50 Most Affordable Online Colleges

College education has become more accessible throughout the 20th century, and technological developments have helped to increase access — students can now learn in just about any space with an internet connection. Online learning gives students the ability to study on their own schedule, offering flexible course hours and the ability to maintain a career. The convenience and flexibility of distance learning has most colleges turning to online programs; trade publication EdTech reports that more than 28% of current college students are enrolled in at least one online course, a figure that equates to more than 5.8 million students.

This ranking compiles some of the cheapest online colleges in the country, all of which allow you to earn a four-year degree fully online. These schools are all fully accredited, academically respected, and offer affordable tuition that won’t leave you drowning in debt. We’ve ranked these schools by cost and by return on investment, highlighting programs that offer the greatest earnings potential after graduation.


50 Most Affordable Online Colleges
Rank School Score Toggle Content
1

University of Florida

Value Score 8.50
Average Tuition $4,477
Students Receiving Financial Aid 96%
Net Price $7,207
Graduation Rate 85%
Student to Faculty Ratio 21:1
Retention Rate 96%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 53%
Number of Online Programs 52

UF is not only one of the most affordable online colleges but also among the most prestigious. The school offers over 50 online degrees through its 16 distinct colleges, allowing all UF students to choose an online major that matches their academic interests. The university's library system is the most comprehensive in Florida, and distance learners have full access to the school's online materials and interlibrary loan services. Distance students can also take online workshops to familiarize themselves with UF's library resources. Online students rank well above national averages in both GPA and SAT scores, and the college's generous financial aid packages allow 66% percent of students to graduate with no student loan debt.


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2

University of Central Florida

Value Score 7.66
Average Tuition $4,478
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $10,637
Graduation Rate 65%
Student to Faculty Ratio 31:1
Retention Rate 88%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 51%
Number of Online Programs 33

Located in Orlando, UCF is the second-largest university in the country, serving more than 63,000 students from all 50 states and nearly 150 different countries. The school ranks among the top 25 public universities in community engagement and research activity, and UCF's 13 colleges offer degrees in everything from history and religion to nursing and creative writing. With two decades as an innovator in educational technology, UCF ranks as one of the most creative universities as well as one of the country's cheapest online colleges. In addition to online majors, students can pursue a variety of online minors offered through the school's various colleges. Online students also have access to a variety of online academic resources, including extensive library services and the university's writing center.


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3

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Value Score 7.33
Average Tuition $6,038
Students Receiving Financial Aid 69%
Net Price $6,451
Graduation Rate 71%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Retention Rate 93%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 35%
Number of Online Programs 35

NC State is a top research university, with 12 colleges representing all major academic disciplines. The school's distance education system boasts top-rated programs in engineering, business, and liberal arts, offering a range of undergraduate, master's, and doctoral programs. NC State's Hunt Library receives widespread praise as a leader in innovation, emphasizing technology and digital media. Online students have full access to the library's selection of over 10,000 e-books, along with academic journals and other digital resources. Distance learners can also make use of several online services including academic advising, application and enrollment support, testing services for remote exams, and state resources for distance learners.


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4

University of South Florida

Value Score 7.27
Average Tuition $4,559
Students Receiving Financial Aid 97%
Net Price $6,735
Graduation Rate 57%
Student to Faculty Ratio 25:1
Retention Rate 89%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 44%
Number of Online Programs 13

Serving 48,000 students across three campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is a major research university and the top producer of Fulbright scholars in the country. The school's curriculum centers on interdisciplinary education and research, offered through 14 distinct colleges. USF's Innovative Education program strives to accommodate all styles of students through creative collaboration with faculty members, teaching assistants, and academic administrators, with a focus on distance education. Through USF's distance education programs, students can take individual online courses as well as online undergraduate majors ranging from gender studies to information technology. The school also offers a robust selection of online master's programs, including popular degrees in business, education, arts, and public health. Online students have access to various academic resources, including tutoring, test preparation, career services, and counseling.


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5

University of Illinois at Springfield

Value Score 7.10
Average Tuition $9,405
Students Receiving Financial Aid 97%
Net Price $7,052
Graduation Rate 47%
Student to Faculty Ratio 14:1
Retention Rate 79%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 63%
Number of Online Programs 24

Located about 200 miles southwest of Chicago and roughly 100 miles northeast of St. Louis, UIS is a smaller state university of approximately 5,000 students. UIS offers an intimate learning experience with a low student:teacher ratio. The school's academic mission stresses collaboration, scholarship, and community building at the local, regional, state, national, and international levels. The university's distance education program offers undergraduate degrees in a range of subjects, from computer science and business administration to political science and philosophy, and students can also choose from a wide selection of graduate degrees and online certification programs. The school also maintains partnerships with other colleges throughout the state and country, intended to facilitate seamless transfers from other institutions to UIS.


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6

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

Value Score 6.98
Average Tuition $1,454
Students Receiving Financial Aid 88%
Net Price $10,718
Graduation Rate 54%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Retention Rate 84%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 42%
Number of Online Programs 50

Located about 40 minutes outside of Boston, UMass Lowell serves more than 17,000 students through six different colleges, offering programs that emphasize and connect the disciplines of health, humanities, fine arts, social sciences, and more. UMass Lowell seeks to offer students an affordable, accessible path to higher education, with an emphasis on research and public service. Also ranked as one of the country's most affordable online colleges, the school's distance education program receives strong praise for its online bachelor's and graduate programs. Lowell's online MBA, IT, and criminal justice programs are particularly renowned. Distance education students also have access to a host of online resources, including live chat advising, virtual open houses, and other student support services. Students can also use the college's online advising appointment tool to schedule phone conferences with dedicated academic advisors.


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7

Florida International University

Value Score 6.90
Average Tuition $4,721
Students Receiving Financial Aid 91%
Net Price $9,039
Graduation Rate 49%
Student to Faculty Ratio 26:1
Retention Rate 84%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 48%
Number of Online Programs 21

Miami's only public research university, FIU serves a student body of nearly 54,000. One of the largest universities in the country, FIU is a top-tier research school and one of the cheapest online colleges in the U.S. Committed to promoting education and knowledge, FIU also boasts an extremely diverse student body. Online students at FIU can earn a range of degrees through the school's many colleges, from finance and hospitality management to psychology and gender studies. The school also offers a host of resources to distance learners, including libraries, career counseling, academic counseling, veteran's services, and support for international students. FIU is also known for organizing the TED Talk-licensed TEDxFIU, an annual academic and cultural conference featuring presentations and lectures from students, faculty, and community members.


