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Affordable Online Liberal Studies Degrees

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Earning a bachelor’s degree online can be an affordable option for prospective college students. In particular, the unique competency-based education and session-based tuition offered by the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) for their online Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) degree programs can equate to substantial savings. For the working professional, these financial considerations can be important factors when figuring out how to pursue educational and professional goals.

What Are the Cost Savings of Earning a Degree Online?

In general, there are a number of ways in which online education can save students money compared to traditional campus-based degree programs. It may be simplest to identify the hidden costs inherent to many traditional programs:

  • Opportunity cost — lost earnings and missed opportunities while attending school
  • Transportation costs
  • Childcare costs
  • Moving costs
  • Increases in cost of living if moving to a more expensive locale

In the online education model, students can continue working, fulfilling family obligations and living where they choose. Online students can complete coursework wherever and whenever they want, according to their schedule. All of this can equate to avoiding much or all of the above hidden costs of attending college.

What Makes UMPI’s Online BLS Programs Unique?

UMPI is the college for adult learners who may have already mastered some subjects through work experience, prior education or even self-study. Students enrolled in UMPI’s online BLS degree programs progress through course requirements at their own pace due to this program’s competency-based education (CBE) design. CBE refers to course completion requirements based on proven mastery of subject matter as opposed to specific course duration and assignment completion.

Degree candidates who already have mastery of a course subject can complete that course by demonstrating competency in that subject, regardless of pace of studies. Determined students may be able to complete the entire bachelor’s degree program in as few as 12 months.

The tuition structure of UMPI’s online BLS programs is also unique. Tuition is charged at a flat rate of $1,400 per eight-week program session, regardless of how many courses students take each session. This tuition system can work particularly well for students who wish to save money while accelerating degree completion.

How Does UMPI’s Online BLS Program Design Represent Cost Savings?

This program’s combination of flat-rate tuition per session and CBE allows students to save money by completing as many courses per session as they are able. For example, if a student completes only one (three credit hour) course during a program session, they would effectively pay about $467 per credit hour. On the other hand, a student who completes five courses within a session would effectively be spending only $93 per credit hour.

Now compare this to the average national cost per credit hour of $594 (according to a study from Student Loan Hero based on Department of Education tuition data). Clearly, UMPI’s online BLS programs’ combination of CBE and $1,400 flat-rate tuition per program session can equate to substantial savings. Plus, the residual cost of student loan interest can effectively add 20% to average credit hour cost, further compounding this potential cost difference between tuition structures.

Many factors inherent to online education can contribute to substantial cost savings for students. These factors, in combination with the above unique aspects of UMPI’s online BLS program design, can help make bachelor’s degree attainment a financially realistic prospect for working professionals and parents alike.

Learn more about UMPI’s online Bachelor of Liberal Studies programs.


The Lending Tree: Study: Here’s How Much College Credits Actually Cost

The Washington Post: College’s Hidden Costs: What the Admissions Office Doesn’t Tell You

Forbes: Do the Math: How Opportunity Costs Multiply Tuition

Peterson’s: Is the Cost of a Graduate Degree Worth It?

U.S. News & World Report: 4 Reasons Online Learning Works Well for Working Adults

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