Why would you apply for an online degree?

Why student loans are dumb.

Back in September 2007, I was thinking about creating computer games as a career change from my 13 years of cooking experience. I searched the internet for ideas on how to get started in the business. I knew it would be a hard road, but I also had determination to pursue it. 

Lets back up a couple of months. Our family owned a small town restaurant that we started on a shoestring budget back in 1992. It grew into a fairly decent business by 2007 and it looked like I would be managing it for some time. Then tragedy struck. My father died suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep. My father was as big a part of that business as I was, or for that fact any of us in the family were. 

After my father's funeral, we returned to work but it wasn't the same. I know, the show must go on right? In our time of grief, sometimes we don't make the best decisions of our lives. In August of that year, not long after my father had passed, we had an offer from an employee to buy our restaurant. Not feeling the same enthusiasm towards the business anymore, we relented and sold. What to do now?

This brings us back to September 2007. As I was searching the internet for ideas about creating computer games, I came across and ad for an online university. It advertised a bachelor's degree for game programming. I clicked the ad and filled out the online information request. The next day I receive a phone call from a very nice woman in the university's administration department. One thing leads to another and I found myself enrolled in school. 

I knew that the degree would be expensive, but hey! I have a bit of government financial aid and can get student loans to finance the rest. Great! Let me give you a Forrest Gump quote, "Stupid is as stupid does". Student loans are the dumbest thing a college student can do. I will explain this in a bit. This raises a question. How do we pay for such an expensive degree program if we haven't got the cash to pay for it? The answer is simple. You don't.

After three years of being on the Dean's list, I came to the realization that the quality of education I was receiving wasn't worth anything near the price I was paying. It seemed that the core classes were always an "introductory"class and really had no value. Most of the material covered in the classes were so far out of date that the information was worthless. I was paying $585 a credit hour for pure garbage. I wasn't going to quit. I was too far into it for that. That's what I thought anyway.

May of 2011 came and I still had 29 credit hours left to complete my degree. Let's see, 29 times $585 is....$16,965!!??? I have been in school almost 4 years and I still need to borrow $16,965? Geeez. Can't quit now though. Gotta finish this degree and see what the world brings me. So, I signed up to enroll in the 29 credit hours and be done with this thing by Christmas. NOT! I received an email stating that my account was on hold because I didn't have enough financial aid to cover my enrollment. Apparently, our illustrious government had put a cap on bachelor degree student loans. This was news to me. I should have done my research before I let a cutesy girl in administrations tell me I would have plenty of aid to finish my degree. What wasn't explained to me was the outstanding loans on deferment from going to a state college before was going to cause my loans to cap even earlier than expected. Let's not displace the fact that my Smart Grant was discontinued by congress indefinitely. I still had my Pell grant though.  $4,000 for the year. Incase you don't know this, Pell grants can't be used unless you attend school full-time. 

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that unless I make somewhere close to a six figure salary, I'm not going to finish school. This brings us to the part where I tell you that students loans are dumb. Don't be dumb like me. I'm working 50 hours a week for a commercial pizza place now just to take care of my family. I have a long road ahead and a lot of loans to worry about. 

So at this point, you have to ask yourself. Is an online degree worth it?