Dr. Ryan Brown is a professor of Psychology at the University of Oklahoma, Academy father, and member of our Board of Governors.

Dr. Ryan Brown is professor of Psychology at the University of Oklahoma, Academy father, and member of our Board of Governors.

I was speaking with a mom recently about the dual-credit option that The Academy has worked out with Oklahoma Christian University, which allows students to take certain approved courses at The Academy and receive college credit (complete with official transcript) for those courses from OCU. These college credits could then be transferred to another school a few years later, at the discretion of the college or university in question.

This mom had a strange look on her face. Despite my psychological training, I could not at first identify the nature of her expression. “So, you think the $600 fee associated with this dual-credit thing is a good deal?” she asked tentatively. “I do,” I replied. That was when the reason for her expression became clear.

“How can you say that?” she exclaimed. It felt as if she were suggesting that I was trying to sell her a used car that I knew had a hidden defect. “Six hundred dollars for a 3-credit class is equivalent to $200 per credit hour. That’s almost twice the cost of credit hours at OU! How can you think this is a reasonable plan?” She definitely thought I was trying to pull something over on her. I tried not to react defensively.

“Well, you aren’t quite correct in your calculations,” I replied. “Let’s do the math.”

For this, I drew upon my recent investigations into the actual costs of attending college at OU or OSU, assuming a student is paying in-state rates. My wife and I have begun to take these costs much more seriously now that we have a son in the Rhetoric School at The Academy. This means we only have 4 more years to save for college. We are beginning to feel slightly panicked, to be perfectly honest. We aren’t ready, not by a long shot.

“The true cost of attending OU, according to OU’s own data, is at present approximately $24,000 a year.” She looked a little shocked at this figure. “That amount includes tuition, required fees, room and board, books, and miscellaneous living expenses. Yes, tuition alone is only about $4000 a year for a full load (30 hours), which is roughly $130 per credit hour. But you can’t just pay tuition when you pay for college. Required fees alone are nearly equivalent to the cost of tuition, and you do have to eat and live somewhere, even if it’s not on campus. You also have to buy books. So, we can pay $24,000 a year for 10 courses, or $12,000 a semester for 5 courses, by sending our student to OU or OSU, which are two of the less expensive universities to attend in the region.”

Let me be clear. Finding an extra $600 is not going to be easy for us; our couch does not hold that much loose change. But if I expect my kids to attend college, which I do (having no clear sense that God has an alternative plan for them), then figuring out ways to help them earn college credits through The Academy is not just shrewd economics; it’s good stewardship. If I’m going to pay for college hours, then I’d rather do so at a quarter of the true cost than at full cost. Wouldn’t you?