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Leaders in Professional, Continuing and Online Education

An online degree program can be a big investment. Luckily for 37-year-old northern Virginia resident Grant Clough, his employer offers workers $8,000 per year toward tuition reimbursement for those who choose to continue their education.

Clough, director of talent acquisition at AARP, initially considered an MBA program, possibly on campus. But he ultimately decided against pursuing another business degree, in part because he studied accounting as an undergraduate.

He then came across the online Master of Studies in Law at Wake Forest University, and it turned out that his employer would be covering nearly all his tuition. With the online format, he would also have more flexibility to study around his schedule.

“Working in human resources, it’s fairly a compliance heavy profession,” Clough says. “A lot of what we do revolves around laws and making sure that we process and plan around those. And so, this just kind of seemed like a natural fit.”

When choosing an online degree program, experts suggest consulting a school’s academic or enrollment advisers and other resources to learn more about different ways to cut costs.

Employer tuition reimbursement. Many online students work full time and want to accelerate or change their careers. As more and more institutions offer more degree programs online, it’s becoming increasingly common for companies and organizations to pay for some or all of their employees’ tuition, says Julie Uranis, vice president for online and strategic initiatives at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

“Many years ago, employers were cautious when it came to online learning, but after hundreds of studies showing the efficacy of online learning, employers see financing the educational attainment of their employees for what it is: an investment that pays dividends,” she wrote in an email.

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