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It's hard to say which is more remarkable about Kayla Heard, that she is graduating this spring from Washington State University at age 16 or that she earned her degree without ever entering a classroom. Teen-aged college graduates are rare (shades of "Doogie Howser, M.D.") but online degrees are increasingly common and gaining respect among employers, even when the graduate never had to set his or her actual feet on campus. The home-schooled Union, Wash., girl's attendance by PC in the bedroom space that she calls her "nerd cave" is significant in light of another story in the news: soaring college costs and student loan debt.

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