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8

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Value Score 6.87
Average Tuition $6,423
Students Receiving Financial Aid 67%
Net Price $4,431
Graduation Rate 89%
Student to Faculty Ratio 13:1
Retention Rate 97%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 11%
Number of Online Programs 12

Founded in 1795, UNC-Chapel Hill is the nation's oldest public university, now in its third century of offering affordable education to students. Serving a student body of nearly 30,000 through 14 different colleges, UNC-Chapel Hill consistently ranks as one of the best value schools in the nation. Through the school's distance education program, students can pursue a variety of individual courses, certificates, master's, and doctoral programs, from physical therapy and health leadership to molecular diagnostic science. Particularly of note is the school's UNC Exchange System, which allows students to seamlessly take online courses offered through other colleges in the UNC system. With 17 different institutions in the state, the Exchange System allows students to pursue a range of courses, at their convenience.


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9

University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Value Score 6.79
Average Tuition $1,714
Students Receiving Financial Aid 90%
Net Price $11,064
Graduation Rate 70%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Retention Rate 90%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 22%
Number of Online Programs 19

Nestled in Massachusetts' beautiful Pioneer Valley, UMass lies about 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from New York City. Consistently ranked as one of the top public universities in the nation, UMass serves nearly 30,000 students through nine distinct schools and colleges. With over 1,500 online courses offered each year, the school also ranks as one of the most affordable online colleges in the country. A leader in distance education for more than two decades, UMass offers a wide selection of certificates, bachelor's, and master's degrees through its distance education program, including popular programs in nursing and business. Online students also have full digital access to the school's library, which features seven million items and is the largest library at a state-supported college in New England.


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10

Fort Hays State University

Value Score 6.79
Average Tuition $3,450
Students Receiving Financial Aid 96%
Net Price $9,104
Graduation Rate 41%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Retention Rate 68%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 75%
Number of Online Programs 38

Fort Hays State serves about 13,000 students, offering certificates, bachelor's, and master's degrees through 28 academic departments across four colleges. Emphasizing innovation and entrepreneurship, Fort Hays has taken major strides to integrate telecommunications technology into its curriculum, and online students now make up the majority of the school's enrollment. A world leader in affordable online education, Fort Hays ranks among the cheapest 2% of U.S. universities. The school's virtual student body comprises over 6,000 students from more than 20 countries, and Fort Hays offers a range of graduate and undergraduate degrees, from business management and marketing to political science and elementary education. Online students have access to the full range of student resources, from academic advising and career counseling to the student bookstore. Hays's virtual college also offers accommodations specifically intended for military veterans and active duty personnel.


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11

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Value Score 6.77
Average Tuition $7,672
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $10,832
Graduation Rate 65%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Retention Rate 86%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 36%
Number of Online Programs 37

One of the oldest technological institutions west of the Mississippi, S&T serves a student body of nearly 9,000 students from 29 states and 10 countries. One of the country's top technological research universities, S&T also ranks as one of the best and most affordable online colleges. S&T's Global Learning division has offered distance education courses since 1974, long before the arrival of online learning. The college offers a range of graduate degrees and certification programs in engineering, science, and business, but no entirely online bachelor's degrees. Fitting given its proximity to Fort Leonard Wood, S&T also offers specialized graduate degrees and certificates for military personnel, in fields including engineering management, geological engineering, civil engineering, and environmental engineering.


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12

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Value Score 6.76
Average Tuition $3,932
Students Receiving Financial Aid 78%
Net Price $7,923
Graduation Rate 54%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Retention Rate 78%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 36%
Number of Online Programs 24

Home to nearly 19,000 students across 10 schools and colleges, UNCG is a nationally ranked and globally recognized public research university. Distance learners can choose from a wide range of online bachelor's and master's programs organized by field of study, including business and information technology, education, health, public service, and social sciences and humanities. Scholarship at UNCG emphasizes research, organized around the principles of support, engagement and impact, and the university is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for its research activity and community engagement. UNCG is also the home of the Weatherspoon Art Museum, an extensive collection of American modern art that is one of the largest and most renowned in the country.


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13

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Value Score 6.64
Average Tuition $6,480
Students Receiving Financial Aid 93%
Net Price $11,395
Graduation Rate 65%
Student to Faculty Ratio 21:1
Retention Rate 84%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 28%
Number of Online Programs 19

A leader in higher education for nearly 150 years, UNL is a top research university that also ranks as one of the top cheap online colleges. UNL offers a small selection of online undergraduate degrees, and its online graduate programs rank among the best in the country. The school offers a wide selection of graduate certificates, master's programs, and doctoral programs, from textile studies to business analytics. Online students also receive generous support from the institution, including admissions counseling, academic advising, technical support, and library assistance. The college is well known for its historic developments in the field of ecology, and the campus represents that history with both botanical gardens and arboreta. UNL is also a major proponent of arts and literature, serving as home to both the Sheldon Art Museum and the renowned Prairie Schooner literary journal.


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14

The University of West Florida

Value Score 6.60
Average Tuition $4,319
Students Receiving Financial Aid 91%
Net Price $8,387
Graduation Rate 45%
Student to Faculty Ratio 23:1
Retention Rate 74%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 52%
Number of Online Programs 21

Located in Pensacola, the University of West Florida ranks as one of the top online colleges in the state. With a mission to inspire innovation, creativity, and collaboration, UWF favors smaller class sizes and individualized student attention. One of the top affordable online schools in the state, UWF offers several undergraduate and graduate degrees online, along with a number of online certification programs. UWF offers substantial support and resources for active duty military personnel and veterans, with Military Times ranking the school among the top 25 in the nation for veteran education. Additionally, the school participates in the Yellow Ribbon program to fund education expenses for veterans. Online students who live outside of Florida can also apply for an out-of-state tuition waiver that substantially reduces tuition costs.


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15

East Carolina University

Value Score 6.60
Average Tuition $3,959
Students Receiving Financial Aid 76%
Net Price $10,257
Graduation Rate 58%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Retention Rate 81%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 39%
Number of Online Programs 57

Serving a student body of more than 28,000, ECU is a top value college that also ranks highly among affordable online schools. It offers an expansive distance education program that includes undergraduate degree completion programs, graduate degrees, and graduate certificates. The school offers online master's degrees in a range of fields, from education and English to nursing and network technology. The college's online programs in business, criminal justice, education, and nursing are all nationally renowned. ECU's online education system also offers a range of resources for non-traditional and continuing students, including a language academy, military outreach programs, and a continuing medical education program. The school's mission is to prepare students to succeed in a global, multicultural world, and ECU's student body reflects that mission, with ethnic minorities comprising more than a quarter of all undergraduates.


