College isn’t as expensive as one might think. Check out our list of inexpensive online colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees.
Online degree programs provide flexibility for students, especially those with family or job commitments. These programs allow students to learn from anywhere, and their popularity has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. While online programs can save on housing and transportation costs, additional fees may make them just as expensive as traditional on-campus experiences.
For the 2022-2023 school year, the average out-of-state tuition for online bachelor’s degrees at 182 ranked public schools was $57,606, with a per-credit cost of $472. However, more affordable options exist.
The 15 most affordable online schools for out-of-state students had an average total program cost of $26,504.
Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts offered the lowest out-of-state per-credit rate at $150, totaling $18,000 for the program. Texas Tech University charged $268 per credit for out-of-state students, or $32,160 per year, ranking 15th on the list. The average per-credit price among these 15 colleges was about $220.
Most of these affordable online schools are in the South, with four in Georgia, two in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas, and one in Louisiana. The other affordable schools are in Massachusetts, Missouri, and Utah.
On average, students at ranked public colleges with online programs need 122 credits to graduate. However, most of the 15 most affordable online schools require only 120 credits, except for Columbus State University, Georgia Southern University, and the University of Utah.
Time-to-degree completion varies for each student, and prior learning assessments like military training or CLEP exams can expedite the process and reduce costs.
This is a list of the 15 cheapest online undergraduate programs for out-of-state students in the 2022-2023 academic year.
Cheapest Online Colleges for Bachelor’s Degrees for 2023
- Fitchburg State University (MA) – $18,000
- Kennesaw State University (GA) – $22,200
- Louisiana Tech University – $22,200
- Columbus State University (GA) – $22,386
- University of West Georgia – $22,920
- Georgia Southern University – $22,932
- University of North Carolina—Pembroke – $24,960
- University of Texas Permian Basin – $26,280
- Western Carolina University (NC) – $27,840
- University of North Florida – $29,160
- Southeast Missouri State University – $31,080
- Florida International University – $31,680
- University of Utah – $31,720
- Missouri State University – $32,040
- Texas Tech University – $32,160
How to Make College More Affordable: Tips and Strategies for Students and Parents
With the cost of higher education on the rise, students and parents are increasingly concerned about how to make college more affordable.
The Cost of College
Over the past decade, the cost of attending college has risen by over 25%, surpassing the inflation rate. Public four-year colleges and universities in the US charge more than $10,000 per year for tuition and fees, while private institutions charge over $36,000 per year on average.
Planning for College: Start Early and Save
- One of the best ways to make college more affordable is to start planning and saving early.
- Consider opening a 529 college savings plan, which offers tax advantages and can be used at any accredited college or university in the US.
- Encourage your child to work and save money for college during high school and apply for scholarships and grants.
Choosing the Right College: Public vs. Private
- Public colleges and universities tend to be less expensive than private institutions.
- In-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities are often significantly lower than out-of-state rates.
- Private colleges and universities may offer more generous financial aid packages, so comparing the total cost of attendance at different schools is important.
Financial Aid: Filling out the FAFSA and More
- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in applying for financial aid.
- Scholarships, grants, and work-study programs are additional sources of financial aid that can help make college more affordable.
- Researching and applying for financial aid early is important, as many programs have limited funding.
Choosing a Major and Career: Consider Earnings Potential
- Choosing a major with high earnings potential can help graduates pay off student loans more quickly and make college more affordable in the long run.
- Research the earnings potential of different majors and careers, and consider the return on investment of your education.
Taking Advantage of Tax Benefits
- The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two tax credits that can help reduce the cost of college for eligible families.
- Student loan interest and tuition and fee deductions are additional tax benefits.
Alternative Options: Community College and Online Learning
- Community colleges are significantly less expensive than four-year institutions, and many offer transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities.
- Online learning can be more affordable and flexible for students, particularly those who need to work or have other commitments.