Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges 2024

Searching for the cheapest online colleges?

Our list takes an in-depth look at the most affordable online colleges with further information about each school to help your search.


Highlights

  • Online colleges offer affordable degree programs that won't break the bank.
  • Online education allows balancing school with work, family, and other commitments.
  • Landing that degree isn't just a piece of paper—it's your golden ticket to better job prospects and a fatter paycheck over the long haul.

Two decades ago, online courses were mostly limited to large, state-funded universities. Today, virtually every college or university has developed online programs or hybrid classes, including continuing professional education classes for working adults who may not be able to attend traditional courses.

Online learning opens the door to flexible courses for everyone, regardless of lifestyle needs. Online education's adaptability lets students balance their coursework with work commitments, travel when needed, or adjust their schedules—all while staying on track academically.

Lately, it's clear that the real MVP in education is technology, stepping up to keep our learning game strong when we need it most. Boosting how affordable and easy it is to get into higher education hinges on leveraging tech advancements.

With all the uncertainty in today's economy, it’s important to find a college that is affordable and allows for simultaneous income.

Featured Online Colleges

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

To ensure that as many people can find accessible and convenient degree programs, we have compiled a list of the cheapest online schools in the nation.

Not only do these schools charge the cheapest tuition, but they have also been vetted for quality factors such as student-faculty ratio, freshman retention, published rankings, graduation rate, reputation with employers, financial aid, and online technology.

Studies show that most online students prioritize affordability over other factors when searching for a school where they wish to obtain their undergraduate education.

You, seeking out this page shows, that you are a smart investor looking for an inexpensive degree to get the best value for your dollar. Researching tuition is a great place to start your search.

Ranking Criteria

Our data team gathered the most recent data from the NCES College Navigator database [2024] to narrow down four-year colleges offering extremely inexpensive online degree programs with tuition under $23,000 per year.

  • Any schools charging substantially higher out-of-state tuition were removed from our list.
  • For-profit colleges without one of the six regional accreditations were also removed from our list.
  • Only schools that offer 10+ online degree programs were added to the list.

Schools are ranked and listed from lowest to highest average net price.

We compile and update our lists annually with the aim of helping online students to find the most economical online colleges offering the best likelihood of completing a college degree without hurting their wallets or incurring unneeded debt.

Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges for 2024

Cheapest Online Bachelor's Degrees 2024

#1 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Eastern New Mexico University

Portales, New Mexico

Average Net Price: $4,994

Affordable Online Degrees for Your Future from ENMU

  • Over 30 affordable, accredited online programs in various fields like business, education, nursing, and information systems.
  • Flexible and accessible for students worldwide to pursue academic and professional goals remotely.
  • Scholarships, financial aid, and small class sizes to support online learners.
  • Undergraduate programs include online bachelor's degrees in Accounting and Applied Economics and Finance.
  • Graduate programs include flexible online master's degrees for professional development.
  • Robust resources like Canvas and Mediasite ensure comparable support and engagement to campus-based students.

ENMU is the cheapest online college for 2024.

#2 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Florida International University

Miami, Florida

Average Net Price: $6,232

FIU Online: Degrees, Certificates, & Career Advancement

  • Massive online learning: Wide range of degrees, certificates, and specializations for all levels.
  • Flexibility first: Pursue your education remotely without location restrictions.
  • Quality guaranteed: Online experience mirrors on-campus education with comprehensive support.
  • Career-focused: 100% online professional development courses to upskill or switch careers.
  • Graduate studies made easy: Flexible programs designed for busy professionals.
  • Easy course exploration: Search tool helps navigate the diverse program offerings.
  • Mission: Accessible, high-quality online education powered by modern technology.

FIU offers the second cheapest online degrees in 2024

Popular Online Bachelor's Degrees

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

#3 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, Florida

Average Net Price: $7,990

FAU Online: Top-Ranked Online Degrees & Support for Your Journey

  • Diverse online programs: Undergraduate, graduate, and professional development options.
  • Flexibility: Pursue your education remotely at your own pace.
  • Same quality, different setting: Get the same level of education and support as on-campus students.
  • Community focus: Interact with faculty and classmates for a connected learning experience.
  • Diverse disciplines: Find programs in various fields to match your interests and career goals.
  • Nationally recognized quality: Pursue rigorous coursework led by esteemed faculty.
  • Extensive support: Get dedicated advising, technical help, and library access.
  • Established experience: Benefit from FAU's long history in online education.
  • Top-ranked graduate programs: Gain advanced education through high-quality online options.
  • Advance your future: Upskill or change careers with convenient and accessible online learning

