Selecting a Program That Meets Your Education Goals AND Your Budget

Two extended hands, one with a graduation cap and one with coins

As a member of the Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions finance coaching team, I absolutely love talking to employees who are excited about starting or continuing their education! 

Many of the employees I speak to have an idea of the program that they would like to pursue, and perhaps even a school or two that might meet their needs. 

Occasionally, I will speak with an employee who has already decided on a particular school and program. Sometimes they even may have applied to, and been accepted by, the school. When that is the case, I ask the employee, “What does the program cost?” While most can answer this question, some cannot. These employees have already spent time and money applying to a school and program that might not be a good financial fit for them. 

If you are considering going back to school, and if cost and finances are part of your decision-making process, I suggest the following steps before applying to a particular school and program:

  1. Consider your educational goal. Why do you want to go back to school? Are you planning to complete a degree that you started previously? Are you pursuing a higher degree? Is this education job-related? Is it required for your existing job, or do you hope to get a promotion after completing this program? Will your salary or pay increase after completing this program? If so, by how much?
  2. Consider the program cost. If cost is a factor in your education, research the actual school and program costs carefully before making your decision. One program with a lower cost-per-credit may cost more than another program with a higher cost-per-credit when factoring in the number of credits each program requires.
  3. Consider the cost of borrowing. If you plan to finance any part of your education, know what the total loan costs are, including your estimated monthly payments, before committing to a program. 

If you follow these simple steps, you can find the program that is right for you AND know exactly what it will cost you BEFORE YOU EVEN SUBMIT YOUR ADMISSIONS APPLICATION!

Written by: Tara Piantanida-Kelly

June 7, 2021

About the Author

Tara Piantanida-Kelly head shot

Tara Piantanida-Kelly is a member of both the EdAssist Solutions and College Coach teams of college finance experts. With more than 29 years of industry experience, Tara has worked in the financial aid offices of more than 20 colleges and universities either as a financial aid director or as a financial aid consultant when she owned her own college financial aid consulting business. Tara holds degrees in both music and communications from Winthrop University.