by Lydia Rule
I was beginning to get a little worried. After 12 years of homeschooling, college was just around the corner. It was time to make decisions- and lots of them. As a freelance writer, I wanted to major in professional writing. But one small problem loomed in my way…
Money. Those little green wads of paper that make the world revolve. Twenty grand a year for tuition just wasn’t an option. Neither was going into debt. Today, college loans and bills stalk the college grad for years after graduation. In fact, CNN news reports that loans pay 51% of a college student’s bills.1 It seemed that getting into debt was unavoidable, until my family stumbled upon an answer, a well hidden secret called CLEP tests.
CLEP is short for College Level Examination Program2. College Board, a private company in Princeton, New Jersey, produces the computer-based CLEP tests as well as the highly acclaimed ACT and SAT tests. CLEP tests are an alternative to college classes, allowing you to earn your degree faster and bypass heavy course fees. By taking these tests, you can eliminate lower-level college courses and get college credit. There are 35 distinct CLEP tests, including English, College Algebra, and U.S. History.
The cost of one CLEP test is around $60 and lasts only 90 minutes. The amount of credit awarded for each CLEP depends on the college you enroll in, but the savings are astounding. Since August of 2006, I have earned a total of 39 college credits through CLEP tests for only $560 dollars (plus text books).
Generally, the first year of college is a basic review of high school. Being able to “clep” out of the first two years of college is a financial blessing and a way to shorten years spent in earning your degree. As a homeschooler, I have been taught to work ahead, face challenges and get them done quickly. CLEP tests matched my home-based learning style and offered a less-expensive college route.
(Editor's note: CLEP tests cost $65 each, effective July 1, 2007. Additionally, colleges usually charge "assessment fees" per course or per credit to transcript/evaluate exams. Compare college fee structures carefully before enrolling.)
• First, contact the college you attend or plan on attending. Ask them how many CLEP credits they accept. Also, be sure to get a list of which CLEP tests they will take.
• For those students who are currently enrolled in college, CLEP scores will be reported to your college and kept on file there. However, if you are not enrolled in college yet, transcripts are available through College Board.
• There are testing centers located throughout the U.S. as well as in other countries. See the College Board website for a complete list of testing locations near you2.
• Preparatory CLEP books are available through College Board3. The CLEP Official Study Guide, 18th edition, Princeton Review’s Cracking the CLEP, and several REA (Research and Education Association) titles are reliable study guides.
Another CLEP option is the CollegePlus! program. CollegePlus! is a Christian organization dedicated to helping students earn an accredited college degree for less via CLEP tests and online courses. The CollegePlus! program pairs students with mentors that will guide them through the process of earning their B.A. or B.S. in two years for under $10,000 dollars. CollegePlus! is also endorsed by Texas Homeschool Coalition and works with Regionally Accredited colleges. As a personal testimony, I have enjoyed the one-on-one support structure that the CollegePlus! program has provided. For all of Christian Home and School’s readers, CollegePlus! offers a $50 dollar discount on tuition with the special promotion code 4059.
CLEP tests have financially kept me from excessive college debt. They are fast, efficient, and an enjoyable challenge. In summary, the test’s self-learning format offers a competitive edge for homeschooled students and the cost-effective price of CLEP tests can save you tens of thousands on college tuition.
Now when I’m asked about college, my answer is CLEP, and not student-loan.
Abouth the author: Lydia Rule has been published in NextStep magazine, The Torch, Aboite Independent, Long Story Short, Fundsforwriters, Acceleration, Around the Bloc, and Real Teen Faith. She is currently working on her fifth novel as well as a variety of other writing projects. Visit www.freewebs.com/aroundthebloc/ to read Lydia’s newsletter for young writers.