#4 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Odessa, Texas

Average Net Price: $8,106

Advance Your Career with UT Permian Basin's Affordable Online Degrees

  • Wide range of online programs: Undergraduate and graduate degrees in various fields.
  • Flexibility for all: Degrees designed for busy schedules, fitting around work and family.
  • Popular undergraduate options: BA in Communication, BS in Criminology, BA in English, and BAAS in Industrial Technology.
  • Career-focused graduate programs: Advance your skills and gain a competitive edge.
  • Affordable and convenient: 100% online, accessible from anywhere in the world.
  • Your success, our focus: Achieve your academic and career goals with UT Permian Basin Online.

#5 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

The University of West Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Average Net Price: $8,152

UWF Online: 600+ Courses, 50+ Degrees, Flexible & Affordable

  • Massive course selection: Over 600 online courses leading to diverse degrees and certificates.
  • 50+ degrees: Options for undergraduates, graduates, and career changers across various fields.
  • Career-focused certificates: Upskill in Business Analytics, Chemistry, and more.
  • Advanced degrees: Earn your M.Acc, M.S. in Data Science, or M.S. in Information Technology online.
  • Affordable and accessible: Designed for busy professionals and students with commitments.
  • Quality you trust: Cheap Online degrees mirror on-campus academic standards.
  • Established experience: Offering affordable online bachelor degrees since 2003-2004.
  • Rigorous and flexible: Balance academic excellence with your personal needs.
  • Boost your career: Gain in-demand skills and advance your professional goals.

#6 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

University of Maine at Augusta

Augusta, Maine

Average Net Price: $9,889

UMA Online: 41 Degrees, Flexible & Affordable

  • 41 Degrees, 28 Fully Online: Diverse programs in Accounting, Addiction Studies, Business, IT, and more.
  • For Everyone: Traditional students, working professionals, and career changers.
  • Flexible, Affordable, Quality: Accessible education to fit your needs.
  • Beyond Degrees: Non-credit courses in Healthcare, Business, IT, and more.
  • Top-Ranked Online Programs: Recognized for excellence in online education.
  • Supportive Learning Environment: Technology-driven, engaging, and effective.
  • Customize Your Learning: Choose online or in-person courses to fit your schedule.
  • Evolve Your Career: Gain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.

#7 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, North Carolina

Average Net Price: $11,110

Earn Your Degree at Your Pace with UNC Greensboro Online (1,800+ Programs Available)

  • Diverse online degrees: Pursue your academic goals in Applied Statistics, Informatics & Analytics, Accounting, Applied Economics, and education (details not specified).
  • Fit your life: Learn remotely without traditional schedule constraints.
  • Nationally recognized: Ranked for bachelor's programs and philosophy specifically.
  • Prepare for success: Gain practical skills applicable to various careers.
  • Ranked School of Education: Potentially offering online education programs.
  • 1,800+ programs surveyed: Diverse and comprehensive online learning environment.
  • Regionally accredited: Quality and credibility you can trust.
  • Flexible path to your future: Ideal for working professionals and busy individuals.

#8 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Western Governors University

Millcreek, Utah

Average Net Price: $11,835

WGU Online: Fast-Track Skills for Your Career (Flexible, Affordable, Competency-Based)

  • Bachelor's & Master's Degrees: Business, Education, IT, Healthcare & more.
  • Advance your career: Aligned with industry needs for skill development.
  • Flexible learning: Ideal for working professionals and busy individuals.
  • Business: BS degrees in Business Management & Business Administration.
  • Education: Accredited online programs for teacher licensure & careers.
  • IT: Bachelor's & Master's in IT, Data Analytics, Cybersecurity & Software Development.
  • Healthcare: Nursing & other programs for licensure & advanced practice.
  • Competency-based education: Progress by demonstrating mastery, not time spent.
  • Flexible pace: Tailor learning to your individual needs & accelerate graduation.
  • Reduced cost: Potential cost savings compared to traditional programs.

