Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024

Check out these 10 online colleges that won't break the bank.
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Updated on April 11, 2024
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Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges

A college degree, in this economy? You can totally do it — you just have to be strategic.

These cheap online degree programs can save you money while also providing the flexibility you need to attend school while holding down a job, raising a family, and balancing other obligations.

Featured Online Colleges

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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#1 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024 Best Value

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $129
Out-of-State | $552

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Pursue an affordable online degree at the University of Florida, a public, four-year college that dates back to 1858. UF features 16 colleges that offer roughly 200 online undergraduate and graduate programs and certificates.

This college boasts a total enrollment of more than 60,000 students. UF charges in-state undergraduate tuition nearly $3,000 less than the national average as of 2020-2021. Online students at UF spend about 40% less than traditional learners.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,477
Out-of-state
$25,694
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,770
Out-of-state
$27,335
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
30%
Students Enrolled
55,781
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024

Weber State University

  • Ogden, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $182
Out-of-State | $291

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's 

Weber State University prides itself on providing an affordable online education to as many students as possible. WSU offers $90 million in scholarships and financial aid to its students. In addition, its tuition is 40% cheaper than the national average. 

After graduation, 85% of WSU alums are employed within three months and earn an average starting salary of over $50,000. As a student at WSU, you can choose from fully online degrees in topics such as criminal justice, creative writing, and engineering.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,329
Out-of-state
$15,745
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,880
Out-of-state
$17,459
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
29,774
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#3 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024

Indiana University-Kokomo

  • Kokomo, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Year:
In-State | $8,000
Out-of-State | $8,000

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's

Indiana University Kokomo offers a variety of fully online degrees for both undergraduate and graduate students. You can choose from over 120 bachelor's degrees in subjects such as accounting, biology, business administration, and computer science.

To keep the cost of college accessible to students, IU Kokomo uses the College Cost Transparency Initiative in its financial aid offer so you can have a clear idea of exactly how much your degree costs. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,170
Out-of-state
$20,277
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,613
Out-of-state
$17,935
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
60%
Acceptance Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
2,995
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#4 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024 Best Value

San Diego State University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit: $431-$956

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's 

San Diego State University's Global Campus offers 15 affordable online bachelor's and master's degrees, in addition to one minor. Online learners study business administration, communication, criminal justice, teacher leadership, and big data analytics. SDSU also offers five hybrid undergraduate and graduate degrees with online and in-person courses on its campus in San Diego, California.

A federally designated Hispanic-serving institution since 2012, SDSU features a student body that is 34.5% Hispanic. Additionally, 17% of all faculty and 37.4% of staff identify as Hispanic.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
38%
Students Enrolled
36,484
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#5 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024 Best Value

Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $180-$444
Out-of-State | $686-$1,075

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Founded in 1851, Florida State University offers 282 affordable bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees, including hybrid and fully online programs.

FSU offers highly-ranked master's programs in systems engineering, risk management and insurance, information technology, instructional systems, counseling, and human systems. FSU boasts a diverse college enrollment. In the 2022 school year, there were 35,766 in-state students enrolled in FSU programs, with around 20.6% identifying as Hispanic. 

In addition to tuition that is significantly lower than the national average, FSU offers financial aid amounting to around $350 million annually.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,640
Out-of-state
$19,084
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,684
Out-of-state
$24,116
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
45,130
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#6 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024 Best Value

Florida Atlantic University

  • Boca Raton, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $203-$371
Out-of-State | $721-$1,026

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Florida Atlantic University's seven colleges feature online programs that allow you to study from anywhere without traveling to the Boca Raton, Florida, campus. The school offers eight bachelor's degrees, 20 master's degrees, and three doctorate programs. Coursework is mostly offered in an asynchronous format. You can earn admission in the fall, summer, and spring. 

FAU boasts a total undergraduate and graduate enrollment of more than 30,000, with students in 2022 receiving more than $264 million in financial aid. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$2,522
Out-of-state
$14,374
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$5,467
Out-of-state
$16,695
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
80%
Acceptance Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
30,155
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#7 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024 Best Value

National University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Cost per Year:
Undergraduate | $13,284
Graduate | $16,416

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's, doctorate 

Last year alone, National University awarded its students over $77 million dollars in financial aid. NU funds a variety of scholarships and grants for its students, including the Veterans, Spouses, and Dependents Scholarship and the Key Grant.  

NU offers over 120 online programs in topics such as cybersecurity, counseling, education, psychology, and history. You can also choose to take four- or eight-week courses to accelerate your studies.  

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$13,320
Out-of-state
$13,320
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$15,480
Out-of-state
$15,480
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
100%
Acceptance Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
17,135
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#8 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024

University of Nebraska at Omaha

  • Omaha, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $268
Out-of-State | $622

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's

The University of Nebraska Omaha offers a variety of fully online and hybrid programs. You can choose from undergraduate degree programs in criminology, political science, and economics. Or you can earn your master's in communication, counseling, or education.  

UNO also values affordability for its students, with 87% of incoming students earning some form of financial aid. The school provides both merit and financial need scholarships. In order to apply for these scholarships, you must fill out and submit your application by March 1. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,344
Out-of-state
$19,926
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,138
Out-of-state
$14,760
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
69%
Acceptance Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
15,328
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
75% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#9 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024 Best Value

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $404
Out-of-State | $654

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

Based in Miami, Florida, Florida International University features about 150 online degrees, certificates, and minors. Roughly 37,000 students at FIU take fully online courses. Many courses feature free or low-cost course materials as a part of the college's commitment to the Affordability Counts program. The school has five online combined bachelor's and master's programs that allow you to complete two degrees in five years. 

