Make Going Back to College the Right Choice… Financially

Going to college at any stage of life is a big decision, regardless of whether it’s right after high school or down the road after you have established a number of years of work experience, as many adult students are now doing. College requires a great commitment of time, energy, and money. For many, it is the financial aspect that is the greatest deterrent. However, earning a college degree is a very rewarding achievement for many, which makes the sacrifices, including the financial sacrifice, more manageable to endure. Also, for many enrolled in an online college, financial aid is a possibility.

Many students considering going back to college are looking to student loans as an option to help them afford college in order to achieve the higher education they desire, whether they are looking to advance their career or to pursue a new career path. In addition to using a portion of their earnings and savings to finance their education, many colleges help students to explore the resources of scholarships. Some employers provide educational benefits for employees and for dependents of employees. With all of these resources, there will still continue to be a demand for student loans. Financial aid options can be as unique as the students seeking them, which has encouraged potential students to do their research when determining the best options available to them.

If you’re enrolled or looking to enroll in an online college, financial aid can help cover the cost of your education. The first step to receiving financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA), which is a valuable source of free information about the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The Federal Direct Stafford Loan funds are awarded to students and the funds are sent directly to the college from the federal government. Students must be formally accepted into the college and have plans to attend classes on at least a part-time basis per semester or term.

The Office of Financial Aid at Linfield College works with the individual student to make sure that the financial aid offered is the maximum amount they can receive. Student loans can cover a variety of college-related expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and school supplies, even transportation and personal expenses.

The financial aid office at Linfield can answer online college financial aid questions and strives to provide the best service for each student, with a simple step-by-step process. Our financial aid counselors are able to help each Linfield College student learn more about the financial aid and student loan options for which they are qualified. Federal Direct Stafford Loans are administered by Linfield College and have advantages over private education loans made through banks or credit unions. Making the decision to go back to college is difficult, but Linfield College wants to help students alleviate some of the financial concerns surrounding the achievement of a higher education.

Why wait? Now is the time to take that next step in your education. If you’re in need of online college financial aid, contact Linfield’s Online and Continuing Education Program today to take the next step in achieving your dream of a college education.

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How to Complete CPA Exam Requirements Online

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A career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can be both financially lucrative and professionally fulfilling. In fact, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked CPA sixteenth in a profile of the “100 Best Jobs.” With high marks for personal satisfaction, job security and future growth, as well as average salary of $73,800, it should come as no surprise that a career as a CPA is appealing to many people.

With the growth of online education in recent years, there has been increased interest in meeting CPA exam requirements through the pursuit of an online accounting degree or certificate. Depending on whether you have obtained a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, you have different options for pursuing education online that will prepare you for the CPA exam.

While myths persist in some circles that a master’s degree in accounting or finance is necessary to become a CPA, the truth is that nearly all states require one of two academic paths, and both require only a bachelor’s degree, a goal that, increasingly, can be attained through online accounting degree programs.

Essentially, becoming a CPA, whether by traditional or online academic paths, crystallizes to what some refer to as the “three E’s.” The first “E” is, of course, education. The second is “examination.” And the third is “experience.”

The education aspect of becoming a CPA involves choosing between two approaches. A regionally accredited bachelor’s degree in accounting that includes 150 semester credits is the most direct educational route. In Oregon, for the 150 semester credits, 24 of those must be in business-related subjects such as business administration, law, economics, finance communication, and 24 of the semester credits must be in accounting. These are common requirements, but each student should check with their State Board of Accountancy. Students can choose to complete their bachelor’s degree through an online accounting degree program or through traditional in-class learning.

For those who have not earned a bachelor’s degree, there are numerous colleges and universities that offer accounting degrees online. As is the case in face-to-face learning, educators who teach online courses have great latitude in designing courses that are uniquely their own, customizing the approach to fit the material and employing new technologies—such as blogs, chat rooms, discussion boards, websites, streaming video, or podcasts—to engage and inspire their students.

However, since many bachelor’s degrees in accounting are conferred before the completion of 150 semester credits, supplemental coursework is often necessary. For students short of 150 semester units, or for those students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in an area of study outside of accounting, supplemental coursework requirements can be met through the completion of a regionally accredited post baccalaureate accounting certificate. Though some choose to pursue their certificate in a traditional in-class setting, many students today are opting to earn their accounting certificate online.

When deciding whether to pursue an online accounting degree or certificate to prepare for the Uniform CPA Exam, it’s important to consider whether you have the capacity to be a successful online and self-directed learner. Online learning is a little different than classroom learning. You must organize and structure your time. You are the seeker of information. Participation is not optional. The advantages of taking classes online are the flexibility and ease of access.

Once the education requirements have been met, the pursuit of an online accounting degree or certification continues with the second “E,” the examination phase. The CPA exam, or Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, is required by all state boards of accountancy in the United States. The Uniform CPA Exam consists of four distinct sections:

  1. Auditing and Attestation
  2. Financial Accounting and Reporting
  3. Regulations
  4. Business Environment and Concepts

The sections can be completed separately, but all four must be completed within an 18-month time frame. Despite the prevalence of online accounting degree programs, there is currently no online-based Uniform CPA Exam; the exam must be taken only at approved testing facilities.

