Online Education Offers Access and Affordability

The timing couldn’t be better. Just as millions of working-age Americans are realizing they need extra education and skill-sharpening to thrive in a recession, a flowering of competition promises to dramatically drive down prices and raise the quality of online college courses.

Indeed, time-stressed Americans fed up with commuting costs are already choosing online education. More than 4 million enrolled in at least one online course last fall, up from fewer than 2 million in 2003.And some of the biggest online players, such as the for-profit University of Phoenix, say new enrollment has jumped by about 20 percent since the economy began its decline more than a year ago. While online courses have been primarily designed for working adults, younger students in increasing numbers are switching to E-learning. Some, like students at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, have little choice. FDU requires its students to take at least one online course per year.

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