FIU stands out for its diverse student body, with 61% of learners identifying as Hispanic. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,721
Out-of-state
$16,529
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,912
Out-of-state
$21,393
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
56,664
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#10 Cheapest and Most Affordable Online Colleges of 2024 Best Value

University of Utah

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit: $260-$1,067

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, master's, doctorate

The University of Utah features nine online bachelor's programs and 12 online master's degrees. You can also enroll in hybrid master's degrees in teaching, fine arts, electrical and computer engineering, and finance. You can also pursue a hybrid doctorate in physical therapy.

Online learners get connected to success coaches. Online students also pay the same tuition rates regardless of whether they are in-state or out-of-state students. Undergraduate and graduate learners, especially working adults, can apply for the UOnline Scholarship to further reduce tuition costs. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,749
Out-of-state
$27,201
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,970
Out-of-state
$24,607
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
34,464
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

How We Rank Schools

To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

How Can I Afford College?

If you're reading this, you probably know how tough it can be to get ahead in this country without a bachelor's degree.

It's no secret that college can be super expensive. So expensive, in fact, that 62% of Americans believe financial challenges make going to college inaccessible. But there are a few things you can do to make college cost less.

How to Afford College

But the number one thing you can do to make college cheaper? Pick an affordable school.

And we can help with that.

Options on our new list of online bachelor's degree programs offer the best cost/benefit ratio on the market. Build the future you want — on your own schedule — without breaking the bank.

Is Online College Worth It?

Read the Video Transcript

Yes, because a college degree can help you earn more money:

  • In 2022, the median earnings of workers (age 25 and over) with a bachelor's degree were 62% higher than the median earnings of those with only a high school diploma.

Yes, because a college degree also impacts your lifetime earnings:

  • According to another Georgetown University study, the median lifetime earnings for college grads ($2.3 million) with a bachelor's are roughly 75% more than the expected earnings of workers with only a high school diploma ($1.3 million).

Yes, because the right degree can make you more employable:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college grads are half as likely to be unemployed as workers with only a high school diploma.
  • Cengage Group's 2022 Employability Report found that 62% of employers require a college degree for all entry-level positions.

Yes, because research shows that many college graduates enjoy a higher quality of life:

  • Bachelor's degree holders are 47% more likely to have health insurance through their jobs, according to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.
  • These workers also receive 74% more in health coverage contributions from employers than non-college grads.
  • People with four-year degrees even live longer: A recent study published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that, since 2010, the life expectancy of people without a degree has steadily decreased while the life expectancy of college graduates has increased.

Yes, because online degrees are more mainstream than ever:

  • A 2023 national survey found that online learners reported a higher rate of satisfaction with their educational experience (73%) than in-person students at four-year colleges and community colleges.
  • According to a report by Northeastern University, a majority of employers (61%) see online credentials as equivalent to or in some cases better than on-campus study.

How to Make Online College Worth It for You

That's not to say the road will be easy.

Our research shows that 65% of online students have full- or part-time jobs, and 91% have kids at home under the age of 18. Throw college into the mix, and things can get really overwhelming, really quickly.

As a result, working students, part-time students, and independent students have much lower graduation rates than traditional, full-time students.

But you can do this. Preparation is half the battle. Here's how to make it to the finish line and get the best return on your investment:

1. Know Exactly What You Want From Your Degree

Ask yourself: Why are you going to college now? What is your desired outcome?

If you want access to higher-paying jobs, be strategic about your choice of major. Some degrees lead to better-paying jobs than others. In 2022, the 10 highest-earning bachelor's degrees included petroleum engineering, computer science, and business.

If you're looking to advance in your current field, focus on a degree path that will give you the specific credentials you need to get ahead.

2. Plan for Obstacles

Online students say that work/life balance is one of their biggest obstacles to success. Earning an online degree while also managing responsibilities outside of school requires a lot of planning, discipline, and grit. You'll have to:

  • Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Don't burn yourself out by signing up for too many courses at a time.
  • Be mindful of your time management. Each term, carve out blocks of dedicated study time and protect that schedule with your life.
  • Put a support system in place. Reach out to employers, friends, family members, neighbors, and peers you can count on for emotional or practical help.

3. Choose a Program That Fits Your Needs

Even the best students need help sometimes. Make sure you consider what student services each school offers in terms of support and flexibility:

All of this might sound like a lot, but remember that 96% of online college graduates recommend online learning as a path to success. Soon enough — with the right planning and a good program — you can be one of them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cheap Online Colleges

Is online college more affordable?

Online college may be more affordable than a traditional four-year degree if you take into account the following:

  • No lost wages: One of the biggest benefits of online schooling is the flexibility it gives you to work and study at the same time. You can pursue a degree without any gaps in your earnings.
  • No commute: Far from campus? No problem. Gas prices won't get you down when your commute is from your bedroom to your dining room table.
  • Fewer on-campus fees: Online students may be exempted from fees pertaining to on-campus amenities and services.

If you're only considering out-of-pocket costs, online programs aren't necessarily more affordable. According to a 2020 report from Quality Matters and Eduventures Research, most schools charge about the same tuition for online and campus-based programs.

The cheapest online college on our list is Florida Atlantic University. Undergraduates who are state residents pay an average of $105 per credit in tuition.

Based on numbers collected by BestColleges, the average net price for online programs at distance-learning-only public schools was $12,981 during the 2021-22 school year.

The cost was higher at both private nonprofit schools and private for-profit schools: $15,942 and $19,294, respectively.

The easiest way to avoid out-of-state tuition costs as an online student is to attend a college in your state. Students who attend an out-of-state public college often pay more than in-state students.

That said, there are some colleges that charge all online students the same tuition, regardless of residency. Additionally, some colleges reduce tuition costs with waivers for children of alumni or military members. And some students may qualify for in-state tuition if they have strong academic credentials.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed November 6, 2023.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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