Top 10 Most Affordable Online Colleges

These days, with 50% of new college graduates unemployed, many individuals have begun looking for cheap online colleges for earning their bachelor’s degree. Affordable online colleges have become a popular alternative for those seeking an accredited degree on a budget.

Featured Schools

Ranking the Cheapest Online Colleges

The Universities and colleges listed here are all reputable institutions, regionally accredited and among the top online education experiences available. This list is ranked in terms of raw affordability, and while all of the schools on this list are affordable, they all also offer different programs and different styles of online education, so it’s important to see which fits your needs best.

Affordable Online College #1:

Western Governors University

Tuition: $2890/6 month term

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WGU has the potential to be by far the most inexpensive online college on the market. They bill by term, not by credit, so if a student loads up and does 18 credits per semester, it works out to $160/credit. Even at nine credits per semester the degree will only cost $320/credit. The pricing system makes this degree one of the most flexible and affordable degrees available. WGU is a well regarded university started by 20 governors and former governors with the explicit goal of providing an affordable, reputable online alternative.

Affordable Online College #2:

Thomas Edison State College

Tuition: $5,322/year in state, $7,837/year out of state

For New Jersey residents, Thomas Edison State College is incredibly affordable and should be considered the best option. TESC has been considered one of the leaders in the online education market for some time and is renowned for its flexibility. One of the hallmarks of the program is that it allows students to “CLEP out of” 100% of classes and also allows 100% transfer credits. It is possible to transfer an entire degree into the college. TESC offers a wide array of programs, much wider than many of its counterparts, giving students flexibility in their course of study as well as their schedule.

Affordable Online College #3:

Walden University

Tuition: $280/quarter credit hour

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Walden University has become one of the major forces in the online education marketplace. The University has been a pioneer in distance learning technology and is one of the most affordable programs available. Walden offers a wide variety of programs, and flexibility for working students is one of its hallmarks.

Affordable Online College #4:

Southern New Hampshire University

Tuition: $320/credit

(School website.)

Innovation is the word to describe SNHU. They were the only university to be listed on Fast Company’s list of the 50 most innovative companies sharing this distinction with companies like Apple and HBO. Not only is the program innovative in the distance learning delivery methods it employs, but it keeps the cost low, making it one of the most affordable options. SNHU offers a large selection of programs and has been the recipient of several awards for its innovation, affordability and overall quality of its programs.

Affordable Online College #5:

American InterContinental University

Tuition: $302/credit

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AIU prides itself on being a serious university for serious students. AIU isn’t just serious about academics, it’s also serious about being affordable, and flexible and it succeeds on all counts. The degree offerings are focused on areas of study that will directly benefit the student in furthering their education and employability in their field. Most of the offerings are in business, information technology, and a wide array of offerings in fine arts that integrate real world business education into the various specializations.

Affordable Online College #6:

Colorado Technical University

Tuition: $305/credit

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Offering a wide array of respected degree programs, CTU goes above and beyond in terms of flexibility and caters to all of the major methods of learning. In addition to that, its technical programs are top notch and its business programs are as well. The university even offers a Nursing Completion degree program so those with an associate’s degree looking to take the next step in their field can complete their bachelor’s. The cost is very affordable and the quality of education and their devotion to teaching in the way their students learn makes this school a very strong option.

Affordable Online College #7:

Capella University

Tuition: $350/Upper Division Credit, $290/lower division credit

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Offering a wide array of options in the areas of business, information technology, psychology and public safety, Capella University is one of the leaders in the online distance learning field and offers its courses at very competitive rates. Capella has been the recipient of many awards and designations over the years and is one of the strongest distance learning choices available.

Affordable Online College #8:

Liberty University

Tuition: $365/credit part time, $325/credit full time

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Liberty University is one of the only Christian universities to offer online courses of study and beyond that, definitely the most affordable. Students looking for a quality, faith based education with plenty of options at affordable rates would do well to look hard at Liberty University. Liberty offers strong programs that work well in the online format and strives to make its programs as flexible and affordable as possible.

Affordable Online College #9:

University of Massachusetts

Tuition: $350-400/credit

(School website.)

Many state universities have begun offering online courses, but few offer as large a selection or are as universally recognized for quality, or as affordable in or out of state, as the University of Massachusetts. There is a long tradition of excellence at UMass and they have brought their time honored approach to online distance education, setting up an entire online college focused on quality and flexibility as well as affordability. This is by far one of the top choices available to those looking to earn a degree from an institution that has long been established and respected.


Additional Resources

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Featured Schools

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Flexibility doesn’t always need to be expensive, and just because a college is affordable doesn’t necessarily mean you need to skimp on quality. As a matter of fact, all the schools in this ranking of the most affordable online colleges offer a high quality education and are well regarded for degree programs in many of the areas they serve.

Online distance learning degree programs are among the most attractive because of their flexibility and the ability to live wherever you work. Online schools are beginning to compete with their brick and mortar counterparts not just in terms of cost but also in terms of credibility and quality of results.  In addition, many highly ranked traditional brick-and-mortar universities are now offering cheap online degrees as well.

Further Reading:

50 Most Affordable Online Colleges With High Graduation Rates