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 earn a degree fully online from anywhere in the world. As more students embrace postsecondary remote options, affordable online college programs are increasingly popping up, providing an alternative to the traditional university experience.
Out of the more than 19 million enrolled college students in 2019, 37.2% were enrolled in distance education courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions. The data collected among 50 states and Washington D.C. include institutions that award associate degrees and higher. These institutions also accept federal financial aid programs.
Related Accredited Online Programs That Might Interest YouLearn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Most Affordable Accredited Online Colleges for 2022
#10. Arkansas State University
Arkansas State University is the #10 most affordable online university, according to our analysis.
– Annual tuition: $6,540
– Acceptance rate: 66%
– Graduation rate: 53%
– Students receiving financial aid: 97%
Arkansas State University’s online program has had more than 10,000 graduates to date. Arkansas State holds regional and national accreditations from 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.
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#9. Western Governors University
– Annual tuition: $6,450
– Acceptance rate: Data not available
– Graduation rate: 21%
– Students receiving financial aid: 72%
Western Governors University, which was created by 19 U.S. governors, features a competency-based approach that focuses on assessing essential skills and knowledge rather than accumulating credit hours. The school offers a flat-rate tuition model so students can complete as many courses as they can within a term.
Progress toward an online degree is based on passing assessments that measure students’ skills and knowledge in their field of study. WGU is the first university where all degrees are competency-based.
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#8. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
– Annual tuition: $6,298
– Acceptance rate: 76%
– Graduation rate: 53%
– Students receiving financial aid: 84%
Established in 1965, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has 13 undergraduate programs online including accounting, nursing, psychology, and human resources management. Other online offerings include accelerated degrees for organizational leadership and business administration, as well as “boot camps” to learn coding and data analytics.
For some programs, coursework is available with both on-campus and online options and even a hybrid of both.
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#7. Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
– Annual tuition: $6,114
– Acceptance rate: 60%
– Graduation rate: 36%
– 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 member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
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#6. Western Carolina University
– Annual tuition: $5,670
– Acceptance rate: 39%
– Graduation rate: 62%
– Students receiving financial aid: 85%
Established in 1889, Western Carolina University offers several services for online students, including 24/7 access to online tutoring services via Smarthinking. A member of the University of North Carolina system, WCU provides an education to more than 10,000 students from 48 states and 35 countries.
In U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of online degree programs (released in January 2022), WCU was #67 on the list of Best Online Bachelor’s in Business Programs.
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#5. Georgia Southern University
According to our analysis, Georgia Southern University is the fifth cheapest accredited online college in the nation.
– Annual tuition: $5,646
– Acceptance rate: 68%
– Graduation rate: 50%
– Students receiving financial aid: 91%
Georgia Southern University has been awarded several accolades recognizing the school as military-friendly. Students can choose from a variety of subjects including world languages and cultures, interdisciplinary studies (such as arts or social sciences), informational 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.
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#4. Kennesaw State University
– Annual tuition: $5,562
– Acceptance rate: 61%
– Graduation rate: 46%
– Students receiving financial aid: 92%
Kennesaw State University, located in Kennesaw, Georgia, offers more than 15 online undergraduate programs including software engineering, supply chain logistics, marketing, sociology, and criminal justice. The same academic support services provided to in-person students are also available to online learners, which include academic advisors, financial aid counselors, and mental health counseling.
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#3. Valdosta State University
– Annual tuition: $5,463
– Acceptance rate: 74%
– Graduation rate: 40%
– Students receiving financial aid: 92%
Founded in 1913, Valdosta State University has a wide selection of online bachelor 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.
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#2. Clayton State University
According to our analysis, Clayton State University ranks second among cheap accredited online colleges.
– Annual tuition: $5,079
– Acceptance rate: 42%
– Graduation rate: 30%
– Students receiving financial aid: 88%
Clayton State University offers eTuition, a tuition rate designated for select online programs. This adjusted rate is tailored for distance learners and excludes some of the traditional fees that come with the on-campus experience, such as parking or athletic fees.
With more than 40 bachelor’s programs, students can opt for a degree in 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.
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#1. University of North Carolina at Pembroke
According to our analysis, the University of Carolina at Pembroke is the cheapest online college in the nation.
– Annual tuition: $5,067
– Acceptance rate: 81%
– Graduation rate: 41%
– Students receiving financial aid: 90%
In its 2022 rankings, U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of North Carolina at Pembroke #65 for regional universities in the South, #18 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, and #30 in Top Public Schools.
UNCP offers six undergraduate online degrees in criminal justice, sociology, business administration, nursing, interdisciplinary studies, and education.
