The cost of a college education continues to increase for many students and families across the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that between January 2006 and July 2016, the cost of college tuition and fees increased by 63 percent. Similarly, in 2018, A Forbes contributor revealed that the cost of a college education was increasing nearly eight times faster than increases in wages. Attending one of the cheapest online college options is a way to help keep the cost of your education affordable.
Another factor for students to consider is the fact that completing degree requirements at one of the cheapest online college programs is often less expensive than if the students attend the same courses in a traditional on-campus setting. Some schools include information on their site indicating that completing courses online is the same or cheaper than completing courses in the classroom.
Cheapest Online Colleges Help Students Along Path to Economic Security and Career Success
The belief that graduating from a more expensive college or university means that students have better economic and career success is a myth. Peter Gray, Ph.D., and research professor at Boston College, explains in Psychology Today that results of a study showed ‘no significant difference’ between the subsequent income of college students that applied to and were accepted to at least one elite college and at least one less-elite college. Researchers also discovered that among students with ‘equal initial potential,’ based on their high school records, students attending less prestigious colleges did equally as well as other college students when considering income.
It is possible to complete a degree program at cheap colleges online that are similar to, or the same degree programs that are offered by more costly schools.
1. University of Central Florida
Students pursuing a degree online at the University of Central Florida receive instruction in a format tailored to the needs of the online student. The university indicates that it is ‘a leader in innovation.’
Students choosing a bachelor’s degree program pursue a degree in areas such as B.A. in Anthropology, B.S. in Health Services Administration, a B.S. in Health Informatics and Information Management, or a B.A. in International and Global Studies. Prospective nurses likely pursue the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The school also offers a BA in Latin American Studies. There are more than 20 bachelor’s degrees offered completely online at the University of Florida.
Complete a master’s program and earn an MSAE in Aerospace Engineering, an MS in Civil Engineering, an MA in Educational Leadership, or an MSN degree. There are more than 30 graduate degrees offered at the school. Some students continue their online education by completing their doctoral program at the school.
Out-of-state students pay the same tuition as in-state students, making this school one of the cheapest online college options.
- Tuition: $105.07 per credit hour (Undergraduate)
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education, CCNE, Council of Social Work Education
2. College of Coastal Georgia
The College of Coastal Georgia, based in Brunswick, offers five online bachelor’s degree programs. Choose a degree program leading to a B.A. in French Language and Literature or Spanish Language in Literature, a BS degree in Non-Profit Management and Leadership, a BSN, or other programs.
- Tuition: $106.80 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), ACEN, CAEP
3. Tennessee State University
Tennessee State University offers students the opportunity to ‘learn anytime, anywhere, ‘through TSU Global Online. The school focuses on a vision ‘to achieve national and international prominence, building on its heritage and preparing leaders for a global society.’
Students pursuing an undergraduate program choose from four disciplines and 12 bachelor’s degree programs. Graduate students choose from five disciplines and nearly 30 master’s degree and doctoral degree options.
Out-of-state students enjoy a much lower tuition rate than traditional out-of-state students.
- Tuition: $140 per credit hour
- Accreditations: SACSCOC, other program accrediting agencies
4. California Coast University
California Coast University offered its first distance learning programs in 1973. The university has a 99 percent satisfaction rate among students, and a 98 percent review rating from students indicating that they achieved their educational goals. The school also has an A+ Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.
The school offers associate’s degrees in business administration, psychology and several other areas. Students pursue a bachelor’s degree in business, criminal justice, management or several other areas. Students enrolled in master’s programs earn an MBA, MS in Criminal Justice, Master of Education (MEd), or several other program options. There are also three doctoral degree programs in education.
Active duty members of the U.S. Military, first responders, and corporate partner employees receive a 10 percent tuition discount. Tuition for graduate students is $230 per credit hour, with online doctoral students paying just $290 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $150 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
5. Columbus State University
Columbus State University invites students to ‘create you,’ and to ‘create your path.’ The school attempts to provide an education for students that focuses on creativity and that inspires people. Columbus State University offers eight online undergraduate programs, including the B.S. in Information Technology, the BSN and the B.B.A. online business degree. Graduate students choose from more than two-dozen degree programs. Graduate tuition for students looking for a cheap online college is just $210 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $182.13 per credit hour
- Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE, AACSB International, CCNE, NCATE
6. Georgia Southern University
Students enrolled in the online programs at Georgia Southern University pursue programs in healthcare, business or education. The school offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. The tuition for graduate programs varies according to the specific program.
- Tuition: $182.13 per credit hour
- Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness, Computing Accrediting Commission of ABET
7. Albany State University
Albany State University offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs, along with several certificate programs in an online format. Choose from programs such as biological science, counselor education, legal assistant/paralegal or the business administration pathways. Prospective nurses choose programs in health sciences, the BSN program or the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program.
