2016 Most Affordable Online Colleges & Degrees

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Our top 25 most affordable online colleges have annual tuitions ranging from $3,450 to $8,400, providing prospective students a wide variety of choices that fit within their financial needs. All ranked schools are also non-profit institutions. Our #1 school, South Texas College, offers degrees in criminal justice, psychology, accounting, and more. All ranked schools offer at least 10 fully online degrees across multiple subjects, and the annual tuition numbers for these schools represent their out-of-state, online bachelor's degree, unless in-state tuition is offered to all online students.

For specialized rankings, please look at our subject rankings. These school lists cover the least expensive online degrees offered across the most popular online degree subjects.

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All ranked colleges below are non-profit institutions
Rank College Annual Tuition Degree Levels Offered
#1 #1 South Texas College Annual Tuition $3,450 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, and Certificate
#2 #2 Great Basin College Annual Tuition $5,013 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, and Certificate
#3 #3 Darton State College Annual Tuition $5,625 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, and Certificate
#4 #4 Western Governors University Annual Tuition $5,780 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
#5 #5 Fort Hays State University Annual Tuition $5,824 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
#6 #6 Georgia Southern University Annual Tuition $5,970 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
#7 #7 City Vision University Annual Tuition $6,000 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
#8 #8 Delta State University Annual Tuition $6,012 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral
#9 #9 Arkansas State University-Main Campus Annual Tuition $6,480 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
#10 #10 Broward College Annual Tuition $6,756 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, and Certificate
#11 #11 University of Arkansas Annual Tuition $7,027 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
#12 #12 Fayetteville State University Annual Tuition $7,178 Degrees: Bachelor's and Master's
#12 #12 Valley City State University Annual Tuition $7,178 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
#14 #14 California University of Pennsylvania Annual Tuition $7,202 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
#15 #15 Luther Rice University & Seminary Annual Tuition $7,320 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral
#16 #16 Chadron State College Annual Tuition $7,380 Degrees: Bachelor's and Master's
#17 #17 Amberton University Annual Tuition $7,500 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
#18 #18 Brigham Young University-Idaho Annual Tuition $7,660 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, and Certificate
#19 #19 Youngstown State University Annual Tuition $7,900 Degrees: Bachelor's and Master's
#20 #20 University of North Dakota Annual Tuition $7,964 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
#21 #21 Columbia College Annual Tuition $8,250 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
#22 #22 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Annual Tuition $8,280 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
#23 #23 College of Southern Nevada Annual Tuition $8,385 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, and Certificate
#24 #24 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Annual Tuition $8,400 Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
#25 #25 University of Central Missouri Annual Tuition $8,827 Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate

Most Affordable Online Colleges by Degree

1
  • Annual Tuition: $3,450
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

South Texas College (STC) is a public, non-profit college that offers over 20 online degree programs at several levels, including certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degrees. Annual tuition averages $3,450, making STC the most affordable overall option on this list. Students can register, pay, and access advisory services completely online with STC’s Virtual Campus. All of STC’s programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

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2
  • Annual Tuition: $5,013
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU

Great Basin College (GBC) is a public, non-profit school. GBC offers certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degree programs on its WebCampus, all of which are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Courses are taught through distance delivery using high-tech interactive video technology and web-based learning platforms. GBC offers tutoring via email or Skype in English/writing and math/science, as well as free live tutoring in Spanish. With an annual average tuition of just over $5,000 on average, GBC offers some of the most affordable degree programs in the country.

