Recently several Intellectual Takeout team members attended an appointment at a university in the Twin Cities.

While walking across campus, the subject of high college costs came up. According to one member of our group, annual tuition at his alma mater has nearly doubled in the handful of years since he attended. And his experience isn’t unique, as the chart below shows:

With staggering numbers like this, it’s no wonder that the student debt situation in the U.S. has reached the “crisis” level; nor is it any wonder that students love political candidates who promise financial relief for higher education.

But while the high cost of college has sent many students and parents into panic mode, the college crisis has caused others to explore alternatives.

One recent example of this is The Virtues Campus, a Christian organization trying to bring higher education back to the local level at a dramatically reduced price. Costs are reduced in part by relying on the independent study pattern of online courses and the coaching and community of local churches.

One leader of The Virtues Campus is Cheri Frame, an expert in reducing the cost of college through the use of CLEP examinations from the College Board. Through the process of self-study and passage of a final exam – which costs less than $100 – students can earn credits toward a college degree. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Frame’s own children experienced great success with this approach while in high school:

“The CLEP tests, Frame says, helped her two eldest kids, now 22 and 20, slash the cost of a four-year degree to about $6,000 — the equivalent of one semester at the University of Minnesota.”

Such ideas are at the foundation of Lumerit Education. Recognizing that many students are suffering under crippling debt, Lumerit employs a coaching system enabling students to get through college at an accelerated rate. This saves students between “$20,000 and $60,000” and makes it possible for “94% of students [to] graduate debt free.”

Today’s education system has convinced students and parents that college is necessary to achieve success in life. For that reason, many students have made the pilgrimage to institutions of higher learning, only to come out with thousands of dollars of debt, and, unfortunately, very little knowledge on how to expand or apply their learning after leaving the halls of ivy.

As the preceding examples demonstrate, the student debt crisis is causing students to look for alternative solutions to college, many of which require them to take initiative and gain knowledge without being spoon-fed by a professor.

Does such a development indicate that the student debt crisis could turn out to be a positive good after all?  

[Image Credit: Pixabay]