The school strives to keep tuition affordable, voting for no tuition increases during the 2020-2021 academic year. Students pursuing an online program pay significantly less tuition than students attending classes on-campus. Graduate students pay an affordable $300 per credit hour tuition.
- Tuition: $188 per credit hour
- Accreditation: SACSCOC, institutional accreditations
8. Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University offers several online bachelor’s and master’s programs. The school also provides a ‘focus area’ for students that are not yet ready to choose a particular major. Examples include the humanities and communication focus area, or the health professions focus area. This allows students to explore the field and then decide on a major at a later time.
Online undergraduate degree programs include the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management or other business degrees, the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, several education degrees options, and foreign language degrees. Students that wish to complete an online graduate degree choose from programs such as the M.Ed. in the student’s choice of several education degrees, the Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice, or the M.P.A. in Public Administration.
Tuition for online programs is the same as the tuition for traditional on-campus programs. Graduate students pay $292 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $202 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
9. University of North Carolina – Pembroke
The University of North Carolina – Pembroke invites students to receive the advantages of a private school education, ‘without private school costs.’ The school offers seven MBA program concentrations. Some options include the MBA – Finance, MBA- Healthcare Administration, MBA – Forensic Accounting, and the MBA – Supply Chain Management degree.
The university waives the application fee for military students.
- Tuition: $209.81 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC), Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
10. Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University calls itself a ‘true leader in distance education.’ The university offers more than 200 online certificate programs, associate’s degree programs, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. The school has a high pass rate on exams, and a high rate of employment after graduation.
Choose from programs such as the A.A.S. in Applied Technology, the B.S. in Computer Science, the B.A. in Modern Languages, or the B.A. in Sociology Addictions Counseling. Students that wish to earn a master’s degree have options that include an MSE in the student’s choice of several tracks, an MBA, or the Master’s in Nursing Administration. Some nursing students continue their studies to earn a Doctorate of Nursing degree.
Graduate tuition is $287.75 per credit hour, and tuition for the MBA and DNP programs is $400 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $218.67 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CCNE, National Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
11. Florida Gateway College
Students at Florida Gateway College have the option of pursuing an online associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree online, or an online certificate program. The college offers the same academic advising, personalized enrollment assistance, access to tutoring and other resources that students have when completing an on-campus program.
The tuition for out-of-state students taking online course is considerably lower than the traditional campus tuition.
- Tuition: $230.53 per credit hour
- Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE, ACEN, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
12. University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas offers out-of-state students completing a degree online the benefit of paying the affordable in-state tuition rate. Students receive the same support network services afforded to students attending classes on-campus. Although the school is a cheap online college, the school provides a high-quality education from a ‘top-tier’ public university.
Tuition for graduate students starts at less than $350 per credit hour. The exact tuition rate depends on the specific program. Some undergraduate students pay a slightly higher tuition in some programs, compared to the majority of undergraduate degree programs.
- Tuition: $252.28 per credit hour
- Accreditations: Higher Learning Commission, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
13. Florida International University
Prepare for your future by earning an online degree from Florida International University. Consider completing a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, a B.A. in Global Studies degree, or a B.S. in Hospitality Management degree. There are several bachelor’s degree program options, along with several master’s degree program options. Consider pursuing a Master of Science in Finance, an M.S. in International Real Estate, an M.A. in Disaster Management or a Professional Science Master degree in Forensic Science. The school offers other master’s degree programs, along with several certificate program options.
Tuition for graduate-level programs varies by the specific program.
- Tuition: $263.58 per credit hour
- Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
14. Great Basin College
The Great Basin College boasts an annual enrollment of approximately 4,000 students from across the U.S. in its Distance Education program. The college provides the same rigorous academics and has the same learning outcomes as the students that pursue their degree in a classroom setting.
Some students begin their college education by completing one of the nearly 20 associate’s degree programs, majoring in areas such as office technology, early childhood education, computer programming, criminal justice, or human services. Students in the bachelor degree programs pursue majors in areas such as management and supervision, English, RN to BSN, and graphic communications.
The school also offers several certificate programs.
- Tuition: $270 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
15. Valley City State University
Valley City State University provides opportunities for students to complete a degree without having to move to North Dakota, the site of the campus. The school offers bachelor’s degrees in business, communication, history education, and several other program options.
Are you seeking an online master’s program to continue your teaching education? The school offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Education degree.
- Tuition: est. $279.94 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, NCATE
16. Fitchburg State University
Fitchburg State University offers a Business Administration – Accounting, Business Administration – Marketing degree, and other undergraduate degrees in business administration. There are two undergraduate degree options in interdisciplinary studies and an RN to BSN online degree program. The tuition rate for the RN to BSN program is less than tuition for other undergraduate online programs.
The school offers several online graduate degrees, including Applied Communication, Social Media Communication, the Curriculum and Teaching (MEd, non-licensure) degree, MBA-Accounting, MBA-Healthcare Management, and three other MBA degree options. The school also offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Forensic Nursing.
