Why This Matters

  • AVERAGE ANNUAL COLLEGE TUITION IS NOW $26,593

    Across public and private universities, the average cost of a bachelor’s degree was $106,372, based on 2016-17 tuition rates. This figure includes tuition, fees, and room and board.

  • ON AVERAGE, GRADS OWE $30K IN STUDENT LOANS

    The total figure tops $1.5 trillion, with some 44 million Americans paying back loans borrowed for undergraduate or graduate degrees.

  • 37% OF JOBS REQUIRE POSTSECONDARY STUDY

    Over one third of occupations in the U.S. require at least some postsecondary education as of 2016, and that number is expected to keep growing through 2024.

Our Research

We reviewed over 250 institutions to determine which schools were the most affordable based on the cost-per-credit tuition rates. Tuition rates vary based on degree level, and not all schools offer all types of degrees. Our list includes community colleges, which only offer associate degrees, as well as four-year institutions that grant bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.

All schools on our list have regional accreditation, which assures a high standard of quality.
Programmatic accreditations also exist in many areas and may be required for obtaining professional licenses or certifications post-graduation.

We only evaluated the cost of online programs, although many schools offer on-campus programs as well.

In addition to cost, we evaluated these colleges on the basis of reputation, faculty, flexibility, and course strength. We then calculated the Intelligent Score for each school on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 80+ hours to write this article
  • 251 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 567 education programs we compared

The Top 70 Most Affordable Online Colleges & Universities

Most Affordable Online Colleges
01
Northwestern State University of Louisiana

intelligent score 98.28

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 60-123 credits Graduate: 33-39 credits Doctorate: 38-60 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Undergraduate: $375 per credit
Graduate: $475 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 318-357-6011

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 60-123 credits Graduate: 33-39 credits Doctorate: 38-60 credits

01
Mayville State University

intelligent score 97.23

Award Best in the Midwest

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Midwest

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 10-16 credits Undergraduate: 62-123 credits Graduate: 30-38 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Undergraduate: $261.09 per credit
Graduate: $351.39 - $460.22 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 701-788-5251

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 10-16 credits Undergraduate: 62-123 credits Graduate: 30-38 credits

01
Minot State University

intelligent score 96.8

Award Alumni Recommended

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Alumni Recommended

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 9-27 credits Undergraduate: 68-125 credits Graduate: 30-41 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Undergraduate: $340.14 per credit
Graduate: $427.64 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 701-858-3218

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 9-27 credits Undergraduate: 68-125 credits Graduate: 30-41 credits

01
Florida State College at Jacksonville

intelligent score 96.72

Award Best Online Certificate Programs

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Online Certificate Programs

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 12-34 credits Undergraduate: 60-128 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $104.88 per credit; Non-Resident: $218.55 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 904-633-8100

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, On-Campus, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Certificate: 12-34 credits Undergraduate: 60-128 credits

01
Western Governors University

intelligent score 96.17

Award Best Online University

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Online University

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 120-138 credits Graduate: 30-52 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Undergraduate: $3,575 per term
Graduate: $4,530 per term

accreditation Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 866-225-5948

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 120-138 credits Graduate: 30-52 credits

01
Southern Arkansas University Tech

intelligent score 95.76

Award Best Student Organizations

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Student Organizations

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 60-67 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $534 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 870-574-4558

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 60-67 credits

01
Missouri State University

intelligent score 95.33

Award Best Hospitality Program

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Hospitality Program

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 60-84 credits Graduate: 30-44 credits Doctorate: 27 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $257 per credit; Out-of-State: $550 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 417-836-5000

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 60-84 credits Graduate: 30-44 credits Doctorate: 27 credits

01
SUNY Oneonta

intelligent score 94.84

Award Best Nutrition Program

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Nutrition Program

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 30-98 credits Graduate: 32-36 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $565 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 607-436-2524

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 30-98 credits Graduate: 32-36 credits

01
University of Maryland Global Campus

intelligent score 94.65

Award Best Cybersecurity Program

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Cybersecurity Program

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 120 credits Graduate: 30-36 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $300 per credit; Out-of-State: $499 per credit

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 855-655-8682

Learn More

Delivery Format Online, Hybrid

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 120 credits Graduate: 30-36 credits

01
University of the People

intelligent score 92.96

Award Best for Business Administration

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Business Administration

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 120 credits Graduate: 36-54 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit Tuition free

accreditation Distance Education Accrediting Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 626-264-8880

