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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Lowering College Costs with CLEP Exams

I’m not sure how long CLEPs have been around, but let’s just hope they stay put for many years to come.   These amazingly-innovative, computerized tests may help your student pass through his/her first two years of college in no time flat, and for around 10% of the average college price.  They come to you from the same College Board that sponsors the SATs and this is how they work….

Per their website, “CLEP offers 33 exams in five subject areas, covering material taught in courses that you may generally take in your first two years of college.”  In other words, these are general ed courses that are often repeats of what you already studied in high school.  The acronym CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program.

CLEP also stands for saving a family tens of thousands of dollars.  Read. my. lips.

Go ahead and pay $25,000 – $50,000 a year for a private university’s tuition… or accomplish the same courses via CLEP exams.  Your student studies the material backwards and forwards with a textbook, or online, or however you want, and then registers for the exam.  Many of the tests are 90 minutes long with 100 multiple-choice answers.  If you pass the test (pass-fail system), you are awarded 3 college credits for the subject.

The test itself costs $77, the proctoring fee can be anywhere from $20 to $40.  The CLEP study book is $35.  Unless you pay for a lot of extra books or online study prep, the cost per 3 credits is about $150.

Did you hear me?  Only $150 for 3 college credits?

I’ve pulled from my hat two different state universities, not private, for a comparison of costs.  Let’s look at the University of Maine and the University of Florida for our full East Coast gamut.  For three credit hours of undergrad studies at the University of Maine as a local, you would pay $837, or for out-of-state students, the cost would rise to $1257.  For three credit hours of undergrad studies at the University of Florida as a local, you would pay $504, and as an out-of-state student, the cost is $2730.  None of this includes text books, commuting or dorm costs, etc., etc.  Imagine the savings if your student takes 20 out of 40 required courses (for 120 college credits) by this method.

Caveat:  Make sure that your intended university accepts CLEP transfer credit.  Not all do… because they want you paying their tuition rates, rather than showing up for your junior and senior year only.  Also check ahead to see which CLEPs might apply toward any specific major.

Even less well-known is the fact that there are now accredited colleges that accept up to 100% of transfer credits by CLEPs.  The student would test out of ALL college courses and gain their degree from the college that accepts the CLEP work.  If a young person takes one exam every two weeks, it would take about 1.5 years to complete four years of college work.  If you make it one test every three weeks, that’s about 2.5 years to finish four years.

Figuring that each test costs $150 for test, proctoring, and study book, that would be about $6,000 just for the tests.  Add in enrollment, transfer and graduation fees from the college accepting such credit, and you have a 4-year college degree in the $7,500 range, a fraction of the normal price, and possibly in half the time.

That’s a whole bunch of money saved for grad school, or time to gain valuable work experience, while peers are still in the classroom, or hanging out at the Student Union.  No, it’s not the Ivy League experience, but it’s looking pretty smart to me.

 

 

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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar CLB says:

    CLEP tests have been around a loooong time, my mom took them in the 70’s to gain college credit before going back to school for an associates degree. I think they are great for adult re-entry students, and would indeed be helpful money savers for those kids who have been in a college prep track in high school as repeating stuff you have already done is really boring. On the other hand it allows a kid to hopefully boost their GPA in the first year or so since the adjustment to college often means a lower GPA early on as you figure out how to be a good college student. I don’t think CLEP tests were ever meant to be a substitute for the college experience and I would question any school that offered a degree base nearly solely on CLEP test results. There is a lot more to the college experience then cramming and testing out of things. The interaction with a diverse group of people and a good prof provides valuable experience which is invaluable in the workplace and in life. I say use it, but don’t try to abuse it!

    • avatar admin says:

      I would tend to agree, Christy. Depending on the country, extra subjects outside of the major may be required of the college student. For instance, in America, a student may need a bit of this and a bit of that. Whereas in much of Europe, classes are often concentrated only in the major for the entire degree. So to quickly eliminate the outside subjects, I could see the use of CLEPs if that material were already mastered. With costs rising and teaching assistants being used as instructors for many classes, the traditional sense of college expanding one’s horizons is often disappearing.

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