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For individuals seeking advanced roles in web development, software testing, and data analytics, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science is necessary. However, no two programs are created equally, and many are more expensive than others.

In this article, we’ll provide a standard cost breakdown for these programs and examine the factors that cause tuition prices to fluctuate. We’ll also explore various financing options to help you avoid a substantial debt burden while pursuing your degree. Additionally, you’ll find valuable tips on selecting the right affordable program that aligns with your career goals and sets you on a path to success — both academically and financially.

Online degrees offer a unique sense of flexibility in that they can be completed from anywhere in the world, and many offer scheduling options that will allow you to complete your degree at your own pace. Yet, it’s important to note that these degrees come with their own costs. You’ll want to be prepared for the following expenses:

  • Tuition: Tuition is a primary expense assessed per term or credit hour. Students prefer the per-credit system if they plan to take a lighter courseload each semester, while per-term tuition often provides cost savings for full-time students.
  • Fees: Fees are another consideration, encompassing tech support, academic resources, library access, and more. These fees can vary by institution and impact the overall cost of the degree.
  • Personal technology: Personal technology costs include purchasing a computer capable of handling computer science coursework, necessary software licenses, and a reliable Internet connection.
  • Books and other learning materials: You’ll also want to budget for textbooks and other learning materials, although utilizing digital textbooks can reduce these costs.

While these costs can add up and may seem overwhelming initially, it’s essential to remember how online students can save money by attending a virtual program. For example, those who study online avoid costs related to commuting and housing, and many have the added benefit of maintaining their current employment or seeking additional work to help with related expenses.

Factors Influencing the Cost of an Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Program

The cost of an online bachelor’s in computer science program can vary widely depending on the institution, making it essential to carefully analyze the overall cost of each institution you’re considering.

  • Public vs. private institution: Public schools often offer more affordable tuition than private institutions. Public schools receive state funding, which helps subsidize education costs. Private institutions rely more on tuition revenue, resulting in higher fees.
  • Nonprofit vs. for-profit: Nonprofit online institutions typically prioritize education quality over profit, which can lead to lower tuition rates. For-profit schools, on the other hand, often have higher tuition fees as they aim to generate revenue for shareholders.
  • Student residency status: In-state residents typically benefit from lower tuition rates at public institutions. Out-of-state and international students often pay a premium for the same education.
  • Student military status: Many online institutions offer reduced tuition rates for active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their dependents as a gesture of support for their service.

50 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Programs

Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Computer Science Programs Badge

Western Governors University

University of Illinois Springfield

Central Methodist University

Regis University

National University

Colorado State University Global

Franklin University

City University of Seattle

Eastern New Mexico University

Concordia University at St. Paul

Florida International University

Fort Hays State University

Weber State University

Lamar University

Lewis University

Baker College

Eastern Oregon University

Jessup University

Park University

Troy University

Old Dominion University

Saint Leo University

Thomas Edison State University

Southern New Hampshire University

Regent University

University of Wisconsin-Superior

Limestone University

University of North Dakota

Liberty University

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the most affordable online bachelor’s in computer science programs in the U.S. All are offered at nonprofit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each degree program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, 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 the 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 Bachelor’s in Computer Science Degree


For students who want to avoid student loans and interest payments, paying for your tuition out-of-pocket may solve your problem. Some schools offer payment plans, which enable students to break down their tuition into manageable installments throughout the academic year. With thoughtful budgeting and saving, individuals and their families can contribute to these payments, ultimately alleviating the financial burden of pursuing higher education.

Federal student loans

Federal student loans are generally preferable to private loans for their favorable terms — including lower interest rates and flexible repayment options. However, it’s essential to avoid overreliance on loans to prevent accruing excessive debt.

To borrow responsibly, consider applying for other forms of financial aid, such as grants and scholarships, and using federal loans as a supplement rather than a primary funding source. Overborrowing can lead to substantial interest and repayment burdens, so it’s essential to exercise caution while practicing financial responsibility.

Private education loans

Private education loans are another option to fund your degree, but they are not as preferable due to their rigid repayment terms and higher interest rates than federal loans. Private loans often require a strong credit history or a co-signer, and the application process involves a hard credit check.

While they can be an option for some, it’s crucial to explore federal aid and scholarships first and consider private loans as a last resort to avoid the less favorable terms and increased debt burden they may entail.


Scholarships are a significantly advantageous way to finance your degree because they don’t require repayment — essentially serving as free money for college. These financial awards can be merit-based, need-based, or awarded for specific talents, having a certain background, or maintaining particular affiliations.

You can find scholarship opportunities through your institution by contacting your financial aid office. Specific professional organizations and community foundations may offer these opportunities as well.


Grants, like scholarships, do not require repayment, making them a popular source of financial aid, particularly for undergraduates. Eligible students can access federal grants, such as the Pell Grant, by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition to federal programs, some states and institutions offer their own grant programs, often based on financial need. These grants can significantly alleviate the cost of higher education, making it more accessible and affordable for aspiring computer scientists.


