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About Affordable Colleges Online


Inflation Cost Increase:


College Costs Increase:




In 2000:

$12, 922

In 2015:







Why Are We Here?

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

  • 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 and scholarship opportunities that fit their 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.

  • 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.

What Do We Do?

ACO creates in-depth resources that address topics, questions and concerns related to higher education with an eye on affordability and accreditation. Our resources include comprehensive guidebooks, student interviews, user-friendly search tools, federal datasets and other materials created and vetted by experts in their fields.

Who Are We?

Our extended team has decades of combined experience in higher education and includes former teachers, subject-matter specialists, veterans’ education experts and more.

The ACO Team

Doug Jones

Founder & CEO

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

Senior VP of Content

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.

Shelby Brown

Senior Content & Marketing Operations Associate

Shelby holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno where she developed her skills in strategic communications. After graduation, she joined ABUV and now works with the content and marketing team. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, attending concerts, and obsessing over her pug, Murphy.

Rory O’Brien

Director of Marketing Research & Operations

Rory is a Reno native and graduate of the information systems program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Before joining ABUV he sold hedge fund software for four years, ran his own digital marketing agency, and worked for a hyper-growth startup in the recruitment industry, wearing every hat imaginable. He lives in San Francisco with his girlfriend and two dogs, Tucker and Conan O’Brien.

Brice Esplin

Outreach & Growth Manager

Brice is a Nevada native, originally from the small town of Elko and a University of Nevada, Reno graduate with degrees in psychology and communications. Previously, he held diverse positions in semiconductor market research and heavy industrial sales and marketing. Brice applies his knowledge and skills in data analysis, sales and marketing strategy, and public relations work to aid the ABUV team. Outside the office, you can find him traveling, hiking and camping, and practicing videography.

Ryan Kelly

Marketing Manager

Ryan Kelly, a Bay Area native, moved to Reno to pursue an education from the University of Nevada. During his time at the university, Ryan worked with multiple clients as a media consultant where he developed his skills in social media, public relations, and marketing. He recently graduated from UNR with a degree from The Reynolds School of Journalism, and joined the ABUV team as a campaign manager on the marketing team.

Megan Filbin

Campaign Manager

Megan is a native Nevadan and a recent graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno, where she received her degrees in economics and marketing. She has started her professional marketing career at ABUV and looks forward to being a part of its growth. In her spare time, Megan likes to explore the Reno and Lake Tahoe area and obsess over her planner.

Roy Rojas

Inside Sales Rep

Roy is a Northern Nevada native and earned his marketing degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. He’s held sales positions in home automation, logistics, and advertising and joins ABUV as an Inside Sales Representative. When he’s not hungry for sales, you can find him on the slopes, on the greens, or on the beach at Lake Tahoe.

Sai Yallapragada

Director of Web Platforms

Sai brings more than two decades of experience in technology and business to ABUV. He has worked as a technology consultant for corporations such as Ford and Pfizer and has been a full-time employee for start-ups and big companies. He has experience in starting and managing businesses in the web development and data analytics areas. Most recently, he worked for International Game Technology (IGT) leading software development for casino slot machines. Sai has a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, Springfield and an MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno. When not immersed in the tech world, Sai enjoys playing racquetball and golf and spending time with his wife, son, and Zach – the Rottweiler.

David Uhrig

Senior Software Developer

David is a Reno native and University of Nevada alumni. Before joining Abuv, David worked on a variety of systems ranging from Business Intelligence Dashboards for large corporations to Transport Telemedicine for the military. David spends his free time traveling the world, enjoying sports, managing large online communities, and doing recreational mathematics and statistics on games.

Steven Mares


Steve began his career in public accounting after earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting from California State University, San Bernardino. He is a licensed California CPA and brings to ABUV numerous years of accounting and management experience having worked in various industries. When not working, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Joey, and their three beautiful daughters.

Doug Milnes

Senior Director of Monetization

Doug has more than a decade of experience working in finance and analytics primarily in media technology companies. He has a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics economics combined from Whitman College and a master’s in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. Most recently Doug held an advanced analytics role at Clorox assessing the impact of the company’s multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns using a variety of statistical methods and models.

