Remote learning has come a long way since the days of taking correspondence courses via the U.S. postal service during the 19th century. Today, technology has made it possible for students to complete an online bachelor’s degree program from anywhere in the world.
As more students choose to go to college online after high school, more and more affordable online college programs are becoming available. These programs offer an alternative to the traditional college experience.
Featured Online CollegesLearn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Out of the more than 19 million college students enrolled in the fall of 2020, 75% were enrolled in at least one online education course at degree-granting postsecondary institutions. Of all undergraduate students, 44 percent (7.0 million) exclusively took online education courses. Institutions that give associate degrees or higher are counted in the data from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. These institutions also accept federal financial aid programs.
Most Affordable Online Colleges Ranking
Best Universities has identified the 10 most affordable, accredited online college programs to earn a bachelor’s degree. Our ranking methodology is based on four key factors: affordability (annual tuition), acceptance rate, graduation rate, and students receiving financial aid. We analyzed data from accredited online colleges across the country to come up with our top 10 list. Please note that while affordability is a significant factor in this ranking, it’s not the only thing to consider when choosing a college. The quality of education, student support services, and fit for your specific needs are also crucial.
Most Affordable Accredited Online Colleges for 2024
#10. Kennesaw State University
– Annual tuition: $18,212
– Acceptance rate: 83%
– Graduation rate: 49%
– Students receiving financial aid: 91%
With a wealth of online undergraduate programs, Kennesaw State University provides over 15 diverse options spanning software engineering, logistics, marketing, sociology, criminal justice, and more. Online students access identical support as their on-campus peers, like academic advising, financial aid counseling, and mental health services. But Kennesaw State goes beyond educating – they nurture and empower students to excel. Through personalized guidance and abundant resources, the university enables each student to flourish and find their path. Every individual can thrive in this encouraging academic environment.
Renowned for exceptional online education, Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Georgia boasts an extensive range of programs and unwavering commitment to comprehensive student support. KSU designed its online programs to deliver flexible, engaging learning with dedicated faculty trained in effective online teaching methods. The university provides a wide array of online offerings including undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, and professional development courses. Online students enjoy equivalent education and support as their in-person counterparts, with the same high-caliber guidance and instruction. KSU offers online students various support services like academic advising, tutoring, library resources, and technical support. Upholding a high standard across online and traditional programs, KSU’s online options provide accessibility and flexibility. However, programs requiring hands-on or clinical work may face limitations online. KSU addresses this creatively and innovatively. Overall, KSU remains dedicated to furnishing high-quality online education and valuable learning opportunities for all students.
#9. Georgia Southern University
– Annual tuition: $15,851
– Acceptance rate: 91%
– Graduation rate: 54%
– Students receiving financial aid: 92%
Georgia Southern University has been awarded several accolades recognizing the school as military-friendly. Online students can choose from various subjects, including world languages and cultures, interdisciplinary studies (such as arts or social sciences), information technology, and nursing (RN-BSN). Students, alumni, and employers of GSU have access to Handshake, an online connection for internships, co-ops, and jobs. Handshake provides connections to the career and internship adviser, on-campus interviews, access to career fairs and events, and assistance with resumes and cover letters.
Georgia Southern University is a renowned institution in Georgia, offering a range of online programs. Their online education is of high quality, supported by experienced faculty and comprehensive services. Students can choose from various disciplines and degrees entirely online. The university provides support services like advising, library resources, and career assistance. While online programs offer flexibility, in-person programs provide face-to-face interaction and hands-on experiences. Georgia Southern ensures an interactive online learning experience, maintaining academic quality. Overall, it offers accessible education and support to help students succeed.
#8. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
– Annual tuition: $13,654
– Acceptance rate: 90%
– Graduation rate: 55%
– Students receiving financial aid: 80%
With origins dating back to 1965, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay currently provides 14 online undergraduate programs and 6 online master’s programs. Offerings span accounting, nursing, psychology, human resources management, and more. Additional online options include accelerated degrees in organizational leadership and business administration, plus coding and data analytics “boot camps.” For select programs, students can choose between fully online, hybrid, or on-campus coursework.
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay excels at online education. High-quality programs with diverse options are delivered through a flexible, convenient online format. Comprehensive support services ensure students have access to resources like advising, tutoring, and career counseling. While maintaining academic rigor and faculty engagement, UWGB’s online offerings provide flexibility that differs from in-person programs. However, UWGB strives to deliver comparable content and learning outcomes online. Altogether, UWGB combines quality, flexibility, and support for a rewarding online learning experience.
