Can You Save Money On An Online Masters Degree?

Access to education has now expanded globally and is available to anyone who has access to the internet and prepared resources for it. Indeed, distance learning has several conveniences, foremost of which is financial savings. The fact that you can obtain any undergraduate or postgraduate degree from any institution in the world gives you access to opportunities you may have otherwise thought you couldn’t get. 

If you’re still on the fence about enrolling for a master’s degree due to the pending expenses it entails, here’s a sample overview of its financial outlook and areas where you can save if you pursue it online. 

  • Accommodation Savings 

Attending university classes in person means having to spend on accommodations, as it’s likely that you’ll be required to live within or near the campus of your choice. 

Obtaining your master’s degree online means you don’t have to allocate money for this board-and-lodging process, especially if you opt to live off-campus. House-hunting requires you to shell out deposit money that can amount to as much as three months’ worth of rent. House-hunting also means you have to physically scout for such places, which also means spending money on transportation costs to attend open houses.

On the other hand, an online degree is obtained from the comfort of your home, where you don’t incur any added costs to your present accommodation expenditure. You can take part in your courses in peace, whether you’re enrolled in business programs, MFA programs, or any course. 

  • International Fees 

If you’re an international student, attending college abroad means paying a fee required of foreign students. This fee depends on the type of college and course you’re enrolling in, and it could be a sizable amount to start your education. This is in addition to the fees you’ll incur in processing study permits, especially the application of a student visa and other requirements of the country you’re entering to attend school. 

Needless to say, the airfare, passport, and other required legal documentation would also add to this amount. But in the case of an online degree, you only need to pay as much as a local student for the entrance exam and tuition in most cases.

  • Repatriation Fee

Still on the note of international student dynamics, attending college abroad means having to pay a repatriation fee. This fee is required to be paid during enrollment, and it’s a form of insurance in the event that any unfortunate situation happens while you’re studying abroad. If you suddenly pass away during your stay, your university will have to transport your body back to your homeland. This fee will pay for the necessary protocol, processing, and transportation. An online master’s degree eliminates this fee because you’ll be living in your own space and country.

  • Utilities Savings 

If you’re living on-campus or off-campus, your secured accommodation will entail paying for utilities, such as gas, electricity, water, and other maintenance fees. If you’re already paying for utilities where you live, you don’t need to anticipate any changes of this nature.  Pursuing distance education options means you continue to pay the utility bills in your current abode. 

Thus, the money you save on utilities can be invested instead into other priorities that could even earn you extra cash on the side as you study. This option won’t be available for you if you’re attending college in person.

  • Furniture and Appliances

Once you have secured your accommodation, you may have to invest in having furniture and appliances. Depending on the type of accommodation you may have, you’ll need to bring in some furnishings or fully furnish it. Thus, your budget has to include buying small items of furniture such as a bed and study desk, not to mention living appliances like a stove or microwave and other kitchen needs.

When studying for your master’s degree from the comforts of your home, you’ll already be enjoying the furniture and appliances you already have in your space. Buying new pieces would be a matter of preference than need, in this case.

  • Transportation Costs 

An online master’s degree doesn’t come with any transportation costs since learning is facilitated via telecommuting. You don’t have to travel from your house to the campus. The only movement you will make for an online degree is within the comfort of your home, which won’t cost you a penny. 

  • Medical Aid 

Certain universities provide a list of their own medical aid that they need for you to accept while you’re on-campus, regardless if you already have your own medical insurance. This means that the current medical aid you have will be invalid once you register at the university. This added expense associated with physically attending the university will be eliminated when pursuing an online degree. You don’t have to worry about having a dual medical aid situation anymore, which will cost you double. 

  • Course Materials 

The master’s course materials are all available online when engaging in e-learning. These may be in the forms of videos, texts, audios, downloads, and documents you can print on your own. As long as you have your internet connection, you can access these anytime. On the other hand, attending college means purchasing these materials from the local bookstore or campus stores. 

  • Paper Costs

Attending college means having to put aside money for paper costs, including printouts of assignments, notes, or photocopying book pages. Some colleges allow students to credit these costs onto the following year’s tuition fee. But that implies an increase in the tuition fee. 

Regardless of your course major, the prices of paper printing a year are hefty but are nonexistent when all your material and submission processes are digitally transmitted through online means. 

  • Extracurricular Activities 

Extracurricular activities on campus are encouraged and have many advantages to the students’ wellness and university life. These include participating in sports, academic, or cultural activities. These, however, have to be paid for, whereas online activities don’t incur such expenses. Various online activities may be set up by the university as a substitute, which won’t cost as much as the physical events. It’s still essential to take part in these to experience togetherness with other online students. 

