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Penn Foster is one of the pioneers of distance learning with over 125 years in education. Thomas J. Foster is responsible for founding the first Penn Foster program. It was originally created to help coal miners with the education they need to advance in their careers and increase worker safety. After their founding in 1890, Penn Foster eventually grew to provide blended and online learning services to students. Today, Penn Foster graduates over 30,000 students each year across the United States and allows the schedule flexibility some students need in order to further their education. Students have 24/7 access to an online community of both professors and fellow students.

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The Good

  • Available programs
  • Job placement
  • Accreditations 

Available Programs

A large draw to Penn Foster is the fact that they offer a wide range of programs and educational options to their students. To date, there are eighty-nine Penn Foster programs to choose from. Degrees available through these programs include: associate degrees, bachelor degrees, undergraduate certificates, and individual college courses. Although there are nearly ninety programs for students to choose from, the most popular programs at Penn Foster include: business management (bachelor's program), criminal justice (bachelor's program), veterinary technician (associate degree), early childhood education (associate degree), and medical assistance (associate degree).

Job Placement

Not only does Penn Foster offer a number of programs for students to choose from, but they also have a job placement resource/center for students to take advantage of upon graduation. Their career services include more than just a job search platform. Penn Foster has a relationship with Career Cruising that not only alerts students of potential opportunities, but also provides guides and tips for resume improvement and interview preparation. This program is designed to make the job hunt process easier and more accessible to recent graduates.

Accreditations

Penn Foster is both regionally and nationally accredited. In addition to being an accredited university, they have also obtained certain certifications and licenses to operate legitimate educational programs. Penn Foster is regionally accredited by the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Additionally, Penn Foster is nationally accredited by the following organizations: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). These accreditations mean that a students who gets a degree or certificate through Penn Foster will be recognized as a legitimate educational achievement.

The Bad

  • No federal financial aid
  • Unknown graduation rates
  • Cost of attendance

No Federal Financial Aid

As of right now, Penn Foster does not qualify for federal financial aid. There are online schools/programs out there that do qualify for this type of financial assistance. Federal grants and loans can ease the burden of education costs and offset some of the money-related stresses. However, Penn Foster students will not be able to take advantage of any federal financial assistance.

Unknown Graduation Rates

There are roughly 30,000 Penn Foster graduates each year, however the actual rate of students who start and subsequently finish a program with a degree in unknown. Additionally, job placement rates upon graduation are not made available either. These statistics can provide students with an idea of the success rates of Penn Foster programs and degrees.

Cost of Attendance

While Penn Foster provides some information regarding popular program costs per credit hour, they do not offer this information for all programs or even an average of their costs per credit hour. Not knowing how much a program will cost in order to complete can cause some concern for students looking for an affordable way to get the education they need. For those interested in pursuing a degree through Penn Foster will need to go through the application process or contact a department member from their desired program to get pricing specifics.

The Bottom Line

Penn Foster provides students with the ability to get the education or certification they need to advance in a particular field or industry. With the support available to Penn Foster students, finding employment upon graduation seems to be one of the benefits of their online platform. Students in need of a flexible schooling schedule and an array of program options to choose from may want to consider Penn Foster. That being said, there are some unknowns surrounding the pricing, graduation, and even job placement rates.

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