#9 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Colorado State University Global

Aurora, Colorado

Average Net Price: $12,351

CSU Global: Public, Affordable Online Degrees for Your Busy Life

  • First & Only: 100% online, public, not-for-profit, regionally accredited state university.
  • Wide Range of Degrees: Undergraduate & graduate programs in Business, IT, Healthcare, Education, and more.
  • Flex Your Schedule: Learn online without sacrificing career or personal commitments.
  • Career-Focused Programs: Gain practical skills for success in today's workforce.
  • Advanced Degrees: Enhance your skills and advance your career with online Master's programs.
  • High-Quality Education: Accredited degrees respected by employers and institutions.
  • Accessible Choice: Affordable online education for diverse student needs.
  • Achieve Your Goals: Get the degree you need to succeed in your chosen field.

#10 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Columbia Southern University

Orange Beach, Alabama

Average Net Price: $12,474

Columbia Southern University Online: Degrees & Certificates for Busy Adults

  • Comprehensive online programs: Associate, bachelor's, master's, and even doctoral degrees.
  • Fields for all interests: Information Technology, Business, Healthcare, Criminal Justice, and more.
  • Designed for busy adults: Flexible learning options to balance career and studies.
  • Career-focused bachelor's: Business Administration, IT, Occupational Safety & Health, Criminal Justice.
  • Advanced degrees: Master's in MBA, Emergency Services Management, Healthcare Administration.
  • Doctoral programs available: Reach the pinnacle of your field with online learning.
  • Specialized certificates: Upskill in specific areas without a full degree commitment.
  • Flexible & affordable: Accessible education for busy professionals.
  • Quality education: Prepare for future challenges and opportunities in today's workforce.

#11 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

University of Houston-Downtown

Houston, Texas

Average Net Price: $13,100

Earn Your Degree at Your Pace with UH-Downtown Online (Affordable & Engaging)

  • 15+ bachelor's & 5+ graduate degrees online: Complete your degree remotely with convenience.
  • High-quality education: Balance studies with work & life thanks to online access.
  • Engaging learning: Interactive courses include field trips, presentations, and projects adapted for online delivery.
  • Practical skills focus: Gain relevant knowledge applicable to your chosen field.
  • Beyond degrees: Certificates and continuing education courses for career advancement.
  • Wide range of areas: CAD Programs, Healthcare, IT, Engineering Technology, and more.
  • #22 for adult learners: Recognized for supporting returning students.
  • Visit UHD website or contact admissions for details.

#12 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Western New Mexico University

Silver City, New Mexico

Average Net Price: $14,023

WNMU Online: 200+ Degrees & Courses, Flexible & Affordable (Graduate & Undergraduate)

  • 200+ online courses: Wide selection for graduate and undergraduate studies.
  • Flexible learning: Fits your schedule and preferences, ideal for working adults.
  • Advanced degrees: Master's and graduate certificates in Education, Social Work, and more.
  • Career-focused certificates: Border Security Studies, Chemical Dependency, Criminal Justice, and more.
  • Quality education: Recognized as one of the best online programs in the state.
  • Expert instructors: Get the same level of education as traditional classrooms.
  • Lower-division to specialized graduate courses: Supports students at all stages.
  • Visit WNMU website or contact them directly for details.

#13 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

University of New Hampshire College of Professional Studies

Manchester, New Hampshire

Average Net Price: $16,665

UNH CPS Online: Top-Ranked Degrees & Courses for Career Advancement (Flexible, Affordable)

  • Online degrees & courses: Advance your career with flexible options.
  • Quality & recognized: Top-ranked online bachelor's programs.
  • Supporting adults: Tailored for busy professionals and career changers.
  • Fully online & hybrid options: Choose what fits your needs.
  • Bachelor's & master's degrees, certificates: Diverse programs in high-demand fields.
  • Affordable & accessible: Respecting prior learning and experiences.
  • Graduate all online: No need to relocate for advanced studies.
  • Individual online courses: Upskill in specific areas without a full degree commitment.
  • Visit UNH CPS website or contact them directly for details.

#14 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies

Fayette, Missouri

Average Net Price: $17,143

CMU Online: Degrees & Certificates for Career Changers & Busy Professionals

  • Wide range of online programs: Undergraduate & graduate degrees, certificates.
  • For career changers & busy professionals: Advance your career or start new.
  • Quality education, flexible format: Balance studies with other commitments.
  • Rigorous academics: Same standards as on-campus, recognized education.
  • Master's degrees: Education, Music Education, and more.
  • Undergraduate programs: Middle School Education, various concentrations.
  • Accessible & convenient: No need for campus visits.
  • Visit CMU website or contact CGES for details: Programs, costs, requirements.

