Most Affordable Online Colleges and Universities 2019

intro

Affordability can make or break a student’s decision to attend college. For applicants looking to attend an online school, tuition costs can be intimidating, demoralizing, and may lead to a disappointing conclusion. However, these affordable online colleges and universities have strategically designed their online coursework, resources, and support services to give students the most cost-effective tuition rates in the country, without sacrificing structure or quality. At any one of these fine institutions, students can count on affordability that offers flat-rates, low per-credit-hour costs, or tuition based on time spent rather than credits earned.

Methodology:
These twenty institutions were chosen according to the following criteria:

  • Tuition rates of no more than $500 per credit/semester hour or unit;
  • Appropriate and recognizable accreditation status;
  • Popularity and academic prowess
  • Recognition from reputable journalistic and scholastic resources;
  • And generous financial aid availability.

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THOMAS EDISON STATE UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Thomas Edison State University has been recognized by numerous resources as one of the fastest and most affordable online schools in the country, giving it prestige above many other institutions of higher education. Students have access to over 100 different associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and certificate programs, which vastly more than other online schools offer. One of the most popular programs at TESU is the Social Science Research Methods degree program, which is offered at very few other online schools. Tuition rates at Thomas Edison State University are $396/credit hour for residents, $499/credit hour for non-residents, and $525/credit hour for non-matriculated students.

Campus Location: Trenton, NJ

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: unavailable

Graduation Rate: 41.9%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THOMAS EDISON STATE UNIVERSITY’S FAST AND AFFORDABLE ONLINE PROGRAMS

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WEST TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

About the School:
West Texas A&M is a diverse, highly supportive, and very affordable online university that provides an excellent range of undergraduate and graduate majors. Majors supporting the most graduates include the Liberal Arts and Humanities programs as well as the Nursing and Business degrees. The virtual classroom provides a friendly spirit of camaraderie where students find a strong educational community and take pride in their school. Many programs also include projects and rotations that are completed within a student’s community, which builds an even strong understanding of the principles of their major while having the foundation of a fabulous online school. Tuition at West Texas A&M University is about $408/credit hour but is contingent on individual degree programs.

Campus Location: Canyon, TX

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 67%

Retention Rate: 65%

Graduation Rate: 41%

LEARN MORE ABOUT WEST TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY’S CHEAP ONLINE BACHELOR’S AND MASTER’S DEGREES

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COLUMBIA COLLEGE

About the School:
This affordable online college has been included on a diverse range of rankings and listings that catalog the most affordable, the fastest, and the best distance education degrees. Columbia College was founded over165 years ago, and today supports tens of thousands of online students. Students have opportunities in 28 associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees that include over 800 courses. Some of the most well-established degrees are housed within the Business Administration Departments, such as the programs in General Business and Human Services. Tuition rates at Columbia College are $375/credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $490/credit hour for graduate degrees. Reduced tuition rates for members of the United States Military are $250/credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $325/credit hour for graduate degrees.

Campus Location: Columbia, MO

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 88.1%

Retention Rate: 70%

Graduation Rate: 42.8%

LEARN MORE ABOUT COLUMBIA COLLEGE’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE DEGREES

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UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

About the School:
The University of Alabama’s online programs are offered through the schools Bama by Distance Department, and represent some incredibly affordable online bachelor’s and master’s degrees, particularly for a highly popular state school. Alabama online students receive the same resources, care, and attention as on-campus students and their choice of over 60 undergraduate and graduate programs, which far and away more than most schools have to offer. Upon acceptance, students become a part of a vast network of professionals, faculty members, and alumni, all of whom provide each other with unending support inside and outside of their academic careers. Tuition rates at the University of Alabama are $364/credit hour for undergraduate programs and $394/credit hour for graduate programs.

Campus Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 53.6%

Retention Rate: 86%

Graduation Rate: 65.2%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE BACHELOR’S AND MASTER’S PROGRAMS

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UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS OF THE PERMIAN BASIN

About the School:
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is an affordable online school that provides outstanding Business, Education, and Nursing degrees, as well as others in various areas. The Psychology and Business programs are some of the most popular majors at this fine institution. UTPB has been recognized in many regards by U.S. News and World Report, for such accomplishments as the “Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs among Texas public universities,” and is now gaining recognition for its affordable online courses! Tuition rates at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin are $303.71/credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $326.71/credit hour for graduate degrees.