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3
  • Annual Tuition: $5,625
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Darton State College (DSC) offers over 40 online degree programs. Classes are offered in eight- and sixteen-week terms. Some courses require students to take proctored exams, which can be completed online or at a location near the student. DSC participates in eMajor, a collaboration of the University System of Georgia, which allows students to earn credit for prior learning, complete a degree fully online, and shorten time to degree completion. DSC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

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Online Associate Degrees (25)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (5)

Online Certificate Programs (13)

4
  • Annual Tuition: $5,780
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU

Western Governors University offers over twenty fully online bachelor’s degrees and nearly thirty fully online master’s degrees in the fields of teaching, information technology, business, and nursing. Instead of focusing solely on credit hours, WGU’s bases its degrees on real-world competencies in order to ensure that students learn the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in the workplace. Following WGU’s flexible and self-paced curriculum, the average student is able to attain bachelor’s degrees in less than three years. WGU is regionally accredited by The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees (22)

Online Master's Degrees (28)

Online Certificate Programs (6)

5
  • Annual Tuition: $5,824
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) makes online learning accessible and efficient through its Virtual College. The Virtual College offers over 50 online degrees targeted specifically at adult learners and covering all degree levels, from associate to master’s, as well as over 50 online certificates. Students can receive credit for prior learning by means of several programs and policies, including Advanced Placement, military service, and the College Level Examination Program. Consistently highly ranked in affordability and quality, FHSU averages an annual tuition of under $6,000 per year. FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of College and Schools.

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Online Associate Degrees (4)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (26)

Online Master's Degrees (25)

Online Certificate Programs (52)

6
  • Annual Tuition: $5,970
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Georgia Southern University (GSU) boasts a large offering of online programs, particularly in its education department. Offering mostly graduate level degrees, GSU’s online programs were designed with working professionals in mind, allowing students to continue their educations on their own schedules and from any location. Online courses are offered through GoView, a collaborative Learning Management System that facilitates easy access to coursework and frequent communication with instructors.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees (3)

Online Master's Degrees (17)

Online Doctoral Degrees (3)

Online Certificate Programs (17)

7
  • Annual Tuition: $6,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: DEAC

City Vision University (CVU) is a non-profit, Christian university established in 1998. Online courses are offered in eight-week blocks. A transfer of up to ninety credits from another accredited college can be applied to any online degree at CVU, or students can use CVU’s prior learning assessment program to apply for up to thirty credits for unaccredited ministry training and experience. Every City Vision University student is required to select a proctor, who will be approved by the university to supervise his or her examinations. CVU graduates typically seek employment in the non-profit sector, counseling, government, or ministry.

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8
  • Annual Tuition: $6,012
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Delta State University (DSU) offers online programs at most degree levels and across several departments, including the College of Education and Human Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, and the School of Nursing. Enrolled students can use DSU Online and Canvas, DSU’s online learning management system, to access coursework, communicate with instructors, check grades, and more.

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9
  • Annual Tuition: $6,480
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

Arkansas State University’s online department, A-State Online, gives students the flexibility to achieve their educational goals on their own schedule. As one of the oldest online degree programs in Arkansas, A-State Online offers degree programs that are identical in scope and content to those earned by the more than 75,000 alumni of Arkansas State University. All courses are taught by highly qualified faculty in a flexible, online environment, and several programs are specifically designed for working professionals. A-State is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

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Online Associate Degrees (1)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (18)

Online Master's Degrees (21)

Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

Online Certificate Programs (7)

10
  • Annual Tuition: $6,756
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Broward College is a public, non-profit college offering several associate, bachelor’s, and certificate-level online programs. Through the Credit for Prior Learning Program, incoming students can receive credits towards their degree for work experience, high school career programs, military service, and more. Broward College Online offers accelerated associate degree programs, allowing students to complete these traditionally two-year degrees in as little as fifteen months. In order to keep costs down, most Broward College Online courses are textbook-free. Classes start every eight weeks, and tuition averages under $7,000 per year.

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Online Associate Degrees (12)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (4)

Online Certificate Programs (17)

11
  • Annual Tuition: $7,027
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

University of Arkansas is a top-tier research university that boasts a wide selection of online programs from the bachelor’s to doctoral level. Online programs are designed by the same departments as on-campus courses, thus ensuring a high quality bar. Some of the online courses are available in a self-paced format, thereby allowing students to complete the work on their own schedule, and courses requiring completion of exams will allow students to select a proctor in their area.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees (4)

Online Master's Degrees (20)

Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (9)

12
  • Annual Tuition: $7,178
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Fayetteville State University (FSU) offers online degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. FSU’s online programs offer the same quality education as its on-campus programs, while offering students the flexibility to complete the work from their own homes. Since FSU’s online degrees are part of the degree completion program, FSU only offers upper level courses online, meaning a student must already have completed an associate-level degree at another accredited institution. Tuition at FSU averages just over $7,000 per year.