#15 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Waldorf University

Forest City, Iowa

Average Net Price: $21,604

Waldorf Online: Affordable Degrees, High-Quality Education Delivered On Your Schedule

  • Wide range of programs: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's in many fields.
  • Traditional & non-traditional students: Fits working adults & more.
  • Complete online: Start to finish, adjust to your schedule.
  • Business, Criminal Justice, Fire Protection & more: Find your field.
  • Knowledge & skills for success: Prepare for your career.
  • Quality education, flexible pacing: Learn at your own speed.
  • Interactive learning & support: Connect & get help when needed.
  • Visit Waldorf website for details: Programs, costs, requirements & how to apply.

#16 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online College

Southern New Hampshire University Online

Online

Average Net Price: $22,873

Top-Ranked Education at an Affordable Price: Discover SNHU's Cheap Online Degree Programs

  • 200+ Career-Focused Programs: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Certificates.
  • For Everyone: Working professionals, traditional students, flexible learners.
  • Level Up: Associate Degrees for starting or transferring.
  • Broad Choice: 150+ Bachelor's in Business, STEM, Liberal Arts, and more.
  • Fast-Track Masters: MBA and others in as little as 1 year.
  • Upskill with Certificates: Gain specialized knowledge for new opportunities.
  • Learn on Your Schedule: Flexible online courses fit your life.
  • Affordable Education: Among the lowest online tuition rates nationally.
  • Supportive System: Academic advisors, career services, online resources.
  • Explore Programs: SNHU website has details, courses, costs, and how to apply.

Cheapest Online Associate's Degrees 2024

1. Eastern Gateway Community College

Average Net Price: $1,846

Eastern Gateway Community College provides several affordable online associate degree options focused on high-demand career fields.

  • High-Demand Fields: Business, IT, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Ed, Healthcare Admin, Nursing.
  • Fast & Affordable: 8-week courses, $1,800/year tuition, complete in 2 years or less.
  • Career-Focused: Develop entry-level skills for the job market.
  • Personalized Support: Small cohorts with dedicated faculty.
  • High School Diploma Required: Start your journey today.
  • Graduate with Expertise: Qualify for in-demand roles in your chosen field.
  • Value for Your Money: Affordable education with practical skills for real jobs.

EGCC is the cheapest online college for associate's degrees.

2. Luna Community College

Average Net Price: $3,900

Luna CC Online: Fast Track to In-Demand Careers for Adults

  • Focus on Popular Fields: Business, IT, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Ed, Medical Assistant, Nursing.
  • Quick & Affordable: 8-week sessions, flexible format, low tuition costs.
  • 2-Year Completion: Earn your degree in less time.
  • Asynchronous Learning: Fit studies around your life.
  • Entry-Level Expertise: Gain industry-specific skills.
  • Supportive Faculty: Dedicated instructors, online resources.
  • Accredited Programs: Recognized quality, transferrable credits.
  • High School Diploma/GED Entry: Start your journey today.
  • Career-Ready Graduates: Qualify for jobs in your chosen field.

Popular Online Associate's Degrees

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

3. Clovis Community College

Average Net Price: $3,927

Clovis Community College: Affordable Online Degrees with Personal Touch

  • 8 Online Associate's Degrees: Behavioral Science, Business, IT, Criminal Justice, General Studies, Paralegal, Liberal Arts.
  • Small Class Sizes: Personalized attention from professors.
  • Flexible Learning: Earn your degree online from anywhere.
  • Strong Faculty Support: Individual connections & resources.
  • Ranked #5 in New Mexico (Niche.com): Recognized for quality & affordability.
  • Note: Low location score doesn't reflect online program benefits.

4. Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Average Net Price: $4,038

GNTC Online: Fast Track to Careers, Affordable & Flexible

  • In-Demand Skills: Business, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Ed, Healthcare Management, IT.
  • Quick & Affordable: 5-week terms, flexible format, low tuition costs.
  • 2-Year Completion: Earn your degree in less time.
  • Self-Paced Learning: Fit studies around your life with asynchronous courses.
  • Industry-Specific Skills: Developed through each focused program.
  • Experienced Faculty Support: Mentorship and guidance throughout your journey.
  • High School Diploma/GED Entry: Start your journey today.
  • Career-Ready Graduates: Apply your knowledge to real-world roles.