Campus Location: Odessa, TX

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Retention Rate: 69%

Graduation Rate: 34%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS OF THE PERMIAN BASIN’S INEXPENSIVE ONLINE BACHELOR’S AND MASTER’S PROGRAMS

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UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

About the School:
The University of Central Florida is a well-known affordable online school that supports students in over 80 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. The options at UCF are quite broad, and students are guaranteed to find a major that suits their interests. Some of the most sought-after degrees desired by students at UCF are the Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Psychology majors, which is indicative of the diverse nature of the program options. Tuition rates at the University of Central Florida are $105.07/credit hour for resident and $300/credit hour for non-resident undergraduate students and $288.16/credit hour for resident and $638.16/credit hour for non-resident graduate students.

Campus Location: Orlando, FL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 49%

Retention Rate: 89%

Graduation Rate: 70%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA’S INEXPENSIVE DISTANCE DEGREES

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OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Oregon State University offers affordable online Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate, and Certificate degrees through the Extended Campus, or Ecampus, wherein students have a multitude of exciting majors and minors from which to choose. There have been a considerable number of graduates from Computer Science, Human Development, and Public Health programs in particular. Students feel well-taken-care-of at OSU and make close connections with faculty members and classmates that support them throughout current and future careers. This online school is also a good match for international students, and students take classes at OSU from all across the globe, making the virtual classroom a diverse learning environment for everyone. Tuition at Oregon State University is $297/credit hour.

Campus Location: Corvallis, OR

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 78.4%

Retention Rate: 83%

Graduation Rate: 63.1%

LEARN MORE ABOUT OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY’S CHEAP ONLINE BACHELOR’S AND MASTER’S PROGRAMS

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EASTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Eastern New Mexico University has gained some recent glowing acknowledgment for its affordable online programs. One such degree is the Bachelor of Computer Science; however, there is a great deal of undergraduate and graduate degrees available. Students can evaluate the sample degree plans on the ENMU website to see if the majors will be a good fit before applying. This affordable online school is very well-accredited by various organizations and agencies and provides only the most excellent coursework. Tuition rates at Eastern New Mexico University are $275.61/credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $299.41/credit hour for graduate degrees.

Campus Location: Portales, NM

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 49.8%

Retention Rate: 59%

Graduation Rate: 38.4%

LEARN MORE ABOUT EASTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE PROGRAMS

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AMERICAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY

apu

About the School:
American Public University offers students cheap tuition rates for undergraduate and graduate degree programs in any one of its six schools. The affordable online courses are designed in collaboration with experts from various industries around the globe to give students all of the best opportunities, experience, and knowledge available. Professors are leaders and actively working in their fields, and APU regularly hosts forums and meetings with other experts, giving them invaluable networking opportunities. Tuition at American Public University is $270/credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $350 for graduate degrees. There are reduced tuition rates available to students affiliated with the United State Military.

Campus Location: Charles Town, WV

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: 76%

Graduation Rate: 22%

LEARN MORE ABOUT AMERICAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE AFFORDABLE DEGREE PROGRAMS

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GRANTHAM UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Grantham University provides low-cost online Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Certificate programs that number over 50. Online students enroll in majors housed in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Nursing and Allied health, the College of Arts and Science, or the School of Business. Some of the most popular programs at Grantham include the Business degrees and the Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration program. Students have only the most phenomenal things to say about this affordable online university, especially the adult learners who are starting their college programs later in life. Tuition rates at Grantham University are $265/credit hour for undergraduate programs and $325/credit hour for graduate programs.

Campus Location:

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: 46%

Graduation Rate: 9%

LEARN MORE ABOUT GRANTHAM UNIVERSITY AFFORDABLE ONLINE DEGREES

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CENTRAL METHODIST UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Central Methodist University provides affordable online courses and programs that can also be taken in accelerated, 8-week terms depending on the individual classes. There are opportunities for distance education students in undergraduate, graduate, and certification programs wherein they can look forward to high-levels of convenience and flexibility, as well as impeccable instruction—faculty members at CMU, are known for being highly dedicated to the success of their students. The Nursing, Business, and Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration programs are particularly well-liked at this affordable online university. Tuition rates at Central Methodist University are $250/credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $380/credit hour for graduate degrees.