Guide to Affordable Online Colleges
Higher education is an invaluable investment for individuals looking to pursue a new career, advance their current job, or change career paths. Online colleges are a strong option for learners looking for convenient and flexible learning when pursuing their degrees, and they are becoming more popular every day. Even traditional colleges have adopted the distance learning format in recent years to increase the accessibility of their programs and to meet the increasing demand for cheap online degrees by distance learners.
Online colleges made it easier for prospective students to get degrees from flexible online learning environments, enabling them to balance work, study, and lifestyle. Online colleges aim to help a student achieve their personal and professional goals at an affordable tuition rate. The online degree programs range from undergraduate degrees, such as associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees, to graduate degrees, such as master’s degrees and doctoral degrees.
Graduate students from online colleges earn the same degrees as those in traditional programs, as the online programs are rigorous and of world-class quality. Additionally, the standards of online bachelor’s degree programs and graduate degrees aren’t compromised. The online colleges voluntarily seek accreditation from any of the seven regionally accreditation agencies. Before enrolling in particular program research to ensure the institution is regionally accredited.
Are you shopping for the cheapest online college? To help you make an informed decision about the best cheap online college program to pursue, we have explored every aspect of affordable online colleges, including:
- How the field of study affects your college’s costs
- Most affordable online colleges by degree program
- How to choose the best online college for your budget
- Best financing options for online colleges
How Field of Study Affects Your College Costs
Higher education is increasingly becoming costly with the passing of years, sparking debates on whether higher education is worth it. The cost of higher education is affected by various factors, including the field of study, learning institution, and learning format. It isn’t a surprise to find some accredited online colleges charge extensively higher than others. One needs proper financial planning to ensure they meet the cost of earning their degrees.
For instance, they first need to research the cost of the program they are interested in, compare the tuition with other universities, and select the most affordable college, even if it means pursuing the program online. This page explores the various factors that affect the cost of a field of study, and the choices families and students have to make regarding the cost of higher education.
What Choices Are Universities Seeing Students and Families Have to Make Based On the Costs of Higher Education?
As high school graduation parties come to an end, a new task is ahead of first-year college students and their families. Unlike high school education, which is relatively cheap, higher education comes at a cost. Families and aspiring students have to make their first college tuition payment. Yet, some students and families, especially low-income earners, may worry they won’t have the financial muscle to cover the tuition costs. With this, the families have to make various choices regarding the cost of higher education. Some of the choices include:
- Financial Budget: Families have to develop a financial budget to help them cover higher education costs. The budget plan will likely include the available resources and probably how to gain more funds.
- Degree Program to Pursue: Families and students have to decide the type of degree the student should pursue. Shopping for a degree program can be difficult, especially with the increased number of degree programs available. This decision can be even more difficult depending on whether you’re looking for an online bachelor’s degree or online master’s degree program.
- Financial Aid: Families and students have to research the financial aid options available to the student. Some of the financial aid options include student loans, scholarships, and federal grants. They have to decide on the best alternative that will cover tuition fees and other college expenses.
What Are the Most and Least Expensive Fields of Study?
If you are considering pursuing a college degree, you are probably wondering whether your dream college degree will cost more than the average tuition. As a prospective student, this question should be at the forefront of your mind as some fields of study cost much higher, while others are least expensive. In most cases, majors that require extra years of study are quite costly in the long run. Some of these majors include:
- Interior design
The least expensive fields of study take relatively shorter periods to study. The least costly majors include:
- Graphic design
What Factors in A Field of Study Affect How Much a Degree Program Will Cost?
There are various factors in a field of study that affect how much a degree program will cost. Some the factors include:
- Duration of the degree program
- Availability of financial aid
- Learning format, distance, or traditional learning
- Demand level of the field of study
- Employability rate
Most Affordable Online Colleges by Degree Program
With the increased cost of higher education, aspiring students have opted to pursue cheap online degrees from online colleges since they are relatively cheaper than campus-based programs. One factor that students highly consider in an online degree program is the affordability of the program. Learners also prioritize the flexibility of the degree program. Another factor considered is the school accreditation status. You are likely here because you are an aspiring student looking for an inexpensive degree to get value for your investment. Considering the tuition cost for a degree is a solid start to your quest. This page explores some of the affordable online colleges that offer quality education.
What Online Colleges Offer Inexpensive Options for Degree Programs That Typically Cost More?
Professionals with college degrees typically earn higher salaries and qualify for more job opportunities than individuals with only secondary education. Pursuing a degree program from an affordable online college helps students earn their degrees without going into debt. Earning your bachelor’s degree can unlock several career opportunities in various industries, as almost all entry-level jobs require a bachelor’s degree. Degree programs related to health care, engineering, architecture, and aviation, among others, can be quite costly.