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16

University of Memphis

Value Score 6.60
Average Tuition $7,056
Students Receiving Financial Aid 97%
Net Price $9,894
Graduation Rate 40%
Student to Faculty Ratio 14:1
Retention Rate 78%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 31%
Number of Online Programs 43

The University of Memphis is home to the largest honors program in Tennessee, and is recognized nationally for its academic and research programs. This extends to the school's TN eCampus, where distance learners can choose from over 500 degree and certificate programs offered by participating Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) universities. The TBR collaborative is a $2.2 billion per year enterprise made up of six state universities, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technology. Online student support services include free learning resources, help desk assistance, and the school's Smarthinking Tutoring service.


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17

University of St Francis

Value Score 6.56
Average Tuition $28,220
Students Receiving Financial Aid 100%
Net Price $13,502
Graduation Rate 56%
Student to Faculty Ratio 11:1
Retention Rate 81%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 57%
Number of Online Programs 25

A Catholic university located in Joliet, Illinois, the University of St. Francis emphasizes a liberal arts education rooted in the Franciscan values of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice. With a small student body under 4,000 strong, the school boasts a low student:teacher ratio and small class sizes, fostering a focus on individual students. St. Francis is also one of the largest online education providers in Illinois, and the college first began piloting online learning programs more than 15 years ago. The school offers a small selection of online undergraduate programs, including business and nursing, along with several master's and doctoral programs, from educational leadership to health administration. Online students have access to a range of campus resources offered through the school's website, including library services, tutoring and test preparation, disability services, and live chat with academic advisors.


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18

Texas A&M University

Value Score 6.56
Average Tuition $6,476
Students Receiving Financial Aid 78%
Net Price $4,304
Graduation Rate 80%
Student to Faculty Ratio 20:1
Retention Rate 90%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 5%
Number of Online Programs 58

The first public institution of higher learning in Texas and one of the largest universities in the country, Texas A&M boasts world-class faculty and some of the most developed facilities in higher education. Located about 90 miles northwest of Houston in College Station, A&M serves a student body of nearly 60,000, and its enormous size translates into affordable education for its students, ranking near the top of many lists for best value colleges. A&M also ranks as one of the cheapest online schools in Texas, and offers a range of distance education programs. Though the school doesn't offer any online undergraduate programs, graduate students can pursue a variety of master's degrees.


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19

Peirce College

Value Score 6.55
Average Tuition $13,200
Students Receiving Financial Aid 100%
Net Price $9,716
Graduation Rate 56%
Student to Faculty Ratio 12:1
Retention Rate 100%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 69%
Number of Online Programs 15

Located in Philadelphia, Peirce is a career-focused college founded with the mission of offering flexible, affordable education to working adults. The school is a strong proponent of online education, offering distance learning courses as far back as 2000. Nearly all of Peirce's current courses are offered online, and the school receives top rankings for its online bachelor's degrees in particular. Peirce's online education system is unique in that many courses allow students to take classes on campus as it suits their availability, with the option to choose from campus or online classes each week. Courses also emphasize competency-based education, allowing students to earn credit by demonstrating relevant skills in a field. The college offers a small selection of undergraduate degrees with a professional focus, including general studies, business, information technology, legal studies, and healthcare. Peirce also offers graduate degrees healthcare administration and organizational leadership & management.


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20

Appalachian State University

Value Score 6.54
Average Tuition $3,772
Students Receiving Financial Aid 70%
Net Price $7,671
Graduation Rate 66%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Retention Rate 88%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 15%
Number of Online Programs 15

Nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains of Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State is a comprehensive public university that serves nearly 18,000 students. The college is nationally recognized for its commitment to sustainability. The school is also dedicated to service-learning and civic engagement, with a focus on the intersection of education and community building. The school also ranks highly among regional universities for value and overall education. Appalachian State offers online bachelor's degrees only for junior and senior transfer students, along with a selection of online graduate degrees, including library science and public administration.


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21

Ball State University

Value Score 6.54
Average Tuition $8,682
Students Receiving Financial Aid 89%
Net Price $9,260
Graduation Rate 57%
Student to Faculty Ratio 15:1
Retention Rate 81%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 39%
Number of Online Programs 38

Consistently ranked as one of the best colleges in the Midwest, Ball State is a major public university with an enrollment of about 21,000. Located in Muncie, Indiana, about an hour northeast of Indianapolis, Ball State is recognized as a top technological innovator in Indiana, with a focus on forward-thinking practices in education. Unsurprisingly, the school also boasts a diverse selection of online education offerings, with a range of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees available. Ball State's online undergraduate degrees are widely praised, and the school's graduate programs in education, nursing and business administration rank among the best in the country. The college also offers a range of online certifications, specialist degrees and licensure for educators. Ball State demonstrates its commitment to technological innovation through its Helen B. and Martin D. Schwartz Special Collections and Digital Complex, which houses an array of digital media and technology for student use.


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22

Oklahoma State University

Value Score 6.53
Average Tuition $4,425
Students Receiving Financial Aid 89%
Net Price $9,630
Graduation Rate 62%
Student to Faculty Ratio 20:1
Retention Rate 81%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 27%
Number of Online Programs 27

From its main campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma State serves nearly 25,000 students, representing learners from all 50 states and 120 countries. Ranked as one of the 120 best Western colleges and one of the best value schools in the country, OSU is also internationally renowned for its programs in veterinary medicine, agricultural sciences, architecture, mechanical engineering, and entrepreneurship. A major public research university in the state, OSU also offers a substantial selection of online bachelor's and graduate degrees through its distance education system, including programs in dentistry, business management, and healthcare administration.


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23

Florida State University

Value Score 6.50
Average Tuition $4,640
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $12,737
Graduation Rate 75%
Student to Faculty Ratio 26:1
Retention Rate 92%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 27%
Number of Online Programs 9

The oldest continuous college in Florida, FSU is one of the best public colleges in the nation and a preeminent research university. Located in Tallahassee, the school is home to more than 41,000 students, with 16 distinct colleges focusing on all major academic disciplines. The college's mission is based around the qualities of strength, skill, and character, with FSU student life emphasizing cultural discovery, community interaction, and public service. The school's online bachelor's programs are nationally ranked, and FSU's online grad programs in business, criminal justice, and education are all nationally renowned. Distance education students have access to a wide range of campus services online, including the tutoring center, the career center, and academic advising. FSU's campus is also home to the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the designated state art museum of Florida and one of the largest art museums in the country.


