The Most Affordable Online Community Colleges

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Online community colleges offer affordable, two-year degrees for students who cannot commute to campus or those who prefer to study remotely. Attending an online community college has several benefits, particularly for students who work or provide full-time care to their children. Most courses are taught asynchronously, allowing distance learners to study and complete assignments at their convenience.

When calculating college affordability, students must compare the cost of attendance with their potential return on investment (ROI). Attending a cheap online community college, in terms of tuition, can help you save money in the short-term, but it’s important to find a school that also offers an academically reputable program. Fortunately for students, there are hundreds of affordable online community colleges around the country, schools that offer a quality education at a reasonable price. An affordable school can help you reduce out-of-pocket educational costs, and increase your chances of transferring to a four-year program or finding gainful employment upon graduation. Attending an affordable school also limits how much you will need to borrow to finance your education.

The schools listed below were ranked according to our College Affordability Score. This holistic measurement evaluates the amount of financial aid given to students, the number of students taking out loans, and the percentage of students who are able to repay their loans after graduating. A look at a school’s college affordability score will help you separate cheap online community colleges from affordable online community colleges that offer a good value.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Receiving Loans Location Description
1

Wayne Community College

86.521/55%Goldsboro, NC

campus-wayne-community-college

Wayne Community College offers nine degrees programs completely online. Online courses are delivered through Moodle, a customized course-management platform. Students also have access to Webadvisor, an online platform that hosts course materials, grades, and course registration. The school offers grants and scholarships to qualified students. Although student loans are available, a relatively low percentage of Wayne students borrow money to pay for their education.

In addition to the nine degree programs available online, Wayne Community college also offers online certificates, diploma programs, and continuing-education courses. Business administration is one of the school’s most popular online degrees; other popular programs include emergency management technology and criminal justice technology. Distance learners use WCCMail to communicate with instructors and peers, and tech support is available through the school’s technology department.

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2

McHenry County College

83.682/5N/ACrystal Lake, IL

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McHenry County College offers several degrees entirely online. The school’s associate in general education degree provides students an opportunity to complete their general-education requirements without choosing a major. Career and technical degrees are also available in computer information systems, criminal justice, and several business concentrations. Each class is limited to just 25 students, allowing students to benefit from a low student-to-teacher ratio.

McHenry also offers several hybrid courses that feature a mixture of in-person and online components.

Students can pursue federal grants and loans, and the school also offers nearly 100 scholarships. Distance learners can qualify for financial assistance by filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and submitting a separate scholarship application.

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3

Cochise College

81.772/522%Douglas, AZ

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Cochise College features a robust distance-learning program. Through the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, Cochise County allows students from other states to enroll in online programs. The virtual campus began offering online classes in 1998, and now has 12 online degrees and a Linux Administrator certificate program. Popular programs include psychology, economics, humanities, and social work.

One of Cochise’s most interesting programs is its associate of applied science (AAS) in intelligence operations, a degree that targets students interested in military intelligence or private intelligence companies.

Eligible students can pursue federal and state financial aid. Scholarships are also available through the Cochise College Foundation. Many are awarded based on academic achievement, although there are several need-based scholarships available as well. To qualify, students must use the STARS application system to submit their qualifications. Scholarship recipients are expected to write thank-you letters to their donors before receiving any funds.

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4

Prince George’s Community College

79.742/56%Largo, MD

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Prince George offers six online degree programs and four online certificates. General studies students can pursue concentrations in economics, pre-law, criminal justice, and psychology. All online students must complete a general orientation before accessing Blackboard. Beyond traditional classes, PGCC also offers video-enhanced online courses and accelerated online tracks. Accelerated courses contain the same material as regular classes, but simply start later or end earlier than other online classes.

Students who demonstrate financial need are eligible for need-based grants and scholarships. Loans are available to students who meet federal eligibility requirements. Scholarships are also available based on academic achievement, and the school offers a deferred tuition plan with flexible payment options. Using the deferred tuition plan, students can pay their tuition in two, three, or four separate payments.

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5

Norwalk Community College

78.322/526%Norwalk, CT

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Norwalk Community College has more than 50 academic programs, most of which feature online classes. In addition to traditional degrees in business and technology, Norwalk offers programs in anthropology and archaeology, film, and interior design. All distance courses are taught asynchronously. Online students have access to online tutoring and other campus resources.

Live tutoring is available through an interactive online environment; distance learners can also post questions for tutors and receive a response within 48 hours. Online students also have access to the online writing lab, where writing tutors offer feedback on drafts, helping students improve their writing skills.

Students who meet federal eligibility requirements may receive loans or grants to defray the cost of their education. The school also participates in the federal work-study program, which allows students to reduce their educational expenses by working on-campus.