Contributing Experts

Dr. Chester Goad

Administrator & Disability Advocate

Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator and graduate instructor, former K-12 principal and teacher, former US congressional staffer, author and blogger. He is coauthor of Tennessee’s Dyslexia Is Real law and has presented on disability and leadership-related topics everywhere from Appalachia to Africa. He sits on the editorial review board of the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability and on the board of directors for the Association on Higher Education and Disability. A leader in education, nonprofit advocacy, parenting issues, access and policy, Goad has been quoted in major media outlets such as CNBC, Yahoo, the Washington Post and Forbes Leadership. He is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and Edutopia. You can learn more about Goad and his Amazon best-seller at www.purplepeopleleaderbook.com or www.chestergoad.com.

Read advice from Dr. Chester:

Craig Leets, Jr.

Queer Resource Center Coordinator

Craig Leets, Jr. is the Coordinator of the Queer Resource Center at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Craig earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a minor in Leadership and Organizational Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California before completing his M.A. in Counseling and Personnel Services with a focus in College Student Personnel at the University of Maryland, College Park. While working on his master’s, Craig was employed by UMD as a Resident Director, where he worked on gender-inclusive housing, an inclusive language campaign, and a coming out support group for students. Prior to coming to PSU in October 2013 to lead the QRC, Craig worked at Penn State University as the Assistant Director for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally (LGBTA) Student Resource Center.

Read advice from Craig:

Deborah Fox

College Funding Expert

Deborah Fox has been a financial advisor in San Diego, CA for over 25 years and is known as one of the leading college funding experts in the country. She founded Fox College Funding LLC to help guide families through the complexities of college funding strategies and applying for college financial aid. Her company provides comprehensive college funding planning services nationwide. Fox also provides advanced college planning continuing education to financial advisors and tax professionals through Fox College Funding Academy.

Read advice from Deborah:

Echo Lynch

Financial Aid Program Officer

Echo Lynch is a Program Officer in the Financial Aid Office at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. She has 18 years of experience in student services and financial aid and is dedicated to helping first generation, low-income and minority families.

Read advice from Echo:

Katie Schellenberg

Founder, Learning Lab LA & Beyond Tutoring

Katie Schellenberg is the CEO and Founder of the educational blog BeyondTutoring and Learning Lab LA, a concierge and academic advocacy firm focused on creating and cultivating lifelong success through learning. After graduating magna cum laude from the USC, Katie went on to attend UCLA’s School of Law and USC’s Rossier School of Education, where she received a master’s degree in teaching. She is passionate about learning and education, and her background reflects extensive experience in working with students with a wide range of disabilities and teaching a wide swath of subjects. Katie continued to successfully and comprehensively advocate for students at all levels of education.

Read advice from Katie:

Ron Kness

Veterans Expert

Ron retired with 36 years of military service. His assignment as Supervisor of Military Personnel Services (including the Education Benefits Section) provided him with a wealth of knowledge, training and experience with the GI Bills and post-secondary education in general. His last assignment was the 34th Infantry (Red Bull) Division Command Sergeant Major/E-9.

Read advice from Ron:

Contributing Writers

Abby Herman

Abby Herman is a writer and journalist with years of experience covering topics in higher education and workforce development. A former classroom teacher and corporate-world professional, Abby also has first-hand knowledge of continuing education and its benefit to both employees and employers. From required teacher recertification to voluntary communication classes, Abby has experienced professional development from multiple perspectives.

Read articles by Abby:

Jana Cary-Alvarez

Jana was educated in the Pacific Northwest and recently replanted to the Sonoran Desert. Her hobbies include birding, aquarium-keeping, drawing, and of course, writing. In addition to her work with ABUV Media, Jana is also a communications assistant for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Read articles by Jana:

Jeff Benson

Jeff Benson has contributed articles to Via, Sunset Magazine and Inspired Bali. In his spare time, he writes and edits curricula for African schools. He’s currently trying to finish his first novel. Find his work at jeffbensonwrites.com.

Read articles by Jeff:

Jennifer Koebele

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.

Read articles by Jennifer:

Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman, JD, is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. As a freelance writer, Hoffman specializes in research and writing higher education content, from online learning to financial aid, and everything in between.

Read articles by Michael:

Rob Sabo

Rob Sabo is a veteran writer based in Reno, Nev. who specializes in journalism, marketing communications and web content development. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, and when not at his desk he often can found exploring the rugged beauty of northern Nevada on a dirt bike or mountain bike.

Read advice from Rob:


Affordable Colleges Online


Affordable Colleges Online

P.O. Box# 77022
San Francisco, CA 94107


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