Taking Online College Courses

A girl working on online college courses using a laptop.
Online college courses are the perfect for the busy stay at home mom, a working adult, for someone who lives far from a college or university, or anyone looking for a convenient way to expand their knowledge. This is a page about taking online college courses.


This page contains the following solutions.

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
April 9, 2010

Online Courses Save MoneyIt's always a good time to return college. College degrees offer a valuable edge on the career competition, and the options for attaining that degree are numerous. One of those options is online courses. Looking at them from strictly a monetary perspective, online coursework saves money. It costs more time and more dedication, but it can save cash. Here's how.

Travel Expenses

Community colleges are commuting colleges. This alone implies gallons upon gallons of gasoline dedicated to transportation to and from the site. Opting to enroll in online classes eliminates driving to the college to attend the classes as well as driving to campus for library resources. Most online classes provide all resources online, eliminating the need for library visits for research.


Another online travel savings includes group projects. Collaboration is important in today's education, and with e-mail, instant messages, and video conferencing, group projects can be completed without getting in the car at all. Most online courses plan for this.


For those returning to college, convenience saves stress as well as cash. If daycare can be eliminated by schooling at home, huge savings will result. Likewise, work schedules are not at the mercy of course schedules, allowing for optional overtime or mid-semester shift changes.

This is not to say that online courses allow a student to pile on the work hours. There is a great deal of work involved in online studies, more than the typical class. Typically, a college class requires three hours of attendance on campus and six more hours of work at home. An online class demands these nine hours of work throughout the week as well as additional work as needed.


It's quicker and easier to work with a professor face to face. Online courses require a student to manage his/her learning, and when concepts become cloudy more hours are needed for clarification.

If this time can be dedicated to an online course, then it can save money in the long run with the convenience of those dedicated hours. Professors don't care if students upload papers at 2 am or post to the class blog at 5 pm. Unless they require specific online "meeting times," students can put in their nine hours whenever they can.

Solid Schools, Solid Savings

There are two origins of online courses-those offered by online only colleges and those offered by brick and mortar colleges. The prospect of earning a degree at an online only college can make people nervous. After all, these colleges are "for profit" colleges with owners and board members operating like a corporate business.


Luckily, traditional colleges are offering more and more online courses. Notably, are the number of online courses offered by community colleges to meet the needs of the non-traditional students who fill their classrooms. Large state universities are also rolling out the online courses, and some even offer a discount in comparison to their classroom courses. Online courses allow the universities to cut costs as well. This can justify a discount for a four year online degree with the state college.

The Price to Pay for Savings

Online courses aren't going to save you time. They may, however save money and hassle. If you are not a traditional student, this fast growing type of course may be the most appealing. Check course prices, mileage, and requirements before registering for the online option and become comfortable with your computer and online resources before the semester begins.

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3 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

February 20, 2009

Does anyone have ideas on earning extra money to pay for summer college classes? I work FT, go to school FT and I'm a single mom. I have started saving for summer courses. Any money making ideas are welcome. Thanks!

yurika975 from Houston, TX


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February 20, 20090 found this helpful

if you have a talent you can do such as decorate cakes, cut hair, etc. you could advertize that you can do those for others and just charge lower prices than others do. our local radio stations has a call in program each morning to advertize of things to buy sell or trade, if you have that too and can do a trade on the side as speacial orders you could do that.


my sister grows float bed plants seasonal and sells them by word of mouth, on that radio advertizement and flea markets to make extra money.

February 20, 20090 found this helpful

You could sell items on Ebay or You could post an offer to tutor others in reading or math, etc. for a fee.


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February 20, 20090 found this helpful

I forgot earlier in my post that you could take just a part time newspaper route, which is on Wednesdays and Saturday & Sundays. You can request a route closer to where you live and deliver them by car. Most times the ones for Sundays can be delivered very early that day as to not ruin your weekend.


A route would only take up too 2 hours of your day and while the pay is not grand it is extra money. They are always in need of part time paper route delivers. Just go by or call your local newspaper. Even if they are not taking on part times right then(which I highly doubt) you can get on a waiting list. And specify what route you would like closer to your home as to not drive to far.

In the summer months at least once a month on a Saturday go set up at your local flea market to sell your household items or used clothes etc. It only cost from $8 to $10 to set up at a booth and on a good warm day your sure to leave making $50 to $100 dollars from all your unwanted items.

