Getting Value for Your Education Dollar

Aug 15, 2011 by University Communications

One of the Great Falsehoods that we in distance education frequently encounter is the myth that a quality higher education comes only at an exorbitantly high financial cost. For years, skeptics have questioned how California Southern University can offer its online degree programs at a fraction of the tuition charged by traditional on-campus schools. These folks equate quality with cost and, by extension, assume that a low tuition portends low quality.

Let me correct this misconception. CalSouthern has offered bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs of the highest quality for a reasonable tuition since the inception of our university more than 33 years ago.

Here’s how we do it:

CalSouthern’s degree programs are 100-percent online, so our operating costs are lower than those associated with on-campus education of comparable quality. We don’t have a large campus, with scores of buildings to maintain or vast grounds to tend to. We don’t have tens of thousands of students to physically accommodate, under-utilized classrooms and laboratories, a campus security force, parking structures, or costly sports teams. Nor do we have overpaid, tenured faculty who work eight hours a week, 32 weeks a year. These all represent expenses that are passed along by on-ground colleges to their students in the form of high tuition.

For example, at most exclusive, private, non-profit, campus-based universities, tuition ranges from $700 per credit to more than $2,000 per credit. Some private schools are so expensive, they won’t even list their tuition cost by credit or course, and instead list only total yearly cost. At these colleges, an undergraduate degree often costs $40,000 or more in tuition per year. Master’s degrees range between $50,000 and $100,000 in total tuition, while doctorates start at approximately $75,000—and often are far more expensive. Most law degrees are upward of $100,000 in total tuition cost.

And remember, the above tuition costs do not include living expenses, travel to attend classes on campus, or the time lost when you aren’t able to get into required courses. To account for these costs, add another 30 percent to the tuition and you’ll begin to appreciate just how expensive—and exclusive, with only the rich affording the price tag—campus-based education has become.

CalSouthern’s accredited, online degree programs offer a far more economical alternative. Our undergraduate tuition is just $6,000 per year (24 credits). The master’s degree programs are affordable, as well—for example, the MBA program costs less than $12,000 in total tuition. CalSouthern’s law program is just $290 credit. Our doctoral degrees cost less than $20,000 in total tuition. Price is clearly one benefit at CalSouthern.

Another is quality. CalSouthern is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission. WASC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

We’ve been designated as a military-friendly school and are authorized to accept military tuition assistance and VA benefits so that service men and women—and veterans—from all branches of the U.S. Military can attend CalSouthern.

We also value our learners’ well being. CalSouthern, by our own choice, has kept our tuition low so our students don’t have to depend on governmental financial aid, perhaps borrowing tens of thousands of dollars (or more), and finding themselves facing life-long debt (and the back-breaking cost of the interest required to service that debt) in order to pay the high cost of traditional education. For more than three decades, we have maintained a successful pay-as-you-learn policy than makes it sensible and affordable to attend CalSouthern.

CalSouthern delivers convenient monthly course starts, with eight-week courses that allow you to progress quickly through your program. You’ll benefit from faculty who are gifted educators as well as leaders in their fields, and who will mentor you via one-on-one, personalized instruction. Perhaps most important, you’ll be supported by a CalSouthern community that measures its performance by your satisfaction and success.

CalSouthern was founded in 1978 as a pioneer in distance learning, and has developed a leading, proprietary online learning platform. While traditional schools initially scorned online education, they are now falling over each other in a rush to “go online.” The skeptic in me wonders if they are motivated by the proven effectiveness and efficiency of the online platform—or by an opportunity to reduce their costs while continuing to charge exorbitant tuition.

Regardless, the campus-based universities are now in a position of playing catch-up to the institutions that have been refining the online learning methodology for years.

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