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24

Texas A&M University - Commerce

Value Score 6.49
Average Tuition $3,832
Students Receiving Financial Aid 93%
Net Price $6,940
Graduation Rate 36%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Retention Rate 68%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 62%
Number of Online Programs 19

Serving over 12,000 students, A&M-Commerce is the fourth oldest university in Texas and the second largest in the Texas A&M system. Located about 60 miles from Dallas, the school is comprised of five academic colleges. A&M-Commerce offers a small selection of undergraduate degrees available entirely online, including business administration, finance, and organizational leadership. The school offers a larger selection of graduate degrees in unique fields such as reading and sports studies, as well as an online doctorate in educational administration. Distance education students at A&M-Commerce also have off-campus access to resources including the bookstore, advising services, and the school's Gee Library.


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25

Emporia State University

Value Score 6.47
Average Tuition $4,500
Students Receiving Financial Aid 97%
Net Price $10,828
Graduation Rate 42%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Retention Rate 73%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 42%
Number of Online Programs 22

Located in Emporia, Kansas, ESU is a smaller public university that serves around 6,000 students. The school stresses justice, equality, tolerance, and progress, and ESU students learn adaptive leadership for success after college. Originally founded in 1863 as a teacher's college, ESU still maintains a tradition of excellence in teacher training, and its education department is nationally renowned. The school also has a strong library science program, and ESU was the first school west of the Mississippi to offer courses in library and information management. The college's online undergraduate offerings are small, but graduate students can earn a range of degrees, including programs in earth sciences, rehabilitation counseling, and teaching English to speakers of other languages.


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26

North Carolina Central University

Value Score 6.46
Average Tuition $3,455
Students Receiving Financial Aid 98%
Net Price $8,678
Graduation Rate 43%
Student to Faculty Ratio 15:1
Retention Rate 77%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 31%
Number of Online Programs 13

Founded in 1910 as the first U.S. public liberal arts institution for African-Americans, NCCU offers cheap online college degree and certificate programs. With eight undergraduate and graduate degree programs -- from hospitality and criminal justice to nursing and education -- along with 175 individual courses to choose from, students are afforded a wealth of opportunity. Located in Durham, North Carolina, NCCU was the first school in the University of North Carolina system to make volunteer service work a graduation requirement for on-campus students. It was also the first school in the system to offer a bachelor's degree in jazz studies. The university also has two state-of-the-art biotechnology research facilities and a prestigious law school.


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27

Dickinson State University

Value Score 6.45
Average Tuition $4,891
Students Receiving Financial Aid 93%
Net Price $8,233
Graduation Rate 35%
Student to Faculty Ratio 11:1
Retention Rate 57%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 38%
Number of Online Programs 23

From its humble beginnings in 1918 as a teacher's college with 104 students, DSU now serves nearly 1,500 students between its three campuses. The main campus is in Dickinson, North Dakota, with other locations in Bismarck, the state capital, and Williston. On-campus students have access to regional events and landmarks like the Roughrider Days Fair & Expo, the Northern Plains Ethnic Festival, the Badlands, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. One of the most affordable online colleges, DSU offers online bachelor's degrees in accounting, finance, human resource management, applied science, and university studies. Online associate programs in the arts and agriculture sales/service equine management (or training) and a certificate in human resources are also available. DSU was named a Military Friendly 2015 School and is one of the top 20% of U.S. universities for military-benefit students.


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28

The University of Tennessee - Knoxville

Value Score 6.42
Average Tuition $10,366
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $8,770
Graduation Rate 66%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Retention Rate 87%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 24%
Number of Online Programs 19

Between its three campuses (Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Martin) and its Health Science Center at Memphis, the University of Tennessee is home to nearly 28,000 students and more than 300 degree programs within 11 colleges. Using the Vols Online system, UTK students can complete a limited number of affordable online degrees, including an RN to BSN undergraduate program. Master's degrees in mathematics, social work, information sciences, education, engineering, and agriculture -- along with some doctorate and post-doctorate degrees -- are also available.


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29

Texas Tech University

Value Score 6.42
Average Tuition $5,110
Students Receiving Financial Aid 75%
Net Price $9,733
Graduation Rate 62%
Student to Faculty Ratio 22:1
Retention Rate 83%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 36%
Number of Online Programs 26

Home of the Red Raiders, TTU is the only Texas campus with a major university, law school, and medical school. Located in Lubbock, TTU has 10 colleges and nearly 36,000 students. The university was founded in 1923 and became one of the first innovators in promoting distance learning. In 1966, four TTU professors became known as the "Flying Professors," traveling to various regions of the state to teach 78 students. The university later harnessed closed circuit television technology and videotape to instruct students off-campus. Today, TTU's "Worldwide eLearning" technology provides more than 60 online-only degree programs and certificates, from bachelor of science degrees in plant and soil sciences, to master of engineering and doctor of education degrees. Notably, 10 TTU faculty members were awarded Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Grants in 2013 -- the highest number of any U.S. research university.


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30

Harvard University

Value Score 6.42
Average Tuition $40,418
Students Receiving Financial Aid 72%
Net Price $2,473
Graduation Rate 97%
Student to Faculty Ratio 8:1
Retention Rate 98%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 8%
Number of Online Programs 39

Widely recognized as America's premier university, Harvard University in Cambridge has graduated 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 Heads of State (including Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to name a few), and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. It is the oldest higher education institution in the country, having been founded in 1636 by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Harvard has the largest academic library in the world, 20,000 degree candidates, and more than 360,000 alumni. It is dedicated to advancing affordable learning opportunities for all, and is unique in its online learning platform, which has many "open and free" courses available in addition to fee-based courses. While some do not have credit or degree options, several cheap online college degree programs are available, including a master's degree in epidemiology.


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31

Eastern New Mexico University

Value Score 6.4
Average Tuition $3,065
Students Receiving Financial Aid 98%
Net Price $8,028
Graduation Rate 29%
Student to Faculty Ratio 19:1
Retention Rate 59%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 60%
Number of Online Programs 17

With more than 30 online college degrees, from agricultural business administration and marketing, to nursing and sports and recreation management, ENMU in Portales, New Mexico is one of the cheapest online colleges in the country. Tutoring and counseling services, along with technology support, are provided to online students. Founded in 1934, EMNU is New Mexico's oldest regional university and is federally-designated as a Hispanic-serving Institution (HSI). It is a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and its alumni include former CNN anchor Kysa Daniels and former U.S. Treasurer Katherine D. Ortega. ENMU is in the top 10% of lowest tuition rates out of 81 public Southwestern educational institutions.