You can also offset educational expenses through work-study programs. These opportunities, often awarded based on financial need as outlined in the FAFSA, allow students to work part-time jobs, either on or off-campus, to earn money for their education. Institutions may offer their own work-study programs as well, providing flexibility and valuable work experience. These earnings can cover educational costs and provide practical skills, making work-study a beneficial option for those looking to manage their expenses while gaining professional experience.

Employer tuition assistance

If you’re currently employed, you might turn to employer tuition assistance over work-study opportunities. Eligibility and terms vary by employer, but students can typically access this benefit by inquiring within their HR department. Some employers require students to pursue degrees relevant to their jobs, maintain a minimum GPA, or commit to working for the company for a specified period after graduation.

Applying for Financial Aid

For most students in the United States, applying for financial aid begins with submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is the gateway to multiple forms of financial assistance for higher education, including federal grants, work-study programs, and subsidized student loans. You can access the FAFSA form online, providing detailed information about your financial situation and academic plans.

Learn more about the FAFSA

For those seeking additional guidance when submitting the FAFSA, check out our Ultimate FAFSA Guide. This in-depth guide breaks down funding options, offers a step-by-step FAFSA walkthrough, and provides valuable insights into navigating questions related to household size and immigration status.

Student loan forgiveness and repayment

With the fate of student loan forgiveness still uncertain in the United States, it’s essential to make a financially feasible repayment plan. As college counselor Dana Marvin suggests, this might mean avoiding student loans altogether. “It is smart for families to look into every other way to fund the student’s education before accepting any loans,” she says. “All avenues for scholarships, both from the school and outside organizations, as well as grants from the state, should be looked into before officially taking out a loan.” These funding sources can help reduce your need for loans and may even cover the entire cost of your degree.

However, if you must take out loans, it’s essential to avoid over-borrowing. This common mistake can lead to a heavy debt burden, affecting your ability to save, invest, or make major life decisions — like buying a house or starting a family. It’s important to borrow wisely, considering future earning potential and choosing the most affordable loan options.

How to Choose the Online College or University that’s Right for You

Step 1: Clarify what you want

Choosing an online university is a significant decision, but how can you know you’re making the right choice?

First, clearly define your academic goals. Begin with choosing an area of study within computer science, such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, or software development, to ensure that you align your education with your professional goals.

Additionally, consider the delivery format. Whether a program is synchronous or asynchronous can affect the flexibility of your educational experience. Some students thrive in structured, real-time classes that synchronous programs provide, while others require the freedom to learn at their own pace and may opt for an asynchronous program. It’s also essential to consider whether full- or part-time study will work with your circumstances and work commitments.

Establishing these preferences will ensure you begin your online degree on the right path, optimizing your learning experience and future job prospects.

Step 2: Research schools and programs

Now that you have clarified your program preferences, your next step is researching schools and programs that align with your goals. Start by checking for an institution’s accreditation status, as this guarantees the program’s quality and recognition by future employers.

To guide your research further, consider the following questions:

  • Is the program 100% online, or are there on-campus requirements?
  • What are the program’s curriculum and specialization options?
  • Are there ample support services available for online students?
  • What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
  • Does the faculty have experience teaching online classes?

Many schools will provide this information on their official website. Still, you can also find answers by attending virtual open houses or by connecting with current students or alums on platforms like LinkedIn and Reddit.

Step 3: Prepare for applications and tests

After creating a shortlist of your preferred programs, you can prepare for the application process. While requirements can vary depending on the institution, most require transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Some schools have adopted test-optional policies, eliminating the need for standardized tests. However, if you’re applying to a school that requires test scores, it may be beneficial to enroll in a test prep program for the SAT or ACT. These test prep programs can help boost your scores and, therefore, give you a more competitive edge in the applicant pool.

Step 4: Select your program

When applying to online computer science programs, most students adopt one of two approaches: focused applications to just one or two preferred schools or casting a wider net to increase acceptance changes. Both methods have their merits, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where you have multiple acceptance letters, you’ll likely have a big decision to make. Now is an excellent time to revisit some critical factors by asking yourself:

  • How does this program’s curriculum align with my future goals?
  • Is my intended specialty available?
  • How much is this program estimated to cost, and what financial aid opportunities are available?

Weighing these factors will help you make an informed decision about which online program is the best fit for your academic and career aspirations.

Step 5: Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Attaining higher education is a significant investment in your future, and, for many, a bachelor’s degree will be the most costly endeavor you have undertaken so far. However, it’s important to remember that there are many financial aid resources available to make your degree more affordable — potentially increasing the return on your investment and setting yourself up for future financial success.

First, prioritize scholarships and grants to finance your degree, as these funds don’t require repayment. Federal loans can bridge any remaining financial gaps, with preferable terms to private loans, offering lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options.

For those seeking part-time work, don’t forget to explore work-study programs to secure part-time employment during your studies. If you’re currently employed, check with your employer to see if they offer a tuition reimbursement program, as this can significantly reduce any financial burden.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out to the financial aid counselors at your chosen school, as they will be a valuable resource for personalized guidance on maximizing available funding opportunities.

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