Fortunato's Cheapest Degree Challenge 2008

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Fortunato, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    I've been trying to help some of my family members with their plans to return to school and complete their undergraduate degrees. As someone who completed his degree in his late twenties while working full time and then went on to graduate school, I'm keenly aware of the burden that tuition and fees impose on the adult learner. The cost of college is rising faster than the rate of inflation, but there are some great deals to be had if you shop around.

    We all know about the Big 3 distance learning schools, and most DETC schools are certainly affordable. However, some of us want to finish our college experience with a team to root for. Given that fact, I came up with something I call "Fortunato's Cheapest Degree Challenge 2008".

    The rules are relatively simple. The challenge is to put together the least expensive degree plan that will lead to a bachelor's degree of any type with any major from a school whose football team was scheduled to appear on national television in 2008. "National television" in this case applies to the following networks:

    ABC (including ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU)
    NBC (so that we can get Notre Dame in the mix)
    FSN (yes, this is a family of regional channels, but most games are carried on more that one channel)

    Schools that only appear on regional channels like Raycom, Sunshine Network, Big Ten Network, CSTV, Versus, etc. don't qualify for this challenge. You can assemble the credits needed for a degree in any combination of testing, transfer, and courses taken through the school, but you must meet the following conditions:

    1. You must meet any residency requirements set forward by the school. It's not a real degree plan if you won't be awarded a degree when you finish it.

    2. Since this is a distance learning forum, you should be able to complete the degree via distance learning.

    3. The degree plan must cover the entire four years of study. If you're building a plan based on transferring in an associates degree, you must provide the details and costs for how the associates will be earned as well.

    4. You can use CLEP and DSST testing in the degree plan. So that everyone is working on a level playing field, assume that CLEP tests cost $85 ($65 test plus $20 site fee) and DSST tests cost $90 ($70 test plus $20 site fee). AP and IB tests are not allowed in the degree plan, as they are generally not available to everyone, but in the unlikely event that you can find an eligible school that grants credit for subject GRE exams, they are fair game.

    5. If you are using transfer credit, it must be immediately obvious that the courses you are transferring in are equivalent to the courses listed on the degree plan. For example, many state university systems publish a listing of community college course numbers in their state and how they map to courses at the 4-year school. Free elective credit must be clearly identified as such.

    6. You must provide links to document the degree plan you are proposing. You should be able to provide the following documentation at a minimum:

    - A list of the courses required for the degree
    - A map of CLEP/DSST exams to course numbers for the same school where the degree will be awarded
    - The tuition and fees page from the school where the degree will be awarded, as well as any schools that will be used for transfer credit

    7. Tuition and fees are to be calculated on an in-state basis. However, if you want to calculate what the program would cost an out-of-state student, please feel free to do so.

    8. And of course, you must list the game date/time/channel that your school will be featured.

    That's it! I'll post the degree plan I came up with as a follow-up to this post.
  2. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    My Challenge Entry

    My entry in the Cheapest Degree Challenge is the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at East Carolina University. The East Carolina Pirates will be on national television three times this season:

    August 30, the season opener versus Virgina Tech in Charlotte
    September 6, at home versus West Viginia
    November 2, on the road against Central Florida

    The degree plan includes 21 exams for 66 credit hours, 5 courses for 12 credit hours transferred in from Pitt Community College, and 14 courses for 42 credit hours taken at East Carolina. The course checklist for this degree, including a map between NC Community College courses and ECU courses, can be found here.

    The exams to be taken are:
    CLEP Introductory Sociology
    CLEP English Composition
    CLEP Information Systems & Computer Applications
    CLEP Intro to Microeconomics
    CLEP English Composition
    CLEP General Psychology
    CLEP Introductory Accounting
    CLEP Intro to Macroeconomics
    CLEP Introductory Business Law
    CLEP Humanities
    CLEP Introductory Marketing
    CLEP General Biology / CLEP General Chemistry
    CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature (Free Elective)
    CLEP American History (to 1865) (Free Elective)
    CLEP American History (1865 to present) (Free Elective)
    CLEP Western Civilization to 1648 (Free Elective)
    CLEP Western Civilization since 1648 (Free Elective)
    DSST Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Free Elective)
    DSST Environment And Humanity
    DSST Principals of Statistics
    DSST Human Resources Management

    The total cost for exams is $1,805.00. East Carolina's page for CLEP credit is here, and the page for DSST credit is here.

    The 5 courses to be taken at Pitt Community College are:
    MAT 263
    HEA 110
    PED 110
    COMM 231
    ACC 121

    Tuition at Pitt Community College is $42.00 per credit for in-state students, plus added fees. This works out to roughly $50/credit, so total cost for coursework at PCC totals approximately $600.00. PCC's tuition and fees page is here.