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs

Required Credits to Graduate Undergraduate: 120 credits Graduate: 36-54 credits

01
Best for Criminal Justice
Wayne State College
01
Best for Biblical Counseling
The King's University
01
Best for Prior Learning Credits
Middle Tennessee State University
01
Best for Curriculum Design
Concordia University Chicago
01
Best for Engineering
University of Virginia
01
Best for Organizational Leadership
Colorado State University Global
01
Best for Psychology
Truett McConnell University
01
Best for Emergency Services
Utah Valley University
01
Best for Sustainable Management
Marywood University
01
Best for Anthropology
Washington State University
01
Best for Independent Learning
University of Wisconsin-Superior
01
Best for Sociology
New Mexico State University
01
Best for Mathematics
Western Kentucky University
01
Best for Nursing
Fort Hays State University
01
Best for Fashion Business Management
Fashion Institute of Technology
01
Best for Ethnic Studies
California State University - East Bay
01
Best for Liberal Studies
California State University, Chico
01
Best for Industrial Hygiene
Montana Tech
01
Best for Urban and Public Affairs
The University of Texas at Arlington
01
Best for Radiologic Sciences
Midwestern State University
01
Best for Applied Statistics
Michigan Technological University
01
Best Scholarships
University of Wyoming
01
Best for Finance
The University of Oklahoma
01
Best Public Research University
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
01
Best for Associate Degrees
Wayne Community College
01
Best Public University
Youngstown State University
01
Best for Education Graduate Programs
Georgia Southern University
01
Best Diploma Programs
Craven Community College
01
Best Distance Learning Resources
Dickinson State University
01
Best in the Northeast
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
01
Best in the Northwest
Central Washington University
01
Best Christian University
Spring Arbor University
01
Best for Accelerated Classes
University of Louisiana Monroe
01
Best for Sports Management
Liberty University
01
Best Community College
Mesa Community College
01
Best in the Southeast
NC State University
01
Best Private University
Drury University
01
Best in the West
California State University-Channel Islands Extended University
01
Best Baptist University
California Baptist University Online
01
Best for Distance Learners
Florida Atlantic University
01
Best for Hybrid Programs
San Jose State University
01
Best Alumni Network
Florida International University
01
Best For-Profit University
Columbia Southern University
01
Best in the Southwest
Arizona State University
01
Best Mormon University
Brigham Young University - Idaho
01
Most Flexible
Appalachian State University
01
Best Faculty
Ball State University
01
Best for Doctoral Degrees
Colorado State University
01
Best for Degree Completion Programs
East Carolina University
01
Student Recommended
University of Southern Mississippi
01
Most Affordable
Broward College
01
Best for Bachelor's Degrees
Eastern Kentucky University
01
Best for Self-Paced Programs
King University
01
Best for Dual Enrollment
Eastern New Mexico University
01
Best for Non-Matriculated Students
Central Methodist University
01
Best for Transfer Students
Bismarck State College
01
Best HBCU
Hampton University
01
Best Faith-Based Curricula
Concordia University, Nebraska
01
Most Flexible
Capella University
01
Most Military Friendly
Colorado Christian University

What You Should Know About This Degree

The cost of tuition is a major consideration when selecting an online college, but it should not be the only factor in your decision. Review the program’s curriculum to ensure it will teach you the skills you need for your intended career path and that it meets the educational requirements for any professional licenses or certifications you may need. Read up on faculty to make sure there are qualified instructors teaching your courses. Find out what support services and networking opportunities there are for online students.

Attending college online can save money because you do not have to pay room, board, or travel expenses. It also allows flexibility so you can keep a full or part-time job, but be aware that you need to prioritize your studies even if you are balancing them with work or other commitments. If you fall behind and have to repeat classes, you can end up spending more money than you intended.

If you are looking at a program offered by a school in another state, confirm that the school is authorized to grant degrees to students living in your home state before enrolling. You also want to make sure that the school is regionally accredited so that if you have to transfer to another institution, your credits are more likely to be accepted.

What’s Next?

When researching the most affordable online colleges, you should ask the following questions:

  • Are there any additional fees? Make sure you understand the full cost of the program before enrolling. The published tuition rate may not include additional fees for technology, support services, or programmatic fees. Talk to a financial aid counselor or a program representative to get a clear picture of what your bill will include.
  • What financial resources are available to online students? There are a number of ways to subsidize your tuition, including scholarships, assistantships, and student loans. Talk to a financial aid rep or admissions counselor to find out what types of aid you are eligible for as an online student.

Researching the application requirements and deadlines for online programs is important as well. Some online programs enroll students throughout the year, while others only enroll new students during specific terms. Knowing deadlines and having application materials ready to send can help your admissions process go smoothly.