The folks at SmartMoney.com highlight two companies that seem to be taking their cues from the wireless industry’s (vanishing) unlimited data plans.
For $99/month plus $49/class, students in one program can take as many classes as they want. The other company in the SmartMoney article charges a flat $199/month for unlimited online courses.
That means for around $1,700, you could take 10 classes over the course of a year at the first school. The other online program would run you about $2,400 for the year. Regardless, both are significantly less expensive than the national average of $8,655 for a public, four-year college; and less than 1/10 the price of attending the average private, non-profit school.
For-profit education has been taken to task by regulators who say that too much tuition money, a good chunk of which comes from federal student aid, is being spent on marketing, and who claim that too many of these schools have made education and career placement a second-tier priority.
The founder of one of the online schools offering the unlimited plans tells SmartMoney, “Our model isn’t to spend a lot of money on marketing and charge you on the back end.”
If successful, these schools could be leading the shift in thinking on for-profit college tuition, especially as a growing number of established universities jump into the online education pool.
Of course, all for-profit college and online education programs come with the caveat that your coursework may not transfer to a four-year program. So if that is your goal, you should check with the schools you intend on applying to before you ever sign up for a class at any other college, or you might just be throwing money at a class that won’t count toward a degree.