    The 14 courses to be taken at East Carolina University are:
    ENGL 3880
    MGMT 3302
    FINA 3724
    ACCT 4921
    OMGT 3123
    FINA 3144
    MGMT 4242 OR PSYC 3241
    PHIL 2274 OR PHIL 2275
    OMGT 3223
    MKTG 3852
    MIS 3063
    MKTG 4732
    OMGT 4733
    MGMT 4842

    East Carolina charges in-state undergrad distance education students a flat tuition+fees rate of $99.00 per credit hour, so the total cost for classes taken at ECU will be $4,158.00. ECU's tuition and fees are listed here.

    The total cost of this 120-credit hour degree plan is $6,563.00, or roughly $54.70 per credit.

    What did you come up with?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2008
  3. skidadl

    skidadl Member

    Oh this will be easy for me. Texas Tech, baby!

    I need to work on it a little before I have a finished product to submit. I was just excited to have a reason to share my pride and enthusiasm.
  4. Woho

    Woho New Member

    Great idea! Thanks for coming up with this!
  5. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Does the football team have to have a televised game, or can an appearance on "Sports Bloopers" qualify? :D
  6. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    Sorry, no multiple-lateral miracles allowed. Gotta appear in the TV listings.
  7. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Football? I'm out.
  8. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Well, I guess that rules out Division III schools so my initial plan is shot to hell.

    Back to the old drawing board...... :eek:
  9. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    We have the entire season to post correct; since TV schedules do change
  10. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    If a school that wasn't originally scheduled to be on national TV ends up on TV, that school becomes eligible. If a school was scheduled to be on TV but for some reason the game is not broadcast, the school remains eligible. The "football game on national television" gimmick is to promote thinking about schools we might not otherwise discuss here. There's only so many ways to tell people that they can earn their degree by testing at one of the Big 3!
  11. rtongue

    rtongue New Member

    This is a great plan if you live in North Carolina. Out of state residents would pay $454/per semester hour. This would bring the total cost up to approx. $ 21,000.
  12. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    How do we calculate the cost of portfolio credit, or is that too individual-specific?
  13. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    I honestly didn't think about portfolio credit. If the school accepts portfolio credit, and you can document it via a link, it's within bounds. Individual experiences with portfolio credit don't count, e.g., I was able to do a portfolio assessment at TESC and when I transferred to Enormous State U., they accepted the hours as a free elective. You must be able to point to some source from the school that specifically says they'll accept portfolio credit and how it will be applied. The costs would consist of any costs charged by the school to apply for or transcript the credit.

    The goal, as I see it, is to come up with the cheapest degree plan you could put together and KNOW that it would be accepted by the school because you can document it with information from the school's website. I'm sure an advisor at East Carolina would faint at the sight of my degree plan, but a student wouldn't have to wrangle with the administration to follow it.

    I'm planning on doing some more degree plans myself, just need to catch up with my own schoolwork and work work. :rolleyes:
  14. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    By the way, your degree plan doesn't have to be cheaper than the one I posted. This is an exercise in creativity, not a contest with a scoreboard!
  15. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    Question, since the University of Wyoming does make a provision for DSST to be accepted on a case by case basis:


    A certain person on this board convinced UW to accept the DSST Statistics exam to fulfill the UW Stats requirement.... :D

    Is this acceptable for the challenge?


    PS - We plan to have my 15 year old take Calculus I through UW via correspondence in January, and my wife is from Wyoming. Now can they get on TV????
  16. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    They really should publish the list of DSST exams they take. I complained about that a lot while I was a student there.

    I wonder who that was? ;-)

    I'm not sure if it's still available through their website, but as a free elective project I built a guide to earning your BSBA degree at UW that made heavy use of exam and community college credit and which also included the DSST Statistics exam. They gave me an "A" in the course and used to give the guide to distance students who showed an interest in "testing out" of as much of the degree as possible. It wasn't "official", but it would have worked as of 2004.

    I'll tell you what. To stay within the rules, build the degree plan with the regular course (STAT 2050/2070 if I remember correctly) but footnote it that the DSST exam can most likely be substituted. The overall savings will only be about $300 if the course is done online, or $210 if the course is done via correspondence.

    Their game versus Tennessee will almost certainly hit one of the major networks due to the SEC's TV deal. They're just waiting to see where the Vols are going to be rankings-wise to decide which one. Some of their games are also set to be carried by CBS College Sports and might end up as nationwide games. Depending on what happens with the storms on the east coast this weekend, I wouldn't be surprised if the UW vs. Air Force game ended up on broadcast.