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32

Clemson University

Value Score 6.37
Average Tuition $12,606
Students Receiving Financial Aid 89%
Net Price $11,581
Graduation Rate 82%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Retention Rate 92%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 18%
Number of Online Programs 35

Clemson University in South Carolina was established as a male military school in 1882 with 446 students. The entire 1917 senior class enlisted in World War I, and the school remained all-military until 1955. Today it serves more than 17,000 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate students. The school's notable alumni include the longest-serving (and controversial) U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond and popular "Entertainment Tonight" Host Nancy O'Dell. Clemson is an affordable alternative for online colleges, and Clemson Online delivers entirely online degree programs and certificates, including a master of public administration, master of human resource development, and PhD in healthcare genetics, among others.


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33

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Value Score 6.37
Average Tuition $4,934
Students Receiving Financial Aid 96%
Net Price $10,083
Graduation Rate 36%
Student to Faculty Ratio 20:1
Retention Rate 68%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 67%
Number of Online Programs 44

Natchitoches, Louisiana is home to NSU, which was founded in 1884 as a two-year teaching school. Today, it offers 38 cheap online college degree programs via eNSU, Louisiana's first and largest eCampus. Degree programs range from allied health and addiction studies to criminal justice. NSU is also one of the cheapest online colleges for out-of-state online students, who are not required to pay any out-of-state fees. The school's mission is to find the best financial aid package for every student, and it administers federal, state, institutional, and third-party aid through grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs.


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34

Lincoln Christian University

Value Score 6.36
Average Tuition $15,810
Students Receiving Financial Aid 96%
Net Price $15,055
Graduation Rate 45%
Student to Faculty Ratio 14:1
Retention Rate 83%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 66%
Number of Online Programs 16

With more than 1,000 students, LCU's mission has been "To nurture and equip Christians with a Biblical worldview to serve and lead in the church and the world" since 1944. In addition to its campus in Lincoln, Illinois, LCU offers affordable "Biblical and Christ-centered" online degrees in business administration, ministry, psychology, and more. The China Institute places Chinese students at LCU, all of whom are welcomed and integrated with the student body. LCU offers a variety of scholarships and grants, and students can use the school's Net Price Calculator to get an estimate of out-of-pocket expenses while enrolled.


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35

University of Georgia

Value Score 6.35
Average Tuition $8,590
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $8,558
Graduation Rate 81%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Retention Rate 94%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 4%
Number of Online Programs 7

Established in 1785, UGA was Georgia's first state-chartered university. It has 17 schools and colleges, from pharmacy to engineering, and has produced 23 Rhodes Scholars. Its library holds one of the country's largest map collections. UGA has more than 36,000 students, and alumni include host and producer Ryan Seacrest and golf champion Bubba Watson. A military-friendly school with a Student Veterans Resource Center, all degree programs and majors at UGA are approved by the U.S. Veterans Administration as "education benefit-eligible." UGA Online is an affordable online college, with two undergraduate programs, a bachelor of business administration and a bachelor of science in special education. However, UGA Online provides a more extensive menu of online master's degree programs, including music education and avian health and medicine. Online certificate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also available.


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36

Valley City State University

Value Score 6.35
Average Tuition $5,027
Students Receiving Financial Aid 99%
Net Price $9,158
Graduation Rate 41%
Student to Faculty Ratio 11:1
Retention Rate 70%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 72%
Number of Online Programs 8

Since its establishment in 1890, VCSU in Valley City, North Dakota has been a teacher's college. Its students prepare to become educators, school psychologists, librarians, and administrators. VCSU is home to approximately 1,400 students and is one of the most affordable online schools, with nine major undergraduate and master's degree programs available, including business education, music, and professional communication. Current teachers can also obtain their continuing education credits through VCSU's online program.


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37

Dakota State University

Value Score 6.35
Average Tuition $3,993
Students Receiving Financial Aid 95%
Net Price $11,029
Graduation Rate 42%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Retention Rate 65%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 50%
Number of Online Programs 24

DSU is located in Madison, South Dakota. Established as a teacher's college in 1881, the school continues to educate future teachers but also provides degrees in other disciplines to more than 3,000 students. DSU offers 35 majors, from biology for information systems to computer game design. The school's online curriculum is delivered through the "Desire2Learn" online course management system. The university takes an innovative approach to online education, as faculty members collaborate on projects with both online and on-campus students. DSU's last graduating class had a 95% job placement rate.


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38

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Value Score 6.35
Average Tuition $5,235
Students Receiving Financial Aid 89%
Net Price $12,119
Graduation Rate 56%
Student to Faculty Ratio 15:1
Retention Rate 80%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 46%
Number of Online Programs 15

Established as a "Normal School" for teacher preparation in 1903, UNK still prides itself on its teacher education. Today, it boasts more than 5,500 undergraduate and 1,500 graduate students among its four colleges: Business and Technology, Education, Fine Arts and Humanities, and Natural and Social Sciences. Its campus in Kearney, Nebraska offers more than 175 student organizations and houses the Museum of Nebraska Art, the state's official art collection with over 5,000 works. In addition, UNK's online education opportunities are among the most affordable in the nation. With more than 40 online programs and 400 online courses, students can enjoy one-on-one interactions with faculty. Notably, nearly 43% of school superintendents and 30% of all principals in Nebraska are UNK graduates.


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39

Messenger College

Value Score 6.33
Average Tuition $7,500
Students Receiving Financial Aid 100%
Net Price $15,700
Graduation Rate 73%
Student to Faculty Ratio 4:1
Retention Rate 78%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 80%
Number of Online Programs 10

In 1987, Messenger College was founded in Joplin, Missouri as the national collegiate institution of the Pentecostal Church of God. However, the tornado that famously devastated Joplin in 2011 changed the future of the school. It was purchased by Mercy Health Systems to replace the hospital that was destroyed, and Messenger College moved to Euless, Texas. The school is "committed to developing world-changing Pentecostal leaders for the 21st century." To that end, it provides degrees and training for future Pentecostal ministers, missionaries, and teachers. Affordable online programs include associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, and certificates in Christian ministries. A bachelor of arts degree in counseling is also available online.


