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About Affordable Colleges Online

college cost trend
College Cost Trend

Rise of Inflation vs. College Costs since 1986

Inflation Cost Increase


College Costs Increase




In 2000


In 2020




in 1980


in 2013




Average Student Debt 2000


Average Student Debt Today

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Affordable Colleges Online works with students, parents, researchers and subject matter experts from across the globe. To get in touch with someone on our team, please use the following contact information:

Why Are We Here?

College costs are on the rise, outpacing the rate of inflation nearly five times over. The percentage of household income needed to pay for college today is as high as 29.3% in some states, a rate that hovered around 7% in 1980. Yet a college education remains a key requirement for career advancement and higher earning potential. Full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of 84% more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.

Who Are We?

Affordable Colleges Online (ACO) began in 2012 with two primary goals.

First: to make college more affordable. Although we can’t pay for tuition bills or offer financial aid directly, we can help students and parents identify colleges, degree programs, scholarship opportunities and more that fit their respective academic and financial wants and needs. Finding higher educational opportunities that hit the cost and quality sweet spot shouldn’t be harder than getting Bigfoot on film.

Second: to spread the importance of accreditation. Whether learning on campus or online, accreditation is a vital component of making sure a student receives a quality education that employers (and other colleges) will accept. With so many non-accredited institutions and degree programs out there, removing them from college search parameters is key.

How Do We Help?

ACO creates in-depth resources that address topics, questions and concerns related to higher education with an eye on affordability and accreditation. Resources include comprehensive guidebooks, student interviews, user-friendly search tools, federal datasets and other materials created and vetted by experts in their fields. Speaking of experts, our extended team includes six PhDs and more than twenty journalists, editors and subject-matter specialists with master’s degrees or related educational credentials.

meet the team
Dan Schuessler

Dan Schuessler Co-Founder & CEO

Dan Schuessler earned his MBA online from Arizona State University in 2004. Before founding Affordable Colleges Online, Dan cut his teeth in the tech world as an analyst for Intel. Dan has a wife Cara and two children, Larkin (4) and Hawken (1). Dan works tirelessly to support higher education, affordability and accreditation.

Doug Jones

Doug Jones Co-Founder

Doug has been in high tech for his entire 13-year career, working in various Silicon Valley companies from large semi conductor firms to small internet start-ups. Since Doug attended Carnegie Mellon University, tuition costs have doubled, and he’s become acutely aware of the social challenge that rising college fees pose on students and families across the country.

Wes Ricketts

Wes Ricketts, MA Content & Communications

Wes earned his master’s degree in history and international relations in 2006, book-ended by teaching stints at the elementary and college levels, respectively. He entered the content side of post-secondary education as an editor in 2007. Wes built upon his editorial experience to become Director of Web Content at one of Silicon Valley’s largest higher education publishers.

Dan Schuessler

Greg Beatty, PhD Online Learning

Greg Beatty earned his PhD in English from the University of Iowa. He has more than twenty years of experience in higher education and has taught traditional, online and hybrid courses. Greg has developed curricula for several colleges and has served on a range of committees and advisory boards. He’s also won grants for course development and awards for teaching.

Jennifer Koebele

Jennifer Koebele, MS Ed Online Learning

Jennifer Koebele has more than ten years of experience researching and writing on topics related to higher education and online learning. She often collaborates with college and career experts to produce in-depth, value-driven guidebooks for current and future college students and young professionals. Jennifer holds a master’s degree in education.

Rhonda Tenenbaum

Rhonda Tenenbaum, MBA MBA and Online Learning

Rhonda Tenenbaum has more than ten years of experience teaching business, communication arts and general education courses at the bachelor’s degree level. She’s taught both on campus and online, and has developed curricula for multiple post-secondary institutions. Rhonda has also served on advisory boards and peer review panels for academic publishers. She earned her MBA in marketing from LIU Post.

Aaron Merlob

Aaron Merlob Data Integrity

Aaron is a data guru skilled in drawing valuable insights from complex datasets. Having worked in academia as well as for various governments and Fortune 500 companies, Aaron has seen and solved a wide variety of data-related issues. In his spare time, Aaron crunches numbers (for fun), reads books on political philosophy, skis and travels as much as possible.

Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman, JD Research & Content Development

A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law, Michael Hoffman nurtured his love for research and writing while a practicing attorney in Los Angeles. Now a freelance journalist, Michael specializes in creating expert-driven guides related to online learning, technology, accreditation and affordability.

Ron Kness

Ron Kness Higher Education for Veterans

Ron Kness retired from military service after 36 years. During his time in the Armed Forces he served as Supervisor of Military Personnel Services, which included Education Benefits, gaining tremendous experience with the GI Bills, Yellow Ribbon Program, scholarships and loans for college. He last served as Sergeant Major/E-9 in the 34th Infantry Division.