How to Earn a College Degree Faster and Cheaper than Everyone Else

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The following is a guest post by Darren.  He loves to help people learn business skills that they can apply to better their lives. Check out his blog at Gain Business Skills and get free updates via his RSS feed.  If you want to submit a guest post you can get information here.

clip_image002Recently, I discovered a legitimate way you can earn a college degree faster and for less money than the average student.

The program is called CLEP, which stands for the College-Level Examination Program. CLEP gives you the chance to earn college credit by passing a series of exams.

The Benefits of CLEP

  • Save time – Depending on your school’s policy, a passing score on each exam will earn between 3 to 12 credits. This lets you skip many general education courses, and move straight to more advanced courses.
  • Save money – Each is exam is only $77, which is a fraction of the tuition you’d pay for a normal college course.
  • Both U.S. and International colleges grant CLEP credit.
  • Accepted at over 2,900 colleges.
  • Military personnel get to take these exams for free.

The Exams

There are 33 exams, which cover material students usually learn in their first two years of college. Most exams correspond to one-semester courses, although some correspond to full-year or two-year courses.

The exams cover five subject areas:

  • Composition and Literature
  • Foreign Languages
  • History and Social Sciences
  • Science and Math
  • Business

Each exam is 90 minutes long, and most consist of multiple-choice questions. Since they’re administered on computer, you’ll get your scores immediately after you finish.

Why Consider CLEP?

Let’s face it. College is expensive. How many of you are still paying off student loans?

Inflation affects all of us, and is challenging enough to deal with. Yet, less than 10 years ago, tuition increased at a ratethree times as high as the general inflation rate.

Because of the cost, a lot of people are kept back from the chance to go to college – an opportunity that many feel is crucial for success in society today.

Potential Challenges

This approach is unconventional, and will take drive and self-discipline. You won’t have professors reminding you to study. You’ll need to take initiative and study on your own.

However, one thing that may help is to find like-minded friends who also want to get ahead, and study together.

Potential Rewards

By going this route, you’ll avoid racking up the huge debts that most graduates have from student loans.

For most people, the purpose of earning a degree is to get a well-paying  job. Graduating sooner than most four-year students allows you to enter the workforce faster. Jumping into the workforce gives you a head start in growing your career and building your wealth.

The less you spend on your college degree in money and time, the greater your return on investment will be.

Notable Colleges That Accept CLEP

There are three colleges that allow 100 percent of the credits required for a degree to be earned from proficiency exams. An important note, however, is that not all of these are from CLEP exams.

Nonetheless, the colleges are Charter Oak State College, Thomas Edison State College, and Excelsior College.

How Do You Get Started?

  1. Find out if the college you want to attend accepts CLEP. Or check out one of the three colleges above.
  2. Decide which exams to take.
  3. Register at your nearest test center by making an appointment. There are over 1,400 worldwide.
  4. Study. Take advantage of free resources, purchase a study guide, or borrow one from the library.

More Information

For a more in-depth guide on how to use CLEP to earn an accredited degree faster and cheaper, check out BA in 4 Weeks.

Last Thoughts

I wish I had this information before I went to college. Had I known about it, I would’ve strongly considered this option.

Now, with awareness of the opportunity, I think many more people will have doors opened to go to college.


  1. says

    I wish I knew about the CLEP program before I started paying for an expensive college tuition. I’m sure many high school graduates, after recently taking SAT and other placement tests, would place very well in these CLEP exams. Even if receiving credit for one or two courses, the savings would be in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on the university. Thank you for making this opportunity more well known and best of luck to those who find themselves planning out a college budget for the future.

    • says

      It is a great way for college students to save a little bit more cash when going through school. I’m glad Darren wrote the article so that anyone who is unfamiliar with the program might be able to take advantage of it.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment.

      I also wish I knew about this before I went to college.

      And I agree that most high school students, since they’re already in the studying and learning environment, would do well on these exams. The key is for them to be exposed to these tests.

      Going this route should save thousands on the total cost of tuition.

      Thanks for letting me post this Craig.

    • says

      Jon, I don’t think they have CLEP exams to test out of a master’s degree.

      But I was just as excited as you were when I learned about this program.

  2. says

    An alternative to this is taking advanced placement (AP) tests in high school. I went to a pretty small high school in Southern California and ended up taking seven AP classes before graduation. I opted to take six tests and, since I passed them all, was given nearly one year’s worth of college credits when I went to community college after graduation. I didn’t actually know all those AP exam credits were worth so much until my second year at CC. Had I been on the ball a little more, I could have finished all of my college study in three years, rather than the four it actually took. And back in the mid-1990s when I took those exams, they only cost about $75 each.

    • says


      As Craig mentioned, taking AP exams is good advice too. Perhaps if you take both AP and CLEP, you can save even more money and graduate even faster!

      This might be geared toward the highly-motivated student though.

  3. says

    I’ve been working in IT for there last few years and something which comes up time and again is web security.
    I’m sure my next move will be to a big business (just like Twitter or Google) to work
    exclusively on website and also user protection.

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