Most Popular Majors
Liberal Arts and Humanities
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#7. Western Carolina University
– Annual tuition: $13,640
– Acceptance rate: 48%
– Graduation rate: 61%
– Students receiving financial aid: 86%
Established in 1889, Western Carolina University offers several services for online students, including 24/7 access to online tutoring services via Smarthinking. As a member of the University of North Carolina system, WCU provides education to more than 10,000 students from 48 states and 35 countries.
Western Carolina University (WCU) stands as an esteemed establishment, providing exceptional online education, a wide array of programs, and extensive support services to students. With experienced faculty and rigorous standards, WCU’s online programs are highly regarded. Students can choose from various disciplines and degree levels, accessing resources such as online libraries and tutoring. While traditional programs offer in-person interaction, WCU’s online programs provide flexibility and accessibility without compromising collaborative learning. Overall, WCU prioritizes academic excellence and prepares students for success.
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#6. Arkansas State University Online
According to our analysis, Arkansas State University is the #6 most affordable online university.
– Annual tuition: $13,430
– Acceptance rate: 63%
– Graduation rate: 53%
– Students receiving financial aid: 100%
Arkansas State University’s online programs have had more than 10,000 graduates. Arkansas State is approved on a regional and national level by the Higher Learning Commission and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.
There are more than 20 online undergraduate programs that range from business administration and criminology to political science and strategic communication. The programs have rolling start dates throughout the year, making it easier for online students to start coursework sooner. Arkansas State University Online is the virtual education division of Arkansas State University (ASU). It offers a wide range of high-quality online programs with the same rigorous academic standards as its traditional programs. An array of undergraduate and graduate degrees, alongside certificates in fields such as business administration, education, nursing, and more, are available to learners. Support services include academic advising, online tutoring, library resources, and career counseling. Online programs provide flexibility and a diverse student body, although self-discipline and time management skills are necessary. Overall, Arkansas State University Online delivers excellent education and comprehensive support for online learners.
Most Popular Majors
Liberal Arts and Humanities
Criminology Radio and Television Communications
Political Science and Government
Homeland Security and Disaster Management
Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia
#5. Valdosta State University
– Annual tuition: $13,336
– Acceptance rate: 78%
– Graduation rate: 41%
– Students receiving financial aid: 93%
Founded in 1913, Valdosta State University has a wide selection of online bachelor’s degree programs, such as criminal justice, management, organizational leadership, French, psychology, Spanish, workforce education/development, and office administration/technology. The school offers The Online Readiness Indicator, a survey designed for those who are unsure whether online learning is the best option for them. Survey respondents receive tailored feedback and resources to navigate online delivery and potential challenges that may arise.
Nestled in Valdosta, Georgia, Valdosta State University (VSU) delivers high-caliber online education with diverse program offerings. VSU designs online courses to engage and interact, utilizing advanced technologies and expert faculty. Online students access advising, career services, library resources, and tech support. Spanning varied fields, VSU’s online programs offer flexibility for students balancing studies with other commitments. Consistent quality and academic rigor unite VSU’s online and in-person programs. For students pursuing educational goals, VSU provides convenient, robust, and supportive online education.#4. Western Governors University
#4. Western Governors University
– Annual tuition: $11,835
– Acceptance rate: 100%
– Graduation rate: 64%
– Students receiving financial aid: 73%
Western Governors University was founded by 19 governors of the United States. Instead of adding credit hours, it uses a system based on skills and knowledge that tests essential skills and knowledge. The school’s tuition is flat, so students can take as many classes as they can in a term. Progress toward an online degree is based on passing assessments that measure online students’ skills and knowledge in their field of study. WGU is the first university where all degrees are competency-based.
With quality education and diverse offerings, the esteemed Western Governors University (WGU) provides over 60 online bachelor’s and master’s programs spanning various fields. WGU’s flexible, convenient online format enables students to learn at their own pace while balancing life. Through competency-based education focused on mastery, WGU fosters personalized, efficient learning. Robust support services include personal mentors and a comprehensive online platform. While distinct from traditional programs, WGU cultivates an engaging, connected online community. Students benefit from WGU’s commitment to quality, flexibility, and support in online higher education.
