In 2020, many colleges all over the world closed their campuses. Students were asked to leave the dorms and classes were either suspended or moved online.
If you are one of the lucky ones with all your college classes having moved online, it’s best to stay focused and attend your online classes regularly. But there are also many colleges that have stopped classes temporarily and are planning to reopen the live, on-campus classes soon.
In such a scenario, many students and their parents are wondering if its worth taking the risk or if they are better off staying at home and simply stopping college for sometime. So what happens if you stop going to college?
In my opinion, it’s all a question of perspective.
From experience I can tell you that there are many ways you can continue at another college, online or by distance, without spending much money.
But if you feel stuck and cannot envision leaving your present college, then its probably best to speak with your college administrators and come up with a college plan that would work for you.
In this post, I will go over all the things you can do to continue at another college without any break in your studies and without spending much money out-of-pocket. Also, I will go over another approach by which you can stay enrolled in your current college and still earn some external college credits online.
The colleges I’m about to recommend in this post are known as degree completion colleges, or flexible colleges. They allow you to transfer an unlimited number of college credits from other colleges and provide many low-cost ways of earning all your remaining college credits with them.
For more information on the colleges and the whole process, take a look at these posts:
By switching to one of these flexible colleges, you will not lose anytime and can continue your remaining college courses online or by distance.
All of these flexible colleges offer online courses for most of the degree requirements. Alternately, you can find free-to-low-cost online courses and credit exams with Saylor, AP tests, MOOC courses and so on.
Many of these are eligible for college credits at the flexible colleges and can greatly reduce your remaining college tuition cost. I will discuss more about this in the subsequent sections in this post.
When moving colleges, you would also want your financial aid to move to your new college. Here are a few things you need to do for this to happen:
1) Get all your transcripts from your old college and be sure to settle any dues.
2) Inform your old college that you will be transferring to another college so they can return any remaining federal aid you were awarded back to the federal government.
3) List your new college/s among the 10 colleges included in your FAFSA application. If needed, replace some older entries with the new college names.
4) Apply for admission to your new college by giving them your FAFSA details and either submit your transcripts (or) request your old college to send them your transcripts.
5) Submit any new forms that your new college/s require for your financial aid.
Along with your transfer of credits, you new college will work out your financial aid package based on their reduced tuition, your aid eligibility and based on any college-specific financial aid they are able to provide.
In case you had any student loans, follow the same procedure and let them know so your old college can stop receiving your student loan monies. Get all your final college transcripts from them before enrolling at another college.
Also make sure to enroll into your new flexible college soon so that your student loan disbursements can continue without any disruption and so you don’t end up having to repay your loans before completing college.
Online Tuition Cost Per Credit
At the flexible colleges we’ve recommended, the tuition fee per credit is generally lower than most other colleges. So you might be able to afford the tuition cost and your financial aid will make things smoother.
Low-cost and Free Online Courses
Since flexible colleges allow you to take external online courses apart from the college’s own online courses, you can save even more money. For more information on low-cost courses and credit options, take a look at this post on Review of Free College Courses Online – And Others That Are Nearly Free!.
Staying with your College
If switching colleges is not an option and you want to graduate from your current college (though they do not have online courses at the moment), there is another alternate approach.
Just stay enrolled in your current college but let them know that you prefer online courses and will not be attending any on-campus classes this year.
Then start taking some online courses with Saylor, StraighterLine, Study.com and so on. Also discuss this option with your current college and find out if they will be able to transfer such external ACE-approved courses for college credits.
Credit Bank or Evaluation
If you are unsure about what to do but would like to find out more, another option is to order a credit bank report at one of the flexible colleges. Choose from one of these services to get this started:
This report will help document all your college-level learning till date so you can further decide if you want to switch to one of the flexible colleges or not. This report can also help with jobs or internships if you later decide to look for those, and the cost of the report is minimal.
College Choices and Comparison
Here I will highlight a few things about each flexible college to help you decide on the one that’s right for you. Though a bit high, Excelsior college, located in New York has uniform fees for in-state, out-of-state and even foreign students.
So you can enroll into Excelsior even if you’re out-of-state or an international student. However, Excelsior does have an annual student services fee and this will have to be paid every year until you complete your degree.
Empire State college in NY state does not have any annual services fee and their tuition fees for online out-of-state students is only slightly higher than it is for in-state students. Also the per-credit fee at Empire State is quite inexpensive.
With Thomas Edison State college in New Jersey, the flat rate tuition plan is quite inexpensive for both in-state and out-of-state students. There are also lower visiting student fees for 2020-2021 for students who are not enrolled into a Thomas Edison degree program but simply want to take a few online courses here.
Both Charter Oak and Granite State have excellent student services but Charter Oak also has a higher student services fee that needs to paid every semester. This is not the case with Granite State.
Also the out-of-state fees at Charter Oak is much higher than in-state student fees, and in comparison, this is not the case at Granite State. Charter Oak is located in Connecticut and Granite State is located in New Hampshire.
College Closings and Your Future
Colleges are going through tough times and there is a likelihood of many colleges closing down permanently due to the recent financial crunch and the pandemic. So it’s important for you to make independent decisions about your future and plan on completing college, graduate in a good time frame and then move on to a good career.
Your Study Environment
As for your study environment, the most important thing is your internet connection since a lot of your college work will be done online.
Here are a couple of low-cost internet programs for those who do not have an affordable internet connection:
If needed, you can purchase a low-cost and yet powerful laptop or chromebook. For this, take a look at this article on Student’s Best Laptop Buy For 2020.
If study space with a neat desk and chair is a problem, you can definitely get one for an affordable price on Craigslist or at a Goodwill store nearby. As for study materials and textbooks, you can order used textbooks on Amazon or with any of these affordable online textbook retailers.