    If you decide to put a degree plan together for UW, remember that the Outreach school has limits on how many correspondence credit hours can be applied to an undergrad degree (I think it's 24), despite the fact that there are some master's programs that are available entirely through correspondence. Another annoying UW "quirk" is that for some CLEP tests (Accounting comes to mind, but I think there were a few others) they will waive a requirement for passing the exam but not actually grant you any credit hours. So in essence, you can transform a major requirement into space for a free elective, which was fine in my case since I transferred in a lot of credit hours that didn't apply to my degree program.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2008
  17. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    Another low-cost degree program

    Here's another low-cost degree program, this time for folks in Indiana. Ball State University, the alma mater for TV host David Letterman, offers a 126 credit Bachelor of General Studies degree via their Independent Learning Program. The Ball State University Cardinals hosted Navy in a game aired by ESPN on September 5th.

    Ball State has an articulation agreement with Ivy Tech Community College, which has campuses throughout Indiana. Ball State limits credit-by exam to 63 credit hours and requires that 30 of the final 40 hours of credit be completed at the school. BGS students are required to complete two minors. For this degree program, I've chosen minors in Business Information Technology and History. This degree plan gets 61 credits via CLEP, 30 credits transferred in from Ivy Tech and 35 credits taken in residence at Ball State. Total cost for the degree will be $12,330.

    The exams are to be taken here:
    CLEP Chemistry - 4 credits for CHEM 111
    CLEP Biology - 3 credits for BIO 100
    CLEP Introductory Sociology - 3 credits for SOC 100
    CLEP Principles of Microeconomics - 3 credits for ECON 201
    CLEP American Government - 3 credits for POLS 130
    CLEP US History I - 3 credits for HIST 201
    CLEP US History II - 3 credits for HIST 202
    CLEP Principles of Management - 3 credits for MGT 200
    CLEP Freshman College Composition (Score > 56) - 6 credits for ENG 103 & ENG 104
    CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature - 6 credits for ENG 990
    CLEP Humanities - 6 credits for ELECTIVE CR.
    CLEP Social Sciences & History - 6 credits for ELECTIVE CR.
    CLEP Natural Science - 6 credits for ELECTIVE CR.
    CLEP College Mathematics - 6 credits for MATHS 990

    14 CLEP examinations at $85 each comes out to $1190.00 for testing. You might be able to save some money by using Ball State's Departmental Exams. These are given by individual departments at Ball State, and are basically an opportunity to test out of classes by taking the final exam. The cost of a departmental exam is $30. Ball State's page for CLEP credit is here.

    10 courses to be taken at Ivy Tech Community College:
    Ivy Tech COM 101 - 3 credits for COMM 210
    Ivy Tech MAT 118 - 3 credits for MATHS 125
    Ivy Tech ARH 110 - 3 credits for AHS 100
    Ivy Tech PHL 101 or HPP 111 - 3 credits for PHIL 1000
    Ivy Tech PHL 220 - 3 credits for RELST 151
    Any 5 transferrable classes for Ivy Tech - 15 credits

    Ivy Tech Community College Tuition and Fees are here. The Ivy Tech Community College Transfer credit guide is here. Ivy Tech charges Indiana residents $95 per credit hour, plus $10 per hour for online courses, and $40 per semester. If you attend full-time online for two semesters, you'll spend $3230.00 at Ivy Tech.

    13 courses to be taken at Ball State University:
    Ball State PEFWL 160 - 2 credits
    Ball State CS 104 - 3 credits
    Ball State HIST 150 - 3 credits
    Ball State ISOM 125 - 3 credits
    Ball State ISOM 135 - 3 credits
    Ball State ISOM 226 - 3 credits
    Ball State ISOM 313 - 3 credits
    Ball State ISOM 341 - 3 credits
    Ball State HIST 310 - 3 credits
    Ball State HIST 370 - 3 credits
    Ball State HIST 198 - 3 credits
    Ball State HIST 371 - 3 credits
    Ball State ENG 392/393 - 0 credits, but required for graduation. Must be taken between after earning 60 but before earning 90 credit hours. Can be taken as exam or as 7-week independent study course.

    Ball State charges Indiana residents $226.00 per credit hour for independent study. Ball State's tuition and fees are here. Total cost for courses at Ball State is $7,910.
  18. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    Degree Plan for A.A. in General Studies from South Dakota State

    Some schools charge distance education students the same rate, regardless of where they live. South Dakota State University is one of those schools. The South Dakota State Jackrabbits visited Iowa State on August 28th in a game carried on Fox Sports Net. Unfortunately, South Dakota State University doesn't offer any complete bachelor's degree programs via distance education, but it does offer a two-year program that leads to an Associate of Arts in General Studies. This is aimed as a college transfer degree and can actually be awarded by any one of the six public universities in South Dakota. Of course, this degree plan doesn't actually meet the requirements for the challenge, since it isn't a 4-year degree, but it's a relatively cheap way to become an alumnus of a football-playing university.

