Online colleges offer what was once nearly impossible: the opportunity to earn a college degree while maintaining a full-time job. As universities across the country rush to bring their programs online, students have more distance education options than ever before. With so many choices, it’s important to find the right school for your educational goals and your budget. An online degree is more than a temporary expense: it’s an investment in your future.

What are the most affordable colleges of 2020? Here are our top 10:

  1. Indiana University - Bloomington - Bloomington, IN
  2. University of Florida - Gainesville, FL
  3. Florida International University - Miami, FL
  4. Appalachian State University - Boone, NC
  5. University of Central Florida - Orlando, FL
  6. Florida Atlantic University - Boca Raton, FL
  7. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Minneapolis, MN
  8. University of Illinois at Springfield - Springfield, IL
  9. Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK
  10. Missouri State University - Springfield, MO

What Are The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degree Programs?

Unsurprisingly, many students prioritize affordability when they begin their college search. And as online education gains even greater prominence, many cost-conscious students begin by looking for the cheapest online colleges in terms of tuition costs. It’s a fair place to start the search, considering how much students save by foregoing room and board, commuting costs, and textbook fees.

Critically, there is a big difference between affordable online colleges and cheap online colleges. Our list below is an attempt to separate the former from the latter. Using our new “College Affordability Score,” we have carefully calculated a list of online universities that offer robust educational opportunities and comprehensive financial aid. These colleges have a proven track record of helping online students graduate, without saddling them with punishing, long-term debt. This data can help you determine which colleges give you the best chance to earn a degree at an affordable price.

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Indiana University - Bloomington

Bloomington, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 78%

One of the most affordable colleges on this ranking, IU offers online undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields. Popular bachelor's degrees include applied science, health and health sciences, and mathematics. Individuals can visit each program's website to read about potential career opportunities.

Student services at IU feature nine core resources that all online learners can access. Incoming students complete an in-depth orientation, and success coaches help learners stay on track for graduation. Also, students can access IT support 24/7.

Admission requirements vary by program and may include an essay. Many graduate programs charge the same tuition rate to in-state and out-of-state students. Finally, incoming learners interested in financial aid opportunities should submit their FAFSA results.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 2 associate degrees; 25 bachelor's degrees; 36 master's degrees; 5 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (844) 445-0117
Email: iuoapply@Iu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

2

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

UF Online offers many bachelor's degrees in areas like digital arts and sciences, environmental management, and recreation management. Graduate programs train the next generation of educators and journalists, among other professionals. Also, many active-duty service members earn their degrees online.

UF oversees specialized online resources to help distance students troubleshoot IT issues and access library materials. Also, the school's Career Resources Center boasts many virtual offerings, including career roadmaps, a job board, and online workshops.

First-time college applicants must submit high school or GED transcripts. Other application materials include ACT or SAT scores. As UF awards limited financial aid to online learners, incoming students should submit FAFSA results as soon as they can.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 24 undergraduate degrees; 79 master's degrees; 8 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (855) 994-2867
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

3

Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

FIU boasts more than 60 online programs, making it an excellent choice for prospective students undecided about a major. Bachelor's degrees at this affordable university include Asian studies, criminal justice, and international relations. Many recent graduates have reported that earning an FIU degree online helped them launch a successful career.

In addition to traditional student services, FIU offers two career-preparation programs. Engineering students can join Career Engage — a service that allows learners to earn in-demand industry certifications before graduation. Additionally, students can participate in the SV Academy, which imparts in-demand skills applicable to technology careers.

All undergraduate applicants should submit standardized test scores and FAFSA results. Each merit-based scholarship uses a separate application and application deadline, and FIU provides links to popular scholarship search engines.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 39 bachelor's degrees; 26 master's degrees; 1 doctoral degree
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (855) 558-4641
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

4

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

App State Online offers degree and certificate programs to students living all over the world. Bachelor's degrees that can lead to a lucrative career include management and nursing. Additionally, information on each program's website allows prospective and current students to look into potential careers and employment trends.

Each program has a program contact who can direct students toward valuable resources, such as academic and career advisors. Also, this affordable online university's Career Development Center features an in-depth guide on how to find and apply to internship opportunities.

Undergraduate application requirements vary by program, but there is a 2.25 GPA cutoff for transfer credit. For most programs, in-state learners pay much less in tuition compared to out-of-state students. Additionally, aspiring teachers can apply for the State Employees' Credit Union Appalachian Partnership Scholarship.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 11 bachelor's degrees; 15 master's degrees; 1 doctoral degree
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.25 minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (828) 262-3113
Email: online@appstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

5

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

Popular online bachelor's degrees at UCF include nursing, psychology, and anthropology. Undergraduates can customize their degree plan by selecting one of 35 minors. Additionally, more than 80% of recent graduates report working in a field directly related to the education they received at UCF.

Student support at UCF starts with the university's online coaches — highly trained professionals who connect prospective and current students with academic and career resources. Besides working with learners over the phone, coaches publish tips on how to succeed as an online learner at this affordable university.

Applicants who do not possess at least 30 transferable credits must submit standardized test scores. Florida residents save considerably on tuition. However, out-of-state students with academic merit may qualify for significant scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 28 bachelor's degrees; 32 master's degrees; 3 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester; accelerated options available

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (855) 903-8576
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

6

Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

Online undergraduate programs at FAU award bachelor's degrees and minors. The university's six colleges offer majors in over a dozen areas, including public management and RN-to-BSN. Additionally, over 95% of nursing graduates pass the NCLEX exam on their first try. The school also has dozens of online master's programs.

Career advising tools at this affordable online university include online workshops and an extensive career guide. Students can explore career opportunities and trends for each online major. Also, online learners can access Canvas support 24/7.

Prospective first-time college students must possess a high school diploma that meets prerequisite course requirements. Some programs ask applicants to submit additional materials. FAU scholarship opportunities award up to $10,000 to eligible incoming students.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 12 bachelor's degrees; 27 master's degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact

Phone: (855) 903-8575
Email: admissions@fau.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

UMN Online offers fully online and hybrid programs for distance education students. Some fully online bachelor's degrees include applied science, tribal administration and governance, and sport and recreation management. Additionally, students who are not seeking a full degree can enhance their salary potential by earning an education, CPA, or family education license.

Student resources at this affordable university include training courses, digital collections at the university library, and general online learning tips. These and other services help make each graduate's career success story possible.

Each program uses a separate application process, and prospective first-time college students can submit the Common Application. Some programs use a GPA cutoff for transfer credit. UMN offers numerous scholarship opportunities that students can explore by visiting the Undergraduate Scholarship Search website.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 17 bachelor's degree; 16 master's degrees; 9 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (800) 991-8636
Email: online@umn.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

8

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 51%

UIS's over 50 online programs include more than two dozen undergraduate and graduate degrees. Popular bachelor's programs include information systems security, mathematical sciences, and teacher education. Additionally, over 90% of graduates find employment or enter another academic program within 12 months of graduation.

Before starting classes, all incoming learners at this affordable university complete an online learning orientation. Also, the UIS Career Development Center provides all services to online students.

Prospective undergraduates submit transcripts and standardized test scores; some programs may have additional application requirements. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of residency. UIS awards more than 300 institutional scholarships each year.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 14 bachelor's degrees; 12 master's degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact

Phone: (217) 206-6600
Email: admissions@uis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

9

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

An affordable online university — especially for in-state students — OSU designed its online programs with working adults in mind. Bachelor's degrees that can lead to lucrative careers include computer science, business administration, and nursing. Additionally, nearly 90% of recent OSU graduates have reported finding a full-time job.

OSU provides learners with access to multiple success tools, including video tutorials detailing the Canvas learning management system. When students need help, they can turn to the school's math learning success center, writing center, and career services.

Applicants receive assured admission if they possess an excellent high school GPA or outstanding standardized test scores. Prospective students with GED scores can also receive conditional admission based on other factors. Incoming first-year students can apply for all institutional scholarships by submitting one application.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 15 bachelor's degrees; 31 master's degrees; 2 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (405) 744-1000
Email: brenda.dawes@okstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

10

Missouri State University

Springfield, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

At MSU, students can earn several different online bachelor's degrees. Additionally, they can pursue one of 12 entirely online minors, ensuring that their educational experience aligns with their academic interests and career goals. MSU closely tracks graduates' career outcomes, which can provide important insight for prospective students.

Student support services at this affordable online university include IT support, career counseling, and advisors who work exclusively with veterans. Also, students who need academic help can make a virtual tutoring appointment.

MSU accepts the Common Application, and individuals with GED certificates can apply. Out-of-state students may need to pay considerably higher tuition rates. However, all learners can apply for competitive institutional scholarships, some of which award up to $15,000 per year.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 11 bachelor's degrees; 16 master's degrees; 2 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (877) 678-2005
Email: adultstudentservices@missouristate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

11

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

CSU's online programs feature a diverse selection of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Bachelor's programs include agricultural business, fire and emergency services administration, and horticulture. Additionally, this affordable university offers digital badges and short skill-building programs for students who do not want to pursue a full degree.

Learners in need can turn to academic and career advisors. The university hosts many other resources online, including peer tutoring.

Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. All distance students pay the same per-credit tuition rate — a boon for out-of-state learners. Learners must take at least six credits per semester to qualify for institutional financial aid programs.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 12 bachelor's degrees; 38 master's degrees; 3 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (877) 491-4336
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

12

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

ASU Online boasts dozens of online programs, including degrees and professional certificates. Fully online bachelor's programs at this affordable university include art history, community health, and global studies. Each degree website features information concerning potential careers, projected job growth, and median salaries.

Outside of class, students can turn to one of many vital student services, such as the Career and Professional Development Service and online tutoring. With the Pitch messaging app, learners can access these and other resources from their phones.

First-time college applicants must meet certain high school prerequisites and submit standardized test scores. Prospective students who do not meet these or other requirements can still gain admission through ASU's Earned Admission Track. Incoming students can search for scholarship opportunities by accessing the ASU Scholarship Portal.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 89 bachelor's degrees; 78 master's degrees; 3 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester; accelerated options available

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact

Phone: (866) 277-6589
Email: asuonline@asu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

13

Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, NJ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Online bachelor's programs at TESU help prepare the next generation of computer, electrical, and nuclear scientists. Graduate degrees at this affordable online university include master's and doctoral programs in nursing. Additionally, over 95% of nursing graduates pass the NCLEX exam on their first try, and the university enjoys a 91% alumni satisfaction rating.

Online learners at TESU can access all student services through a single online portal. These services include academic advising from professionals who possess years of experience working with adult learners.

Prospective students can test drive a course before applying. In addition to accepting transfer credit, the university awards credit based on portfolios and challenge exams. TESU oversees multiple scholarship application windows each year.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 13 associate degrees; 33 bachelor's degrees; 15 master's degrees; 2 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Contact

Phone: (609) 777-5680
Email: admissions@tesu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

14

University of Colorado Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

At CU Denver, students can choose from a dozen online bachelor's programs, including nursing and criminal justice tracks. Master's programs at this affordable online university train future educators and public administrators. Programs were created to emphasize the knowledge and skills demanded by employers.

Learners can access all academic and career success resources entirely online. The school's writing center offers 50-minute virtual sessions, and students can receive librarian support 24/7.

Transfer applicants need not submit standardized test scores, but all applicants should provide FAFSA results. Some programs may have additional application requirements. CU Denver uses a scholarship portal that allows incoming students to apply for financial aid opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 12 bachelor's degrees; 21 master's degrees; 4 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (303) 315-3000
Email: cuonline@ucdenver.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

15

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Mizzou offers more than 125 online degrees and certificates, many of which feature self-paced courses. Fully online bachelor's programs include information technology, psychology, and nursing. Over 90% of graduates report successful career outcomes, making Mizzou a solid investment for students.

Student resources include over two dozen guides related to topics such as how to enroll in a course, IT assistance, and NetTutor software. The university recommends that all incoming distance education learners read Tips for Success — an in-depth guide that covers study habits and other topics.

Application requirements at this affordable online university vary by program. However, all first-time college applicants must submit standardized test scores. Incoming learners may qualify for automatic or endowed scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 17 bachelor's degrees; 54 master's degrees; 11 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester; some self-paced programs are also available

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (573) 882-2491
Email: mizzouonline@missouri.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

16

Washington State University

Pullman, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

WSU's online programs include bachelor's degrees in biology, criminal justice, and data analytics. Non-degree programs include a special education endorsement track for practicing Washington educators. Many of the school's programs boast an employment rate near 90% for recent graduates.

Career counselors, academic advisors, and online tutors help students at this affordable university achieve their educational and career goals. The library's digital collections contain millions of items, and students can access 24/7 technical support.

Prospective students can apply to begin taking classes in the spring, summer, or fall semester. All applicants should submit FAFSA results, and online learners can apply for exclusive merit-based scholarships by filling out a separate application. These scholarships award $1,000, and students can still apply for additional institutional scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 20 bachelor's degrees; 12 master's degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (800) 222-4978
Email: online@wsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

17

University of Houston - Downtown

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 20%

UHD's online bachelor's completion programs make this affordable university an excellent choice for prospective students who already possess an associate degree. Popular degrees include finance, international business, and interdisciplinary studies.

Academic advisors specialize in one of UHD's five colleges, meaning they can provide expert assistance to degree-seekers. The school's academic advising center also gives customized aid to first-year, continuing, and transfer students.

Transfer requirements vary depending on where applicants earned their associate degree. In-state learners at UHD save over 60% on tuition compared to out-of-state students. Incoming transfer students who possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA can apply for special scholarships that award $2,000 per year.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 15 bachelor's completion degrees; 3 master's degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (713) 221-8000
Email: uhdinfo@uhd.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

18

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

UA's online degrees and certificates give students the chance to master in-demand knowledge and skills without having to pause their careers. Technology-related bachelor's programs at this affordable university include cyberoperations, electrical and computer engineering, and graphic information systems technology. The university boasts a 92% alumni satisfaction rate.

Distance education students can access expert advisors, success coaches, and tutors — among other support professionals — entirely online. Also, like many excellent institutions on this ranking, learners can receive IT support at any time.

Undergraduate applicants submit high school or college transcripts and FAFSA results. In-state, first-year college students who possess an excellent high school GPA can receive up to $15,000 per year in automatic merit scholarships.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 33 bachelor's degrees; 31 master's degrees; 8 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (520) 621-0898
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

19

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Thousands of students from around the world pursue online degrees and certificates from Oregon State. Bachelor's programs that can lead to in-demand careers include economics, environmental science, and sustainability. Departments post career outcomes by major on their websites — a valuable tool for prospective students.

Learners at this affordable online university use MyOSU, Canvas, and G Suite software to access course materials and student support services. Success coaches and tutors provide additional assistance, and learners nearing graduation can contact the school's career development center to network and prepare for interviews.

Prospective first-time college students should submit high school transcripts or GED scores, and the university uses a 2.25 GPA cutoff for transfer credit. Graduate programs have additional application requirements. Like many of the affordable online colleges on this ranking, Oregon State uses a single application for all institutional scholarships.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 29 bachelor's degrees; 18 master's degrees; 5 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Quarter

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.25 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (800) 667-1465
Email: ecampus@oregonstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

20

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Monroe, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

Prospective students who want to pursue an accelerated education should consider the online programs offered through ULM Online. Most undergraduate courses last eight weeks. Bachelor's degrees include modern languages, history, and general studies.

Prospective and current students can review an online learning tutorial that includes links to helpful outside resources. Also, once learners select a major, they receive an academic advisor who specializes in that subject.

First-time college applicants need not submit standardized test scores, and ULM uses a minimum "C" cutoff for transfer credit. Online learners do not qualify for institutional aid at this time. However, due to the university's dedicated financial aid counselors, ULM students leave school with less debt than the average U.S. college graduate.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 1 associate degree; 14 bachelor's degrees; 25 master's degrees; 2 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semster; accelerated options available

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: "C" minimum for transfer credit

Contact

Phone: (318) 342-3145
Email: onlinedegrees@ulm.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

21

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Kearney, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

UNK's eCampus features 10 entirely online bachelor's programs and dozens of graduate programs. Popular undergraduate majors include business administration, early childhood education, and sociology. Many programs at this affordable online university boast a 100% job placement rate.

Online student resources at UNK include a Canvas tutorial guide, academic citation guides, and a course on computer literacy. Also, the university library provides special services to distance education learners.

UNK accepts applicants with GED certificates, and first-time college students must submit ACT or SAT scores. Individuals who do not meet all application requirements can still receive conditional admission. Over 75% of incoming students receive an institutional scholarship or grant.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 11 bachelor's degrees; 41 master's degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (308) 865-8441
Email: ecampus@unk.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

22

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

TTU's online offerings include bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. This affordable university oversees many bachelor's programs that can help graduates find careers in in-demand fields, such as early childhood education, political science, and plant and soil science.

The online student support portal at TTU contains informative guides that can help distance education students locate and use university resources, including IT support, student accounts, and records. The university also provides free online tutoring in over a dozen subjects.

The application process varies somewhat by program, and prospective students should speak to an advisor before submitting transcripts or test scores. Transfer students interested in scholarships should apply by the January 31 or July 4 deadline.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 16 bachelor's degrees; 39 master's degrees; 11 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.25 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact

Phone: (806) 742-7227
Email: elearning@ttu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

23

University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

Whitewater, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

Online degrees at UWW include bachelor's programs in management, political science, and early childhood education. Graduate degrees train the next generation of education and business professionals. Also, 98% of recent graduates report a positive career outcome — one of the highest rates among the affordable online colleges listed on this ranking.

All incoming learners complete TechQuest — an orientation to UWW's extensive campus technology services. Also, the university's library provides multiple resources and boasts extensive digital collections.

Prospective first-time college students can apply to begin classes in the fall or spring, and UWW charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all distance learners. Finally, institutional scholarships award up to $2,250 per year, and UWW financial aid advisors work closely with learners to help them find private scholarship opportunities.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 10 bachelor's degrees; 6 master's degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (262) 472-3157
Email: facilities@uww.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

24

National University

La Jolla, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Unlike some of the online universities on this ranking, NU offers nearly all of its academic programs entirely online. Undergraduates can choose a major from eight areas of study, including criminal justice and law, teaching and education, and arts and sciences. Each program's website features learning outcomes — a valuable tool for prospective students researching career paths.

Learners can contact Student Concierge Services to learn more about career counseling, academic policies, and tutoring. Also, the school's Student Academic Success Center helps learners explore ways they can achieve educational and career goals.

Undergraduate admission requirements include a high school diploma, and incoming students without college experience take the ACCUPLACER test to determine their initial English and math courses. NU awards over a dozen merit-based scholarships, some of which require a separate application.


School Overview

School Status: Private
Number of Online Programs: 5 associate degrees; 87 bachelor's degrees; 61 master's degrees; 1 doctoral degree
Schedule: Quarter

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (855) 355-6288
Email: advisor@nu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

25

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

Prospective students who have an associate degree may be interested in ECU's many online bachelor's completion programs. Nearly all bachelor's degrees feature multiple concentration options, allowing students to create a truly personalized educational experience.

Learners can access more than a dozen academic resources, including Blackboard support, writing assistance, and the Pirate Academic Success Center. In addition to one-on-one counseling, students can access informational tutorials related to taking notes and time management, among other topics.

ECU accepts transfer applicants ages 21 and over, and transfer credit should meet the school's 2.5 minimum GPA requirement. Students can apply to all institutional scholarship opportunities by filling out a single financial aid application. Additionally, aspiring medical professionals leave school with 33% less debt — on average — than the typical medical student.


School Overview

School Status: Public
Number of Online Programs: 24 bachelor's completion degrees; 53 master's degrees; 6 doctoral degrees
Schedule: Semester

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum for transfer credit
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT

Contact

Phone: (252) 328-9206
Email: admissions@ecu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

Most Affordable Colleges: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Good and Affordable Online College?

A good, affordable online college is accredited and offers high-quality resources and programs but for a lower price than their prestigious counterparts. An affordable school also offers students many options for paying for their own education. Read more here.

Where Can I Buy Cheap College Textbooks?

Some textbooks can be purchased in a digital format, which is usually much cheaper than physical textbooks. Students should also check whether the older versions of a textbook will suffice, as these editions are typically less expensive. Read more here.

How Can I Eat Cheaply in College?

College students can save money on food costs by creating and sticking to a budget, refraining from eating out, buying generic food, and cooking their own meals. On-campus meal plans are also an option and can be paid for with student loans. Read more here.

Who Should Consider an Online Bachelor's Degree?

Online colleges provide the rigor and respectability of a brick-and-mortar campus while offering maximum flexibility and affordability for students who lead busy lives or live in rural areas. The ideal distance learner is passionate about furthering their education, willing to work hard, has self-discipline, understands basic technology, and is intrinsically motivated.

Earning a bachelor's degree through an online college presents the same benefits as any other four-year program, but often at a lower price. In addition to higher starting salaries, those holding a four-year degree will earn more wage increases throughout their careers and advance in their careers more quickly than those without a college degree.

What to Expect from an Online Bachelor's Degree Program?

Online bachelor's degrees -- and their curriculums -- are incredibly varied. While some schools offer classes asynchronously to give students more control over their schedules, others require students to log-in at specific times. Schools are adding online degrees to their program list each year, and there is no shortage of options for students to complete a degree.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S DEGREE?

The length of time to complete a degree at affordable online colleges is affected by many different factors. Some schools offer accelerated formats with shorter terms, while others stick to the traditional 16-week semester schedule.

Cohort learning, a style of education where students take the same classes and finish the program together, is a popular style of teaching at some colleges. Other programs allow self-paced learning, making it possible for individual learners to complete the degree at a pace that suits their life. Another common option with online bachelor's degrees is the completion path, which allows those with associate degrees to complete their baccalaureate learning in two years.

Students who pursue a standard bachelor's degree full time through online learning can expect to finish in approximately four years. The majority of programs require 120 to 128 credit hours to graduate, which is equivalent to 15-16 credits per term for a full-time student.

MOST POPULAR BACHELOR'S DEGREES

Distance learning is often an affordable option for students who may not otherwise be able to study on campus, yet students also need to do their research before committing to an institution. Finding a school that is regionally accredited and well-regarded within both academic and professional circles can make a significant difference in terms of salary and employment outcomes. Once a student enrolls in online learning, the next step is to choose a major. Below are some of the most recent popular degree choices.

IN-STATE VS. OUT-OF-STATE

Whether to attend a college in your home state or out-of-state is often determined by three factors: availability of academic program, accessibility to services, and cost. If a public school in your home state doesn't offer your desired degree path, you may need to look at schools elsewhere. Some students may also want to take advantage of resources and services offered to campus-based learners (e.g. career counseling, libraries, student clubs) without committing to being on campus multiple times per week. In terms of cost, many of the cheapest online colleges offer discounted rates or allow out-of-state distance learners to pay the same tuition as resident students, making it an attractive option for cost-conscious learners. Other schools, however, charge out-of-state online learning rates.

Before enrolling in any online program, students must check the school's policies on State Authorization. This rule, enforced by the U.S. Department of Education, requires institutions to receive individual state approval to offer degrees in that state. These requirements are also tied to the school's ability to receive Title IV Federal student aid, and students who attend schools that aren't approved won't be able to take advantage of any federal funding assistance.

ACCREDITATION FOR ONLINE BACHELOR'S DEGREES

Accreditation is an important factor to consider when pursuing an online education. Enrolling in even the cheapest online college, if not properly accredited, can make for a costly mistake. Colleges that aren't properly accredited can pose significant issues for students attempting to transfer credits, gain licensure and/or certification, or even land a job. Before committing to any institution, it's crucial for distance learners to do their research and understand the type of accreditation their prospective school has earned.

The two main types of school-wide accreditation are regional and national. Regionally accredited schools are typically considered to be more prestigious and trustworthy because they undergo a long and rigorous evaluation by educational authorities. These accrediting bodies research a school's learning opportunities, student services, faculty qualifications, and more before providing regional accreditation. All regional accrediting bodies also must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The DOE is a federal government agency tasked with setting and enforcing standards for all public institutions and any private institutions that receive federal funding. CHEA is an organization of more than 3,000 colleges and universities and is recognized by the DOE as an authoritative body.

National accreditation is provided by agencies approved by the CHEA and involves a less comprehensive evaluation. They typically focus on a specific type of educational service, such as career and vocational training or distance learning. Because standards are less rigid, students who attend nationally accredited schools may have trouble transferring credits to a regionally accredited institution.

The other type of accreditation is program-specific, and includes agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the American Occupational Therapy Association, Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, or the American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation.

Students who want to learn more about accrediting bodies can find a full list of all accredited schools through the Department of Education's website or the Council for Higher Education's website.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's Degree Graduates

Deciding on a major is an important step for students, and should account for their personal interests and the likelihood of employment upon graduation. The table below highlights unemployment rates for college graduates.

Source: CEW Georgetown

HIGHEST PAYING JOBS YOU CAN GET WITH A FOUR YEAR DEGREE

Deciding on the best degree path includes weighing interests, talents, salary potential, and the likelihood of happiness and success in a chosen career. While students should not select a degree that they don't enjoy, earning potential is also something students might take into consideration.

Top Paying Careers for Bachelor's Degree Holders
Career 1-4 Years of Experience 5-9 Years of Experience
Petroleum Engineer $96,000 $116,000
Industrial Engineer $65,000 $75,000
Chemical Engineer $71,000 $85,000
Certified Public Accountant $58,000 $70,000
Marketing Manager $57,000 $68,000

Source: Payscale

Financing Your Online Bachelor's Program

Students who need help financing their degree have many places to turn for assistance. The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines a student's eligibility for federal scholarships, grants, loans, and work study opportunities. Other options include looking for field-specific scholarships or those based on need and/or merit.

HOW MUCH DOES AN ONLINE DEGREE COST?

Tuition rates are one of the most obvious factors to consider as you weigh the total cost of a bachelor's program, but the sticker price is not the only financial burden students bear. In addition to tuition and fees, students must also account for other common costs, such as living expenses, textbooks, transportation, housing, and interest rates accrued on any student loans. College Board breaks down the average cost for different types of four-year schools below.

HOW TO CUT COSTS

College may be expensive, but there are ways to make it more affordable, save money, and even graduate debt free. The strategies highlighted below can save students tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their college career.

Community College/Associate Degree

College Board found that tuition and fees for in-district community colleges was $3,730 during the 2019-2020 school year, compared to $10,440 for in-state tuition at a public four-year university. This means that taking your first two years of college at a community college could save you money.

Credits in High School - AP/IB tests

Lots of colleges and universities count Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate coursework toward college credits, and students at public high schools only need to pay a small exam fee to take the associated AP/IB tests.

Taking the Maximum Number of Credits

Rather than charging for individual credits, many four-year institutions set a flat tuition rate for students taking between 12 and 18 credits per term. By taking the maximum number, students pay less and graduate more quickly.

Living Frugally

Put down the phone and think twice about ordering that delivery pizza. Students who live in reasonable housing with roommates, cook meals, bring lunch to campus, and adhere to a strict (but fair) budget can save thousands of dollars over the course of their college career.

Relocating

In-state tuition can vary. Sometimes it may make sense to establish residency in a different state in order to pay a cheaper tuition.

FAFSA - Scholarships and Grants

The U.S. Department of Education provides an estimated $46 billion annually in grants and scholarships, or approximately $8,390 per student. Funds are given on a rolling basis, so students should complete their FAFSA as quickly as possible to make the most out of federal aid.

How to Graduate Debt-Free

TYPES OF FINANCIAL AID

Today, the average American student and his/her family typically don't have extra funds on hand to pay for college out-of-pocket -- especially considering the ever-rising cost of college. In many cases, financial aid is a great way for students and their families to afford a bachelor's degree. By starting early and understanding the options, students can attain a reputable bachelor's degree without breaking the bank.

FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID FOR UNDERGRADUATES

Federal Grants

Grants and scholarships are the preferred form of financial aid for many students, as they do not have to be paid back to the government agency or private foundation distributing them.

Federal Loans

Although federal loans do need to be repaid once a student leaves or graduates school, the federal government offers a range of subsidized and unsubsidized to help students bridge the gap between personal funds and other financial aid sources. Students can get between $5,500 and $12,500 per year, depending on what year they are in and their dependency status.

Education Tax Credits/Deductions

Education tax credits, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit, allows students to claim educational expenses on their tax returns, thereby reducing the overall tax burden or, in some cases, providing a refund if the cost of education reduces their taxes to less than zero.

Federal Work-Study

FWS allows individuals to work on campus, at governmental agencies, or at some nonprofit organizations in exchange for federal funds. The amount available each year is determined by how many hours the student can work, the FWS budget at their school, and their existing funding resources.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Women Techmakers Scholars Program

Who Can Apply: Female students studying computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical or video game program who are currently enrolled at a university.
Amount: $10,000

View Scholarship

Blacks at Microsoft Scholarships

Who Can Apply: African American undergraduates working towards a STEM or related degree with a GPA of 3.3 or higher
Amount: $5,000, renewable for up to four years

View Scholarship.

AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability

Who Can Apply: Available to any student with a disability who is pursuing undergraduate study at an accredited institution in a field related to health and/or disabilities.
Amount: $1,000

View Scholarship.

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: High school seniors.
Amount: $20,000

View Scholarship.

Link to Scholarship Database

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.