Most Popular Majors
- Elementary Education
- Computer and Information Systems Security
- Human Resources
- Special Education and Teaching
- Healthcare Management
- Information Technology
- Management Sciences and Information Systems
#3. University of North Carolina at Pembroke
According to our analysis, the University of Carolina at Pembroke is the third cheapest online college in the nation.
– Annual tuition: $11,160
– Acceptance rate: 91%
– Graduation rate: 43%
– Students receiving financial aid: 91%
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) is a public university in Pembroke, North Carolina. It offers a wide range of affordable online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, providing online students with the flexibility and convenience of earning a degree online while still receiving a high-quality education.
UNCP’s cheap online degree programs are taught by the same faculty who teach on campus and follow the same curriculum as the on-campus programs. Online students have access to the same resources and support services as on-campus students, including academic advising, tutoring, and career counseling.
UNCP offers online degree programs in various subject areas, including business, education, nursing, and criminal justice. Some of the online degree programs offered by UNCP include:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Education
- Master of Science in Nursing
UNCP’s online degree programs are designed to be flexible and accommodate the needs of working professionals and students with busy schedules. Online courses are typically delivered asynchronously, meaning that online students can complete coursework on their own time as long as they meet any deadlines.
UNCP offers six undergraduate online degrees in criminal justice, sociology, business administration, nursing, interdisciplinary studies, and education.
To be eligible for UNCP’s online degree programs, students must meet the same admission requirements as on-campus students. This may include submitting transcripts, test scores, and other required documentation. Online students should also have access to a computer and a stable internet connection to participate in online courses.
#2. Clayton State University
According to our analysis, Clayton State University ranks second among cheap accredited online colleges.
– Annual tuition: $10,635
– Acceptance rate: 69%
– Graduation rate: 35%
– Students receiving financial aid: 91%
Clayton State University offers eTuition, a tuition rate designated for select online programs. This adjusted rate is tailored for distance learners. It excludes some of the standard fees that come with the on-campus experience, such as parking or athletic fees. With more than 40 bachelor’s degree programs, students can opt for a dental hygiene, biology, health sciences, English, music, nursing (RN-BSN), theatre, and philosophy. Specialized programs include pre-engineering and pre-pharmacy and dual degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering, computer science and engineering, and integrative studies and engineering.
Clayton State University is a public institution in Georgia, offering quality online education alongside traditional programs. The university provides a robust online learning environment with interactive courses and dedicated faculty. Online programs span various disciplines, and students have access to support services like advising and virtual organizations. While online programs offer flexibility, Clayton State ensures academic rigor and comparable curriculum to in-person programs. The university prioritizes student success and prepares them for their professional journeys.
#1. Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
ENMU is the most affordable online college for 2024!
– Annual tuition: $4,994
– Acceptance rate: 51%
– Graduation rate: 40%
– Students receiving financial aid: 97%
Eastern New Mexico University has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, allowing the school to deliver online courses across state lines. Students in Texas within a 135-mile radius of ENMU qualify for the in-state tuition rate. ENMU is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities member.
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus (ENMU) is a reputable public university in Portales, New Mexico. It provides top-notch online education, utilizing cutting-edge technology and expertly trained faculty. ENMU provides a diverse range of programs in fields such as business, education, nursing, and more. Students can utilize a wide range of robust support services, encompassing academic advisors, online libraries, tutoring facilities, and technical assistance. ENMU’s online programs offer flexibility while maintaining the educational experience of traditional in-person programs. It is a top choice for students seeking quality online education and academic support.
How Can I Make College More Affordable?
There are several ways to make college more affordable, including:
- Apply for financial aid: Many colleges and universities offer financial aid packages to help students pay for their education. This can include grants, scholarships, and loans. Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what financial aid they may be eligible for.
- Attend a community college: Community colleges often have lower tuition and fees than four-year colleges and universities, making them a more affordable option for students. Many community colleges also have transfer agreements with four-year institutions, allowing students to transfer credits and complete their degrees at a lower cost.
- Consider in-state public colleges and universities: Public colleges and universities in a student’s state residence may be more affordable than private or out-of-state public institutions.
- Take advantage of tax credits and deductions: The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two tax credits that can help reduce the cost of college. Students or their parents may also be able to claim deductions for tuition and fees and student loan interest on their tax returns.