Hence, individuals seeking to pursue degree options should look for alternative routes of earning their degrees. One alternative is enrolling in an online college that offers inexpensive options for a degree program that typically costs more. The schools also have a flexible tuition payment plan. This article explores some of these online colleges, including the degree programs they offer to enable you to make an informed and cost-effective decision.
The University of Florida has over 200 online programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university also offers an online certificate program and associate’s degrees. Some of the less expensive bachelor’s degrees include health education, digital arts, and sciences, among others. The programs have flexible course schedules allowing students to learn at their convenience. The school also offers financial aid programs to low-income students, reducing the high cost of higher education.
The University of Texas at Austin extended its programs to meet the high demand for online programs. The schools offer online bachelor’s degree options as well as online degree programs for master’s degrees and other continuing education courses. The university also offers professional development classes which help a business organization maintain skills and a productive workforce. Some of the programs offered by the university include legal education, health informatics, public affairs, and social work education. The master’s degree programs offered include mechanical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and engineering management. These programs are relatively cheaper compared to those provided by other learning institutions.
The University of Connecticut offers online programs in several fields of study, including science and engineering, public policy, energy and environmental management, and digital media and design. Like the on-campus students, online learners have access to academic and student support services, such as career advising, tutoring services, and assistance with graduate-level research. The online programs are asynchronous, enabling each online student to earn their degrees through a flexible and convenient learning environment. The online lectures are provided through live sessions, video recordings, and discussion boards.
Indiana University-Bloomington has over 150 online degree programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Some of the inexpensive online programs offered by the school include public health, labor studies, computing, and technology. The learning institution attracts close to 6,000 distance learners annually. The online programs are fully online, and students do not need campus visits to complete specific online courses. Distance learners have round-the-clock access to online student services such as academic advising and career services. They have access to internship opportunities like the campus students.
How Do Inexpensive Online Colleges Still Guarantee Excellent Quality When It Comes to Providing an Education?
Some students doubt the legitimacy of inexpensive colleges. If you want to invest your time and money into pursuing a degree program, you want to make sure the program is valuable and recognized by employers and professional bodies. You probably want to make sure other universities recognize the degree if you decide to continue your education. Whereas most online schools offer inexpensive programs, they offer quality and legitimate programs that help meet your professional needs. But how do they maintain quality?
Although there are many legitimate online options for a bachelor’s degree program or higher-level education, there are also illegitimate online schools that provide subpar education. The online colleges offering affordable programs differentiate themselves from scam colleges by voluntarily seeking regional accreditation. Having a regional accreditation guarantees quality and standardized easiest online degrees. The accreditation process is quite rigorous and might take several years, as the accreditation agency has to ensure the institution has met all the pre-defined accreditation standards. Maintaining accreditation involves a lot. Meaning that inexpensive online colleges have to maintain quality standards to avoid losing accreditation.
Which Colleges Offer Affordable Online Versions of In-Person Degree Programs?
If you want to make informed cost-effective decisions about higher education, considering only the program’s affordability might not be enough. You also need to consider the quality of the education and the value of the degree program
To help you decide, we have outlined some of the colleges that offer affordable online versions of in-person degree programs. Here are some of the colleges you need to consider:
Georgia Institute of Technology ranks high among colleges offering affordable online versions of in-person programs. The university does provide not only affordable programs but also quality education programs. The school is specifically known for its computer and information sciences online program. The college charges approximately $2,700 annually for the program.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers affordable online programs in various fields, including public administration. Political science and government, criminal justice and research, and natural resources conservation and research. Students considering pursuing the offered field of study should look no further than the University of Maryland Global Campus.
The American Public University is a for-profit online college offering over 190 affordable certificate programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some of the degree programs offered by the school include space studies, business, electrical engineering, health sciences, criminal justice, and sports management. Interestingly, the school has an open admission policy, allowing students to enroll in various programs without fulfilling specific academic requirements.
The National University boasts of over 150 online college programs in different fields of study. The school has significantly improved its online campus to ensure improved distance learning outcomes. The online programs’ classes and tools are accessible throughout. Some of the programs offered include teaching and education, healthcare, engineering and technology, math, criminal justice, social sciences, and humanities.
How to Choose the Best Online College for Your Budget
With rising tuition costs, it can be hard to find affordable colleges. Not all students qualify for financial aid provided by the federal government, state government, and individual colleges and universities. Most students who avoid student loans, like loan repayment without debt forgiveness, are likely to reduce their disposable income once they begin working. Fortunately, with the increased number of online colleges becoming available annually, students can find affordable online colleges that meet their personal and professional goals. This guide covers finding an affordable college program, including how to decide if the program is right for your budget.
