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How to earn your college degree in under six months and under $5,000!

Updated on August 22, 2012

After attending an online college and spending over a year and half and well over $50,000, I realized that there had to be an easier faster way. So after countless hours of scratching my head, replacing my drooled on keyboard and drinking enough coffee to tranquilize a horse, I finally found a solution. Now I am going to share my secret with you.

My test subject to insure that I had truly found a solution, I used my son who is 19 and who also had no college experience at all. The requirements for the school were they must be accredited schools, must be tailored for online education, offer a complete associates or bachelors degree and be able to accept a lot of transfer credits and have no residency requirements. We will discuss this further on down the line in more precise details. So here are the three steps to my plan.

The first step is acquiring credits.

Credits can be acquired by multiple means. The first way is by testing out. Yes it is completely possible to test out of an accredited bachelors degree without having to take a single class. There are four ways to test out of a class. They are CLEP (that is the college level examination program) DSST (Which is the Dante's Standardized subject test), ECE (excelsior college examination) and TECEP (the Thomas Edison examination program).


This is a group of standardized tests that assesses college level knowledge in u bu several subject areas. Qualifying scores vary by school but are usually around the average of 50. These tests are great for independent studiers or people with lots of job experience, cultural interaction and homeschoolers. There are currently thirty three CLEP tests on subjects including composition, literature, history, social sciences, math, science, business administration, foreign language and others. Most tests cover a semester worth of the subject matter and are three credits each. While others are of a broader nature and cover two semesters and are worth six credits each. The tests are computerized and you get your scores as soon as you complete the testing. To take a CLEP test you must find a testing center to administer it. The cost is around $77.00 plus a $20 to $25 proctor fee per test.


Dante's is the program that oversees the credit testing for military members. DSST’s are the actual tests and DSST’s can be taken by anyone regardless of military service or military history. They are worth three college hours or credits each. They offer thirty eight subjects such as astronomy, art, criminal justice, counseling, IT and law enforcement that you may choose from. The test is $80 per class and you will also pay $20 to $25 for the proctoring fee per class. They are administered on a computer and you will receive your test result immediately following the exam.


These exams are a series of tests offered by Excelsior College in New York. Each exam corresponds to a one or two semester introductory or secondary course on the top. Most ECE exams are equivalent to three to six college credits and a lot of them are upper level credit. Their exams include nursing, medical, law, finance, human resources and others. The costs for their exams are around $165 to $335 for each exam depending the test. Additionally, you will pay a proctor fee of $20 to $25 per test. You must find a place to proctor the exam and the results are available immediately.


These tests are specifically designed for particularly courses at the Thomas Edison State College. They offer twenty three exams in English, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Business management. The costs for their exams are $99 each plus the proctor fees. The student must find a location to take the test, and the results are available immediately.

Completed credits from other accredited colleges can be transferred to these mentioned schools and students are encouraged to make the transfer.

ALEKS or Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces, is an online artificial intelligence engine that teaches you math from K-12 and college algebra, trig, pre-calculus and statistics. You can get a total of nine classes equaling twenty seven credits in math. Unlike the other exams, these can be done at home and one class can be completed, if one applies themselves, in one day. The costs for these is $20 per month and if you apply yourself, you should have all nine classes completed within the first month.

Straighter Line is an alternative to CLEP and DSST classes. They currently offer over forty classes and you can complete your freshman year and then some with them online. You can also do this one from home without having to go to a testing center. The costs for this program is $99 a month and $39 per class. These classes can also be completed at one a day if you really apply yourself.

Straighter Line currently has an arrangement with only a small handful of schools with regard to transferring credits so be sure to check with your school to make sure they are part of the arrangement Straighter Line has.

FEMA which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency also offers approximately 120 courses for credit at no cost to the student. These are probably my favorite ones. Completion time is approximately one hour each and the three schools mentioned here will accept approximately 32 credits from FEMA. You will have to check with the individual school to know which classes are acceptable for that school. Most if the courses are worth one credit while a few others are valued at 1/2 credit.

There are other courses that are eligible for college credits if they have been ACE approved.

Step two is picking your school. The requirements fro the schools other than what was listed in the beginning here, is that they accept a full 120 credits for a bachelors degree.

The Thomas Edison State College.

TESC is a fully regionally accredited college, located in Trenton, New Jersey. They offer bachelors of arts, science or bachelors of science of business administration. They accept 120 transfer credits, offer financial aid for the completion of a one hour capstone course prior to graduation. If you have all of your credits then it would cost you approximately $1500 to $3000 to get your bachelors degree.

Excelsior College.

Excelsior College is a fully regionally accredited school located in Albany, New York. They offer the same basic courses and programing as TESC. The costs are also in the same approximate range as TESC.

Charter Oaks State College

Charter Oaks State College a public state funded school, fully accredited and located in Connecticut. They offer concentrations in their bachelors programs instead of majors. This offers a bit more flexibility as you are able to broaden your studies a little bit. They only offer associates or batchelors degrees unlike the other schools. The costs of Charter Oaks is competitive with TESC and Excelsior and financial aid is also available.

Step three is putting it all together.

Depending on what degree you are striving to complete, check the websites or call the above schools. Each one varies a little bit in what exact classes are needed to graduate as far as amount of upper and lower level credits to graduation. After checking with them and the website to verify the degree and program you are most interested in, make yourself a degree plan. By following y real life experience, it is possible to get four degrees in two years for $10,000. Play it smart and remember once you have taken the classes for one degree sometimes it is only a matter of four or five more classes to complete another branch of your education. Two of the schools listed above offer a master degree program. They will accept your full 120 credits for your bachelor degree and fifteen of your thirty three credits needed for a masters degree. After you transfer in fifteen credits for the masters degree program, that leaves you six classes to complete. This will bring you to being able to almost test straight out of college for your masters degree


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    • profile image

      Sam 2 years ago

      Question: is 6mo realistic with a 40hr/week job? Can you explain any further about how you did this?

      For instance, the test-outs I've seen seem to only fulfill what I did for my associates. How did you get upper level credits? Please elaborate. Also, any study tips for the tests? Please and THANK YOU.

      If this is real, I will swear to everyone (& I'm not religious ) that God has a angel on earth and it's you.

    • profile image

      suseendiran 3 years ago

      ba degree wanted

    • profile image

      Jessica Noel 5 years ago

      This was fascinating! Voted up and am certainly going to check out some of the resources you've listed.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 5 years ago from India

      Very interesting. We don't have the credit system in most colleges in India with the exception of IGNOU

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I've never heard of all these resources. Good Hub with useful info. I voted it UP, etc.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Did not even know that there were programs like this. I am aware of the Empire State College in New York State which allows you to use life experiences for some credits but it still takes more that 6 months to graduate.

    • amos316 profile image

      amos316 5 years ago

      Thank You for the vote glad you liked it its amazing what can be done if you think outside the box

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      That's interesting side of gaining education. voted up as interesting :)