Most Affordable Online Colleges

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Cheap Online Colleges

By 2020, 65% of all available jobs will require higher education. Stay at home and prepare for the future with an affordable online degree.

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In the past, online degrees were considered “less than” diplomas earned on campus. However, the trend in online education continues to grow, and most American universities now offer online degrees that are academically equivalent to their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Online degrees tend to be more affordable and accessible than on-campus diplomas, as they eliminate restrictive factors in obtaining an education, such as a lack of transportation or flexibility for a busy schedule.

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Recommended Online Programs

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Colleges

Rank School Location
1 Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA
2 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
3 Purdue University-Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, IN
4 Ohio University-Zanesville Zanesville, OH
5 Brigham Young University-Idaho Rexburg, ID
6 University of Hawaii-West Oahu Kapolei, HI
7 Indiana University-East Richmond, VA
8 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME
9 Kent State University at Tuscarawas New Philadelphia, OH
10 University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK

Online degrees allow you to save time by eliminating the need to commute. Often, you can cut your enrollment time in half by enrolling in accelerated degree options. Online degrees are often less expensive, as you cut out costs related to transportation, class materials, and other factors.

You can often work at your own pace and within your own timeframe, giving you more control over when lessons and assignments get done. Online degree programs are often more accessible for students with individual learning needs or learning disabilities, and give students more interaction with faculty, staff, and other students. Today, an online degree is the best and most affordable way to earn a degree.

What kind of online degree should you get?

While there are hundreds of online degrees available, not every program will work for every student’s individual needs and career goals. Many universities offer a range of degrees, from basic certificates to doctoral levels, but some restrict online offerings to undergraduate degrees only. Otherwise, consider factors such as tuition price, caliber of academic program, and level of student support when deciding on the best online degree for you.

How much money do people make with an online degree?

Individuals with online degrees typically make equivalent salaries as those that received traditional diplomas. On average, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn an average salary of $61,000, while those with graduate degrees earn over $78,000 annually. College graduates in general, even those with just associate’s degrees, earn over 50% more than high school graduates over a lifetime of earnings. This makes a college degree–especially a low-cost online degree–a worthy investment.

What can you do with an online degree?

Online degrees prepare graduates for the same careers as diplomas earned on campus.

Because online degrees can be earned quickly or while working at your own individual pace, these degrees can often be completed while working full-time. This means that online degrees can provide for career advancement or promotion without having to take time off for studies.

Online degrees are often more flexible and can be completed at any time of the day, allowing busy professionals the same opportunities for education without having to leave home or work.

What are the requirements for an online degree?

Requirements for an online degree vary depending on the type and level of degree. Generally, applicants for undergraduate online programs will need to have finished high school, either through traditional secondary education or completion of a GED. Graduate applicants may need to have completed undergraduate education or an entrance examination, such as the GED.

Online students will also need a reliable high-speed Internet connection and a trusty computer. In many cases, textbooks or other supplies aren’t even required!

What are the most affordable online colleges?

The best online degrees are affordable and allow you to start classes at any time of the year. They can be accessed at any time of the day, meaning they are offered asynchronously, and provide 24/7 support from faculty, academic advisors.

They also promote quality, collaborative interactions between students. Students enrolled in the best online degrees will benefit from extensive career services, and may partake in a variety of hands-on learning technologies. Online degrees will allow students to learn at their own pace and save money while also providing them with the flexibility to learn at home, at any hour.

2020 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Foothill College
    Location

    Los Altos Hills, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1957, Foothill College has a long history of providing exceptional education to thousands of satisfied, successful graduates. Located in Los Altos Hills, it has been awarded multiple recognitions, including those by the American Institute of Architects. The school currently educates over 13,000 students, many of whom choose to take advantage of the school’s small average class size–less than thirty students–in an online format.

    Program Features

    Foothill currently employs close to two hundred academic instructors, many of whom also teach online courses. Online students have access to the same community resources as their on-campus counterparts, including all libraries and learning centers, laboratories, and recreational resources. Students may choose to pursue Associates and Bachelor’s degrees such as:

    Associates and Bachelor’s degrees are both available, in fields such as:

    • Accounting, B.S.
    • Art History, B.A.
    • Engineering, B.S.
    • Dental Hygiene, B.S.
    • English, B.A.
    • Physician Education, B.S.
    • Theatre Technology, B.A.
    • Veterinary Technology, B.S.
    • Women’s Studies, B.A.

    Countless other degrees are available online as well.

