Rhode Island Monthly Higher Learning 2014 : Page 10

available, and sometimes college-based aid is also offered. The estimated cost per year for a mid-range state university, like the University of Florida online, was $11,579 in 2013. This compares favorably to the cost of an out-of-state student living on campus at the University of Florida paying approximately $30,000 per year. However, a private university, like Northeastern, will cost you around $32,000 per year, or more than $125,000 total, to complete your bachelor’s degree online. While some of these options may seem like a bargain, you have to consider what you are missing out on with regard to campus resources. From academic support centers to peer interaction, libraries, research opportunities and professor access, there is a long list of things you give up when you pursue your degree online. Nevertheless, for students with a limited budget or those who need to work or stay home for health or family reasons, online education provides a terrific alternative. In the last few years, states and the federal government have been cracking down on for-profit colleges, many of which lured For-ProFit Colleges: Buyer Beware students in with sexy degree offerings like “game design” or “medical technology” and the promise of great job placement after graduation. In reality, most students found themselves saddled with enormous loans, unaccredited degrees and no job after graduation. Many of these institutions have now aban-doned their campuses and gone online to reduce costs and avoid government regulations. However, a new genre of ethical for-profit colleges appears to be emerging. It began with the University of Phoenix, which has gained widespread acceptance as a vehicle for busy professionals to obtain graduate degrees. Now Western Governor’s University is disrupting the for-profit landscape with a new model. WGU was the brainchild of eighteen governors in 1995 who sought to overhaul and expand higher learning in their states. The goal was to revolutionize education based on workplace competencies and to give individuals credit for mastering certain concepts via testing versus classroom time. One flat fee gives you access to as many courses as you can complete each semester. The result has been an online institution that now boasts more than 30,000 students, 77 percent of whom return after their first year (an unusually high number in the 10 RHODE ISL AND MONTHLY I HIGHER LE ARNING I 2014

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