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An online bachelor’s degree in mathematics will prepare students for entry- and mid-level jobs as well as further study in the rapidly developing math field. Graduates with this degree can work as mathematicians and statisticians, actuaries, operations research analysts, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for individuals in the math field is $101,460.

To get a better return on investment, many students seek out the cheapest online math degree. However, it’s important to also find programs that provide a high-quality mathematics education. Intelligent.com compiled this list of the most affordable online mathematics degree programs to help prospective students find strong programs that come at a great value. This article also includes a breakdown of college costs, financial aid costs, and an in-depth career outlook.

Cost Breakdown for an Online Mathematics Degree Program

When deciding how much you can afford to pay for an online mathematics degree, it’s helpful to understand the various costs associated with these programs.

Tuition

Tuition is the cost most commonly associated with college degree programs. Full-time students in undergraduate degree programs typically pay a flat, per-term tuition rate, while part-time students pay per credit hour. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost per credit hour at four-year institutions (public and private) is $694. Students should consult with their school’s financial aid office to determine their tuition rate for an online mathematics degree program, how tuition is assessed, and what payment options students have.

Fees

Schools often charge students additional fees to pay for infrastructure or resources not covered by tuition. For example, schools may charge online students a fee to cover virtual classroom technology costs. Some fees are recurring, while others only need to be paid once. For more specific information on the fees a school or program charges, speak to a financial aid counselor.

Personal technology

In order to succeed in an online program, a reliable computer and high-speed internet access are essential. Students in mathematics degree programs may also need specialized software related to their coursework. Before you begin your program, review your current technology set-up and determine if you need to upgrade your hardware or internet service. If you do, find out if your school partners with any retailers or companies to offer student discounts on technology and equipment.

Books and supplies

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average postsecondary student spent between $628 and $1,200 for books and supplies during the 2021-2022 academic year. Students should include funds for books and other learning materials in their budget. They should also consider whether they need additional supplies, such as business clothes for internships or furniture for an at-home learning space.

Factors Influencing the Cost of an Online Mathematics Degree

There are a number of factors that determine what an individual school charges students for tuition.

Public vs. private institution

A major cost determinant is whether the school is public or private. Public institutions receive state and federal government funding to subsidize tuition costs, particularly for students who live in the state where the school is located. Tuition is often lowest for in-state students at public universities, which charge out-of-state students a higher tuition rate. However, some schools may charge students the same tuition for online programs, regardless of where they reside. Private colleges don’t receive government funding and must rely on tuition, endowments, investments, and other revenue sources to fund operations. Therefore, they charge higher tuition rates, although they don’t have separate in-state and out-of-state tuition rates.

Nonprofit vs. for-profit

In the U.S., all public and most private universities are non-profit, which means they must reinvest revenue into the institution through faculty and staff salaries, infrastructure, student services, and more. For-profit schools operate like corporations, with the primary goal of earning a profit. Although for-profit schools may charge less, they also typically invest less into their operations, which can impact the quality of education students receive. They also have a greater incentive to use deceptive business practices to attract students. Students considering for-profit schools should carefully review how the institution invests its money and its student outcomes.

Student military status

Schools may charge active-duty servicemembers, veterans, and their spouses or children a discounted tuition rate. Students who think they might be eligible should consult the school’s financial aid office for more information.

Number of credits and completion time

Students must complete 120 credits to earn an online bachelor’s in mathematics degree. Those who have previously earned credits from an associate degree or unfinished bachelor’s degree program may be able to apply those credits to their mathematics degree. Many schools offer degree completion programs, which are designed to allow a maximum number of transfer credits and reduce the amount of time and money students need to spend to finish their degree.

Most Affordable 50 Online Mathematics Degree Programs

Most Affordable Online Mathematics Degree Programs_2024 badge
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Eastern New Mexico University
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Central Methodist University
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Southern New Hampshire University
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Mayville State University
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Louisiana State University
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Indiana University East
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Thomas Edison State University
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University of North Dakota
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Chadron State College
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Ottawa University
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University of New Hampshire College of Professional Studies
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University of Illinois at Springfield
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Bellevue University
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Bushnell University
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Maryville University
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Indiana Wesleyan University
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Mercy College
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Liberty University

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the most affordable online mathematics programs in the U.S. All are offered at nonprofit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education.

We evaluated each degree program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and student resources. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

How to Pay for an Online Mathematics Degree

Students and families have various options when it comes to paying for an online mathematics degree.

Scholarships

Scholarships are considered “gift aid” because they’re money for education that doesn’t have to be repaid. Most schools offer scholarships, either based on financial need or merit. Other sources for scholarships include professional business organizations, community groups and nonprofits, private endowments, and more. For need-based scholarships, students typically must submit a FAFSA to be considered.

Grants

Like scholarships, grants don’t need to be repaid. Most grants, such as the Pell Grant, are awarded based on financial need. Grants can come from schools, state and federal governments, and private organizations.

Employer tuition assistance

Many employers offer tuition assistance benefits to help employees pay for their education. In most cases, students pay for courses upfront, and employers reimburse them for some or all of the cost of the course after successful completion. If you’re planning on working while earning an online bachelor’s in mathematics, inquire about whether they offer tuition assistance benefits.

Out-of-pocket

When students pay their own money directly to a school to cover tuition and expenses, this is considered out-of-pocket. While some students pay their full tuition out-of-pocket with no additional financial aid, it’s more common for students to use a combination of out-of-pocket payments and financial aid to cover all their education expenses. Many schools allow students to make out-of-pocket tuition payments in a lump sum at the start of the term or in installments throughout the academic year.