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6

Community College of Allegheny County

77.392/5N/APittsburgh, PA

At the Community College of Allegheny County, students can pursue one of 14 online degrees or 13 online certificates. These programs are offered entirely online. Degrees are available in business, education, social and behavioral sciences, and science and mathematics. Available certificates include homeland security, women’s studies, and digital design.

The college also offers several accelerated programs for students interested in immediate employment. Accelerated programs are available in computer forensics, paralegal studies, and software development. All online course materials are delivered through Blackboard.

CCAC offers low tuition and strong financial aid packages, and the school boasts a low student-default rate. Students who qualify for state and federal aid may receive PHEAA state grants, federal Pell or FESOG grants, or federal Stafford loans. Scholarships are also available based on academic merit and financial need.

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7

El Paso Community College

76.521/53%El Paso, TX

El Paso CC offers traditional college courses and continuing education classes in an online format, delivered through the Blackboard course-management system. Continuing education courses help students learn new skills for the workforce. Real estate investing, administrative assistant fundamentals, and effective business writing are just three of the school’s popular programs. All continuing education courses are delivered via Education 2 Go.

EPCC is also affiliated with the Virtual College of Texas, which allows students to register for online courses offered by other colleges in Texas.

In addition to federal and state aid, El Paso offers scholarships and emergency loans for eligible students. Short-term emergency loans are available to students who need help paying their tuition before classes begin. There is no interest on these loans, but all funds must be repaid. Scholarships are proffered based on financial need and academic merit; departmental scholarships are also available.

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8

Lehigh Carbon Community College

74.811/52%Schnecksville, PA

Lehigh Carbon offers 21 fully online programs, including business, education, liberal arts, and special education. The school also has four programs in which 80% of required courses are available online: psychology, early childhood education, medical billing specialist certificate, and health information technology. All courses are delivered through WebStudy, an online course-management system. LCCC also offers tutoring and a writing help program for distance learners.

Students interested in federal financial aid should file the FAFSA between January 1 and May 1 of each year. Lehigh Carbon offers a variety of payment plans to students who are waiting for their financial aid applications to be processed. Online payment plans are also available for students paying their tuition in cash. Fall tuition is payable in four installments, while spring tuition is payable in three.

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9

Bucks County Community College

74.162/510%Newtown, PA

Bucks County’s virtual campus offers 13 degrees and three certificates entirely online. Associate degrees are available in entrepreneurship, occupational studies, retail management, and other disciplines. Available certificate programs include historic preservation, bookkeeping, and office skills. Students enrolled in online courses have 24/7 access to the digital campus library and tutoring center. All students also have access to academic advising and career services.

Bucks County CC offers affordable tuition and several forms of financial aid to qualifying students. Anyone interested in enrolling in online courses at BCCC should complete the FAFSA and then apply for private scholarships through the financial aid office. Students who are willing to work on campus may also qualify for federal work-study programs. BCCC awards more than $20 million in financial aid to students each year.

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10

Holmes Community College

74.392/537%Goodman, MS

Holmes offers a variety of online courses, delivered through the Canvas learning management platform. Students in need of technical assistance have access to the 24/7 Canvas Online Support Center; assistance is available over the phone and through live chat. Holmes also uses the Community College Network to deliver courses to registered students: The CCN is an interactive video network that links students at community colleges throughout Mississippi. Using CCN, students discuss course content and share ideas.

The financial aid office has several programs available to help distance learners. Federal loans, state and federal grants, and state scholarships are available to students who meet minimum eligibility requirements. Students who can travel to the school may also participate in the federal work-study program, which reimburses them for work done on campus.

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11

Westmoreland County Community College

73.811/54%Youngwood, PA

Westmoreland County CC offers a comprehensive distance learning program, delivered through Blackboard or web conferencing software. Most courses are taught asynchronously, although web conference-based classes require scheduled participation. Like other online community colleges, WCCC also offers hybrid courses featuring a combination of distance and classroom-based classes.

State and federal aid is available through loans and grants. Located in Pennsylvania, qualifying students can also apply for state-based grant programs for students who are deaf or blind. The college also offers private scholarships, drawing from funds donated by faculty members, alumni, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and board members. Most scholarships are awarded based on academic merit or financial need, but some are earmarked for students who meet special circumstances.

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12

Metropolitan Community College

72.812/520%Omaha, NE

Metropolitan CC offers a variety of online and hybrid courses and programs. All online classes are delivered asynchronously through Blackboard. Online students are required to complete the Blackboard student orientation before starting school. Distance learners have access to the learning & tutoring center, and staff members can help students resolve common technical issues.