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40

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Value Score 6.32
Average Tuition $12,060
Students Receiving Financial Aid 78%
Net Price $8,650
Graduation Rate 73%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Retention Rate 92%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 18%
Number of Online Programs 40

Established in 1851, UMN's flagship campus is located in the Twin Cities. Four additional campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester were created after 1947. Home to 30,500 undergraduates from all 50 states and 42 countries, UMN is known as Minnesota's premier research university. Among their many achievements, UMN researchers have developed 26 apple varieties. The school is one of the most affordable online colleges, with a variety of degree and professional development programs available. From a bachelor of arts in tribal administration and governance to its doctor of nursing practice programs, online students share the same instructors and curriculum as on-campus students.


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41

Murray State University

Value Score 6.31
Average Tuition $6,360
Students Receiving Financial Aid 99%
Net Price $6,787
Graduation Rate 54%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Retention Rate 72%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 28%
Number of Online Programs 16

MSU was founded in 1922. With nearly 11,000 enrolled students and six colleges and schools, G.I. Jobs designated MSU as a "Military Friendly School" from 2011 to 2016. MSU delivers incredibly affordable online education programs. Online undergraduate degrees include telecommunication systems management, business administration, nursing, and more. Online graduate degrees include library media, MBA, agriculture, and non-profit leadership, among others.


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42

Minot State University

Value Score 6.31
Average Tuition $4,941
Students Receiving Financial Aid 91%
Net Price $8,034
Graduation Rate 33%
Student to Faculty Ratio 13:1
Retention Rate 67%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 47%
Number of Online Programs 12

Originally founded as a teacher's college in 1913 in Minot, North Dakota, MSU now delivers a variety of degree programs. Its continuing education school, MSU Online, is one of the most affordable online colleges in the nation. In addition to its several bachelor degree programs, MSU Online offers three primary master of science degree programs in management, information systems, and special education (with five different concentrations available). Its student body and faculty proudly include members of several Native American tribes.


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43

University of Wyoming

Value Score 6.3
Average Tuition $3,390
Students Receiving Financial Aid 93%
Net Price $7,886
Graduation Rate 54%
Student to Faculty Ratio 15:1
Retention Rate 76%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 28%
Number of Online Programs 10

Located in Laramie, UW was founded in 1886 when Wyoming was still a U.S. territory. Today, it is a nationally-recognized research institution with 13,800 students from all 50 states and 94 countries. Through UW Outreach Credit Programs, online students can access affordable online degrees. A sampling of these include online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice, nursing, and social work; master's degrees in education and business administration; doctorate degrees in educational administration and nursing practice; and certificates in land surveying and play therapy. Students can receive public, institutional, and private funds through the Office of Student Financial Aid. The school's WyoRefunds also allows students to receive all of their student refunds quickly and securely by depositing the funds directly into their banking accounts.


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44

McNeese State University

Value Score 6.29
Average Tuition $4,679
Students Receiving Financial Aid 96%
Net Price $7,293
Graduation Rate 38%
Student to Faculty Ratio 21:1
Retention Rate 70%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 47%
Number of Online Programs 18

McNeese State University is one of nine universities in the University of Louisiana System. Located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, it was founded in 1939. It has more than 8,000 students and 75 degree programs within five undergraduate colleges and its School of Graduate Studies. McNeese also has an affordable online college, with undergraduate programs ranging from criminal justice and library science to nursing. Online master's degrees include instructional technology and education. McNeese offers an "Innovation" minor with each major, and its unique Autism Program provides university-based services to local families of children with developmental delays and disabilities.


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45

Georgia Southern University

Value Score 6.28
Average Tuition $4,078
Students Receiving Financial Aid 89%
Net Price $13,714
Graduation Rate 50%
Student to Faculty Ratio 21:1
Retention Rate 81%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 27%
Number of Online Programs 24

Through its "Georgia On My Line" program, Georgia Southern University provides around 200 affordable online degree programs and certificates in information technology, education, nursing, and business, among others. The university was founded in 1908 as an agricultural production and homemaking skill school for rural children, and later became a teacher's college. Georgia Southern created the first undergraduate manufacturing engineering program in the state. The school's Office of Financial Aid provides a variety of funding packages to all students in the form of loans, grants, and work opportunities.


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46

Arkansas State University

Value Score 6.28
Average Tuition $5,760
Students Receiving Financial Aid 96%
Net Price $10,398
Graduation Rate 39%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Retention Rate 75%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 49%
Number of Online Programs 20

"A-State Online" is ASU's affordable online college, and it offers more than 25 degree and certificate programs. It is one of the oldest online programs in Arkansas. ASU is located in Jonesboro and was founded in 1909 as an agricultural training school. Its innovative Beck PRIDE Center delivers rehabilitation, workforce training, and civilian life transition skills to veterans. Students at ASU receive financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, waivers, work-study, and on-campus student employment.


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47

University of Virginia

Value Score 6.28
Average Tuition $10,484
Students Receiving Financial Aid 58%
Net Price $9,615
Graduation Rate 93%
Student to Faculty Ratio 15:1
Retention Rate 97%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 4%
Number of Online Programs 20

UVA is located in Charlottesville. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, its alumni include Robert F. Kennedy, Edgar Allan Poe, Tina Fey, and Katie Couric. UVA has nearly 16,000 undergraduate and more than 6,000 graduate students between its 11 schools and its College at Wise in Southwest Virginia. UVA's School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers affordable undergraduate and graduate online courses and degree programs, as do its Schools of Education, Nursing, and Engineering. The school is obligated to sustaining academic excellence while keeping college education affordable for students from all financial backgrounds. Through its Affordable Excellence program, the net cost of a UVA education is reduced for 70% of Virginia households.


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48

Kennesaw State University

Value Score 6.27
Average Tuition $4,078
Students Receiving Financial Aid 90%
Net Price $13,686
Graduation Rate 42%
Student to Faculty Ratio 21:1
Retention Rate 79%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 28%
Number of Online Programs 33

Located north of Atlanta, KSU offers an affordable online school. It has more than 70 fully online degree programs, certificates, and over 400 online/hybrid courses, from business and logistics to computing and social sciences. KSU has a 50-year history of excellence in education and is the third-largest university in Georgia. It has approximately 33,000 enrolled students and hundreds of student clubs and organizations. Some of KSU's research centers include the Alternative Energy Innovation Center, Georgia Pavement and Traffic Research, and the Center for Statistics and Analytical Services.


