90 Percent of Consumers Say Affordability Crucial in Choosing Online College Degree

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GetEducated.com poll finds 60 percent of respondents say cost "number one factor" in choosing distance education provider; another 30 percent say it is "very important." College affordability is a crucial concern for consumers, who increasingly are willing to shop for college educations online. GetEducated.com CEO Vicky Phillips predicts this new consumer trend "could mean serious trouble for some of the more expensive online education schools."

That much choice has caused price to rise to the surface as a comparison item

How important is price when selecting an online college or distance degree program? According to GetEducated.com's most recent web poll, more than 90 percent of respondents say cost is "extremely" or "very" important in selecting the best online college. Less than 3 percent reported that money "doesn't matter."

For about 61 percent of voters in GetEducated.com's online education survey, cost is "the number one factor" and "extremely important" when picking the best distance learning degree. About 30 percent ranked college affordability as "very important," while 7 percent of respondents called price "moderately important." Just 2.4 percent rated online college affordability as "not at all important."

GetEducated.com's CEO Vicky Phillips believes these survey results show consumers are more cost-conscious than ever. Most are willing to comparison-shop for their college educations online.

"Consumers are subjecting higher education costs to the same scrutiny they used to reserve for big-ticket consumer items like mortgages," says Phillips. She predicts that this new consumer trend "could mean serious trouble for some of the more expensive online education schools."

GetEducated.com began rating and ranking online degrees for affordability in 2001--largely, says Phillips, "because the second most common question our online education group has fielded since 1989 has been about cost. The Internet has created, for the first time in history, a truly national marketplace for higher education--a marketplace that has resulted in consumers being able to compare colleges to each other on cost as well as other consumer brand dimensions."

Phillips points to GetEducated's online college directory as a source for more than 400 online MBAs--the largest number of online MBAs profiled anywhere online, with the price for each of these MBAs listed clearly for consumers to see.

"That much choice has caused price to rise to the surface as a comparison item," says Phillips. "If you know there are 400-plus online MBAs--and you can see that this one degree can cost as little as $7,000 or as much as $107,000--aren't you going to ask why, and begin to shop with a wary eye?"

Online students are not alone in their concerns about college affordability. Their campus cohorts are also alarmed. Last fall, the National Education Association found that making college affordable was an important election issue for 65 percent of students--indeed, the most important issue for 34 percent of those polled.

"Concern over college affordability has reached a critical level," says Phillips. "One reason online education has grown in double digit leaps while much of the economy is declining is that adult students have discovered they can save thousands by comparison shopping. They are finding less expensive college degrees online."

To help consumers make informed choices--and avoid spending money needlessly--GetEducated.com ranks and rates online degrees for affordability. The online education group's Best Buy online degree rankings provide the public with an independent, factual listing of scores of inexpensive, accredited online colleges. "Most of our Best Buy schools are public universities that offer online education in addition to their campus-based degrees," reports Phillips.

GetEducated.com, founded in 1989 to help adult students compare online education options, remains the only consumer group in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to assisting online students in comparing, rating, and ranking online colleges and universities.

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GOLDIE MCPIKE
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