Several online courses are offered in an accelerated format. Accelerated courses feature the same course content, but the course starts later or ends earlier than the regular academic term. Accelerated courses are available in art history, entrepreneurship, abnormal psychology, and other topics.

Due to the low cost of attendance and availability of financial aid, MCC is one of the most affordable online schools in the country. In addition to federal and state aid, MCC also offers merit- and need-based scholarships.

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13

Craven Community College

71.452/55%New Bern, NC

Craven Community College offers nine online degrees and several diploma and certificate programs. The school offers associate degrees in general education, applied science, and the arts online. Diplomas and certificates are also available in payroll accounting, medical office administration, and banking. Distance learners have access to the campus writing lab and an online tutoring platform called Smarthinking. The Craven help desk is available to help students resolve all technical issues. All online courses are delivered via Moodle, though some instructors also use Google tools in their courses.

Craven CC offers federal student aid, state assistance, and private scholarships to eligible students. After completing the FAFSA, students must provide requested documentation to financial aid counselors before receiving their award. Scholarship applicants also benefit from Craven’s partnership with AcademicWorks, a scholarship application system. Through the program, students can complete one application and simultaneously apply for more than 80 scholarships. AcademicWorks also provides information on external scholarships.

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14

Massasoit Community College

69.972/57%Brockton, MA

Students at Massasoit CC have access to eight online degree and certificate programs; the school also offers several programs partially online. All students have access to online tutoring services and assistance from the online writing lab.

Like most online community colleges, Massasoit CC offers federal and state aid to qualifying students. The school also provides scholarships to select first-time college students and transfer students. To apply for scholarships, distance learners must log in with their MyMassasoit accounts and complete the general scholarship application. Available scholarships include the F.A. Davis Nursing Scholarship, Kelly & Soto Law Scholarship Program, and the Caribbean Heritage Association Scholarship.

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15

Bunker Hill Community College

69.032/51%Boston, MA

Bunker Hill CC offers eight degree programs entirely online. Many students pursue a general education associate degree, where they take prerequisite courses as they prepare to transfer to a four-year school. Online degrees are also available in criminal justice, sociology, and psychology. Bunker Hill offers all general-education courses online.

Students interested in preparing for careers in criminal justice, healthcare, and business can pursue their certificate online. All online students have access to Smarthinking’s online tutoring service, online advising services, and online career counseling.

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16

Coastline Community College

68.972/5N/AFountain Valley, CA

Coastline CC offers 19 degrees, 11 certificates of achievement, and two certificates of specialization entirely online. Associate programs include gerontology, sociology, and American studies. The school’s certificate programs help students learn practical job skills that they can apply immediately. Certificates are available in business, accounting, office support, and other disciplines.

All course content is delivered online, though some instructors require students to take tests at proctored exam sites. Coastline also offers video courses for students who do not have regular Internet access. Students enrolled in video courses must submit their assignment by fax or postal mail.

Coastline awards grants and loans to eligible students. Certain California students also have the option of applying for a tuition waiver to reduce their cost of attendance. To continue qualifying for the fee waiver, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and successfully complete more than half of all coursework attempted each term. Fee waivers are available to students who qualify for federal aid, students whose parents are receiving state or federal assistance, and those who fit into the qualifying income bracket.

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17

East Arkansas Community College

68.971/515%Forrest City, AR

At Eastern Arkansas, online courses are available in the humanities, math, business, and allied health. Most exams are given online, but some instructors require students to commute for tests and quizzes; non-local students may be allowed to take proctored exams at approved testing centers.

All online courses have the same schedule as traditional courses, with classes beginning and ending on the same dates each term (the classes themselves are offered in an asynchronous format). Students enrolled in online courses receive classroom access on the first day of the semester.

Eligible students may be awarded grants, loans, or scholarships to cover their expenses. Private scholarships are typically awarded based on academic achievement; need-based and departmental scholarships are also available.

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18

Collin County Community College District

68.162/52%McKinney, TX

Collin College offers three types of online courses to meet student demands: web classes, hybrid courses, and blended modules. Web classes are offered entirely online, while hybrid classes mix on-campus instruction with some online components. Blended classes are taught mostly online, but students have to visit campus for speeches, orientation sessions, or tests.

Distance learners in all three have access to CougarWeb, the school’s online portal for course registration, and the Blackboard course-management software. Technical assistance is available through the Collin College help desk and the school’s academic technology & network services department.

Students should apply for financial aid before the April 1 and November 1 priority deadlines. Collin College has several scholarships available to students who meet eligibility requirements, including SMART scholarships for students interested in science and technology.