5. Tallahassee Community College

Average Net Price: $4,136

TCC Online: Affordable, Flexible Degrees for In-Demand Careers

  • Fast Track: 8-week courses, 2-year completion.
  • Flexible Learning: Asynchronous courses fit your schedule.
  • Affordable: Cost-effective option for adults.
  • Career-Focused: Business, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Ed, Health Services, Nursing.
  • Industry-Specific Skills: Gain practical knowledge for your chosen field.
  • Expert Faculty Support: Guidance and resources throughout your journey.
  • High School Diploma/GED Entry: Start your journey today.
  • Career-Ready: Apply your expertise to real-world jobs.

6. Cuyahoga Community College District

Average Net Price: $5,296

Cuyahoga CCD Online: Fast Track to Careers, Affordable & Personalized

  • Focused Degrees: Business, IT, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Ed, Human Services, Nursing.
  • Quick & Affordable: 5-week terms, 2-year completion, flexible for adults.
  • Industry-Ready Skills: Develop expertise tailored to your chosen field.
  • Self-Paced Learning: Asynchronous courses fit your schedule.
  • Individualized Support: Experienced faculty provide mentoring.
  • High School Diploma/GED Entry: Start your journey today.
  • Real-World Focus: Apply your skills to in-demand career opportunities.

7. Wake Technical Community College

Average Net Price: $5,609

Wake Tech Online: Wide Range, Affordable Online Degrees for Busy Adults

  • 100+ Online Programs: Associate & certificate options in various fields.
  • Unmatched Flexibility: Asynchronous courses, complete on your schedule.
  • Career Focus: Business, IT, Healthcare, Public Safety, Early Childhood Ed, and more.
  • Industry-Ready Skills: Gain practical knowledge for in-demand careers.
  • 2-Year Completion: Most programs finish quickly, fit your life.
  • Affordable Tuition: Cost-effective option for adult learners.
  • High School Diploma/GED Entry: Start your journey today.
  • Shape Your Education: Choose a program that matches your goals.
  • Prepare for Success: Gain relevant skills for top fields with flexibility.

8. Laramie County Community College

Average Net Price: $5,717

LCCC Online: Diverse Degrees, Flexible Learning for Career Growth

  • 50+ Online Programs: Bachelor's, Associate's, Certificates in diverse fields.
  • Unmatched Flexibility: Learn on your schedule with asynchronous courses.
  • Advance Your Career: Management, Healthcare Administration, Business, IT, Education, and more.
  • Specializations: Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Medical, Paralegal & more.
  • 2-Year Completion: Most programs finish quickly, fit your life.
  • Affordable Tuition: Cost-effective option for adult learners.
  • High School Diploma Entry: Start your journey today.
  • Specialize & Focus: Choose a program that matches your goals.
  • Gain In-Demand Skills: Prepare for success in today's workforce.

9. Ivy Tech Community College

Average Net Price: $6,685

Ivy Tech Online: Flexibility, Quality, & Success at Your Pace

  • Complete your degree online: Balance life with studies from anywhere.
  • High-quality education: Indiana's largest public college system.
  • Support & resources: One-on-one guidance, tutoring, and career development.
  • Connect with diverse peers: Statewide, national, and international perspectives.
  • Independent learning skills: Showcase your ability to employers.
  • 500+ online courses: Find your perfect program with 23 options.
  • Credits transfer easily: Advance your education smoothly.
  • Real-world skills & knowledge: Get prepared for career success.
  • Discover the Ivy Tech difference: Lead the way in online education.

10. Great Basin College

Average Net Price: $7,758

The second Nevada school on this list, Great Basin College, is located in Elko and was formerly known as Northern Nevada State College.

  • 3,800+ Students: Traditional, online & hybrid options.
  • Small Class Sizes: 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
  • 17 Online Associate Degrees: Social science, land surveying, graphic communications, early childhood education & more.
  • Several Online Bachelor's Degrees: Complete your four-year degree online.
  • Technical Certificates: Upskill in specific areas.
  • Explore Programs: Find your perfect fit at GBC.

11. Alvin Community College

Average Net Price: $8,235

Alvin CC: Dive into Psychology or Sociology Online (Affordable & Flexible)

  • Earn your Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree online: Psychology or Sociology.
  • Ideal for working adults: Affordable and flexible format, learn on your schedule.
  • Psychology: Explore human behavior, personality, development, and more.
  • Sociology: Analyze social institutions, culture, change, and inequality.
  • Asynchronous courses: Learn at your own pace, no set class times.
  • Dedicated faculty support: Get help and guidance throughout your journey.
  • 2-year completion: Earn your degree quickly.
  • Transferable credits: Pursue bachelor's degrees and career advancement.
  • Grow your understanding of individuals and societies: Gain valuable insights.

