Ashworth College has become an increasingly popular option for people looking to earn their degrees online. With multiple payment options, flexible study programs, and affordable tuition, it’s easy to see the appeal of studying at Ashworth.
However, if you’re considering enrolling at Ashworth, there are a few things you should take into careful consideration first. The biggest issues: accreditation and lack of federal financial aid.
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Let’s take a look at some basic info about Ashworth and then dive into student reviews about the institution.
Ashworth College: the basics
Ashworth College is based in Norcross, GA. The school was founded in 1987, offering a single distance-education course in real estate. From there, the school grew to offer other programs in a variety of disciplines. It now offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, in addition to several professional certificates.
All of Ashworth’s classes are offered online—the school doesn’t have a physical campus. However, students will still get the thrill of donning a cap and gown at graduation. Every year, Ashworth holds an in-person graduation ceremony in Atlanta.
In addition to college programs, the school offers online high school and professional certificate programs. College-level offerings include:
Master of Business (MBA)
Computer Information Systems
Early Childhood Education
Human Resource Administration
Human Resource Management
Veterinary Practice Management
Ashworth College is accredited, but not in the same way that many other colleges are. Ashworth’s accreditation is through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a national accrediting body that evaluates online-only and distance-education institutions.
In general, colleges and universities are evaluated and accredited by regional accrediting commissions. These bodies provide peer review of degree programs to ensure that they meet the minimum standards required for students to graduate with a certain level of competence for their chosen area of study.
So what does this mean to you? National accreditation doesn’t always carry the same weight as regional accreditation. That means two things:
It may be hard to transfer your credits if you decide to study elsewhere.
Your degree may not be recognized as valid in certain fields.
On the plus side, nationally accredited schools may have less-stringent admission requirements and may be more affordable.
Tip:Think carefully about your education and career goals. Do some research to find out what kind of degree someone in your chosen field would normally have. If you’d like to enter a field that doesn’t necessarily require a degree, a nationally accredited school may be a great choice to boost your knowledge at a reasonable price point.
If you intend on transferring to another school at some point, or intend to pursue a master’s degree later on, it may be safer to stick to regionally accredited institutions.
No financial aid
Unlike most post-secondary schools, Ashworth does not offer or accept financial aid, such as the FAFSA, otherwise known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Why that's a problem: Even with rock-bottom tuition rates, you may be paying more out-of-pocket than you would with financial aid.
Many students are able to get "free money" for college in the form of federal grants after filling out the FAFSA. The Pell Grant could be worth up to $6,095 per school year. Students with exceptional need may qualify for additional aid in the form of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), which pays up to $4,000 per year.
Beyond federal aid, many colleges and universities accept state student aid, and may even offer their own grants and scholarships.
Ashworth also doesn't accept private student loans. That means if you attend Ashworth, your school is also your lender. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you can graduate without debt. However, it's wise to make sure you're not accidentally saying no to financial aid that you might have been eligible for by filling out the FAFSA.
Online student reviews
Now let’s find out what Ashworth’s students and graduates have to say. But first, remember that with any online reviews, it’s important to keep in mind that people are more likely to leave a review after a negative experience.Manyschools have more negative than positive sentiments.
In addition, remember that with any school, you get out of it what you put into it. Late payments or incomplete assignments will definitely result in a negative experience. So while we, as readers, want to give the online reviewers the benefit of the doubt that they did what was required of them, it’s still wise to take the reviews with a grain of salt.
In any case, it's wise to pay attention to complaints that crop up in multiple reviews.
Ashworth is about $84 per credit according to one reviewer, which is in the same price range as a community college. As a point of comparison, Athens Technical College in Athens, GA, is $89 per credit for Georgia residents and $178 for out-of-state students.
Tuition rates vary by program, though, so carefully check the prices your area of interest. (The school's site notes an average rate of $69 per credit.)
Of course, affordability is only a selling point if your degree accomplishes what you hope it will. Review the section above on accreditation before you enroll.
While we couldn't find any reviews that specifically remarked on the school's payment plan, their website states that they offer a variety of payment options, as well as 0% financing to help students graduate debt-free. The school does not, however, accept federal student loan assistance.
Few online-only schools hold in-person graduation ceremonies, but Ashworth is an exception. After all your hard work, receiving you degree in front of family and friends is an excellent way to celebrate your achievement.
The ceremony generally takes place in late summer in Atlanta.
Pro: Can be good for working professionals
One reviewer noted that, in her opinion, it’s unlikely Ashworth will help you break into a new field, but she also stated that an Ashworth certification can be helpful if you’re already a working professional and want to advance in your occupation. She noted that her husband is a police officer and was able to nab a promotion thanks to his attendance at Ashworth.
Pro: Lots of schedule flexibility
Ashworth’s programs are asynchronous, meaning that you can start or finish at any time. There are no particular times you need to login for lectures or group discussions.
You don't have to wait for a semester to start and you can move at your own pace. Students who want to graduate quickly were able to achieve that, assuming they were able to get all their class materials quickly.
Con: Customer service may be lacking
There were quite a bit of complaints about the school's customer service. Several reviews noted that students were unable to clear up problems over the phone, that customer service reps were not very friendly, or that they were given the run-around on answers to questions about their enrollment status.
Pro/Con: The schools provides your books
Several students who reviewed the school onYelpcomplained that they had problems with their books. The most-common woe was that books were on back-order, which delayed people from starting their coursework right away.
However, other students countered that that their books were available online and they had no issues. One student even noted that the books were included in the cost of tuition.
Ashworth’s website states that some classes use only ebooks which can be accessed online. If a class requires a physical book of some kind, the school states that they will be sent via USPS within 24 hours of your enrollment.
Pro: Help for learning-disabled students
One learning-disabled student wrote a glowing review of the school. The student recounted several experiences with discrimination at other schools, but felt that Ashworth has been both welcoming and helpful. At the time of the review, the student had achieved junior-year status.
Con: Credits may not transfer
As we mentioned above, Ashworth credits may not be recognized by other colleges and universities. Several reviewers noted this roadblock.
However, some students did report successful credit-transfer to other institutions.
Tip: Ashworth has pre-existing transfer agreements with several schools. If you think you may transfer at some point, be sure to check the list and take classes that will count at your potential future school.
Con: Aggressive collections
Many online students complained about billing practices and aggressive collections if they were late with payments. Here, it's not possible for us to know if the students were making a good-faith effort to make their payments or not, but we did see multiple complaints about this.
Tip:Before you enroll, ask for a copy of their payment policy so you can be clear about what might happen if you fall behind.
If a college degree is really what you're after, the accreditation issue makes Ashworth a risk. In addition, the lack of federal financial aid is extremely concerning. The truth is that you may be able to get a degree from an accredited institution at a much-lower cost.
On the flipside, many students reported positive experiences, both in degree and certificate programs.
Tip:Many community colleges now offer online options. Transferring from a community college to an online program at a state school is one of the most-affordable ways to earn a bachelor's degree.
Since college is such a big investment, it's always wise to do a bit of comparison shopping before enrolling anywhere. With so many online education programs popping up these days, you'll certainly have plenty of options to choose from.
Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer