Since 2014, OnlineU has been dedicated to helping students find affordable college options that fit their education and career goals. With student debt numbers at an all-time high, it is more important than ever to be able to easily access and compare the actual tuition costs one can expect to pay for an online degree.
Unfortunately, finding accurate cost information for online degrees is not easy. Many other websites rely on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which is not online specific. This results in misinformation and misaligned expectations about the true cost that online students can expect to pay.
In order to mitigate this issue and provide accurate, updated tuition costs for online students, the OnlineU team manually researches over 40,000 online tuition rates for degree programs annually. By providing this data that is easy to use but hard to find elsewhere, OnlineU hopes to empower more people to pursue an education without burdening them with insurmountable debt.
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OnlineU is a product of Optimal, a leading higher education researcher and publisher. Optimal uses data to empower people to make better decisions about careers and education. In addition to providing comprehensive resources, Optimal has given away over $915,000 of its profit since 2010 in needs-based scholarships.
What We Do
OnlineU publishes rankings for affordable online colleges across hundreds of degree levels and programs and provides prospective students with insightful articles and resources for making their education more affordable. We offer rankings of the most affordable colleges, based on our manually researched tuition rates, as well as the best most affordable colleges, which highlight affordable colleges with high Salary Scores.
Our users also have the ability to get connected with any of our partner colleges to get detailed information on the degrees they are interested in directly from school representatives.
Tuitions Researched Annually
College Ranking Lists
Students Matched Annually with Schools
Sung Rhee - CEO
Understanding the difficulties of obtaining a quality, affordable education is what inspired founder and CEO Sung Rhee to found Optimal in 2004. He saw a need to create sites dedicated to providing transparent, data-driven information to empower people to make better decisions for their education and careers. He knows prestige doesn't always translate to quality, and Sung doesn't want to see students get a raw deal.
Outside of work, Sung enjoys playing basketball and adding to his collection of Gundam figurines. A fun fact about Sung is that he was a cartoonist for The Harvard Crimson during his college years.
Sung has been featured in several publications, including GeekWire and 425 Business Magazine. Additionally, the CEO Perspective he authored provides a more in-depth look into his background and how Optimal came to be.LinkedIn >>
Throughout her 11 years at the company, Brittany has provided essential leadership in the growth and development of OnlineU. After helping her two younger siblings navigate the college search process and discovering the increased complexity and skyrocketing prices, Brittany became passionate about helping others find quality education options without huge financial burdens. She is a graduate of Stanford with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communications. When not busy working, Brittany enjoys spending time with her two dogs and three chickens, hiking mountains, and kayaking on beautiful Washington lakes.
In her 10 years at the company, Rachel has been a key driver of content growth and business strategy for OnlineU. After graduating from Westmont College, Rachel worked directly with students as an SAT coach and writing tutor. As someone well-versed with the college search process, she is proud to expand the reach of websites like OnlineU, which equip students to make well-informed decisions about their educational options. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading books and spending quality time with her family, including her two young boys.
After five years with the company, Taitum now leads a team of product managers dedicated to providing the most informative rankings and other school-related features on OnlineU. She describes herself as “privileged and lucky” to have a tech career that allows her to provide people with the information they want and need about colleges, degree programs, and career opportunities. Taitum earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Whitworth University. When she's not working, Taitum enjoys listening to music and playing old-school arcade pinball.
Throughout her eight years with the company, Emily has been dedicated to providing helpful data through OnlineU. In her current role as the Data Collection and Infrastructure Lead, Emily oversees our data collection projects. She also designs internal machinery to collect and publish these data. Emily comes from an education-centered family of professors and teachers. This background, as well as her tutoring work with community college students, has made Emily passionate about high-quality, accessible education. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Whitman College, and she enjoys traveling, cooking, and basking in the sun with her dog, Marge.
As a Marketing Manager, Nicole is passionate about informing students, colleges, and news outlets about all of OnlineU' useful resources and rankings. She first became interested in an education-focused career after working in marketing at Georgetown University. Since joining the company, she has taken on all outreach, public relations, and branding efforts. Through her work, Nicole intends to help develop an online student-centered brand that focuses on value, quality, and accessibility above all. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from the University of Virginia, and enjoys hiking, relaxing on the beach, and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest in her free time.
In her current marketing role, Celeste promotes the value of our data-driven resources directly to prospective students through social media as well as to news outlets and journalists. Based on her own successful college search experience, Celeste highly recommends using a resource like OnlineU to thoroughly research schools, degree programs, and tuition costs before making a decision. Her own investigation took her to Washington State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Production while minoring in Business Administration. When she's not promoting OnlineU on social media, Celeste enjoys traveling—15 countries and counting—cooking, hiking, and dance.
