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) CBS 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.