Cheap Online College Degree Options

Pursuing a college degree online can save students money in room, board, supplies, parking and gas. Some schools may even offer cheaper tuition for distance learning students.

Online College Tuition Overview

Tuition rates and philosophies vary widely from school to school, and the additional factor of in-state vs. out-of-state rates also impact comparisons at some schools. Some institutions, such as the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), offer lower tuition to online students than regular out-of-state students, making their distance learning programs less costly for many non-resident individuals than their traditional programs. Other programs, like Study.com, offer online courses that you can complete at your own pace for a monthly fee. Online students might save money on lab and student activity fees.

College Costs: On-Campus vs. Online

According to the not-for-profit education organization the College Board, the average public 4-year university charges $9,139 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students, and $22,958 for non-residents. While 2-year institutions are less costly with an average tuition of $3,347 for in-district students, private 4-year college costs jump up to $31,231 per year.

Of course, those are just 'sticker prices,' an industry term for a school's tuition and fees. Because most students receive financial aid, the net costs of college can vary significantly and are often quite a bit lower. However, the sticker price doesn't account for costs like room and board, textbooks, school supplies and basic living expenses like the laundry, entertainment or, for commuters, gas to drive to and from school.

Students seeking to save money on their college costs may be interested in pursuing an online degree. No matter the cost per credit, online students typically save money in several areas, including:

  • Rent
  • Food
  • Textbooks
  • Supplies
  • Gas/Parking

Finding an Online Degree

The most efficient way to search for an online degree program is through the College Navigator site. This site is run by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Science. It includes data on accredited colleges and universities from all over the United States, including online programs.

To search for cheap online degrees, you'll need to click on the 'More Search Options' tab. There you can select 'Distance Learning' and set the maximum tuition as low as $500 and as high as $60,000. Narrow your search results by browsing for specific programs or fields. Be aware that the Navigator can't tell you whether those programs are actually part of the schools' distance learning offerings, so it's important to check the schools' websites for more information.

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