Report: Student Savings from Saylor Direct Credit Courses

In December of 2012, Saylor Academy officially launched a program aimed at providing students with opportunities to receive transferable college credit for our tuition-free courses. The cost for this credit: time spent learning from one of our free courses, and $25 to have an exam proctored. This initiative has since taken on a name, Saylor Direct Credit, and has grown from three courses at its outset (BUS205, BUS210, and POLSC201) to include 22 different Saylor Academy courses recommended for 64 credits.

During the three and half years since we began offering these credit recommended courses, we have included this model of affordable education in grant and prize applications, given numerous presentations about it at educational conferences and workshops, and have even had a case study published in a peer reviewed academic journal.

And while we have updated our community over the years about new courses earning credit recommendations, one thing we have not done, until today, is publicly share our results of this project. So let us do that:

  • Proctored exams for these 22 courses have been passed 311 times, yielding 934 hours of recommended college credit;
  • 132 students have already requested transfer for 213 of these completed courses, for a cumulative 638 hours of credit;
  • the most popular credit recommended course has been BUS203: Principles of Marketing, which 56 students have transferred to a college or university.

Providing the exact savings figure for the above totals is a little tricky. While we do offer the free service of sending official transcripts to schools for students who have completed a Saylor Direct Credit course, some students do opt to have their transcripts sent by the ACE CREDIT service. When we send a transcript ourselves, we know where those transcripts are going and can estimate our students’ savings, based on that school’s listed tuition and fees. We do not, however, know where an ACE requested transcript ultimately ends up.

That being said, we have sent transcripts out for the majority of completed credit courses. Likewise, an overwhelming majority of students have requested that we send their transcripts to one particular school among our listed Partner Schools. Using that school’s listed prices gives us a good estimate of total savings for all students to date. We also know, as the numbers above suggest, that so far students who transfer Saylor courses tend to do so on an a la carte basis. Although a number of students have completed and transferred an entire semester’s worth of credit, the average per student is 4.8 hours of credit. Therefore, when calculating savings, it makes sense to do so using the per-credit price, rather than using the (somewhat lower) cost of a credit hour in a comprehensive tuition plan. So, with all of that as background:

  • For credit already transferred, we estimate a cumulative savings to students in the range of $240,630 – $318,362 (based on in-state versus out-of-state pricing, and taking into account the cost to students for proctoring);
  • the per-student savings are $1,820.11 – $2,371.11 (not including savings to students of the costs of course textbooks and other resources, which are free in Saylor courses);
  • the highest estimated individual student savings to date is $7,360;
  • for all credit recommendations earned so far, including those not yet transferred, estimated savings range from $351,815 – $458,291.

Analysis

On a per student basis, the above numbers are already very encouraging. Speaking from a personal standpoint, having an extra $1,800 in my bank account while in school would have made a huge difference. Also encouraging is the fact that much of the activity for these courses has occurred recently: 190 of the 311 completed Saylor Direct Credit courses were passed in the last calendar year. Even if the rate we have seen for the first three months of 2016 stays level, this year alone students will complete our credit recommended courses another 260 times, nearly doubling what we have seen from late 2012 until present. Reaching $1 million in student savings is truly not far off.


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Top Comments

  1. Good analysis. We should also note that for the majority of the program, until very recently we did not have as large of a credit bearing catalog as we do today. That too should increase the numbers.

    Also, we did zero advertising and today there are more than twice as many colleges that accept our credits, with that number set to grow. While we still won't do much advertising beyond some social media pushes the increase in transfer partners should also increase the numbers.

    Finally, the overall awareness of "alternative credit" is beginning to increase. As the general awareness rises, we should see an increase too as people discover we are the lowest cost option.

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