    SDSU requires students earning the Associate of Arts to complete 16 hours in residence. I couldn't figure out a way to do it with less than 18. The degree program consists of 46 hours earned through 12 CLEP tests and 18 hours earned over 6 courses at SDSU. SDSU charges distance students $219.55 per credit hour, so the total cost for this degree is $4,971.90.

    The 12 CLEP exams in the degree plan are:
    CLEP Freshman College Composition - 3 credits for ENGL 101
    CLEP American Government - 3 credits for POLS 100
    CLEP Principles of Microeconomics - 3 credits for ECON 201
    CLEP Principles of Macroeconomics - 3 credits for ECON 202
    CLEP Western Civilization I - 3 credits for HIST 121
    CLEP Western Civilization I| - 3 credits for HIST 122
    CLEP College Algebra - 3 credits for MATH 102
    CLEP General Biology - 8 credits for BIOL 151/152/153/154
    CLEP General Chemistry - 8 credits for CHEM 112/113/114/115
    CLEP Introductory Psychology - 3 credits for PSYC 101
    CLEP Introductory Sociology - 3 credits for SOC 100
    CLEP Information Systems and Computer Applications - 3 credits for CSC 105

    Total cost of CLEP exams is $1020.00. SDSU's CLEP page is here.

    The six courses to be taken at SDSU are:
    SDSU ENGL 201 - 3 credits
    SDSU SPCM 101 - 3 credits
    SDSU ARTH 100 - 3 credits
    SDSU HDFS 141 - 3 credits
    SDSU NFS 111 - 3 credits
    SDSU HLTH 120 - 3 credits

    Total cost of SDSU courses is $3951.90. SDSU's tuition page for distance education is here.
  19. GLGAmerica

    GLGAmerica Member

    Ball State

    I noticed this thread is fairly old and assumed it might be ok to highjack it a bit. I'm not sure if you still contribute to the forums or not but I did have a couple of questions.

    First a word of thanks..

    About 25 years ago, I completed all but 2 classes for my Bachelor's Degree, went through commencement and was supposed to complete my requirements that summer. But I didn't do it.

    Now that my son is 15, I got to searching for strategies to keep the future college cost down and this thread here motivated me to contact my college and see what I had to do to finish up. They let me know I had three courses left one of which was a 400 level ECON class, a history class and a management class.

    Fortunately, I still had my records from 25 years ago and discovered I had already petitioned the school to substitute another class I took back then for the 400 level ECON class. My degree was in Economics & Finance. This left me with just the history class which mapped to CLEP US History 1 and the management class. Unfortunately, the management class didn't map to the CLEP Principles of Management exam.

    So what I ended up doing is petitioning the school again to substitute the management class that did map to the right CLEP exam which they agreed to do that.

    This put me in a position to just take the two CLEP exams to get my degree which I did. I got 71's on both CLEP exams and received my diploma with honors last Sunday. My thanks to you and others of course for informing me of an alternative path than going to class.

    While, I didn't go to Ball State, I live about a half hour from there and a ton of people I know have went there. It's a good school. I also live 20 minutes from an Ivy Tech school. Since he doesn't really know what he wants to do, this made me start looking into Ball State specifically for my son.

    After taking the two CLEP exams, I shared with my son that he could easily start passing these CLEP exams and so he's got one scheduled for later this month and already studying. I fully expect he will pass just fine and learn what I did which is that it's an easy way to get credit.

    He also has the added advantage that he can take AP course in high school which should negate the need for several of the CLEPs I think.

    The school confirmed that they will transfer in 90 credits but I'm not sure on the credit by exam limit and I wondered how you found that.

    This got me wondered if AP course work is "credit by exam" and part of the credit by exam limit.

    Do you know?

    It also doesn't appear that Ball State accepts DSST but I am not sure.

    Also, when I went to school, I had one sheet that had all my degree requirements on it. In looking at Ball State, I found their tier 1, 2 & 3 core work, a map for the CLEP and AP classes but it certainly would be nice to have one sheet to check off requirements for the whole degree as I'm not quite clear on how to figure out all the requirements for the degree we might choose and how it all fits together.

    I'm also looking at Thomas Edison State as well trying to piece together how we might attack each one but having a similar program there.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks and if you were around see if you might update the Ball State plan.

  20. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    Wow! This is an oldie, but a goodie. I loved the concept of this, too bad it ran out of steam. I was trying to start discussions of DL/online programs besides "just test out through one of the big 3". Turns out folks like testing out through one of the big 3. :laughing:

    That information would have come from the school's catalog or website. It's entirely possible that policy has changed in the last nine years.

    Most schools would consider AP to be credit by exam, since the credit is awarded on the basis of the AP exam score, not the grade in the class. I don't know of any that treat AP credit as true transfer credit, but it wouldn't blow me over if you showed me one.

Share This Page