12. Lone Star College System

Average Net Price: $8,654

Lone Star Online: Diverse Programs, Affordable & Flexible Learning

  • Texas' Largest Community College System: Extensive online program catalog.
  • Advance Your Skills: Degrees & certificates in healthcare, business, IT, criminal justice & more.
  • Learn on Your Schedule: Asynchronous courses offer flexibility.
  • 2-Year Completion: Most programs finish quickly, fit your life.
  • Personalized Support: Dedicated faculty guide your learning journey.
  • Lowest Tuition in Region: Affordable option for all learners.
  • Shape Your Education: Find programs that match your interests & goals.
  • Success Starts Here: Gain the skills you need for your chosen career.

13. Broward College

Average Net Price: $14,577

Broward College Online: Diverse Skills, Flexible Learning, Your Success

  • Florida's Largest & Diverse College: Extensive online program options.
  • Top Fields: Healthcare, Business, IT, Supply Chain, Education & more.
  • Learn on Your Schedule: Asynchronous courses fit your life.
  • 2-Year Completion: Earn your degree quickly.
  • Experienced Faculty Support: Interactive tools & resources guide you.
  • Upskill or Change Careers: Find the program for your goals.
  • Nationally Recognized: Broward's online excellence awaits.
  • Advance Your Future: Discover the student-focused approach.

14. Rio Grande Valley College

Average Net Price: $21,601

Rio Grande Valley College Online: Fast Track to Career Skills (Flexible & Affordable)

  • Career-Ready Skills: Business, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Ed, Healthcare Admin, IT & more.
  • 8-Week Sessions: Flexible learning format, complete programs quickly.
  • Learn on Your Schedule: Complete assignments & access support on your own time.
  • Dedicated Faculty: Get personalized mentorship & guidance.
  • 2-Year Completion: Earn your degree or certificate fast.
  • Affordable Tuition: Accessible option for career advancement.
  • Over 5,000 Online Students: Join a thriving learning community.
  • Shape Your Success: Find the program that fits your goals & interests.
  • South Texas & Beyond: Advance your career, wherever you are.

Guide to Cheapest Online Colleges

Looking to earn your degree online but worried about the cost? You're not alone. Many students are drawn to the flexibility and convenience of online learning, but tuition concerns can be a major barrier. This guide is here to help! We'll focus on uncovering the cheapest online colleges and equip you with strategies to maximize your affordability:

Unveiling the Most Budget-Friendly Options:

  • Community Colleges & In-State Public Universities: These institutions typically offer the lowest tuition rates, especially for in-state residents. Consider attending a community college for core courses and then transferring to a public university to complete your degree.
  • Private, Non-Profit Colleges with Generous Aid: Some private colleges offer significant financial aid packages, making them surprisingly affordable. Research colleges known for their scholarship generosity and grants specific to online students.
  • Hidden Gems: Explore lesser-known online colleges with competitive tuition fees and strong academic programs. Use resources like the College Board's BigFuture College Search to compare costs and programs across institutions.

Financial Aid: Your Ally in Affordability:

  • FAFSA is Your Key: Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is crucial to unlock various federal grants, work-study programs, and loan options. Submit your FAFSA on time (ideally October 1st) to maximize your eligibility.
  • State and Institutional Aid: Don't overlook state and institutional grants, which can often provide additional financial support. Research aid opportunities offered by your state and potential schools.
  • Work-Study: Earn money while learning through federal work-study programs. Combine this with other aid options to further reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement: Check if your employer offers tuition reimbursement programs to help cover online education costs. This can be a significant financial boost.

Beyond Financial Aid: Smart Saving Strategies:

  • Minimize Living Expenses: Consider shared housing or staying with family to reduce accommodation costs. Look for affordable transportation options or utilize online learning from the comfort of your home.
  • Textbook Savvy: Opt for used textbooks, rentals, or digital versions instead of buying new ones. Explore library resources and open educational resources (OERs) for free learning materials.
  • Scholarship Search: Don't underestimate the power of scholarships! Research scholarships specific to your field of study, academic merit, and online learners. Every bit counts!

Affordable online education is within reach! Utilize the strategies outlined here, actively research your options, and don't hesitate to seek personalized advice from financial aid counselors or college advisors. With smart planning and resourcefulness, you can achieve your educational goals without breaking the bank.

Cheapest Online Colleges FAQ

How much does an online college degree cost?