- Enroll in an online program: Online programs can be a more convenient and flexible option for students, and they may also be more affordable than traditional on-campus programs.
- Work while in school: Working while in school can help offset the cost of tuition and other expenses. Students should be careful not to take on too much work, as it can negatively impact their academic performance.
- Choose a less expensive college or university: Some colleges and universities may be more affordable than others, even if they offer similar academic programs and quality education. Students should carefully compare the costs of different institutions to find the best value.
- Take out federal student loans: Federal student loans generally have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private student loans. Students should borrow only what they need and be mindful of their total debt burden after graduation.
How Can You Decide If an Affordable Online College Is Right for You and Your Learning Style?
Given the different learning formats used in colleges and universities, choosing the type of degree program to pursue is a crucial decision to make. Before choosing an inexpensive online college, such as nonprofit online colleges, you need to determine if the program is right for you and your learning style. Consider several factors, including:
- What you are passionate about: You need to identify the field of study you are passionate about and link it to your attributes. For instance, if you are passionate about impacting other peoples’ lives, you should consider an online college offering healthcare degree programs.
- Consider your learning style: If you are an individual who prefers to learn from home rather than physically attending classes, you probably need to enroll in an online school. Online colleges allow students to earn their degrees in flexible learning environments.
- Are you a tech-savvy person? Online learning processes mainly take place over the internet and through computer gadgets such as laptops and desktops. If you are a tech-savvy individual, you will probably enjoy learning online.
- Career Potentials: Online college programs have different career potentials. If you seek to land a job immediately after graduating, you should probably enroll in a college with career advising and a high employability rate.
Where Can You Find Scholarships for the Cheapest Online College Degrees?
Prospective online students can find scholarship opportunities from various organizations. Some of the common organizations that provide scholarship opportunities include:
- Federal and State Government: Federal and state governments award scholarships to low-income students seeking various online programs. The students have to prove they are financially incapable of financing their education.
- Colleges and Universities: Colleges and universities award scholarships to students excelling in various curricula and co-curricular activities such as leadership and sports.
- Professional Associations: Professional bodies award annual scholarships to students pursuing degrees in a specific field.
- Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofit organizations award scholarships to vulnerable students such as immigrants and persons living with disabilities.
The increased cost of higher education has necessitated the need to find alternative ways of pursuing college and university degrees. Most students, especially those who cannot finance their education programs, have turned to online colleges as an affordable means of earning their degrees. The increased number of online colleges has led to increased accessibility to online education. Currently, students prioritize the affordability of educational programs when shopping for online colleges. Every student wants to get value for their investment. They spend most of their time researching the best affordable programs rather than hurriedly choosing programs that might prove costly in the long run.
Affordable Online colleges have several benefits, whether you’re a prospective student interested in pursuing an associate degree, an online bachelor’s degree, a graduate school program, or a graduate certificate. They allow students to earn their degrees in a flexible online learning environment. Online colleges are relatively cheaper than traditional programs. Despite their affordability, the programs still offer high-quality and valuable degrees. Employers, professional bodies, and other colleges and universities highly regard degrees. Online programs are also the easiest and quickest way to earn a cheap online degree. If you are looking for the best cheap online degree program that will suit your financial and professional needs, consider online colleges.
Cheapest Online Colleges FAQ
Q: Are there any financial aid options for students enrolled in online colleges?
A: Yes, financial aid options such as grants, scholarships, and student loans are available for students enrolled in online colleges. Researching and applying for financial aid through the college’s financial aid office is important.
Q: Are online college degrees reputable?
A: Yes, many reputable colleges and universities now offer online degree programs that are just as reputable as their on-campus counterparts. However, it’s important to research the accreditation and reputation of the specific online college or program before enrolling.
Q: Are online college classes self-paced?
A: It depends on the college and program. Some online classes are self-paced, while others have set schedules and deadlines. Be sure to research the specific class format before enrolling.
Q: Can I transfer credits from online to traditional colleges?
A: It depends on the college’s transfer policy. Some colleges will accept transfer credits from online colleges, while others may not. It’s important to research the transfer policy of the college you plan to transfer to before enrolling in an online college.
Q: Are online college programs available for graduate degrees?
A: Yes, many colleges and universities now offer online graduate degree programs. Research and compare the options available in your field of study.
There is another way to save money! By choosing to go to a college that pays you to attend you can become more financially stable after you graduate.