Campus Location: Fayette, MO

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 58%

Retention Rate: 66%

Graduation Rate: 52%

LEARN MORE ABOUT CENTRAL METHODIST UNIVERSITY’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAM

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VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY

About the School:
At Valdosta State University there is a fabulous array of affordable online programs for Associate, Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, Specialist, and Certificate earners. The Business, Communications, and Psychology majors are particularly well-founded at VSU and support a huge number of graduates every year. The classrooms are diverse and have a student-to-faculty ratio of about 20:1, giving students access to students from a range of backgrounds, as well as easy access to professors. Students can engage in the SmartPath Core Program which offers even lower costs and streamlines their college experience. Tuition rates at Valdosta State University are $226/credit hour for undergraduate degrees and $293/credit hour for graduate degrees.

Campus Location: Valdosta, GA

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 50%

Retention Rate: 71%

Graduation Rate: 40%

LEARN MORE ABOUT VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY AFFORDABLE ONLINE PROGRAMS

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COLUMBIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Columbia Southern University is not only an incredibly affordable online school, but it also offers distance education students some unique and exciting majors. Some of the most popular and distinctive of these include the Fire Science and Fire Fighting program as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Technician program. Enrollment at CSU is relatively small, which gives students all the more access to the brilliant faculty members and outstanding resources. A “student-centered university,” Columbia Southern has been perfecting its affordable online courses for over 20 years, and today provides flexible, state-of-the-art degrees at a distance. Tuition at Columbia Southern University is $220/credit hour.

Campus Location: Orange Beach, AL

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: 43%

Graduation Rate: 47%

LEARN MORE ABOUT COLUMBIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE DEGREES

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FORT HAYS STATE UNIVERSITY

fort hays

About the School:
Fort Hays State University offers affordable online degrees for students with every academic ambition, whether it be certificate, associate, bachelor, master, or doctorate programs. This highly accredited and affordable online university has been recognized repeatedly on rankings and listings of the best distance education programs in the country, and students receive only the finest instruction from renowned faculty members. Some of the most popular programs include the Business Support Services, Business, and Liberal Arts and Humanities degrees. Online tuition at Fort Hays State University is $218.67/credit hour for undergraduate programs, $287.75/credit hour for graduate programs, and $400/credit hour for MBA and DNP programs.

Campus Location: Hays, KS

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Retention Rate: 71%

Graduation Rate: 63.3%

LEARN MORE ABOUT FORT HAYS STATE UNIVERSITY’S CHEAP ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS

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FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Florida International University is an affordable online school with an absolute gargantuan array of various undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certificate programs. FIU has been included on an innumerable amount of lists and rankings that index the finest online resources and degrees in the country time and time again. Students have unlimited access to a plethora of academic benefits and learn from award-winning faculty members that also teach the on-campus courses. The curricula are put entirely in the hands of students so that they can keep their schedules as flexible and individualized as needed. Tuition rates at Florida International University are about $212.71/credit hour for residents and $329.77/credit hour for non-residents.

Campus Location: Miami, FL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 50%

Retention Rate: 88%

Graduation Rate: 54.2%

LEARN MORE ABOUT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE DEGREES AND CERTIFICATES

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GEORGIA SOUTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Georgia Southwestern State University’s affordable online bachelor’s and master’s programs are some of the most popular of their kind among distance education institutions. The affordable online nursing programs—the RN to BSN and the MSN to FNP—in particular, have gained solid recognition for their high-level of professionalism and in-depth training. Other popular programs include those housed in the School of Business Administration. The programs are perfectly suited to online adult learners. In fact, GSW is part of an Adult Learning Consortium made-up of 13 distinctive university systems in Georgia, the point of which is to directly improve college programs for adults. Tuition at Georgia Southwestern State University is $199/credit hour for undergraduate programs and $257/credit hour for graduate programs.

Campus Location: Americus, GA

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 71.6%

Retention Rate: 70%

Graduation Rate: 61.4%

LEARN MORE ABOUT GEORGIA SOUTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE DEGREES

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ASPEN UNIVERSITY

About the School:
Aspen University provides distance education students with a vast range of affordable online programs of every degree level. Past and current students only say the most magnificent things about this university, and with the small student enrollment, everyone feels that their needs are attended to with diligence and respect. Some of the strongest programs at Aspen are the Nursing and Business degrees, but students will find excellent coursework and fabulous instruction in any one of the available majors. Tuition rates at Aspen University are $150/credit hour for Bachelor and Associate degrees; $325/credit hour for Master’s degrees, Certificates, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program; and $450/credit hour for Doctorate degrees.