Fitchburg State University also offers affordable hybrid programs, meaning that students complete some degree requirements in an online format, and others in a traditional setting.
The graduate tuition is estimated at $417 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $308 per credit hour (undergraduate)
- Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
17. Oregon State University
Pursue a degree at the E-campus of Oregon State University and choose from more than 70 online undergraduate and graduate programs. Choose a B.S. in Agricultural Science, B.A./B.S. in Economics, a B.S. in Sustainability, or several other degrees. The school offers master’s degrees, graduate certificates, and doctoral degrees online for graduate students. Graduate tuition for most graduate programs is $560 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $318 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), AACSB, CAEP, Council on Education for Public Health, Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration
18. University of Illinois – Chicago
The University of Illinois – Chicago is one branch of the University of Illinois that offers online degree programs. Students choose to enroll in programs in education, engineering, health sciences, nursing, business or other programs. The school also offers several certificate programs, including post-graduate certificates in medicine, education, nursing, urban planning and public affairs and other options. Tuition for graduate students is $793 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $318 per credit hour to $475 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, AACSB, CEPH, Engineering Accrediting Commission of ABET, CCNE, additional accreditations
19. Minot State University
Pursue your undergraduate or graduate degree at Minot State University from anywhere in the country. Choose an undergraduate degree and major in criminal justice, business administration, human services or the BSN program. Graduate students pursue degrees in education, management, education or sports management. Are you looking for a post-graduate certificate program? The school offers graduate certificates in areas such as cybersecurity, management, and education.
Graduate students pay the low tuition rate of $413.97 per credit hour.
- Tuition: $328.98 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, ACEN, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness
20. Utah State University
Utah State University offers three associate’s degree programs in an online format, and 13 bachelor’s degree programs online. Students choose degree programs in agribusiness, criminal justice, marketing, technology, nursing and more. The school also offers four undergraduate certificates.
Tuition for online students is considerably less than the tuition for students attending classes in the traditional campus setting.
- Tuition: est. $359 per credit hour
- Accreditation: AAQEP, NWCCU
21. California State University – Dominguez Hills
California State University – Dominguez Hills offers a high-quality education for students that prepares them to work in ‘today’s global and multicultural world.’ The school offers more than two-dozen online bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The university also offers several hybrid programs for students that want to have some face-to-face classroom contact.
The school boasts an online enrollment of nearly 2,100 hundred undergraduate students, and more than 6,200 graduate students.
- Tuition: $369 – $465 per credit hour
- Accreditation: WSCUC, ABET, CCNE, NCATE, other accrediting agencies
22. North Central University
North Central University offers fewer online degree programs than many other schools that offer online programs, yet the school focuses on providing a quality, affordable education. The school offers four undergraduate degrees and one graduate degree.
- Tuition: $395 per credit hour
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, Council on Social Work Education
23. Los Angeles Pacific University
Los Angeles Pacific University is a strictly online school that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Complete a B.A. in Applied Psychology, a B.S. in Information Systems, or another bachelor’s degree program. Graduate students choose from programs such as the M.B.A., Master of Public Health degree or the M.A. in Leadership and Organizational Studies. Graduate tuition is $600 per credit hour.
The school offers a 10 percent tuition discount to members of the U.S. military.
- Tuition: $450 per credit hour
- Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
24. Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University offers more than 1,700 courses in an online format. Students pursue certificate programs, their choice of more than 20 undergraduate programs, or more than 30 master’s degree programs. The school also offers several hybrid programs in addition to the 100 percent online programs.
- Tuition: $540 per credit hour
- Accreditation: SACSCOC, ACEN, AACSB, NCATE, Association of University Programs in Health Administration, Council on Social Work Education, additional institutional accreditations
25. Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University presents the Distance Education opportunities for students across the country to pursue a degree through the school. Choose from undergraduate or graduate degrees in your choice of program, such as law, nursing, business, engineering, or geosciences.
Graduate tuition, along with undergraduate tuition varies slightly, depending upon the program.
- Tuition: $623.20 – 702.32 per credit hour
- Accreditations: SACSCOC
We ranked each school according to tuition cost, and accreditations. The listed tuition costs are only for the cost of tuition, and do not include any required fees, supplies, or other costs of completing a particular course or degree program at one of these cheap colleges options. Some schools charge the same tuition for online in-state and out-of-state students, while other colleges and universities charge higher tuition.
We do our best to be honest, fair and accurate in our representation of each of the schools by gathering information directly from each college or university. We do not allow any school to pay for a higher ranking. Any school wishing to be sponsored is listed separately from other schools and clearly labeled as SPONSORED.
Please contact us if you would like to have your school included in our reviews, or if you need to make edits or updates to your current listing.
Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee the current tuition for any school or specific program. These things sometimes change as schools update their tuition costs and other information.