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12
  • Annual Tuition: $7,178
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

Valley City State University (VCSU) offers a wide selection of online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in addition to professional certificates and a teacher endorsement. VCSU prides itself on the quality of its education programs, which meet the requirements for North Dakota teacher licensure. Other online programs available at VCSU include Professional Communication and Music. Many of the college’s online courses are flexible and can be completed at the student’s own pace. Average tuition at VCSU is $7,178 per year.

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14
  • Annual Tuition: $7,202
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE

California University of Pennsylvania (CalU) offers online degrees across all levels, ranging from associate degrees and certificates to doctoral level programs. CalU is accredited by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education, and students receive the same diploma for an online program as they would for a traditional on-campus program. The online program does not require students to log in at specific times, but instead allows them to complete coursework at their own convenience. CalU offers a reduced, competitive out-of-state tuition rate, with an average annual tuition of $7,202.

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Online Associate Degrees (2)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (10)

Online Master's Degrees (39)

Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

Online Certificate Programs (20)

15
  • Annual Tuition: $7,320
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: ABHE and TRACS

Luther Rice University & Seminary offers a wide range of theological and ministry-based degrees at bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Luther Rice has been offering online education for over ten years. Students do no need to be online at specific times of the day, but are instead able to complete coursework at their own convenience. Courses are offered in the standard fifteen-week semester in the fall and spring, a twelve-week summer semester, or accelerated eight-week terms offered in both fall and spring.

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16
  • Annual Tuition: $7,380
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

Chadron State College (CSC) has a large online course offering, with over 30 degree programs and concentrations, including teacher certifications. CSC bachelor’s degree programs require prior college credit and are available only as part of a degree completion program. CSC offers in-state tuition to all online students, and coursework is available in an accelerated eight-week format. CSC also offers a unique 24/7 helpline that allows students enrolled in online programs to contact advisors with questions at any time.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees (10)

Online Master's Degrees (24)

17
  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Amberton University prides itself on providing a quality business education, and offers several business-focused online degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels. Amberton’s online courses are taught in the same manner and style as traditional on-campus courses, contributing to similar learning outcomes and expectations. Online programs are taught by the same professors and with the same coursework, and last the same 10 weeks as on campus classes. Tuition at Amberton University averages $7,500 per year.

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18
  • Annual Tuition: $7,660
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU

Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU Idaho) offers fully online degrees in subjects like computer programming, web design, management, and nursing. Students can choose to take classes year-round or to take a semester off and are encouraged to complete work at their own pace. Although BYU Idaho is a religiously affiliated university, it prides itself on providing a wholesome, but secular education. To gain admission, students must already have completed at least fifteen on-campus credits at BYU Idaho or an affiliated institution, or be part of the LDS pathway completion program.

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Online Associate Degrees (8)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (17)

Online Certificate Programs (13)

19
  • Annual Tuition: $7,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

Youngstown State University (YSU) offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees online through its eYSU distance education program. Fully accredited by the North Central Association of College and Schools, the Higher Learning Commission, YSU offers comprehensive degree programs, ranging from business and STEM fields, to the arts, education and healthcare. Online master’s degree programs are available in a variety of academic fields including criminal justice, early childhood education, respiratory care, and more. YSU’s Office of Distance Education is available to support and assist students who are enrolled in the school’s online degree programs.

