10 Most Affordable Accredited Online Colleges

cheapest_affordable__accredited_online_colleges_EDsmartFinding the cheapest online colleges can be tricky. Therefore, EDsmart has once again dug through the data trenches to find the cheapest online schools in the nation for our readers. Not only do these schools charge the cheapest tuition, they have been vetted for quality factors such as student-faculty ratio, freshman retention, published rankings, graduation rate, reputation with employers, financial aid, and online technology.

Ranking Criteria

We gathered the most recent data from the NCES College Navigator database [2019] to narrow down four-year colleges offering extremely inexpensive online degree programs, with tuitions under $10,000 per year.

  1. Any schools charging substantially higher out-of-state tuitions were removed from our list.
  2. For-profit colleges that didn’t hold one of the six regional accreditations were also removed from our list.
  3. Only schools that offer 10+ online degrees were added to the list.

This ranking is created and updated yearly to help students find colleges that will give them the best chance to earn a college degree at a price they can afford.

10 Most Affordable Accredited Online Colleges


Cheapest Accredited Online Colleges - 1 great basin college

TUITION: $3,128

Great Basin College is accredited by the NWCCU. This public, state-funded school is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, which serves over 3,400 students. Great Basin College has been named as a “Best Online College” for 2020 by Niche.com and the number-one most affordable online college by the SR Education Group in 2017. Great Basin offers 13 associate degrees, 7 bachelor’s degrees, and 10 certificate programs to online students. Fully online programs include associate degrees in Associates of Arts, Business, English, Social Science, Graphic Communications and Early Childhood Education, 12 Associate of Applied Science degrees, and bachelor’s degrees including a BA in English, BA in Social Science, BSN in Nursing (RN to BSN), and BAS degrees in Digital Information Technology Emphasis, Human Services, Land Surveying/Geomatics Emphasis, and Management and Supervision. They offer 10 certificate programs and fully-online continuing education programs in HealthCare Training and Computing Technology.


Cheapest Online Colleges - 2 BYU-Idaho

Source: MormonHub.com

TUITION: $4,118

Brigham Young University-Idaho is located in Rexburg Idaho. Owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this non-profit college educates over 59,000 students in multiple locations throughout the world. 15,000+ of those students are online students. BYU-Idaho was recently named the 20th best university in Regional Colleges West, #1 Most Innovative School, #24 in Top Performers on Social Mobility and #38 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.  by U.S. News & World Report, #17 in Best Colleges in American and #1 in Most Conservative Colleges in America by Niche.com. BYU-Idaho’s Pathway WorldWide offers nearly 40 online certificates and degrees; 5 associate degrees, 4 bachelor’s degrees, and 27 certificate programs at a very affordable price. Some popular online programs include a bachelor’s degree in Business Management (entrepreneurship, marketing, supply chain and operations management, and more), Public Health, and Marriage & Family Studies, and an associate’s in Family History Research, Web Design & Development, and a variety of other online offerings. BYU-Idaho provides a 20-year Net ROI of $549,000, according to Payscale.com in 2020.

Visit Brigham Young University – Idaho’s Accredited Online Programs


Cheap Online Colleges - 4 Western Governors University

TUITION: $6,070

WGU is a private, non-profit NWCCU-accredited college that offers online degree programs for over 72,000 students. This institution is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah with six affiliated schools offering over 60 degree programs. Western Governors was recently awarded the Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education by Sloan Consortium and named the #4 Best Value College in Utah in 2020, by Niche.com. According to GradReports.com, 77 percent of students reported a career improvement after earning a degree from Western Governors and 72 percent recommend this school. WGU offers a 100 percent admission rate and very low tuition. Some of the more popular majors at Western Governors are nursing, business administration and management, teacher education, information technology, and computer information systems. Currently, WGU is offering a $2,500 Back to School Scholarship–deadline 10/31/20.

Visit Western Governors University’s Accredited Online Programs


Cheapest Accredited Online Colleges - 3 University of Texas Permian Basin

TUITION: $6,260

UT Permian Basin is a fast-growing, public research institution established by oil enthusiast Bill NoĂ«l in 1973. This school is home to over 5,000 students on the Odessa campus and online school. The University of Texas Permian Basin was recently ranked by US News as the West’s 82nd best college, 42nd best public school, 86th best online bachelor’s for veterans, and 173rd best online bachelor’s in the nation. The University of Texas Online Consortium (UTOC) offers 26 of the cheapest online degrees, some of which only last 8 weeks. Students can earn certificates, bachelor and master’s degrees in programs such as Psychology, Business Administration, Communications, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Kinesiology, Special Education, and more. As of November 2020, this school received an overall grade of B- at Niche, a 74% rating at Unigo, and a 3.5/5 on GradReports. CollegeFactual places UTPB at #28 in its 2020 ranking of Best Colleges for the Money in Texas. UT Permian Basin was ranked #1 in our 2018 Most Affordable Online Colleges ranking.


Cheapest Online schools - 8 American Public University

TUITION: $6,880

APU is a private, for-profit online college located in Charles Town, West Virginia, with six academic schools. American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Home to more than 98,400 students, APU was recently rated one of the 30 Most Popular Online Colleges by TheBestSchools.org, and #92 on U.S. News’ Best Online Bachelor’s Programs rankings. 84 percent of graduates reported an improved career after earning a degree from APU, according to GradReports.org. American Public University offers 200+ cheap online degrees and certificate programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels including Military history, Reverse Logistics Management, Space Studies, Electric Engineering, Business, Criminal Justice, Health Sciences, Sports Management and more.


Cheapest Online Colleges - 9 Amridge University

TUITION: $6,900

Amridge University, located in Montgomery, Alabama, is “where traditional and online education merge.” This co-educational, private liberal arts college is affiliated with the Church of Christ and enrolls around 800 students in traditional and online degree programs. According to StartClass, the most popular majors at Amridge are Bible/Biblical Studies, Human Development and Family Studies, and Business/Corporate Communications. This school offers both very affordable tuition and the net price at a 100% admissions acceptance rate. Amridge University offers 22 undergraduate and graduate online degree programs. Online degrees are offered through the Turner School of Theology, School of Human Services, School of Continuing Ed, College of Business & Leadership as well as College of General Studies. This school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Visit Amridge University’s Accredited Online Programs


Cheapest Online schools - 7 Minot State University

TUITION: $7,064

MSU is North Dakota’s 3rd largest public, co-educational Master’s I Institution. This school offers a 12:1 student-faculty ratio in an online and on-campus setting with over 3,348 students. U.S. News ranks Minot State at #180 for their Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and #75 for their Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) in 2017.  Niche.com ranks MSU as the #3 Best College in North Dakota and #8 Best Value Colleges in North Dakota. This school was ranked 1322th on the 2019-2020 PayScale College Salary Report with a $139,000 return on investment. MSU is fully accredited by HLC-NCA. MSU online offers 26 inexpensive online programs with popular programs in International Business, Special Education, Information Systems, and Human Services from Associate to Bachelor degrees.

Visit Minot State University’s Accredited Online Programs


Cheapest Online Schools - 5 Chadron State College

TUITION: $7,384

Chadron State educates over 3,000 students on-campus and online. This public, co-educational college was founded in 1911 and located in one of Sports Afield magazine’s “Top 50 Outdoor Sports Towns.” This college is ranked as the 96th Best Online College in America and 5th Top Public University in Nebraska by Niche.com. In previous years, CSC was awarded the #5 spot on Guide to Online School’s Best Online Colleges and Universities report. This affordable online school offers 8 online degrees. Popular degrees at Chadron State include bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, Family and Consumer Sciences, and a Master of Organizational Management. Five Popular majors with the most graduates include Business, Elementary Education, Liberal Arts and Humanities, Criminal Justice Corrections, and Crop and Soil Sciences. Chadron State offers flat-rate tuition so in-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition.

Visit Chadron State College’s Accredited Online Program


TUITION: $7,519

TESU is a public, state-funded higher education institution educating more than 17,200 students online and on-campus. In 2011, Thomas Edison earned the National University Technology Distance Education Innovation Award. This school offers a 100% admissions acceptance rate and 64 undergraduate and graduate online degrees in multiple areas of study, including Liberal Arts and Humanities, Accounting, Medical Assisting, Nursing, and Business Administration and Management, to name a few. Some popular programs at Thomas Edison State University are the associate’s in Nuclear Engineering Technology, Bachelor in Homeland Security, masters in Hospitality Management, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This cheap online college is accredited by MSCHE. TESU has an open admissions policy. TESU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Cheapest Online Colleges - 10 West Texas A&M University

TUITION: $7,935

West Texas A&M University is a public, co-educational research institution with an enrollment of over 9,400 students in the Amarillo Metro, satellite campuses, and online. WTAMU has received multiple prestigious rankings including U.S. News Best Online Programs Rankings: #16 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, #54 Best Online MBA Programs, and #8 Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs, to name a few. Niche.com grades this school at a B with diversity, athletics, and value receiving the highest marks. WTAMU’s distance education division offers 33 undergraduate and graduate online and hybrid programs through the SREB Electronic Campus. Affordable online degree programs include Economics, Criminal Justice, a Healthcare MBA, and Finance from associate to bachelor degrees. WTAMU is part of the Texas A&M University System.

How to Pay for Your Online Degree

For any prospective student, finding the right degree program can be difficult. This is especially true of those whose top priority is maintaining a budget. If you’re looking for ways to minimize college costs, simplify your postsecondary educational experience, and make the most of your time and money, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This determines your eligibility for scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study. Federal scholarships and field-specific or merit-based scholarships are also available on an individual basis.

Cheapest Online Colleges FAQ

How much does an online college degree cost?

Tuition is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether or not an online bachelor’s degree is right for you. Depending on a student’s residency status, living expenses, and other various costs, community colleges and in-state public institutions are your best bet.

Is online schooling a cheaper option?

If you decide to opt for online schooling, any typical college costs such as housing, transportation, and fees won’t be a concern. For out-of-state individuals, online schooling is not only cheap but convenient as well. The wide variety of online degrees also incentivizes many individuals.

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 the majority of young, aspiring individuals. A smart student is one who knows how to allocate their resources and find the best deals on school supplies like textbooks. Buying secondhand, renting, reselling, and even getting a library card are all great ways to save yourself a couple of bucks.

Which affordable online college is the best?

In many cases, the best way to obtain affordable education is to start locally. Community colleges are highly likely to offer a variety of different options when it comes to foundational coursework in your field of interest, and at such low cost, they are no doubt worth looking into.

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?

Specifically, you can apply for federal grants, federal loans, work-study programs, and education tax credits or deductions. Grants and scholarships are the preferred mode of financial aid for the majority of 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?

To complete the FAFSA, you’ll need specific financial documents, create a federal student ID, follow all instructions on the FAFSA website, and submit your application for the designated year. More info can be found at studentaid.gov.

What does it mean when a school is “accredited”?

An accredited school provides its students with career-building opportunities and high-quality programs. Depending on whether a school’s accreditation is regional or national, the opportunities a school provides and the quality of its programs vary.


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