What if you could earn your bachelor’s degree while simultaneously protecting the environment? With the increase in online degree programs over the last ten years, the option is available like never before.

The prices behind traditional universities are gradually rising. We’ve all noticed that. Student debt has reached a whopping $1.3 trillion and, for many prospective graduates, that number isn’t likely to subside anytime soon. Many have found themselves wondering, “How did things get so bad?”

A number of factors contribute to the expanding costs: professor salaries, growing infrastructures, study abroad programs, etc. It seems you’re practically required to sell a kidney to pay off the staggering loans you’ll face upon graduation – but options are available for anyone unwilling to owe his or her life to the bank.


Going Green While Saving Green

One of those options is online education. I completed my undergrad degree through a virtual education program, and while tuition prices aren’t always lower, you can save quite a bit by earning your degree from home. Taking classes through a computer can help students save on gasoline and vehicular expenses that usually come with driving back and forth between one’s abode and one’s campus. Parking permits are no longer needed, nor is student housing.

What’s another great advantage? How about the fact that hundreds of sheets of paper will be saved on your end alone. Allow me to explain…

It’s a disturbing thought that a school district like Alameda County in Northern California will dispose of nearly 12,000 tons of paper each year, and it’s doubly upsetting to think that more than half of that amount could potentially be rescued from the landfill. This is where the word “online” becomes so refreshing. For argument’s sake, we’ll say a typical classroom houses 30 students. By posting essential documents such as study guides, syllabi and test forms online, professors can save up to a thousand sheets of paper per class. In a traditional setting, things like exams and other materials are printed out and handed to individual students, but in four months, the class is over. Any papers that are no longer needed get discarded like unwanted candy wrappers.

Power extends to the students as well. Printing out homework or reports on a regular basis makes your “paper trail” longer than expected. In the midst of that trail is a forest in ruins and a stripped and barren wasteland the size of Dodger Stadium. And for what? Is email a hassle? As an online student, emailing your papers to your professor is just as effective as printing them out and handing them in. It’s not like it affects your grade, and meanwhile, a tree’s life is spared. Speaking of which…

In 2008, the book and newspaper industries of the United States led to the harvesting of nearly 130 million trees, and wastewater production was reaching a new high. In other words, we had lots of books, but things weren’t looking good for the environment. In comparison, one e-reader displaces the purchase of nearly 23 books, saving mass amounts of paper in the process. Online courses will usually offer digital book options to students and attendees alike.

(If a digital reader isn’t for you, at least do the atmosphere a favor and consider purchasing a used book. Placing a used or older edition of a book back in action slows down or outright dispels the need – and printing – of a new book.)


You have your degree, and you never have to turn in another report or homework assignment again. That’s fantastic, but don’t celebrate just yet. In six months, you’ve got some heavy debts to pay off. Or do you?

Sadly, only 50 percent of Americans use online bill pay options, which leads me to believe that the other half is still walking outside every day to find paper statements in the mailbox. How you receive and pay your bills is strictly up to you, but if you’ve completed your degree on-campus, those statements aren’t likely to stop for a long time.


Photo Credit: http://www.401kcalculator.org/

Consider that online classes tend to be somewhat less-expensive than traditional ones. With this in mind, you’ll probably pay less. And the less you owe, the faster you’ll be free of debt. There will likely be fewer statements showing up on your doorstep and more trees given a stay of execution.

Earning an education through the likes of Harvard, Yale or Stanford has its merits, but it’s also helping to destroy a third of the nation’s forests. Before throwing yourself into an arena of high expenses, consider your environment. A few savings can ultimately go a long way when it comes to our ecological future.

To learn more about how to save on your education, and for more on the student debt crisis, visit: www.amazon.com/author/nickmarinoff

Going Green While Saving Green Series

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