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20
  • Annual Tuition: $7,964
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

The University of North Dakota (UND) is the state’s oldest and largest university, offering over 50 online degrees at most degree levels. UND is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association. UND’s Enroll Anytime Courses are self-paced and take up to three months to complete. Most online courses offer interaction with the instructor and fellow classmates by means of a virtual classroom.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees (13)

Online Master's Degrees (26)

Online Doctoral Degrees (2)

Online Certificate Programs (17)

21
  • Annual Tuition: $8,250
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

Columbia College offers over 40 accredited, fully online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate degree programs with more than 800 online classes offered each session. Online courses are offered in eight-week sessions that allow you to complete your degree at your own pace. The career services center offers career counseling, academic guidance, and individualized attention to students seeking admission to graduate school. The average annual tuition at Columbia College is $8,250.

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Online Associate Degrees (7)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (36)

Online Master's Degrees (9)

Online Certificate Programs (4)

22
  • Annual Tuition: $8,280
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Through collaboration with the University of Texas Online Consortium, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) offers an extensive array of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as online certificates. The GenEd program, UTPB’s online general education program, allows students to earn general education prerequisites completely online. Online degrees are offered in an eight-week format so that students can work at their own pace and make the fastest progress possible toward a degree.

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23
  • Annual Tuition: $8,385
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU

The fourth largest community college of its kind in the nation, the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) offers degrees and professional certifications in over two hundred fields, including nearly 20 fully online associate degree programs. All online programs are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and are taught by the same faculty teaching on campus, ensuring a quality education.

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24
  • Annual Tuition: $8,400
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Northwestern State University of Louisiana (NSU) offers Louisiana’s first and largest electronic campus, with over 20 bachelor’s and 40 master’s degree programs fully online. NSU’s Counseling and Career Services Center helps students and alumni plan, prepare for, and promote their careers. The center partners with local and national employers to bring a variety of internships and job opportunities to their qualified applicant pool. The school’s unique pricing structure allows undergraduates to pay $325 per credit hour for the first 12 hours then $100 per credit hour thereafter, while graduate level programs begin at $425 per credit hour for the first 9 hours and $100 per hour thereafter.

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Online Associate Degrees (1)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (22)

Online Master's Degrees (44)

Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

Online Certificate Programs (15)

25
  • Annual Tuition: $8,827
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCACSTHLC

The University of Central Missouri (UCM) focuses on achieving student success through innovative academic programs. Online degrees are taught by the same professors as on-campus courses, so online students can be confident that they are receiving a high quality education. Although online courses have the same content requirements as their on-campus counterparts, they are self-paced and therefore more flexible. The average annual tuition is just under $8,000.

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Methodology

Most Affordable Online Colleges - Overall Ranking

To be considered for our 2016 Most Affordable Online Colleges, schools needed to meet the following requirements: non-profit status, offer an online degree in one or more of our 24 most popular degree subjects, offer at least 10 fully online degrees, and offer at least one bachelor's degree. Annual tuition numbers for this school list were manually researched and represent the bachelor's degree level.

Most Affordable Online Colleges by Degree

For our 2016 Most Affordable Online Colleges by Degree rankings, we determined a base level degree requirement for each subject. This degree level requirement reflects, per subject, which degree is most important for employment within a given subject. To be considered for these 24 subject rankings, schools needed to offer at least one fully online degree in a given subject for the degree level that was required, or higher. For example, if a ranking required at least an online bachelor's degree, a school with only an online master's degree would still be considered. Tuitions were manually researched and reflect the degree level requirement tuition if offered, or the next level tuition cost.

Fully Online Status

Schools with programs that require some on-campus coursework were still considered for our rankings if the amount of in-person work was limited to less than two weeks worth of in-person requirements. This allows students to retain their current employment or other personal responsibilities.

Data Sources

Program data including available degrees, tuition rates, and details about program coursework were collected from official school websites, reflecting data for the 2015-2016 school year. This data was collected in January of 2016. Programmatic accreditation and profit status of schools were collected from official websites of the accreditation agencies or from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Other Most Affordable Rankings

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Our tuition numbers reflect data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Recommendation rate refers to the percent of students who said they would recommend this school based on reviews submitted to our partner site, GradReports.com.
This indicates that a school has an annual tuition of $15,000 or less as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics or based on the school's website.