How We Make Money

At OnlineU, we believe in transparency. This means all of our advertisements are clearly marked, and we want to make sure you understand how we choose our advertising partners and how we make money.

We make 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.

This keeps our content free for you. All content on our site is completely free and accessible without a log-in. You can navigate through our entire website without ever having to submit an inquiry for an advertising partner.

How we choose our partners. Most advertising partners reach out to us for advertising opportunities. OnlineU works with institutions with active accreditation as reported by the U.S. Department of Education via the National Center for Education Statistics. If a school loses its accreditation, we will stop advertising the school immediately. Additionally, partner schools are required to keep all of their data they provide to OnlineU up-to-date and accurate. OnlineU accepts and maintains all advertising relationships at its own discretion.

What we won't do for partners. We will never display data provided by our partners that can't be backed up by an official, public source (e.g. if they are providing a tuition rate, they need to provide a link to a page on the school's website showing this is the rate for the current academic year). We also will never alter any review data that we collect from students and graduates on our partner site, GradReports, including removing negative reviews that meet our review guidelines. You'll often see this data represented as a Recommendation Rate or a star rating. Lastly, our advertising partnerships have no influence on the school rankings we publish. Advertising partners are evaluated in the exact same manner using the exact same data sources as non-partner schools, and if a partner school does objectively qualify for a ranking, we still indicate the partnership status via an info icon.

What we do with our revenue. We use our revenue to support the team behind OnlineU, to invest in building more great content for our products, to compensate expert writers and contributors, and to support our large data research efforts.

Additionally, since 2010, our parent company Optimal has used a portion of all of its websites' revenue to fund its scholarship program, which has now awarded over $915,000 directly to college students with high financial need. Optimal also provides a charitable matching benefit to employees, with the company matching up to $2,000 per employee from the company's revenue to the non-profit of the employee's choice. Lastly, Optimal has supported Northwest Education Access, a local non-profit whose mission is to help low-income students successfully enroll and complete higher education, since 2010 with annual donations.