The Many Ways an Online Program Saves You Money

iStudent Blog

When deciding whether to enroll in a graduate program, the financial considerations are no small issue. The total cost of graduate school can be more than just the money you plunk pay for tuition. If you opt for a face-to-face program or a hybrid program that combines online coursework with requirements to be on campus, you may incur costs for commuting or on-campus housing costs, childcare if you’ve got kids, and the money you’ll need to support yourself if you need to cut back or leave your current job in order to attend classes.

With the SJSU School of Information’s completely online program, some of these financial concerns become non-issues. As you’re considering the full cost of earning your degree, here are a few reasons to consider the cost-saving benefits of a fully online program.

No Commuting Costs
You can live anywhere in the world and still be enrolled. The commute is suddenly shortened to walking from your bedroom to the computer in the living room, or maybe as far as your front door to the local library or café. Commuting costs money, in terms of the cost of gas, and general wear on your vehicle as well as daily parking fees or parking permits. If you have to take public transportation, then that could cost you a bundle as well. Even if you end up enrolling in an online program that requires a brief on-campus residency, you could incur substantial travel costs, plus other expenses when you are away from your family and job.

There’s also the cost of your time—commuting by car, by foot or by train takes time. I actually live close enough to San Jose where I could feasibly drive down to campus, but the commute traffic between home and the Silicon Valley is brutal at the best of times, and my life is plenty full with three part-time jobs and a family with three full-time kids. The wear and tear on my slippers is nothing compared to what a toll physically going to school would take on my car and my nerves.

You Can Afford to Keep Your Current Job
Many students keep their jobs while working on their degrees, which means future and present financial stability, not having to live off their savings while they go to graduate school or have the burden of large student loans looming over their heads. Many iSchool students benefit from keeping their current job while enrolled in the program, receiving promotions once they’ve completed their degrees. No need to give up a job you love so you can work on your master’s degree.

I’ve juggled it so I can still teach my dance classes one night a week and do my classwork the other nights, after the kids go to bed. If I’m in a pinch and I need some extra time, then I hire a babysitter to look after my small people, but online classes make it flexible enough so that I don’t have to put the kids in costly and regular daycare programs while I go to class.

Recent exit surveys of graduating students report that more than 75% of information school students work either full time or part time. If you have to travel as part of your job, then an online program allows flexibility to work with travel schedules—something you can’t do if you have to be in class.

Fewer Textbooks—Better for Your Bank Account and the Environment
Most courses require that you purchase textbooks, but there are digital versions available for many texts. Online sources and downloadable pdfs are provided by instructors as well, not to mention the nearly endless number of resources available through the King Library. Since you won’t need to print out those term papers, you’ll also be saving the cost of printer paper and ink, as well as a few trees. Turning in papers and projects at the information school means simply attaching a digital files and submitting it to a dropbox in our learning management system. Digital formatted textbooks and online submissions are not unique to the School of Information, but they are one more cost you won’t have to consider as those incidental costs start to add up.

A Flexible Schedule– Priceless
It takes a bit of planning and discipline to stay on task with my coursework, but it is totally manageable if I don’t have to be anywhere at any specific time or sit in a classroom for hours—I’m antsy by nature and have trouble sitting still for any length of time. So even if I’ve got a synchronous class session scheduled (some iSchool instructors require a few of them—you can check this on the course schedules when you sign up for classes) you can still shift around in your seat, get up to refill your coffee cup or ice cream bowl, or tell your kids to go back to bed without disturbing the class—just make sure your headset microphone is off. My class discussion postings and readings frequently go with a snack and my favorite music playing. Then I go pick up the afternoon carpool.

Current student Carina Castellanos was able to start her graduate program at the School of Information two months after having her second child—a nearly impossible feat if she had to attend classes in person. She juggles a job, part-time classes and motherhood. “Working full time, going to school part time and spending time with my kids is not easy,” Castellanos admits, “but I’m glad the classes are online, saving me travel time.”

Most professors are understanding of busy schedules and different time zones, so there aren’t usually very many mandatory online live sessions to attend, if any at all. SJSU iSchool student Lisa Sternberg is not only impressed with the school’s flexibility with an online program, but with its excellent reputation as well. “I have never heard of such a flexible program that is also so effective.” And she would know. Her husband has worked in libraries for over a decade and says that the system in which he works has hired dozens of SJSU graduates.

Taking classes on your schedule, without moving, commuting or quitting your job makes an online program like SJSU’s School of Information both flexible and more affordable.

What do you think the best money-saving part of an online program is?

For related articles, check out:

Another Way to Pay for School—Be a Student Assistant

A Record Year For Scholarships at SJSU’s School of Information

Life + Work + School—How Can I Get it All Done?

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

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