  • Attire

When you attend college, you need to invest in having a presentable wardrobe. Clothing fashion means different styles for students, but buying school clothes for daily use will incur a dent in the budget. Some institutions may implement their dress code or require students to wear a uniform—which you still need to buy. 

You can attend classes dressed in any manner you wish when attending online learning. You can be wearing simpler clothes or even your pajamas if you don’t need to show yourself in a virtual class. Thus, you don’t have to buy any new clothes just for school.  

  • Vacation

When school is over for the semester, you’ll need to come home for the holidays, find lodging off-campus if you’re not going home, or live with a friend for a few days. These options have costs, ranging from transportation, accommodation, utilities, and daily needs. 

When you enroll in an online master’s degree, its equivalent would be shutting off your laptop and enjoying your familiar environment without having to pay for anything extra. 

  • Vacation Storage 

When you’re going on vacation in between school days, you need to plan where you’ll store your belongings, especially if you’re living within the campus. Some campus dorms or houses provide storage within their facilities, but it isn’t mandatory. You may then have to spend money to store your belongings in a storage facility or a person’s house. Online learning means you don’t have to worry about any of these particular costs. 

  •  Car Costs

If you have a car and you’re considering taking it with you to college while you study there, you’ll have to budget for its care and maintenance, not to mention gasoline expenses. The fact that you’re in a different location means you need to cater to expenses you probably didn’t have while at home. 

Thus, for cars or any vehicle you might bring with you, these expenses also include added insurance and any parking spot fees. In case your vehicle is damaged during your campus stay, you’ll also need to shell out extra money for repairs. The occasional car care, check-ups, and maintenance would also be performed, but more so if you’re actively using your vehicle more in this kind of scenario.

On the other hand, when you’re studying for an online degree from home, you don’t incur any other expenses that you already have regarding car maintenance. Most of the time, your car will be kept in its familiar parking space in your garage or yard. In addition, you also don’t have to worry about it being stolen or being broken into while parked as you attend classes in school. 

  • Learning Delays

When attending college, the aim is to finish your course during the proper time frame. However, unexpected events or situations could cause delays in completing your studies on time. The unfortunate dynamic to this is that, although some factors cannot be controlled, your education will be more expensive the longer you take to finish your courses. If you’re taking classes in person, you’ll have to consider paying for extra accommodation, utilities, and all the costs that come with finishing your credit. If you failed a specific course that you need to repeat, then expect the expenses to double. 

However, online learning would be less expensive in these situations. If you don’t finish a course in time, you may have to pay for the subject again if you need to repeat it. There would be no need to bother yourself with the other expenses that on-campus living entails. When pursuing an education from the comforts of your home, you can simply pick up where you left off later, when you’re ready for it.

  • Emergency 

Should you encounter some form of emergency while you’re away studying in a foreign country or another city, your medical insurance might not cover all the necessary expenses that your particular crisis would entail. Thus, you’ll need to pay for these sudden out-of-pocket expenses. It may not cause a huge dent in your pocket if you have the outpatient type of emergencies or those that are easily treatable with first aid kits. But if you require hospitalization, those emergencies would have add-on expenses.

 Another example of an emergency is if you need to travel home for a funeral or attend to a sick relative or friend. These sudden plans would naturally contribute to expenses that you may not have planned for, so you need to prepare contingency funds for them. But pursuing an online degree won’t cost as much when faced with these personal situations.

  • Graduation

Graduation is indeed a memorable day. However, for those who are financially struggling, it can be a daunting day. The costs incurred for graduation day to happen include renting the required graduation outfit, processing certifications, travel costs for your guests, accommodation costs for your graduation party, and entertainment costs. 

Some distance learning institutions also facilitate a physical graduation day for those who attend online courses. However, you can forego this expense as well. You will only need to pay the prescribed fees for processing your graduation papers and other certification needs. The documents will then be mailed to you.


In a nutshell, it’s understandable that pursuing a master’s degree online would have its own set of expenses. Aside from shelling out for tuition fees, there would still be other fees and costs that you need to prepare for in the pursuit of your education. 

However, if you consider all the necessary living and daily expenses it will entail as you pursue your educational goals, you can indeed save money in the long run compared to obtaining your master’s in the traditional physical space. Many of the physical-related expenses would be reduced or eliminated, as enumerated above. In no time, you’ll have another diploma and title to your name—without leaving the comforts of your home.

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