• Hidden Educational Costs

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    photo: powerbooktrance

    I’m currently taking some classes in order to obtain a certification that will help me in my current job and in my career. Due to the specialty of the field that I’m in, this program is not common; in fact there are only 4 institutions in the world that offer it, and the one that I’m taking just happens to be the best one. Despite all the great colleges in Chicago IL or in other major cities, this particular program is not well represented. In order to obtain the certificate, one chooses 4 classes in the curriculum and must receive a passing grade in each of the classes.

    The classes are somewhat expensive at $1,400 each, plus the cost of books. My job covers up to $2,500 in educational expenses per calendar year; therefore I’ve elected to take 2 of the classes at the end of this year, and the final 2 classes at the beginning of next year. By doing this, I limit our out of pocket expenses to just $600 (plus books), which is all tax deductible. I also put the tuition on our rewards cards; in addition to being able to command more salary after I get the certification, the tuition payments will also help in paying for our honeymoon.

    The one cost that I can’t quite shake off is the cost of studying and doing homework in a coffee shop. While I love our apartment, it doesn’t have any areas for me to buckle down and concentrate on studying and homework. Having computers, television, cats, refrigerator, chores, and everything else just makes it impossible for me to not be distracted. I attribute this to my college days; where I lived in college was always too rowdy and loud for me to get any studying done, so I always went to a coffee shop. Thus, when doing my homework for these classes, I’ve found myself in coffee shops around Chicago. It’s almost Pavlovian: coffee shops just make me want to study.

    For my first class, I went to a coffee shop 5 times to do homework and spent a total of about $30. Were the cappuccinos and pastries worth it? Well, last week I received my grade in the mail:


    To me, it is definitely worth it.

    I’ve recently heard a great deal about online universities and I believe that they are an option that is worth exploring. For starters, they provide you with access to programs that you might not have access to in your local area, giving you the opportunity to complete the degree or certification that you actually need. In addition, you can work full time while taking your online courses, making it easier to pay for your education. If necessary, online programs are even eligible for financial aid, so you will have plenty of options when paying for them.


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