Ebay too as the other poster suggested. And sell things in lots with the key word lot in your title description, a sure way to make extra money. Paypal is free and I would suggest only taking it as payment and the money goes into your free paypal account which you can get a free paypal debit card to use your money at walmart, post office lots of places or have it transferred to your checking account which is also free and takes up to 3-4 days for transfer. kids clothes in lots sell really good.

As do other things like health and beauty items like bath & body woks items, even used with some gone they sell good, just tell what you have so they know. My daughter buys & resells all my college books on ebay saving her lots of money. good luck too you.

By k w (Guest Post)
February 20, 20090 found this helpful

I use to do sewing for the public. Just put a small sign in front of your place or on mail box, "I sew", call the fabric stores, ask if they need help with sewing. You'll have more work than you can do even mending clothes, hemming pants & etc. I also baked cakes, made candy, breads, you name it. Even did baby sitting, and took in laundry from friends. Just let people know you want to work. Good luck.

February 20, 20090 found this helpful

One thought would to tutor to elementary, middle, or high school students. You could arrange to meet at the local library for a safe place for both you and the student. I saw an advertisement from a high school student willing to tutor at $15.00 the first hour and $10.00 for any additional time. Teachers in Tampa Florida are charging 2 x 3 times what this student was offering.

This following advice will not earn you extra money, but will save you much money on Federal taxes. The first two years of attending college the government will give you a tax credit (this is the money owed on your tax return NOT from your gross income-tax credit is worth much more).

Check form 8863 from the IRS. It had been dollar for dollar credit for the first $1,000. and then $650. on the next $1,000 spent. So if you incurred $2,000. of tuition your tax credit would be $1,650 ! The government pays for the majority of the first two years of college ( at least at a community college). After the first two years you can continue with lifetime tax credits. I believe it is worth 10% of your tuition.

Form 8863 will give you more complete information and is easy to complete. You DO NOT need to itemize your taxes to receive either of these tax credits. Best wishes on earning extra $$$ while going to school, but please do not let your classes suffer because of working to long hours.

By nicks (Guest Post)
February 20, 20090 found this helpful

I would check into getting a grant for school. They will pay for it if you qualify, they take your income and different things into consideration. Maybe you have already tried it, but if not it helps a ton. you can apply at Good luck!


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February 21, 20090 found this helpful

I used to give tests - S.A.T. Test, required college tests, etc. - on Saturday mornings & some weeknights. The pay was pretty good for just a few hours work. No stress job. I think I grossed $90.00 for a few hours on a Saturday. Call your college's testing center.

February 21, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks so much for all the feedback! I will take the ideas. I just did fafsa for next school year! I have 2 semesters left to graduate. I am trying to get out of school quickly as possible. Thanks again

By Vanessa (Guest Post)
February 22, 20090 found this helpful

Look in your local events section of your newspaper and then create a 'sleepover camp" for kids. This way parents get a night out and don't have to pick up the kids till 11 am. $20 a child X 5 kids is $100
You can have the parents drop off after dinner then do a video or games, then bed and a great morning breakfast!
This works well for date nights, AA or NA dances, local conventions (where adults might bring kids), etc. so don't forget to make fliers for the Hotels!
The great thing about this is you get to choose when and how much you work.

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January 20, 2013

I was actually looking out for career options which are available for military spouses. I am mainly looking for online courses which could help to get a certificate. My husband is in the military and he said there could be some benefits for us. Please let me know if you know where I can find something. Thanks in advance.

By cristenson_jennifer


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January 20, 20130 found this helpful

It really depends on what you might want to do as a "career". There are many sites to help you but you have to be specific.

If you want to be a programmer you need to pick a language, do a Google or Bing search, download the required software and get started. Java is about the most practical. It is used for web pages and many modern technologies.

If you build your skill with typing you can be a secretary or stenographer. If you are already a good typist work on your Microsoft application skills: Office and Excel are the prominent.

If you have no idea what you want to do try a search for "prominent secondary occupations". I say secondary because a "primary" occupation would more than likely require some form of major study or trade background. Another good search might be "extra income opportunities".

Read the suggestions on the search page you use for other related topics. They are usually after the search results. These may help you refine what you may be interested in doing and then you can search for a website where you can learn how to do it.

January 31, 20130 found this helpful

Jennifer, there is available military funding for military spouses for exactly what you need! That is, online certification courses that can help you kick start a vocation of your choice and prepare for it with tuition assistance from the military through the MyCAA program. You get up to $4000 that you can use over a span of 3 years towards certifications, licensures or Associate's degrees. There are great vocational training schools online that offer MyCAA courses, and you can find out more by looking up CareerStep online MyCAA approved training programs. Good luck!

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