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 from 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 that offers career advising and has a high employability rate.
How Can You Decide If an Online College Is Right for Your Budget?
Students can avoid degree programs that strain their budgets by enrolling in affordable online colleges. Cheap online colleges help students avoid debts and out-of-pocket expenses that are associated with traditional colleges. Although online colleges help students save money, it is vital to choose a program within your budget.
Choosing the best college that is right for your budget helps students avoid debts. An online college could be suitable for your budget if you can pay the annual tuition costs with ease without applying for financial aid. The budget could be ideal if a student doesn’t have to ask for a flexible tuition payment plan.
How Can You Be Sure of the Total Cost of an Online Program Before You Commit?
Even if you pursue an affordable online degree, higher education can be costly in the long run. It is essential to determine the actual cost of an online degree before committing. Most prospective students typically consider tuition and fees, ignoring other indirect costs that might increase the total cost of the online degree. To determine the total cost, it is vital to consider other things such as books and online course materials. You also need to determine transportation costs related to on-campus requirements.
Best Financing Options for Online College Students
Higher education can be quite costly, and almost every student pursuing college degrees needs financial aid to complete their degrees. Financial aid helps students cover tuition and other college-related expenses. There are various financial aid opportunities available to American students. The financial aid options range from student loans, grants, fellowships, scholarships, and multiple awards accorded to academically gifted students. This guide explores the best financing options for online college students. The focus will help you find the right financing option that meets your educational needs.
What Is the Overarching Breakdown of Federal Laws Surrounding Student and Educational Loans?
The federal government plays a vital role in the student loan industry. It is in partnership with student loan servicers to help manage its bulging student loan portfolio. The federal government is also actively involved in regulating the student loan industry to ensure student educational loans are administered effectively. To be eligible for student loans, a student must meet specific eligibility criteria.
Since the introduction of educational loans, several laws have been enacted to regulate the student loan industry. The regulations have helped set the eligibility criteria for loans, the maximum amounts awarded, and the repayment period. The laws regulate the activities of student loan services to curb unscrupulous loan activities.
What Are the Different Types of Student and Educational Loans, And How Can You Pick One That Is Right for You?
College and university students are eligible for different types of student and educational loans. The main types of financial aid include:
- Student loans
Student loans are the most common form of financial aid designed to help students cover higher education expenses such as online college tuition costs and books. Mostly, student loans are offered by state and federal governments. However, learners are also eligible for loans from private and public institutions. The common types of student loans include:
- Federal Loans: Federal loans are the largest form of student loans. Federal loans come in various forms. They include direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, Direct PLUS loans, and federal Perkins loans.
- Private loans: Learners qualify for loans from private financial institutions such as banks, private foundations, and credit unions. Private loans attract higher interests than federal loans. The amount of loans vary with the awarding institution.
- Institutional Loans: Currently, colleges and universities provide loans to eligible students to help cover college-related expenses. Students are required to repay the loans after the expiry of a grace period, which is usually six months.
Scholarships are the most competitive form of financial aid. Scholarships are the most preferred type of financial aid because they do not have to be paid back. Scholarships are awarded based on various factors, including the field of study, financial need, and academic merit. Financial aid is available to traditional programs and the fastest online degrees. Schools, private companies, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and government agencies all award scholarships. Applications require students to submit various academic documents such as transcripts, recommendation letters, and essays. To get scholarship renewal, students must maintain a certain average GPA.
Like scholarships, grants do not require repayment. To be eligible for grants, students must fulfill various need-based requirements. The financial needs of the applicants usually are determined by the date submitted by FAFSA. The applicants must also submit their income and tax information for their guardians. Research students can also receive grants from private organizations to help them complete their research projects.
Fellowships are mainly offered to graduate students or those in a graduate degree program. Undergraduate learners in some colleges and universities are also eligible for fellowships from some companies. Students earn fellowships in exchange for research or work related to their degree programs. For online learners pursuing a higher level online degree, in some cases, you might be required to teach undergraduates a specific course related to your major. Fellowships students get discounted tuition rates.
- Employer-Sponsored Programs
Several companies provide education incentives to employees who want to continue their education, even if they attend online school. The employer-sponsored programs might cover part or entire student’s education cost. To earn the education incentive, employees must usually commit to working for the organization for a given period after graduation.
Before picking any financial aid option, it is vital to understand how aid works. This will help you decide the right choice. There are those aids that require repayment while others lack repayment options.
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 curriculum and co-curricular activities such as leadership and sports.
- Professional Associations: Professional bodies award annual scholarships to students who pursue degrees in a specific professional 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, 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. degrees are highly regarded by employers, professional bodies, and other colleges and universities. Online programs are also the easiest and quickest way of earning 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.