local community college while still in high school. Students can attend courses on the weekends and in the evenings, and many high schools programs allow students to commute to a nearby community college during the day to attend class.
The average cost of yearly tuition and fees at a public two-year college (for in-district students) is $3,347. Comparably, the annual tuition and fees at a public four-year college (in-state students) comes to around $9,139.Course materials:
According to NACS, students in 2013 spent an average of $79 for each required college textbook (new), although this price varies depending on the course subject. Other material costs that may be factored in include technology such as laptops and USB drives.Transportation:
Students should consider the costs of commuting to and from a local community college.Ways to Reduce Costs
Finding the Cheapest School
|Why it’s important||Ideally, students should be able to go to whichever college or university they believe will best help them excel. However, relocating to an expensive city or attending a private college may not be feasible for students on a budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for individuals seeking a good education at an affordable price.|
|Associated Costs||College Counselor:
Most schools offer a designated college counselor to help you with your admissions. However, if you feel you are not getting enough attention, there are a number of private firms that offer admissions counseling for a price.
|Ways to Reduce Costs||
|Why it’s important||In 2012, the average cost of a college application fee was $37.88, with the most expensive application (Stanford University) setting students back a hefty $90. These fees add up, especially considering some 32% of incoming freshmen report filling out seven or more college applications.|
|Ways to Reduce Costs||
Of course, one way to avoid racking up application fees is by applying to fewer colleges. Some students also take advantage of the Common Application, a college admission form that can be used when applying to multiple participating colleges and universities.
The Common App can be filled out once and submitted to multiple schools. Currently, more than 600 higher education institutions accept the Common App. Undergraduates and transfer students can search the site’s database to see if their prospective school falls on the list.
Maximum Credit Loads
|Why it’s important||Colleges usually set a limit on the number of courses or credits students take each semester, however, students can sometimes waive this limit to take extra classes, minimizing the amount of time spent meeting credit requirements for graduation. Some students manage to shave off an entire semester or more by maximizing credit loads. This results in massive savings on tuition, course material, and room & board.|
|Associated Costs||Some colleges may charge a fee for going over the maximum credit load. Students should talk with their college advisor to determine if such fees apply at their school.|
Living Frugally while in School
|Why it’s important||Many students in college are living on their own for the first time, and may not have yet mastered the craft of money management. Fortunately, there are several ways to cut costs of day-to-day expenses while attending school.|
|Ways to Reduce Costs||
|Why it’s important||Graduation commencements are a great way for students to celebrate the end of their college careers. However, many students may be unaware of the fees that are often tacked on during the process of graduating.|
|Associated Costs||Grad fees:
Some schools require students to pay a fee when they submit their application for graduation. For example, Iowa State charges a $75 fee which covers the costs of the commencement ceremony, diplomas and covers, mailing of diplomas (for students who do not attend the commencement), and a final audit of the degree completion.Ensemble:
Students may also have to rent or purchase a cap, gown, tassel, and other regalia in order to walk during the graduation ceremony. The package usually costs around $40.Ways to Reduce CostsIn many cases, students who want to receive their diploma will find that graduation fees are unavoidable. However, they can avoid extra charges by making sure all fees are paid by the given deadline.
|Why it’s important||After graduating college, many students end up relocating. This could mean moving back to their respective home states or relocating for a new job. Either way, the costs of moving add up, and can add strain on an already stressful situation.|
|Associated Costs||Transporting items:
Students manage to accumulate a lot of stuff throughout their four years of college, and naturally, moving it all can become a costly undertaking.
|Ways to Reduce Costs||
Upgrading From an Associate Degree
A two year degree provides opportunity to get the credentials to enter a field and gather experience before investing in a bachelor’s degree. If you have earned your associate, you’re already halfway to your bachelor’s! Going back to school to get a four year degree is an excellent way to increase your earning power, opportunities for promotion, and marketability. On average, those with a bachelor’s earn 26% more than those with an associate degree. Check out the difference in pay for associate and bachelor’s in these common fields
|Field||Associate Pay||Bachelor’s Pay|
The work experience that many associate graduates posses puts them in a strong position to gain admission to schools that might have been initially out of their reach. A strong resume demonstrating dedicated to progress towards a specific career goal is very appealing to admissions officers. In addition, because you will have already completed the majority of your general education requirements and may qualify for credits based on work experience, you will be able to get through school quicker and for less money than a traditional student. Online programs are especially convenient for associate degree holders, as they allow you to continue working while earning your degree on a flexible schedule.
Affordable Schools With Online Bachelor’s Programs
University of Florida
|Value Score 8.37||
For more than 160 years, the University of Florida has established its reputation as one of the region's most prestigious research institutions. The school offers 300 majors across more than 12 schools and colleges, and is the only school in the U.S. to house six health-related colleges on the same campus. Distance learners at UF have more than 100 online programs to choose from, spanning undergraduate and bachelor's completion degrees, as well as master's, doctoral, and specialist programs. The UF campus is the main site of the Florida Museum of Natural History, the largest of its kind in the southeast and one of the 10 best university museums in the U.S. The campus also hosts more than 1,000 students clubs and organizations.
Visit School Website
University of Central Florida
|Value Score 7.45||
University of Central Florida operates more than 12 locations across the central region of the state, including its main campus in East Orlando. The school is the first in the nation to offer a fully online master's degree in industrial engineering with a specialty in healthcare systems engineering. Distance learners complete all coursework asynchronously through the university's own Webcourses@UCF learning management system. The online LMS at Central Florida features extensive module previews and tutorials for prospective students, as well as a live-chat option. On-campus services include a focus on student health and wellness -- offering primary healthcare, psychiatry, and dental services to a student population of more than 63,000.
Visit School Website
Fort Hays State University
|Value Score 7.17||
Fort Hays State University is located in historic Hays, KS, situated halfway between Denver and Kansas City. The campus sits on 200 picturesque acres and includes seven student housing facilities for a resident population of nearly 4,800. Among numerous undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates, the university offers more than 20 online degrees developed specifically for adult learners through its Virtual College. Distance learners at the school can take advantage of affordable online tuition rates; the Virtual College boasts prices among the lowest 2% nationally. Named for the school's Victor E. Tiger mascot, Fort Hays offers hundreds of student services and resources through an exclusive TigerLink portal, managed by the Division of Student Affairs.
Visit School Website
Florida International University
|Value Score 6.84||
Florida International University encompasses two major campus locations in West Miami-Dade County and North Miami Beach. Since its inception in 1969 as one of the nation's leading research institutions, FIU has remained Miami's first and only public research university to offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. It is also the city's largest university, with a student population of more than 50,000. The school has offered online learning programs since 1998; FIU Online now features at least 14 fully online degrees and dozens more available in blended format. As of 2012, more than half of all FIU students had taken at least some online classes, and hundreds of faculty had taught distance learning courses during the academic year.
Visit School Website
University of Memphis
|Value Score 6.68||
The University of Memphis encompasses two campuses: one in Memphis and the other, University of Memphis Lambuth, in Jackson. The main UM campus spans 1,607 acres and offers eight residence halls, including family-friendly housing, to a student body of more than 20,000. Online programs include more than 15 fully online degrees and certificates at both undergraduate and graduate levels. University of Memphis students enrolled in online-only programs are eligible for a special eRate, or discounted tuition fee. On campus, the school offers 19 different intercollegiate sports for its student-athlete population of more than 400, and competes as an NCAA Division I institution among the highest level of national competitors.
Visit School Website