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49

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Value Score 6.26
Average Tuition $4,029
Students Receiving Financial Aid 93%
Net Price $4,514
Graduation Rate 37%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Retention Rate 69%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 73%
Number of Online Programs 14

Part of the University of Texas System, UTPB is located in Odessa and has more than 5,000 students. One of the cheapest online colleges, it offers eight online undergraduate degree programs -- including communication and psychology -- online MA degree programs, and certificates. Some of the bachelor's degree programs offer flexible options like accelerated formats. Additionally, high school students have the opportunity to take dual-credit online courses with UTPB to advance their high school graduation date while also earning college credit. e "Falcons" NCAA Division II sports teams also offer entertainment opportunities.


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50

University of Idaho

Value Score 6.25
Average Tuition $4,784
Students Receiving Financial Aid 94%
Net Price $10,655
Graduation Rate 56%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Retention Rate 77%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 26%
Number of Online Programs 23

Established in 1889, the University of Idaho's main campus is in Moscow, with four other locations around the state. Idaho offers affordable online undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs in education, engineering, Earth and environmental studies, and science. Dual-credit online courses can be taken by high school students, and online independent study opportunities are available. On-campus students can use the Climbing Center (rock climbing) and participate in sports clubs, the wellness program, and the Outdoor Program, which organizes hiking, biking, canoeing trips, and other activities. Some of Idaho's "Signature Events" include a Jazz Festival, Hemingway Festival, Innovation Showcase, and Summer Design Week. Idaho's "Vandals" Athletics are part of the Big Sky Conference.


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Accredited Online Colleges

When choosing an online program or college, accreditation status is one of the most reliable indicators of academic excellence. Accreditation is the process of review that ensures an institution offers a quality education to students and meets certain state, national, or academic standards. Both colleges and their academic programs are assessed for accreditation at regular intervals to guarantee that standards are met. Accreditors are essentially academic inspectors who make sure colleges are being run properly.

Types of Accreditation

There are several types of accreditations, and while they can function at different levels, they all indicate academic quality. Most regionally accredited colleges are nonprofit institutions that focus on academics. Nationally accredited colleges are often for-profit institutions that focus on technical and vocational education, such as medical assisting or automotive technology. Individual programs are often accredited by independent agencies dedicated to accreditation in that field, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which focuses solely on assessing and accrediting nursing programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which accredits most of these academic accrediting organizations, maintains a comprehensive, searchable database of institutions and programs accredited by recognized U.S. accrediting organizations.

Diploma Mills

While online learning has made higher education more accessible, the anonymous nature of the internet has also made it easier for illegitimate colleges (often referred to as “diploma mills”) to offer fraudulent education to students. These schools are often accredited by false “accreditation mills” that have no government authority or academic recognition. Before investing in an online program, it’s important to investigate its accreditation status and accrediting agency to assure the legitimacy of both. The vast majority of accrediting organizations are recognized by either CHEA or the U.S. Department of Education, so exercise extreme caution if an accreditation organization doesn’t appear on their list.

The Cost of Online Education

For many students, one of the most appealing aspects of online education is its reduced cost, which can often be half that of conventional campus education. A study from the University of the Potomac reports that the average cost of a traditional degree comes to about $85,000, while the average cost of an online degree is just $35,000. Online students also save on many of the built-in costs of campus education, such as commuting and travel expenses, room and board, and other fees. The flexible nature of online learning also makes it easier for students to maintain a job while pursuing their degree, particularly adult students, who are often able to balance an online program with the demands of a full-time job.

Though there are hundreds of affordable online colleges, it’s important to realize that tuition can vary widely, and that “online” doesn’t always mean “cheaper.” Some schools offer the same tuition rate for online courses and campus courses, and others may even charge an additional online education fee. Avoid overpaying for online courses by comparing tuition rates between schools, and consider purchasing digital rather than physical textbooks, which can reduce costs substantially.

In-State Vs. Out-of-State Online Colleges

While many online programs allow students to attend from anywhere in the country, most still choose schools within their state of residence, primarily due to the reduced in-state tuition cost. However, as a measure to attract students, many affordable online colleges around the country now offer tuition waivers for out-of-state residents, allowing them to receive the same tuition rate regardless of where they live. These tuition initiatives give online students a wider range of options when choosing online programs, allowing them to select a program for academic quality, rather than just proximity.

Who Should Pursue Online Education?

Whether it’s online or on-campus, higher education is for anyone looking to increase their career options and earnings potential. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard reports that college graduates can expect to earn more than $1 million over their lifetimes compared to those who only complete high school. For many students, a primary concern is earning a degree without incurring huge amounts of student debt. In fact, 45% of students in a 2015 Learning House survey reported that cost was their main or only concern when choosing a college. There are many other reasons students might choose to enroll in an online college, several of which are outlined below.

  • You want to transition into a college learning environment
  • You put your education on hold to fulfill other commitments and would like to finish your degree
  • You’re seeking a promotion or new position in your current field
  • You’re interested in entering a new field
  • You need to update your skills to keep up with requirements of your job
  • You’re re-entering the job market and need to refresh your skill set

Traits of Online Learners

Online learning is convenient, flexible, and affordable, but it’s also very different from traditional in-class schooling, and may not work with every student’s learning style. The nature of most online learning platforms means that students must often be more independent and self-motivated than in campus courses. In the same Learning House survey, online students report motivation, focus, and attention as their biggest concerns when it comes to online learning. Successful online learners generally possess a combination of the following traits:

  1. Self-motivated Online students are accountable to themselves, and they bear the responsibility for remaining dedicated to schoolwork without a classroom environment to motivate them.
  2. Self-disciplined Many online assignments are performed independently, on the student’s own schedule. Online learners must be disciplined to make sure they don’t fall behind in their studies.
  3. Adaptable Online learning environments can vary widely, and students must be able to adapt to changes in different technology tools and online instruction methods, which can differ between classes.
  4. Effective communicator Communication becomes even more important when students can’t interact in a classroom environment. Online learners need strong written and oral communication skills to interact with peers and faculty.
  5. Highly organized Online students must keep track of all their assignments and coursework, and many of them balance their education with work and family.

How to Find the Most Affordable Online College

Tuition is often the primary concern when searching for the cheapest online college, but it’s hardly the only factor that should be considered. Another important concern is return on investment: not just what you pay for your degree, but what you get out of it in terms of career and overall earnings potential. When considering a school, think about the programs it offers, whether these programs align with your career goals, and whether these degrees can open the door to job opportunities in the future.

