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CLEP itself does not offer degrees – once you get to 120 credits, you’ll have to transfer them to an accredited college or university to be awarded a degree. Excelsior College is an accredited institution that does not have a residency requirement, which means that 100% of your credits can be taken via CLEP examination. In order to graduate, you’ll have to pay ~$1,500 ($75 to apply, $895 to enroll, and $495 to graduate) to become an Excelsior student and have your credits transferred. Once the transfer is complete, you’ll be awarded an accredited undergraduate degree.
Evaluating the CLEP Approach
The total cost of pursing an undergraduate degree in this fashion is ~$4,000. The cost of examinations is approximately $2,500 for 120 credits, plus the $1,500 for transfer to Excelsior. Even if you plan to purchase the CLEP exam books and add some padding if you need to re-take a test, you should spend no more than $5,000 total.
It’s possible to complete this process in less than a year. Assuming you studied full-time, it’s possible to study for and pass a CLEP examination once every two weeks. If you focus on tests that award higher amounts of credit (6/12 vs. 3), you can accumulate 120 credits in less than a year.