Choosing an online bachelor’s degree program can be a daunting task, and tuition fees are typically the number one factor students have to consider. Always compare the different options available before choosing a program to suit your needs and budget. For those with fewer means, community colleges, and in-state public institutions are designed to help people overcome hurdles.

Are online schools a cheaper option?

If you enroll in online schooling, typical traditional college costs such as housing, transportation, and fees won’t be a concern. It is often more affordable than campus-based learning and the convenience it offers can be invaluable. The wide variety of online degrees can make enrolling in an online program cheaper than on-campus.

What is the cheapest online degree to get?

There is no single degree that is the cheapest. University of the People (UoP) offers cheap online associate and bachelor's degrees. UoP also provides scholarships to cover any fees they charge.

Can you use Pell Grants to pay for online schooling?

The Pell Grant Program is a federally-funded scholarship awarded to individuals in financial need that meet additional academic and annual income requirements. Any accredited college that awards federally recognized degrees will accept Pell Grant money to pay for any online course.

Where can I purchase cheap college textbooks online?

It’s no surprise that pinching pennies and pursuing an undergraduate degree go hand-in-hand for most young, aspiring individuals. A smart student knows how to allocate resources and find the best deals on school supplies like textbooks. Buying secondhand, renting, reselling, and even getting a library card are great ways to save a few bucks.

Which affordable online college has the lowest cost?

For many students, one of the best way to obtain affordable education is to look at local state and community colleges near you. Community colleges are highly likely to offer various options regarding foundational coursework in your field of interest.

According to our 2023 Cheapest Accredited Online Colleges ranking, Great Basin College is the best, most affordable online college to offer cheap online degrees.

How do I minimize my overall costs?

A lot of college costs are the result of lifestyle choices, so really, it’s up to you. Depending on your housing situation, everyday expenses, and level of budget maintenance, you can minimize your college expenses by a significant amount.

What are the specific types of federal financial aid available to undergraduates?

With the various funding options available, you can easily finance your education costs without any hassle.

You can explore your options which includes federal grants, loans, work-study programs, and education tax credits or deductions which you can apply for. Grants and scholarships are the preferred mode of financial aid for most college students because they don’t require a long-term repayment plan as federal loans do.

Work-study programs enable students to actively pay for their college education through work with an organization, government agency, or on-campus position. The majority of students also qualify for education-related tax returns.

How do I complete a FAFSA?

Completing the FAFSA process requires having the necessary financial documents, registering with a federal student ID, reading all guidelines on studentaid.gov, and submitting your application on time for the designated year. For more information, visit studentaid.gov.

What does it mean when an online school is “accredited”?

A college's accreditation can be either regional or national. All accredited universities offer career-building opportunities and high-quality educational programs, although the extent of the options available and the quality of the coursework may depend on the type of accreditation. Accredited degree programs are often more highly regarded by employers than non-accredited degrees.

Does Free Online College Exist?

Some schools are free tuition online colleges. Most schools offer "free tuition" through financial aid programs. These schools offer benefits such as covering housing costs or other expenses if one's family income can't cover them.

For example, Antioch College in Ohio helps with housing needs when the FAFSA shows that a student’s family income or estimated contribution won’t be able to handle housing costs. Barclay College provides scholarships that cover the whole cost of tuition.

Making Online College More Affordable

1. For many students, opting for a two-year local college such as a community or junior college to pursue higher education is a financially viable choice due to its affordability.

According to the College Board, tuition & fees at 2-year colleges were less than $4K in 2022-2023 - compared to public universities at jsut over $11K. Plus, you can earn credits or obtain an associates degree here. This means taking your first two years of college at an inexpensive local junior or technical institute could actually save you some money.

2. Participating in an Advanced Placement or IB program is highly suggested for those seeking an edge when applying to colleges.

Such programs can give you the upper hand you need to land a spot at your desired university. It's an excellent way to get ready for the academic rigor of higher education institutions. It bridges the gap between secondary and college studies, helping them stay ahead of their classmates and build a strong base for university life. This is an outstanding way to get a head start in their university journey. Public high schools only charge a small fee when it comes time to take the associated AP/IB tests, which means that these exams won't break your budget.

3. Moving to another state for residence can make sense to save money on your education expenses.

Moving to a certain state can bring you many advantages, like being able to enjoy lower tuition fees as an in-state student. This can help you save money on college expenses.

4. Apply for the FAFSA

Annually, the U.S. Department of Education gives around $8,390 per student through scholarships and grants. This is enough to fund tuition costs for a two-year college and nearly cover it at public universities. Completing the FAFSA registration quickly is essential to get the most out of it as funds are limited.