    Notables

    In addition to Foothill’s outstanding affordability, it also provides convenience to busy students. There are no scheduled meet times for most online classes, though most require that students log in several times a week. Because courses are not self-paced, students benefit from maximum flexibility while at the same time can take comfort in the instruction of an experienced instructor

  2. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Bellevue University is unique in that its programs are designed specifically for older learners. Roughly eighty percent of its undergraduate students are older than twenty-five. Not only is the school affordable with its low tuition cost per semester, it also offers accelerated bachelor’s degree programs that enable students to finish classes in less time and with less expense.

    Program Features

    This fully accredited university offers bachelor’s and graduate programs entirely online. Students will benefit from small class sizes and personalized attention from dedicated professors. Students are able to choose from several different formats to customize their own online learning pathways. Available degrees include, but are not limited to:

    • Accounting, B.S.
    • Behavioral Science , B.S.
    • Communication Studies, B.A.
    • Criminal Justice, B.S.
    • Emergency Management, B.S.
    • Graphic Design, B.A.
    • Marketing, B.S.

    Notables

    Bellevue University’s online courses are offered, planned, and taught by the same faculty who teach on campus. The online degree is identical to the one offered on-campus. All degree programs, online or otherwise, receive vital feedback and input from local business partners to make sure that graduates are prepared to enter directly into the workforce.

  3. Purdue University-Fort Wayne
    Location

    Fort Wayne, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne is a powerhouse when it comes to educated online students. Because it is a member of the public university system of the state of Indiana, it offers unparalleled support and resources to its students and alumni. Classes are available entirely online that lead to an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, or simply just individual course credit.

    Program Features

    Over one hundred online degrees are offered at Indiana University. These classes are flexible and high quality, allowing adult or working students to earn a degree quickly and easily. The long list of available programs includes:

    • Business Administration, M.B.A.
    • Business Analytics, M.S.
    • Data Science, M.S.
    • Parks and Recreation, Master of Public Health
    • Philanthropic Studies, MA
    • Product Stewardship, MS
    • Public Affairs, M.P.A.

    Notables

    One of the greatest highlights of Indiana University’s programs is that they can’t be beat in regards to affordability. Tuition and fees vary based on number of credits, not semester, so students won’t pay for credits they aren’t taking. Discounts are available for Indiana residents. Scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid are available as well.

  4. Ohio University-Zanesville
    Location

    Zanesville, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Ohio University’s Zanesville online campus allows students to enroll in one of five associate’s degree programs or nine bachelor’s degree programs without ever leaving home. The school makes attending affordable, as it allows students to maximize credits earned at other institutions. Students can finish courses more quickly and enter directly into the workforce.

    Program Features

    Associate degrees are offered in flexible formats. Students have the option of choosing between print-based classes, independent classes, or fully online work. Programs are offered in the arts, humanities, social sciences, individualized studies, science, or business management technology. Available Bachelor’s programs include:

    • Applied Communication
    • Applied Management
    • Criminal Justice
    • Customer Service
    • Integrated Healthcare Studies
    • Psychology
    • RN to BSN
    • Technical and Applied Studies
    • Technical Operations Management

    Notables

    Ohio University also has partnerships with many community colleges in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. This allows students to transfer coursework and take courses from multiple universities. This optimizes convenience and enables students to earn credits for already attempted work. Students will learn from over fifty full=time faculty who engage in constant personal research and education.

  5. Brigham Young University-Idaho
    Location

    Rexburg, ID

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Brigham Young focuses on undergraduate education with a superior dedication to character and behavioral education. Its programs emphasize the importance of the liberal arts, with available degrees in sciences, engineering, performing arts, agriculture, management, and more. The school offers a “fast grad” program which enables students to accelerate their paths to graduation by attending all semesters at once.

    Program Features

    Students can partake in what’s known as a “stackable degree” at Brigham Young. This allows students to earn a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree all at once, improving skill-building and overall employability. Bachelor degrees are available in:

    • Business Management
    • Computer Information Technology
    • Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Marriage & Family Studies
    • Nursing RN to BSN
    • Software Engineering
    • University Studies
    • Web Design & Development

    Notables

    Students may choose to pursue Brigham Young’s exclusive PathwayConnect program. This is a low-cost program that combines online classes with local meetings. Students will not only earn valuable skills, they will also receive the spiritual benefits of a traditional education at Brigham Young.

  6. University of Hawaii-West Oahu
    Location

    Kapolei, HI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Hawaii at West Oahu offers baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts and professional studies. Although it is relatively new, founded only in 1976, the university has rapidly risen to the top of the list of most affordable online schools. In fact, it hosts one of the lowest university tuition rates in the nation.

