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Why a College Degree is More Affordable Than You Might Think

Why a College Degree is More Affordable Than You Might Think

You probably already know that a college degree can improve your life and open new career doors. Degree holders boast much lower unemployment rates, and earn more. In 2018, bachelor’s degree holders had median weekly earnings of $1,198, compared to $730 among high school graduates and $802 for people with some college under their belt. That means that, compared to a diploma, a degree offers $24,000 more in annual earnings. Over a lifetime, that adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

For many prospective students, recognizing the value of an education is not the challenge. It’s figuring out how to afford college. And this is especially true in the face of an economic downturn. Fortunately, college is a lot more affordable than you might think, and can be a great way for you to pursue a new career path once the market bounces back. That means if you’ve been contemplating a return to college, now may be a better time than ever before. 

SNU offers a vast array of resources to aspiring graduates to make school more affordable and the future of your dreams more attainable. Here’s how we do it. 

College as an Investment

When you’re applying to various schools, it’s easy to focus on the price tag alone. College is more than just another big expense, though. It’s an investment that offers a nearly inevitable high return. Compared to those without a degree, degree holders earn anywhere from $600,000 to $950,000 more in a lifetime. With the right job and a lot of hard work, you can earn much more. 

The earnings boost you get with a degree may be sufficient to quickly repay any loans you take out. The average college graduate has about $31,000 in student loan debt—a figure that’s much higher than the average at SNU. Even with this comparatively high figure, though, you could pay off your entire loan with less than two years of your increased earnings. 

In addition to a significant increase in earnings, some other benefits of a college degree include: 

  • Greater upward mobility. Many employers require a degree for certain positions. Even if you like your current company, you’ll climb the ladder faster with a degree. 
  • More options. No matter what the economy does, people with college degrees have more flexibility because more roles are open to them. In 2018, nine of 10 new jobs went to degree holders. 
  • More educational options. A bachelor’s degree is the prerequisite to many advanced degree options—law school, medical school, a master’s degree to become a therapist, an MBA, and so much more. If you think you might want to pursue more education in the future, get your college degree out of the way now. 

Of course, like most investments, it doesn’t matter how valuable a degree is if you don't have enough funds to cover the initial cost. The good news is that these options for affording college can help you pay for this most valuable of investments. 

Financial Aid Options

SNU believes that a college education should not be out of reach for any student. That’s why we help all applicants apply for aid and understand the risks and benefits of each option. For most students, a combination of federally subsidized loans and grants funds all or most of their college expenses. You can get aid to cover all of the costs of attendance—not just tuition and fees, but also books, housing, transportation, and similar costs. 

Your financial aid options include: 

  • Federal loans. These come in two forms. Subsidized loans mean that you don’t have to pay interest on the loan while you're in school. Unsubsidized loans accumulate interest as you attend classes, so they usually result in a higher total debt load and larger monthly payments. 
  • Grants. Students attending SNU are eligible for a number of grants that can fund a portion of their attendance costs. Pell Grants are federal, need-based grants while the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant is a state grant for which SNU students may be eligible. 
  • Scholarships. Students enrolling at SNU can apply for a scholarship. You may be eligible for a range of outside scholarships. Try checking with local organizations and businesses, especially those with which you already have a relationship, for more scholarship options. 
  • Employer tuition assistance programs. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement to staff who pursue degrees relevant to their jobs. Ask your employer about help paying for college. 

If you’re wondering how to pay for college, begin exploring your options with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application can help you access federal and state funding options, including grants and loans. 

Did you know there’s a variety of options for funding your degree besides  loans? Learn more in our new resource, The Complete Guide to Financial Aid.

Private Loans 

If your federal and state student aid package is not enough to pay for college, consider applying for a private loan. Private loans usually have higher interest rates, and your eligibility depends largely on your credit. Your loan will accrue interest while you are in school. However, these loans offer significant flexibility and rarely limit what you may use them for. Contact your bank or credit union to discuss your loan options. 

Interest rates are very low right now, making private loans an appealing option for people who do not get as much federal and state aid as they need. 

Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits 

If you have ever served in the military and have been honorably discharged, you are eligible for a wide range of VA education benefits. Most recent veterans are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which funds a significant portion of college tuition. You may also be eligible for other programs, including retraining, help relocating, and grants to fund additional educational costs. Our VETS Center offers extensive help to former soldiers, from people who have themselves served in the military. Contact us for help assessing your benefit options and applying. 

A Faster Track to Graduation 

No degree has a single price tag assigned to it. Instead, your costs depend on how much time you spend in school, because you’ll pay by the class. More time in school means higher tuition. You’ll also spend more on books and secondary expenses like transportation, childcare, and taking time off of work. 

The faster you graduate, the lower your total costs will be. You’ll also be able to get to work sooner, empowering you to make the most of your new earning potential. Prioritize educational institutions that help you graduate more quickly. At SNU, we work diligently to ensure you get transfer credit for all of your old coursework. We also offer prior learning credit for your lived, real-world experience. You can earn up to 30 hours of course credit with our assessment. That’s the equivalent of a year of college. 

Flexible Course Schedules

One of the biggest frustrations many students face is taking time off of work. This can slow their career trajectory if they plan to keep working for the same company after graduation. Even if you anticipate a career change, fewer hours at work means less money. If you have to pay extra for childcare and other related expenses, you might be facing a significant increase in your budget at a time when you have fewer financial resources. 

Flexible schedules mean that you don’t have to cut back your hours at work. At SNU, our online classes empower you to go to school on your own time—when the kids are asleep or at school, and after you’ve gotten all of your other work done. Adult students can also choose night classes that require just one night of commitment per week. 

These flexible schedules help you stay on track at school and in the rest of your life. That can mean a faster path to graduation, less overall disruption, and a lower total college bill. Because you won’t have to waste time and effort fighting traffic or managing the stress of juggling an overwhelming schedule, you may even earn higher grades. 

Why the Right School Matters

A college degree opens doors and lifts career ceilings. It offers significant security and makes you a smarter and more creative thinker. At SNU, we’re proud to be training tomorrow’s leaders to think critically and lead with integrity and insight. We’d love to help you explore your career options so you can live the life you deserve and make a difference in the world. 

Choosing the right school matters. Every learner deserves quality instructors, extra support, and a school with an exceptional reputation. As a regionally accredited University, we’ve earned the respect of educators and other universities. If you choose another school after SNU, your credits will transfer. And if you stay with us for the life of your college career, rest assured that employers will respect your SNU education. 

Financial concerns shouldn’t prevent you from attending school—particularly since college is often an antidote to financial woes. For help understanding your financial aid options, download our free guide, The Complete Guide to Financial Aid.

Download SNU's Financial Aid Guide

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