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How Can I Find the Cheapest per Credit College in My State?

Students who are looking for the best value in higher education often want to know the cost per credit of colleges and universities in their own state. This is because their state likely offers a significant discount on tuition for in-state students, making it easier to reduce borrowing and enhance the return on investment (ROI) of a college degree program at any level. Finding the per-credit cost of any degree program can be a bit challenging, however, because it sometimes means digging through all sorts of financial aid websites and sub-sites. Some students can’t find what they need in a short amount of time and quickly give up. The good news is that there’s a much easier list of resources to check when finding the per-credit cost of any program at an in-state or private university nationwide.

Begin with the Department of Education’s College Navigator

The Department of Education has long been concerned with the cost and accreditation of colleges and universities throughout the United States. In the 21st century, it has moved this commitment online. The College Navigator is a public database system developed and maintained by the Department of Education to help students easily find information on any accredited institution. This database gives students not only the cost of each credit at each school, but also the cost of part-time or full-time attendance. Estimates are also published for each school’s total program cost, including the cost of fees, textbooks, dorms, meal plans, and more. Using the College Navigator, students can also research their school’s retention rate, six-year graduation rate, and accreditation status. This is the best possible resource for determining both the cost and value of a college or university.

Try the College Board’s Big Future Database

Another thing to check is the Big Future database maintained by the College Board. College Board is the company responsible for CLEP exams, AP courses, and the SAT, so they tend to have a wealth of information on each school that accepts these classes and test scores. Students will find it easy to locate the per-credit cost of a degree at their chosen state institution, and they’ll have the added bonus of seeing average SAT scores, required AP exam scores, and required CLEP exam scores as they research this crucial information. Even better, these database listings feature acceptance rates, student body demographics, and other key pieces of information that show students if they’d be a good fit for the school upon acceptance.

Try the School’s Official Financial Aid Website

A school’s financial aid website helps students drill down to the source of all financial data, but it should be the last resort on this list for a few reasons. First, some schools have outdated financial aid websites that might not accurately reflect the true cost of attendance. Some schools also make this information hard to find, or they hide their per-credit cost and instead show students only what it will cost to attend on a full-time basis. The best way to find crucial financial data is to consult third parties that maintain official databases full of this information.

Careful Research Can Indicate a Program’s Real Value

Getting a great value out of a college education is a virtual requirement in an era of skyrocketing tuition costs. Students who are looking for the total cost per credit for any degree program, in-state or otherwise, should consult third-party databases and school websites to make sure they’re getting the best deal on a must-have college degree.

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