From StudentAid.gov, "Most colleges send out financial aid award letters around the same time as admission offer letters. Submitting your FAFSA form early, and in accordance with the college’s accepted timeline, can increase your chances of receiving financial aid faster. However, the competition you are up against also has an effect on how soon you receive the aid. Taking all these factors into account is crucial when considering this matter.

5. Take 12-18 credits per semester

Some four-year institutions offer cost-saving flat tuition rates for students taking 12 to 18 credits per term. For example, students who are Michigan residents and meet certain criteria such as earning less than $65,000 per year, providing proof of grants or loans each year, and enrolling full-time during semesters, can receive scholarship funds from Michigan Higher Education Aid, which covers fees for lab space and equipment usage.

How to Pay for Your an Affordable Online Degree

For students, finding the right online degree program can be challenging—this is especially true for those on a tight budget.

If you’re looking for ways to minimize college costs. Completing the FAFSA is an essential step toward gaining access to available financial aid options like scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study programs.

Filling out a FAFSA will assist in determining your eligibility for them. Individuals can also apply for federal scholarships and field-specific or merit-based scholarships. The FAFSA is the place to start.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

Many online students are using employer tuition reimbursement to pay for their education. In a 2018 survey by Aslanian Market Research and Learning House, 23% of all past or current online undergraduate program student respondents and 32% of online graduate student respondents said they used tuition reimbursement from their employer to pay for their online degree. Experts recommend students ask their company's HR for tuition reimbursement opportunities.

Scholarships & Grants for Online Students

Scholarships that are available for on-campus students are often available to online students.

Here are some resources for finding scholarships for online students.

Scholarships.com: Distance Learning Scholarships

Scholarships.com offers a list of over 40 scholarships for online students. This site offers information on each scholarship, including amounts and deadlines.

Visit: https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-type/distance-learning-scholarships/

Unigo: Online College Scholarships

Unigo.com offers a list of 58 scholarships for online students that includes information about each scholarship, including award amounts, deadlines, and links for applying.

Visit: https://www.unigo.com/scholarships/by-type/online-college-scholarships

GetEducated: Grants for Online College

GetEducated.com introduces the different types of grants for online college students and links to available grants. Types of grants include federal/public, state, private, institutional, need-based, merit-based, academic departmental, corporate and professional association grants. This site offers great information on grants for online students.

Visit: https://www.geteducated.com/free-college-scholarships/308-online-college-grant-and-free-money/

Statistics: College Costs

  • Published or Sticker Prices (2023-24)
    • Public four-year in-state: $11,260 (up $270 or 2.5% from 2022-23)
    • Public four-year out-of-state: $29,150 (up $850 or 3.0% from 2022-23)
    • Public two-year in-district: $3,990 (up $100 or 2.6% from 2022-23)
    • Private nonprofit four-year: $41,540 (up $1,600 or 4.0% from 2022-23)
  • Variability in College Prices
    • Wide variation in published college prices based on institution type and location.
    • 2023-24 public two-year in-district tuition and fees range from $1,440 in California to $8,660 in Vermont.
    • 2023-24 public four-year in-state tuition and fees range from $6,360 in Florida to $17,180 in Vermont.
  • Net Prices
    • Most full-time undergraduates receive grant aid.
    • Since 2009-10, public two-year college students have typically received enough grant aid to cover tuition and fees.
    • Average net tuition and fee price for public four-year in-state students was $4,230 in 2012-13 (peak) and is estimated at $2,730 in 2023-24.
    • Average net tuition and fee price for private nonprofit four-year students was $18,820 in 2006-07 and is estimated at $15,910 in 2023-24.

Further Resources

Best Online Colleges
Most Affordable Colleges
Accelerated Online Degree Programs (Associates, Bachelors, Masters)
Cheapest Online PHD Programs and Online Doctoral Programs
Cheapest Online Master’s Degree Programs
Best Nationally Accredited Online Colleges
Cheapest Affordable Online MBA Programs
Online Medical Assistant Programs

Sources
http://colleges.usnews.com/
http://www.niche.com/
Visit Great Basin College’s accredited online programs
Visit the University of Texas at Permian Basin’s Accredited Online Programs
Visit Thomas Edison State University’s Accredited Online Programs
Visit West Texas A&M University’s Accredited Online Programs
Visit American Public University’s Accredited Online Programs

Featured Online Colleges

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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