Prior to taking the exam, it can be tremendously helpful to review the CPA exam site, which includes CPA exam requirements, tutorials, and sample tests that can be taken online, as well as visiting your state board of accountancy for a full list of state-specific requirements to sit for the CPA exam.

After the completion of the required education and examination, prospective CPAs are left but with one step to certification, the third “E” of experience. In order to become a CPA in most U.S. states and jurisdictions, one must meet strict experience-based requirements that vary by state but can include all of the following:

  1. Working under the supervision of a CPA in good standing who has been licensed to practice, in any state, for a period of five years or more.
  2. Creating a portfolio that demonstrates experience and proficiency in fundamental areas of competency.
  3. Passing an Ethics examination that establishes an understanding of the Code of Professional Conduct expected in the accounting field.

After completing the “three E’s,” prospective CPAs are eligible to apply for an accounting license, a process overseen at the state level by each state’s board of accountancy. For more detailed information from each jurisdiction and/or state, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy can be an invaluable resource.

Whether you choose to pursue an online accounting degree or prefer a traditional in-class format, becoming a CPA can be a great start toward a rewarding career.

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RN to BSN in High Demand – Nurses Transforming the Healthcare System

 For Registered Nurses (RNs) who may be thinking about going back to school for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), now is the perfect time. The growing need for nurse leaders in the changing world of health care, as well as the increasing availability of flexible BSN programs, have created a perfect storm of opportunity.

With the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the country took steps to transform our health care system, and nurses serve a fundamental role in this transformation. The groundwork for this change was established in 2008, when the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) launched an initiative that would assess and re-envision the nursing profession. A RWJF committee on the Future of Nursing put forth an action-oriented blueprint for the profession and made the following recommendations:

  • Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training;
  • Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression;
  • Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States;
  • Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and information infrastructure (IOM, 2010).

Nursing education programs, like the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing, have responded to this initiative by promoting seamless academic progression through the development of high-quality BSN completion programs and articulation agreements with Associate Degree programs at community colleges.

RNs have responded to these initiatives, as well. In the United States, the number of nurses who have enrolled in RN to BSN programs has jumped from 77,259 in 2010 to 130,345 in 2014, which is a 69% increase (AACN, 2015). In Oregon, the numbers of ADN and BSN graduates is growing. According to the Oregon Center for Nursing (2015):

  • 39,454 Registered Nurses working in Oregon
  • 47% have earned an Associate Degree in Nursing
  • 43% have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
  • 4% have earned a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Nursing

However, even at the rate that nurses are being educated, there is evidence that the supply of RNs will still decrease in coming years due to high numbers of nurses planning to retire.

In 2010, the IOM recommended that 80% of RNs attain a BSN or higher by 2020, believing that a BSN will “introduce students to a wider range of competencies in such arenas as health policy and health care financing, community and public health, leadership, quality improvement, and systems thinking.”

In an effort to advance education for nurses, two faculty members in the RN to BSN program at Linfield College, Paul Smith and Melissa Jones, have joined the Education Work Group of the Oregon Action Coalition. This work group is charged with promoting BSN and higher levels of education for nurses in Oregon – a mission that both Linfield professors support.

“I began my nursing career as an associate degree nurse and went back to school in order to obtain my BSN. As a former associate degree nurse educator, I understand and value the knowledge that the students bring with them to the RN to BSN program,” said Professor Smith.

“As a faculty member in Linfield’s RN to BSN program, I view my role as not only a facilitator of education, but also a supporter of students as they transition not only in their professional role, but also in their transition to online education. I am always amazed at the growth that occurs with students once they enter the program and I am excited and rejuvenated when a student begins to entertain the thought of continuing his or her education in order to achieve an advanced degree.”

As the demand for baccalaureate-prepared Registered Nurses continues to grow in Oregon and across the county, there is no better time to start working toward the next step in your career.

Contact Linfield today to find out how you can start advancing your nursing education immediately. Linfield RN to BSN students benefit from an innovative, community-based curriculum, academic and faculty advising, financial aid assistance, and the flexibility of asynchronous online classroom attendance. Students know they are earning a high quality degree that is valuable and respected industry-wide.

Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing provides an accredited online RN to BSN program. Linfield College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU). The School of Nursing is accredited by the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the nation’s leading accrediting agency for baccalaureate and graduate level nursing programs.

Find more quick facts about Nursing in Oregon:

Nursing Education in Oregon

“I am an Oregon Nurse” – Oregon Center for Nursing

Sources:

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2015). New AACN Data Confirm Enrollment Surge in Schools of Nursing. Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/news/articles/2015/enrollment

Institute of Medicine. (2010). The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Washington, DC: The National Academic Press.

 

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