Federal student loans

The U.S. Department of Education offers Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans to undergraduate students as part of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) program. Students use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for student loans and other forms of financial aid from the federal government. Federal student loans have interest rates and repayment terms set by Congress that are generally more favorable than private education loans. More information about applying for student loans through the FAFSA is included in the next section.

Private education loans

The other option for student loans is private education loans from lenders like Sallie Mae, SoFi, and Ascent. Individual lenders set interest rates and repayment terms for these loans based on current market rates and the borrower’s credit history. Therefore, interest rates may be higher on these types of loans than on federal student loans. Students who need to take out private education loans should watch interest rates throughout the year to lock in the most favorable terms possible.

Work-study

Another component of the federal student aid program, work-study jobs pay students for working on-campus or remote jobs for their school. Work-study positions exist in a variety of college departments, and online students should inquire whether their school has remote work-study positions available. Students with work-study jobs earn at least the federal minimum wage, but certain positions may pay more.

Scholarship Database

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"A Helping Hand" Scholarship

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Applying for Financial Aid

Students apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application collects information about finances for students (and their parents or guardians if they’re dependents), which schools use to determine how much federal, state, and institutional need-based aid students are eligible to receive. For more in-depth information about completing the FAFSA, visit the Ultimate FAFSA Guide.

Student loan forgiveness and repayment

Borrowing money to pay for college is a significant responsibility. Students and families taking out student loans, whether federal or private, should always expect to pay those loans in full with interest. They should also carefully review all loans’ interest rates and repayment options before committing to them.

Although the Biden administration has made efforts to forgive student loan debt, there is currently no comprehensive action that would eliminate student loan debt for all current and future borrowers.

Therefore, it’s important for students and families to make smart decisions now about how much money they’re borrowing for education and how they’ll repay it, says Dana Marvin, an independent college counselor.

“Borrow only what you need and nothing more,” she says. “If you’re eligible for a $12,500 loan but only need $8,000, there’s no need to take out a loan for those extra funds. Remember that every dollar you borrow in a loan must be repaid with interest.”

She also reminds students that they don’t have to wait until they graduate to begin repaying student loans. “Even paying off a few hundred or thousand dollars before finishing school can make a huge difference to those loan amounts post-graduation,” she says.

Finally, Marvin encourages students and families to be realistic about what they can afford in terms of out-of-pocket costs and loan amounts.

“If attending a certain pricy college is going to put a family into major debt and require potentially dangerous financial decisions, such as taking out a second mortgage or withdrawing from a retirement account early, it may mean a hard conversation of choosing a different school.”

What Can I Do with an Online Mathematics Degree?

Careers in mathematics focus on gathering and analyzing data and using mathematical techniques like algebra, calculus, and statistics to solve complex problems. While some mathematician roles are specific to a particular industry, such as actuaries in the insurance industry, others are found in various sectors, such as finance, healthcare, business, and tech.

In addition to strong math skills, mathematicians need technical proficiency with the specialized software they use for gathering and analyzing data as well as communication skills to present their findings to a variety of audiences, depending on the job.

An online bachelor’s in mathematics degree will qualify graduates for many entry- and mid-level positions, but those who seek to advance into higher-level roles may want to pursue a graduate degree. For example, some data scientist positions require a master’s degree in a field like data science or computer science.

Career outlook

Students with a communications degree can qualify for the following jobs:

  • Mathematicians and statisticians — Apply mathematical theories and techniques to solve practical problems in business, engineering, the sciences, and other fields by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data.
    • Median annual salary: $116,440
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 30%
    • New jobs projected: 3,500 per year
  • Actuaries — Use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events and help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk.
    • Median annual salary: $120,000
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 23%
    • New jobs projected: 2,300 per year
  • Operations research analysts — Use mathematics and logic to help organizations make informed decisions and solve problems, such as how to allocate resources, develop production schedules, oversee the supply chain, and set prices.
    • Median annual salary: $83,640
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 23%
    • New jobs projected: 9,800 per year

How to Choose the Affordable Online Mathematics Degree Program That’s Right for You

Choosing the cheapest online math degree program may be a priority, but many factors go into selecting the online mathematics program that will serve you best.

Clarify interests and needs

First, reflect on your career and education goals to determine if an online mathematics degree will help you achieve them. There are many fields that work with math and numbers, including finance, accounting, and computer science, so it’s helpful to identify what specific skills you’re seeking to develop in your online degree program.

There is also a lot of variety in how online programs are delivered, so spend some time reflecting on how an online mathematics degree program will fit into your life. Do you want an asynchronous program in which you can complete all lessons and assignments on your own schedule, or a synchronous program with virtual classes that meet at designated times and allow for real-time interaction with classmates and professors? Will you attend classes on a full-time or part-time basis?

Research schools and programs

Gather as much information as you can on schools and programs that meet your basic criteria, including curriculum, faculty, hands-on learning experience opportunities, support for online students, cost and financial aid, and admissions requirements. Visiting a school’s website or participating in virtual open houses and information sessions can help you gain insight into what the program is like and if it’s a good fit.

Be sure to confirm that any schools you’re considering have institutional accreditation by checking the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) database. Institutional accreditation is important because it can affect eligibility for federal financial aid, future educational opportunities, and job candidacy.

Submit applications

Review application instructions for all the schools you’re considering to ensure you meet their eligibility requirements, as this varies by institution. If you’re applying to multiple schools, you may want to use a spreadsheet or checklist to keep track of information and submissions.

Undergraduate applicants to online mathematics programs must typically submit the following:

  • Completed application and fees
  • Official transcripts from previous schools attended
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Resume or CV
  • SAT or ACT scores.

Students may be required to have completed certain math-related courses in high school in order to be eligible for an online mathematics degree program.

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