    Program Features

    It should be noted that lower division coursework is necessary to complete a fully online degree with the University of Hawaii. Once this coursework has been completed, students may complete bachelor’s degrees in one of the following areas:

    • Business Administration
    • Public Administration
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Notables

    The university is not only a wise choice for busy working adults, but it also has been ranked as one of the most military friendly schools. For students who have completed two years of coursework from a neighboring community college, automatic credit transfer options are available as well. Many classes are taught through interactive television programs, in which students can either take the classes via a personal computer or use classroom facilities provided by local community colleges or educational centers.

  7. Indiana University-East
    Location

    Richmond, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Offering master’s, bachelor’s, and associates degrees, Indiana University-East knows exactly what it takes to produce successful, satisfied graduates. Since 1969, the university has demonstrated a commitment to helping students learn at home, extending this dedication to its exceptional online programs. Today, over fifty degree programs are offered in total, most of which are also offered online.

    Program Features

    Any credits or diplomas earned at Indiana University’s online campus are identically equivalent to those received on campus. Bachelor’s degrees and certificates are available in the following disciplines, among others:

    • Applied Health Science
    • Communication Studies
    • Criminal Justice
    • English, Technical and Professional Writing
    • Informatics
    • Mathematics
    • Natural Science and Mathematics (Mathematics Concentration)

    Notables

    All students receive an online advisor who works closely to help each individual tailor his or her plan of study. Tis sort of dedicated, one-on-one attention can’t be beat, especially at Indiana’s rock-bottom price of just $215 per credit hour for undergraduate resident students.

  8. University of Maine at Augusta
    Location

    Augusta, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Maine delivers baccalaureate and associate degrees online for recent high school graduates, working adults, and active duty military members. Comprised of two academic colleges (the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Professional Studies), the university is nationally recognized for its programs in information and library sciences. It has also been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top public comprehensive college sin the northeast.

    Program Features

    The university cites environmental sustainability as one of its primary academic themes. This carries through to many of its online majors, though a wide range of unrelated programs are offered as well. Sample disciplines offered by the University of Maine include:

    • Business Administration
    • Computer Information Systems
    • Cybersecurity
    • Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Justice Studies
    • Mental Health and Human Services
    • Music: Contemporary and Popular
    • Public Administration
    • Social Science

    Notables

    Each degree program at the university utilizes a unique combination of online, video conference, and ITV learning options. These options can be pursued at students’ homes or at learning centers throughout the state. This dynamite combination has resulted in the university’s repeated selection as a top affordable, high-quality online institution.

  9. Kent State University at Tuscarawas
    Location

    New Philadelphia, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Kent State at Tuscarawas hosts a booming population of nearly 2,100 students, both online and on-campus. Students will engage in a variety of opportunities outside of core academic studies. The university offers students the exclusive opportunity to engage in funded research projects, all of which are eligible for research awards and colloquium attendance.

    Program Features

    Over eleven bachelor’s and sixteen associate degrees are available. In addition to these complete programs, attendance at Kent State often enables students to continue education elsewhere later on, including in 280 different partner programs within the university system. Students may choose from the following programs, among many others:

    • Business
    • Computer Applications
    • Design and Composition
    • Healthcare and Medical
    • Language and Arts
    • Law and Legal
    • Personal Development
    • Teaching and Education
    • Technology

    Notables

    Not only does Kent State host an affordable baseline tuition price, they also have ways to drop that price even more. Over $310,000 in scholarships are awarded each year to qualified students. All courses are taught by highly qualified instructors, many of whom are successful authors in their fields.

  10. University of Alaska Southeast
    Location

    Juneau, AK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Alaska hosts several campuses in Sitka, Ketchikan, and Juneau (main campus). These unique, scenic campuses extend to a fully online classroom that offers e-learning opportunities in academic and vocational programs. Because all coursework online meets the standards of the university’s academic departments and accreditation, there is no difference between a degree earned online and one earned on campus.

    Program Features

    Both certificate and degree programs are available online through the university .Programs are technical and needs-based by nature. Although the list of available programs is extensive, some of the most popular programs include:

    • Fisheries Technology
    • Healthcare Information
    • Marine Transportation
    • Elementary Education
    • Social Science
    • Alaskan Native Languages and Studies
    • Nursing

    Notables

    All programs offered at the University of Alaska Southeast are highly in-demand and sought after by employers both regionally and nationally. Most programs are offered to out-of-state students at comparable rates of tuition, making it a viable choice for any student looking to continue his or her education after high school.

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