The Most Popular Online Majors

While online learning often differs from the traditional classroom experience, most students pursuing their bachelor’s degree online still choose the same majors as their campus counterparts. A report on online learning from the University of the Potomac found that the most popular majors for online and on-campus students include psychology, business, elementary education, and nursing. Online learners also commonly pursue healthcare administration programs.

Below, we’ve outlined career, salary, and employment information for these common degrees. Keep in mind that this is just a sample of the options available for online students, and can serve as a starting off point in your search for an online program.

Psychology

$75,230 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor's Degree Required

Psychologists examine emotional and social processes in humans, assessing and interpreting how people interact with one another. They may work in research, healthcare, or in a variety of public and private settings

Career Options: Clinical psychologist, counselor, industrial organizational psychologist

Job Growth: 19%

View our ranking of the most affordable online psychology programs

Business

$66,530 Avg Annual Salary
Associate Degree Required

Businesses provide goods and services to consumers, but the field is so vast that it encompasses a wide range of positions and industries. Business workers are typically concerned with helping a company maximize profits and function as efficiently as possible.

Career Options: Accountant, manager, human resources specialist

Job Growth: 8%

View of our Ranking of the most affordable online business and accounting programs

Elementary Education

$55,490 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor's Degree Required

Elementary educators prepare young students for future learning, teaching them the basics of academic subjects and concepts of socialization.

Career Options: Public school teacher, private school teacher, education specialist

Job Growth: 6%

View our ranking of the most affordable online education and early childhood education programs

Health Administration

$96,540 Avg Annual Salary
Associate Degree Required

Nurses provide medical assistance to patients and physicians, coordinating patient care, offering emotional support, and educating patients about healthcare.

Career Options: Registered nurse

Job Growth: 16%

View our ranking of the most affordable RN to BSN and nursing programs

Unemployment rates can vary widely by both education level and industry. The following table collects information from Georgetown University’s study The Economic Value of College Majors.

Unemployment Rates Among Popular Majors
Major Unemployment Rate for Bachelor’s Graduates (No Experience) Unemployment Rate for Bachelor’s Graduates (Some Experience) Unemployment Rate for Master’s Graduates
Agricultural and Natural Resources 7.0% 3.5% 2.4%
Life and Physical Sciences 7.7% 4.7% 2.2%
Architecture 13.9% 9.2% 7.7%
Humanities and Liberal Arts 9.4% 6.1% 3.9%
Communications and Journalism 7.3% 6.0% 4.1%
Computers and Mathematics 8.2% 5.6% 4.1%
Education 5.4% 3.9% 1.9%
Engineering 7.9% 4.9% 3.4%
Law and Public Policy 8.1% 4.5% 3.5%
Social Science 8.9% 5.7% 4.1%
Health 5.4% 2.2% 1.9%
Psychology and Social Work 7.3% 5.9% 3.2%
Recreation 8.3% 4.5% 2.0%
Arts 11.1% 7.1% 6.2%
Business 7.4% 5.3% 4.4%
The Economic Value of College Majors, Georgetown University (2015)

The Highest Paying Majors

This chart, also based on data from Georgetown, collects salary information for different career stages and industries.

Median Annual Wages of College-Educated Workers By Major Group
Major Group Median Salary (Age 21-24) Median Salary(Age 25-59)
Architecture and Engineering $50,000 $83,000
Computer, Statistics, and Mathematics $43,000 $76,000
Health $41,000 $65,000
Business $37,000 $65,000
Social Sciences $33,000 $60,000
Physical Sciences $32,000 $65,000
Education $32,000 $45,000
Law and Public Policy $31,000 $54,000
Communications and Journalism $31,000 $54,000
Humanities and Liberal Arts $30,000 $52,000
Agriculture and Natural Resources $30,000 $56,000
Biology and Life Sciences $29,000 $56,000
Psychology and Social Work $28,000 $47,000
Arts $28,000 $49,000
Industrial Arts, Consumer Services and Recreation $27,000 $52,000

The Economic Value of College Majors, Georgetown University (2015)

Financing Your Online Degree

Even if you’ve chosen a cheap online college, funding an education can be a heavy burden. There are several options for financing higher education that are accessible to online students. Remember that financial aid is only available to students enrolled at accredited colleges recognized by federal accreditation agencies.

Completing the FAFSA

FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an annual form students complete to determine their eligibility for various financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work study opportunities. Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps to attain student aid. The FAFSA form is released on January 1 each year, and most of the financial aid opportunities are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Consult our FAFSA guide for help completing the form and ensuring that you get the maximum amount of aid available.

Types of Financial Aid

  • Scholarships A scholarship is a financial award intended to cover the cost of education. Most scholarships are merit-based, meaning they’re awarded to students contingent on achievement, such as athletics, academics, or community activism. Organizations, both public and private, offer awards that generally correspond to their unique values. Many scholarships are also offered to students pursuing a specific field. Scholarships don’t have to be repaid, so they typically require an application process that can be competitive. Many require students to meet certain criteria, such as maintaining a specific GPA, and funding can be withdrawn if the student falls below the set standards.
  • Grants Most grants are need-based, meaning they are available to students based on financial circumstances. Many grants are intended for students who are low-income, members of an ethnic minority group, or first-generation college students. Grants are commonly offered through state and federal funding, such as the Pell Grant, which is the most widespread program in the country. By simply filling out the FAFSA, students can determine whether they qualify for Pell Grant funding. Other grants may be available through community organizations, state governments, and schools.
  • Loans Loans must be paid back after graduation, typically in the form of monthly payments. Many student loans offer lower interest rates and lower payments than conventional loan. While grants and scholarships are offered for a set monetary amount, loans allow students to borrow as much as they need to cover the cost of their education, which can be a blessing and a curse. Several student loan options become available after filling out the FAFSA, but it’s important to research different options and borrow responsibly.
  • Work-Study Work-study programs use federal and state funding to provide students with part-time jobs while they’re in school. While it won’t cover full tuition costs, a work-study job can provide extra cash to pay for textbooks, rent, or other expenses during college. Many work-study jobs are offered on campus, allowing students to find convenient work and gain experience that may be related to their academic interests. Most work-study jobs aren’t available to online students, but there are some exceptions. Check with college financial aid offices to find out about available work-study options.

Visit our Affordability Center to learn more about financial aid and to view our catalogue of scholarships.

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