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Monday, February 9, 2009

Choosing And Paying For An Online Education

By Michael Fleischner

Thinking about finishing your degree or preparing for a new career? More and more people are considering online degrees to complete work they've already begun or to train for a new job. Online education is quite popular these days. Even traditional schools are offering many of their programs online.

When thinking about degree completion or online learning, there are a number of factors you should consider. First and foremost, you should begin with a clear understanding of what you wish to accomplish. Most individuals attend online learning programs to acquire the skills necessary for work in a particular industry.

Give some thought to the type of education you will need to get a job upon graduation. One way to do this is to start calling and speaking with counselors at both traditional universities and online schools. They can give you a good idea about what their programs will do for you as well as provide you with a sense of how many graduates are immediately placed in jobs.

In troubling times, finding a good job can be a challenge. Give some thought to the industries that are doing well even during a down economy. Industries like medicine and research will most likely continue to generate new jobs. Avoid seasonal types of positions that may be negatively impacted.

Once you have decided on the type of online program that will work best for you, consider your ability to complete such a program. Are you disciplined enough to meet all of the requirements without attending a physical classroom? Are you organized enough to meet deadlines and submit required work? Are you comfortable enough with a computer to engage in online chats, respond to emails, and complete necessary assignments online?

After you have reviewed the requirements associated with completing specific classes, take a look at the overall package. How many credits do you need to get your certificate or degree? What are the costs involved both short and long term in order to complete your degree? What is the average salary for someone in the field you are targeting? In short, will your investment pay dividends?

There are many ways to fund your online education. With the help of government programs, schools aid, and private loans, the options are many. Work with your school counselors to determine the most economical way to pay for your online education. Accredited schools and colleges have access to government funding programs that charge a low rate and make school affordable.

After graduation there are many ways that you can begin to pay down your debt. One of the best ways to eliminate debt is to find a job as quickly as possible and begin making payments toward your debt. This is why it is so important to obtain a degree that's in high demand. Without a job, paying your debt will not be possible.

After you graduate consider loan consolidation. When you consolidate your student loans with a single vendor, you simplify the repayment process. In addition, the interest rate you pay will often be less than what you are paying on each individual loan. This lowers you monthly payment and eases the burden of your debt.

Completing your degree online isn't for everyone. Before enrolling, ask your prospective school about repayment options associated with each funding source. Ask the financial aid counselor if student loan consolidation is an option upon graduation.

Earning a degree online is a great way to make the most of a down economy. Before jumping right in you should ask a lot of questions about what you want to accomplish and what it will take to get your degree. Most importantly, think about how you are going to pay for that treasured education.

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