If you have a full-time job, small children to look after or other professional or personal obligations, studying online can be your best option. Many busy students combine the convenience of online courses with part-time studies to make their degree possible, but other students are looking to save time and even money by finishing their degree faster. Whether this approach would be right for you depends on your responsibilities outside of school, your plan for paying for school and even which college you choose.

Ways Full-Time Students Can Save Money

If you’re able to make a full-time schedule work, you’ll have to spend more money on tuition up front, but you could also save money in the long run.

For one thing, taking an extra class here and there can allow you to shave a whole semester – or more – off of your studies. Even if you spend the same amount in tuition, you’ll save on fees and other costs. Plus, the sooner you get your degree, the sooner you can use it to find a job, earn a raise or promotion or advance to a higher position.

At certain schools, you can actually save money directly by taking more online classes at a time. Western Governors University is one such school. The college bills tuition by the term rather than the credit, so students can save a great deal of money when they take the maximum amount of courses in a single six-month term. The $2,890 cost per term translates to $320 per credit if you take three classes, but sign up for six and the cost plummets to $160 per credit.

Pitfalls for Part-Time Students to Avoid

Of course, not every student can handle a full-time work load on top of their other responsibilities. Students must set realistic goals, and that includes choosing a manageable course schedule. After all, taking an extra class won’t save you money if you end up failing the course because you don’t have the time to study and do your work.

For students who decide a part-time schedule is right for them, it’s important to be conscious of how much their education will cost in the long run. Part-time students are eligible for federal student loans, often up to the same amounts of money full-time students can borrow.

Unfortunately, borrowing the maximum amount of money is one of the biggest financial mistakes part-time students make, according to U.S. News & World Report. Because their education stretches out over a longer period of time, these students can end up borrowing more money for a longer duration, and the interest on that loan keeps growing. Ultimately, part-time students who don’t borrow wisely can end up with twice as much debt as full-time students, according to U.S. News.

To save money on online college, understand how your school bills and the long-term cost of your education.