Campus Location: Denver, CO

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: unavailable

Graduation Rate: 44.8%

LEARN MORE ABOUT ASPEN UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE DEGREES

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GREAT BASIN COLLEGE

great basin

About the School:
Great Basin College is a well-regard affordable online college that has received excellent recognition for their cheap Bachelor’s, Associate’s, and Certificate programs, that are also quite rewarding. Students can major in a wide range of areas, from Business Management to Early Childhood Education to Health Sciences, which are some of the most popular, such as the Nursing Assistant and Emergency Medical Technician programs. Great Basin is a small school with a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average enrollment of about 900-1,000 students. Tuition at Great Basin College is between $142.50-$245.75/credit hour, which varies depending on the division-level of classes in which a student enrolls.

Campus Location: Elko, NV

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: 82%

Graduation Rate: 17%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GREAT BASIN UNIVERSITY’S AFFORDABLE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS

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WESTERN GOVERNORS UNIVERSITY

western_governors

About the School:
Western Governors University has been included on a huge number of lists and rankings outlining the most affordable online schools in the country, as it has a unique process for maintaining cheap online degrees. WGU’s billing process also allows students to complete their degrees as quickly as possible, making it one of the fastest online schools, as well! There is an absolutely huge amount of undergraduate, graduate, certification programs through WGU’s College of Business, Teachers College, College of Health Professions, and College of Information Technology. Tuition at WGU is a flat fee of $3,225 per 6-month term, during which students are free to complete as many courses as they can; for example, if one were to complete 24 credits in that period, the per credit rate would be about $134.

Campus Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: 74%

Graduation Rate: 38.8%

LEARN MORE ABOUT WESTERN GOVERNORS UNIVERSITY’S CHEAP AND FAST ONLINE PROGRAMS

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BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY IDAHO

About the School:
Brigham Young University Idaho has extremely cheap online degrees through a unique and exciting program called PathwayConnect. This approach to distance education that combines online learning with community engagement with a spiritual framework through the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Students at BYU Idaho get to feel involved with one another as learners and aspiring leaders, while also having the flexibility to complete their degrees on their own time. The PathwayConnect programs are also incredibly affordable. Tuition at Brigham Young University Idaho is $172/credit hour for standard online degrees and $72/credit hour for degrees taken through the PathwayConnect Program, making it a highly affordable option for online students!

Campus Location: Rexburg, ID

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Retention Rate: 69%

Graduation Rate: 56%

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY IDAHO’S CHEAP ONLINE PROGRAMS

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This list supplies distance education students with outstanding options for affordable online colleges and universities. Individuals attending any one of these twenty institutions of higher education can look forward to generous resources, financial aid opportunities, and high-quality instruction. Affordability can look different at varying online schools depending on what is offered within the tuition, so it is essential for applicants to research their schools of interest more in-depth. However, starting with OnlineSchoolsCenter’s Most Affordable Online Schools list is an excellent place to start, as it provides schools with the utmost integrity and dedication to their students. Find a perfect match with OSC!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes these online schools so affordable?

Due to these schools’ endowments, donations and affiliations from/with various organizations and alumni, state and federal assistance, and financial aid opportunities, these schools are able to keep their tuition rates at a low cost to students. The administration at these institutions understand the burden of tuition rates and do everything in their power to make a students college experience as prudent and inexpensive as possible!

Do tuition rates include all of the costs of going to college?

Some schools have additional fees that are required outside of the tuition rate. It should be understood that there are other payments outside of the per credit hour cost for coursework to pay for access to technological resources, administrative fees, library fees, etc. These are typically much lower in price and only have to be paid once a year or semester, depending on the school. Applicants should also keep in mind the cost of textbooks.

Are these schools more affordable because they are online?

Many of these schools have tuition rates that are higher for students attending traditional, on-campus degrees. So, in many ways, yes—online programs can often be less expensive because of their format. However, this is not ubiquitous, as sometimes there are additional fees associated with the online degrees and each school is different. This question can be answered more accurately by navigating to the individual schools’ websites.

Are affordable online degrees faster paced and shorter to keep tuition costs low?

Several of the schools on this list have affordable programs that are also accelerated to save students even more time and money. Online programs are often completed through terms that range from 8-10 weeks, but this is certainly not true for every school—some allow students to set their own pace to complete classes through asynchronous schedules, while others have more fixed curricula.

Can I still get financial aid at affordable online colleges and universities?

Absolutely! Every school on this list has opportunities for students to receive financial aid. In some of these colleges and universities, almost every student receives assistance for their degrees. Financial aid includes state and federal grants and loans, institutional and outside scholarships, military benefits, and student employment.