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19

Northampton County Area Community College

67.522/54%Bethlehem, PA

NCC offers 10 degrees entirely online, including associate programs in accounting, criminal justice, and sports management. Traditional students can also supplement their on-campus courses with online classes across a variety of disciplines. To promote academic integrity, NCC requires online students to create a biometric signature ID. Students must enter their biometric IDs several times during each course. Some instructors require distance learners to take a proctored test.

Grants, loans, and work-study assignments help make NCC affordable. The school also awards more scholarships than any other community college in Pennsylvania. Students can pursue merit-based or need-based scholarships; scholarships for veterans are also available.

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20

Chandler-Gilbert Community College

66.92/522%Chandler, AZ

Part of the Maricopa Community College District, Chandler-Gilbert offers online courses to students throughout Arizona. Although the school does not offer any degrees entirely online, students can take a variety of online courses. Some courses are delivered completely over the Internet, while others are offered in a hybrid format. Distance learners can access online tutoring through Smarthinking, a 24/7 tutoring service. All online courses are managed via Canvas platform.

Scholarships are available for students interested in administration justice studies and law-enforcement training. The Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation also provides scholarships to students who meet certain eligibility requirements. Students who do not receive scholarships may qualify for state or federal financial aid in the form of loans or grants. CGCC also participates in the federal work-study program.

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21

Northwest Vista College

66.262/59%San Antonio, TX

Northwest Vista College offers fully online and hybrid courses through the Canvas learning management platform. NVC is also part of the Virtual College of Texas, which provides students the opportunity to enroll in online courses offered by other colleges in the network. The school estimates that online students should spend about 10 hours per week on their studies, per course.

NVC offers several forms of financial aid and a fairly low tuition rate. State aid is available in the form of TPED, TEOG, TEXAS grants, and Hazlewood awards. Students who qualify for federal aid may also receive Pell grants, FSEOG grants, or Stafford loans. Scholarship funds are available through the Alamo Colleges Foundation, along with several external sources.

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22

Cuyahoga Community College District

66.062/52%Cleveland, OH

Cuyahoga Community College has seven online degree and certificate programs. Students can pursue online degrees in business management and court reporting, along with distance certificates in supply chain management and court reporting technology. Several other programs, including the popular associate of applied business in administrative office systems, are available mostly online, with a few in-person requirements.

CCC offers online courses to students from states belonging to the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. All online courses are delivered through Blackboard.

Students are encouraged to pursue scholarships, grants, and loans. Eligible students may also be able to work on campus and use the money they earn to pay their tuition and related expenses. Scholarships are available to students based on their academic achievement, athletic skills, creative talents, and participation in extracurricular activities. The school also has scholarships available for honors distance learners.

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23

College of Southern Maryland

65.612/57%La Plata, MD

Online courses at Southern Maryland are taught by the same instructors that teach on-campus classes. CSM offers a variety of courses entirely online, along with several hybrid courses and web-enhanced classes. The school offers 12 fully online degrees and nine online certificates to first-time college students, transfer students, and adult learners. Degrees are available in mathematics and physical sciences, technical management, and web development. Online course content is delivered through Blackboard.

All students must complete a FAFSA to be eligible for the school’s scholarship research tool. Students who do not qualify for state or federal assistance may qualify for scholarships based on academic achievement or financial need.

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24

Allen County Community College

65.262/568%Iola, KS

Allen CC offers flexible online options to help students complete their degrees as soon as possible. Online courses are available for anthropology, business administration, and other two-year degrees. ACC also has certificates available in corrections, pharmacy technician, addictions counseling, and meat and livestock evaluation. Through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, out-of-state students from fellow member-states can enroll in online courses at ACC. More than 90% of Allen students say they would recommend the school’s online courses to their friends or family members.

ACC is a cheap community college because it has a fairly low net cost of attendance and offers millions of dollars in financial aid to eligible students. In addition to federal and state aid, the school offers the presidential scholarship, dean’s academic scholarship, and merit academic scholarship for academic achievement. Scholarships are also available for student athletes employees enrolled in ACC courses, adult learners, and students who can demonstrate financial need.

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25

Tillamook Bay Community College

652/512%Tillamook, OR

Tillamook Bay offers a variety of online programs and classes for distance learners. Popular online degrees include business, economics, computer applications, biology, and several liberal arts programs. Distance learners can also pursue a variety of continuing education and hybrid courses as well. The school uses Moodle to facilitate all online content.

Students can pursue all of the usual financial aid options at Tillamook Bay. All distance learners should fill out a FAFSA, and they are encouraged to apply for grants and, if necessary, loans. Scholarships are available, as are separate awards for veterans.

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