Does It Really Cost Less to Attend College Part Time

One of the most significant concerns of life in the 21st century is the cost of higher education. Students are graduating with a diploma in one hand and a promissory note for an amount equivalent to the price of a home in the other. 

This, of course, has led people to search for ways to make going to college more affordable. One such strategy is going to school and working at the same time. However, here it’s important to ask: Does it really cost less to attend college part time? 

Let’s take a look. 

Lower Tuition Costs

As a part time student at a school at which tuition costs are tied to the number of units studied during a quarter or a semester, it is possible to keep costs down as you go. You’ll also encounter lower lab fees and textbook fees as you go along. You’ll spread the costs out over a longer timeframe, which makes it easier to avoid taking student loans. If you’re working at the same time, you might be able to cover your costs out of pocket each semester. 

Longer Enrollment Duration 

However, this also means you’ll be in school longer. It can easily take twice as long to complete a degree pursuing a part-time strategy. This introduces another variable — the ability to sustain your motivation. If you’re in school for years, life has a way of diverting your gaze. You could meet someone, get married and have a child. You could get offered a job doing something you love, albeit at a lower level than you’d attain had you the degree to bolster your credentials. The longer you extend the process, the more likely you are to run into problems completing it.

Fewer Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships, by and large, are geared toward full-time students with limited finances. If you’re going to school part time and working full time, the likelihood of qualifying for one of those programs is going to be lower. You might also find it difficult to get on-campus housing as a part time student, which means you’ll likely encounter higher rent costs. 

Divided Focus

You can focus all of your attention on your studies when going to school full time. Part time, you’ll constantly be shifting your attention from your job to school to your responsibilities at home and the like. It can be somewhat overwhelming unless you have a strong support system in place to keep you oriented in the direction of your ultimate goals. 

Still though, you’ll have much less debt than you would if you went to school full time and focused all of your energies on your studies. And a heavy debt burden can make a huge difference in quality of life at any age — whether it’s student loans, credit card balances, medical bills or a combination — as these Freedom Debt Relief reviews show.

Tuition Policies Vary from School to School

As we mentioned above, some schools charge a flat rate per semester/quarter, while others charge per unit. Some schools also take a different approach on tuition fees for full-time students as opposed to part-time students. 

In other words, a lot depends upon the school you’d like to attend. Choosing a school that charges per unit will serve you better as a part time student than a flat-fee program as the latter will charge you for time you don’t have. 

What’s the Bottom Line?

Does it really cost less to attend college part time? 

Well, you do have the ability to modulate how much of the cost hits you all at once. So, in that regard, yes, it’s less expensive. However, you’ll still pay the full price of your education eventually. 

On the other hand, you’ll also avoid the higher interest payments that come along with accepting larger loans because it’s easier to cover costs out of pocket when you’re working full time, too. Yes, it will take longer to get the degree. However, you’ll also gain real world experience most full-time students lack when they matriculate. 

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to both approaches, so you’ll just have to see what makes the most sense in your situation.