As a former teacher and youth worker with 12 years of experience, Sarah understands the urgent need to expand access to higher education. Through her research and data collection work on OnlineU, she helps create resources that enable students to make informed decisions about their educational future. Sarah also assists students directly by serving as our communications and outreach liaison. A graduate of the University of Washington, Sarah holds a Bachelor of Social Welfare and a Master of Social Work. When not working with prospective college students, she can be found mentoring children through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, traveling, and studying other languages.
In her current role at the company, Mariya works to improve rankings, reviews, and other features on OnlineU. She got interested in helping others choose the best college and career options because she found online resources to be extremely valuable during her own college search. Mariya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, cooking, and studying languages.
Prior to joining OnlineU, Taylor spent six years writing for higher education newspapers and magazines. Through this experience she gained a unique perspective on college students' needs and challenges. She now uses this background to generate creative article ideas and produce insightful content for our site. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a News/Editorial focus from Western Washington University. When Taylor isn't writing, she enjoys hanging out with her cat, listening to 90s hip hop, and visiting any place that has palm trees.
A seasoned veteran of the publishing industry, Jennifer enjoys exploring education-related topics and writing informative content about higher education for our program and resource pages. Before joining OnlineU, Jennifer worked in content development and creation for two of the largest higher educational textbook publishers in the U.S. Her recent experience pursuing an online Master of Arts in Marketing through Southern New Hampshire University only furthered her enthusiasm for distance learning. Jennifer also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from California State University Fullerton. In her free time, she enjoys fiction writing, painting, upcycling furniture, and traveling.
Drawing upon his 11 years of experience in writing and editing, Michael creates content for multiple facets of our site. His ambition as a writer is to present prospective students with the information they need to make good choices when selecting a college. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from DePaul University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Washington University, and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Chicago. Outside of work, Michael can be found teaching and training in krav maga or volunteering with Seal Sitters, an organization in West Seattle that seeks to protect marine mammals resting on shore.
A specialist in visual design with 15 years of experience, Brian is inspired by creating visuals that are both engaging and creative. Brian is responsible for making OnlineU's content and design as visually appealing and intuitive as possible. Brian holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Emporia State University, and has gained design experience working with many companies in the digital space, such as Microsoft and T-Mobile. When not sitting in front of his computer, Brian can be found cruising around Seattle on his Honda Ruckus, listening to music, working out, or spending time in the sun.
As a content strategist, Madeline works on developing and improving the rankings on OnlineU and finding ways to create better user experiences when exploring the data on the site. She is a strong believer that providing students with the right data can be incredibly helpful for the college decision-making process. After graduating from Dartmouth with a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science, Madeline gained experience working in an academic library in the scholarly communication and digital library departments. In her free time, Madeline enjoys hiking, nordic skiing, and playing flute.
Optimal Board Advisor
Richard Vedder, distinguished higher education change advocate, serves as a board advisor for OnlineU, advising on content and contributing editorials. As an advisor, he supports Optimal's core mission of adding data-driven information to the higher education space and setting students up for career success.
Dr. Richard Vedder
Vedder is an esteemed figure in the higher education sector, writing frequently for numerous notable outlets including Forbes, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Opinion, and Inside Higher Ed. He has also authored several books regarding issues within the higher education sector, including "Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much" and "Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America." Much of his writing challenges the current American higher education system and proposes solutions for economic, societal, and institutional changes.
OnlineU in the News
As a champion of college affordability, OnlineU has been featured in several national and local media outlets, including College Confidential, 425 Business Magazine, and Forbes. OnlineU has been ranking colleges since 2014, and has been recognized as a leader in the higher education space by over 375 schools. For more information, please visit our press page.
"This new ranking by the website OnlineU further highlights the commitment the UW College of Education has made to serving students throughout Wyoming and the world via hybrid and fully online degree programs."
Optimal strives to provide authoritative resources for students seeking high-quality and affordable online education programs through professional affiliations.
Optimal is proud to be an institutional member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). The OLC is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1999 and comprises a collaborative community of leaders and innovators in the higher education space. Members are dedicated to advancing the OLC's vision of setting the global standard for online and digital learning.
Our Advertising Policy
OnlineU makes money through inquiry generation. This means that schools pay us to appear in various advertising placements across our site (marked with the word "Advertisement or "Ad") and if a user clicks on an advertising school, they will have the option to submit a form requesting that a representative of the school contact them with more information. Submitting this form creates an inquiry, which the school pays us for, since inquiries can turn into future enrollments at these schools. Learn more about how we make money.
Our Editorial Policy
We ensure that our relationships with our advertising partners do not hinder our editorial integrity. Partner schools are always clearly labeled and we never show them any preferential treatment when developing our ranking lists.
All schools featured on our site are accredited by accrediting bodies recognized by the United States Department of Education. When creating our content, we always conduct extensive research in order to ensure that we provide accurate and current information about program offerings and tuition costs. This information comes directly from schools' official websites or representatives. We also source information from government databases and agencies such as: