2017 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Student Economic Mobility

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These 25 schools are SR Education Group's most affordable online schools with high rates of student economic mobility. In addition to their low annual tuition rates for online degrees, these schools stand out for their mobility rates, the percentage of students in the bottom 20% of the income distribution who move to the top 20% after graduating. The most affordable school, Fort Valley State University, offers 9 online bachelor's degrees and 1 online master's degree. South Texas College is in the highest mobility rate percentile of the group. To learn more about mobility rate, see our methodology.

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Rank College Annual Tuition Mobility Rate Percentile
#1 #1 Fort Valley State University Annual Tuition $5,859 Mobility Rate Percentile 84.2
#2 #2 California State University-Fullerton Annual Tuition $7,225 Mobility Rate Percentile 96.5
#3 #3 Tennessee State University Annual Tuition $7,230 Mobility Rate Percentile 85.4
#4 #4 Lamar University Annual Tuition $7,440 Mobility Rate Percentile 85.4
#5 (tie) #5 (tie) Union College - KY Annual Tuition $7,500 Mobility Rate Percentile 95.3
#5 (tie) #5 (tie) The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley Annual Tuition $7,500 Mobility Rate Percentile 98.8
#7 #7 SUNY Empire State College Annual Tuition $8,000 Mobility Rate Percentile 92.0
#8 #8 South Texas College Annual Tuition $8,235 Mobility Rate Percentile 99.3
#9 #9 Nicholls State University Annual Tuition $8,250 Mobility Rate Percentile 85.4
#10 #10 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Annual Tuition $8,640 Mobility Rate Percentile 86.8
#11 #11 Florida International University Annual Tuition $8,965 Mobility Rate Percentile 97.9
#12 #12 University of Washington - Seattle Annual Tuition $9,360 Mobility Rate Percentile 80.0
#13 #13 University of Central Florida Annual Tuition $9,540 Mobility Rate Percentile 81.6
#14 #14 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Annual Tuition $9,600 Mobility Rate Percentile 84.2
#15 #15 University of West Alabama Annual Tuition $9,750 Mobility Rate Percentile 80.0
#16 #16 Strayer University Annual Tuition $9,808 Mobility Rate Percentile 88.2
#17 #17 Thomas Edison State University Annual Tuition $9,820 Mobility Rate Percentile 95.0
#18 #18 Broward College Annual Tuition $9,862 Mobility Rate Percentile 84.2
#19 #19 SUNY College of Technology at Canton Annual Tuition $10,323 Mobility Rate Percentile 80.0
#20 #20 Southern Arkansas University Annual Tuition $10,650 Mobility Rate Percentile 85.4
#21 #21 Monroe College Annual Tuition $10,840 Mobility Rate Percentile 94.1
#22 (tie) #22 (tie) Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Annual Tuition $11,250 Mobility Rate Percentile 91.0
#22 (tie) #22 (tie) Norwich University Annual Tuition $11,250 Mobility Rate Percentile 84.2
#22 (tie) #22 (tie) The University of Texas at El Paso Annual Tuition $11,250 Mobility Rate Percentile 99.1
#25 #25 University of Louisiana-Lafayette Annual Tuition $11,492 Mobility Rate Percentile 82.8
  • Annual Tuition: $5,859
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 84.2
  • Founded in 1895, Fort Valley State University has a long tradition of providing education with a community emphasis to its 3,000 students. It has a growing online presence, offering online advising in addition to its online graduate and undergraduate courses, and online undergraduate degrees. Its innovative eCore program allows students to take their first two years of courses entirely online, with the caveat that some exams must be taken on campus. In a further effort to assist students in getting the best value for their money, Fort Valley State University offers a number of informative videos through its Financial Aid TV website page.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,225
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 96.5
  • In 1957, California State University - Fullerton became the 12th State college in California. Today, with an annual enrollment of over 40,000 students, it offers 109 degree programs, including 57 undergraduate and 52 graduate degrees. These programs include bachelor's online degree completion programs in sociology and business administration, and six online graduate degree programs in education. Grants, scholarships, work study and loans are awarded to eligible students in need of financial assistance.

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  • Annual Tuition: $7,230
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 85.4
  • Tennessee State University (TSU) is a cutting edge research institution with an enrollment of over 7,000 undergraduate students and 2,000 graduate students. TSU takes financial assistance seriously; students from low-income families receive an average of $8,321 in aid during their first year. In addition to offering steeply discounted tuition to state residents, TSU Online offers a growing number of distance learning programs, including online undergraduate Bachelor's of Science degrees in subjects ranging from interdisciplinary studies to urban studies, and online master's degrees in subjects ranging from science in holistic nursing to professional studies.

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  • Annual Tuition: $7,440
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 85.4
  • With a student body of 15,000, Lamar University offers over 100 study programs in subjects ranging from business, to health sciences, to the arts. Its Center for Distance Education offers online degrees in a wide number of subjects, in both accelerated 8-week semester sessions and traditional 15-week semester sessions, and also makes online college classes available to high school students via its Dual Credit Program. As well as offering federal financial aid to online students, the University offers a range of English classes to enrolled students with limited English proficiency via its Texas Intensive English Program at Lamar. In addition, Lamar University's McNair Scholars Program offers paid, 6-week research internships to qualified first-generation and low-income and/or underrepresented undergraduates in selected fields of study.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (13)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

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  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 95.3
  • With strong focus on community service and inclusive social engagement, Union College seeks to foster a family-like environment for its student body. Through its Student Support Services, it offers free counseling, tutoring, grant aid, and assistance with financial literacy to all participants. In 2014–15, 96% of Union College's undergraduate students received financial assistance. Union offers online undergraduate degrees in business administration, general management, general studies, RN-BSN, law enforcement, and substance abuse, as well as an online Master's of Business in Administration, a Master's of Science in Administration, and a Master's of Science in Athletic Administration.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 98.8
  • Established in 2013, The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is the latest university in the University of Texas System and features a new School of Medicine for the Rio Grande Valley region. A large proportion of the University’s 28,000 students are from low-income families and are the first generation in their families to attend college. UTRGV goes the distance for their students by offering low tuition and guaranteeing undergraduates that their tuition won’t increase for four years. They also cap tuition and mandatory fee charges for resident students at 12 credit hours each semester, allowing many students to take three to six extra credit hours per semester for free. The University also offers students emergency loans if their financial aid money is delayed. UTRGV offers online BAs in criminal justice, film studies, health services technology, multidisciplinary studies, an RN-to-BSN program, as well as a number of graduate degrees and certificates.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (5)

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 92.0
  • Founded in 1971, SUNY Empire State College has five graduate programs and offers undergraduate degrees in twelve broad areas. Its 11,000 students are primarily working adults. It offers over 500 online courses in subjects including educational studies, nursing, and science, mathematics and technology. In addition to offering substantially reduced tuition to state residents, the University also offers Federal Work Study, SUNY Tuition Credit, and low interest student loans. Almost 89% of first year students receive financial aid.

Online Associate Degrees (19)

Online Bachelor's Degrees (32)

Online Master's Degrees (6)

Online Certificate Programs (17)

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,235
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 99.3
  • South Texas College has been named the least expensive college in the nation, and prides itself on graduating debt-free students. Offering 30 fully online programs, with more added every year, it is well suited for working professionals and parents. Online degrees include associate programs in criminal justice and social work, and bachelor's programs in medical health services and organizational leadership. South Texas College is military-friendly, offering tuition assistance, flexible scheduling and rich online resources on its Veterans Affairs web portal.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,250
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 85.4
  • Nicholls State University offers a strong general educational program to a diverse student body. In 2016, Nicholls State created the the Bayou Educational Opportunity Center, a program designed to increase higher education opportunities for disadvantaged and underrepresented students. Nicholls State also offers TEACH Grants, which provide up to $4,000 per year in federal grants for graduate and undergraduate students who fulfill an obligation to teach full-time in high-need subject areas for four years at schools that serve students from low-income families. Nicholls State offers 100% online graduate and undergraduate degrees in 15 different programs, allowing students to graduate in just three years. Online undergraduate degrees include such diverse offerings as an Associate of Science in Petroleum Services and a Bachelor's of Science in General Family and Consumer Services.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,640
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 86.8
  • Founded in 1973, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) is a dynamic institution of higher learning with over 5,000 students. In an effort to serve an ever-expanding student body, it offers numerous online undergraduate degrees in subjects that include communication, industrial technology and management, and online graduate degrees in subjects ranging from education to public administration. UTPB goes the distance to ensure that finances are never an impediment to education, and assists low income students with their "packaging" of financial aid funds from various federal, state, and scholarship sources.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,965
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 97.9
  • In 2017, Florida International University began instituting a new financial assistance program for the Fall freshman class. This pioneering program, called The Golden Promise, utilizes a variety of grants and scholarships to guarantee full tuition and fees to Florida residents with an expected family contribution of zero dollars. An estimated 1,200 freshman will benefit from the program in the first year alone. While the University offers many on-campus degree programs, FIU Online specifically offers over 30 undergraduate degrees, including BAs in communication arts and international relations, BBAs in marketing and management, and BSs in nursing and recreation and sports management. Furthermore, FIU Online offers special value to students enrolled in fully online bachelor's degree programs by waiving many of the fees applicable to on-campus students, and saving fully online student hundreds of dollars per semester.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (31)

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,360
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 80.0
  • Educating more than 54,000 students annually, University of Washington - Seattle goes the distance to do support its low income students. In keeping with its Husky Promise, it ensures that all eligible state resident students have full tuition and standard fees covered thru grants and scholarships. Programs like the 2-year STARS program, which assists eligible engineering students with a specialized course of study designed to build learning skills and academic preparation, help keep UW students at the top of their game. UW Online offers two online undergraduate degrees and 18 online master's degrees, as well as undergraduate degree completion programs.

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,540
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 81.6
  • As the second largest college in the nation, University of Central Florida has 13 colleges that offer over 230 majors to an enrollment of almost 65,000 graduate and undergraduate students. It offers 35 fully online graduate degrees in subjects ranging from forensic science to nonprofit management as well as hundreds of additional online courses each semester. Online formats include web-based and streaming video. UCF provides support to low-income students through programs such as its TEACH grant, which pays eligible students up to $4,000 per year for teaching in low-income schools, its collaboration with the University Innovation Alliance, which seeks to assist low-income students in obtaining college degrees by sharing effective ideas between higher learning institutions, and its cost-effective online offerings.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (24)

Online Master's Degrees (32)

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 84.2
  • Founded in 1884, Northwestern State University of Louisiana is an affordable, 4-year public institution with an enrollment of 9,000. The university offers a substantial online curriculum through its Global Campus portal, using a free, open-source learning management system called MOODLE that is used by educators and learners worldwide. While it offers online associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, its selection of bachelor's and master's degrees is particularly robust, including, but not limited to, a Bachelor's of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor's of Science in Science in Psychology, as well as a Master's of Arts in Teaching and a Master's of Science in Radiologic Science.

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,750
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 80.0
  • The University of West Alabama is a state-supported, coeducational institution with an enrollment of 4,000 graduate and undergraduate students. It offers online graduate and undergraduate degrees through its Colleges of Business and Technology, Education, and Liberal Arts. Additionally, it offers a Master's of Science of Conservation Biology through its College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. A full range of financial aid options are available to eligible online students.

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,808
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 88.2
  • Strayer University supports the idea that time and cost should never impede education, and it has taken steps to make sure that education remains accessible to working adults. Strayer offers free laptop computers with software to newly enrolled students who complete three academic quarters. It also offers flexible learning through its online associate, bachelor's, and master's programs, with classes available in real-time or any-time formats. It advocates non-traditional scholarships as a means to help allay costs, and offers special assistance to student law enforcement officers, active duty military students, military spouses and low income students.

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,820
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 95.0
  • Established in New Jersey in 1972 to provide superior and affordable adult education, Thomas Edison State University offers a wide variety of online associate, bachelor's and graduate degrees. Online financial aid is available to eligible students via grants and scholarship programs and the University uses an online scholarship management system to streamline the process. A per credit tuition option allows students to pay as they go, and Operation Vet Success is a virtual resource center designed specifically to guide veteran and active duty students towards resources that will assist them both in obtaining their degree and in re-entering civilian life.

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,862
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 84.2
  • Founded in 1960, Broward College is a community college making a major impact. With an annual enrollment of 68,000 students, it has a reputation for both affordability and alumni with high-paying jobs. In addition to offering low tuition and fees, Broward College offers housing assistance to incoming students through its CORT program. In addition to offering numerous online associate and bachelor degrees, Broward Online allows students to save money by offering them hundreds of textbook-free classes. In 2015, Broward College was awarded a 2.2 million dollar grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation to support educational opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students.

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  • Annual Tuition: $10,323
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 80.0
  • SUNY College of Technology at Canton was chartered in 1906 and today has 3,200 undergraduate students. Its faculty are renowned for possessing real-world experience in addition to scholarly knowledge, and include engineers, police officers, doctors, lawyers, programmers, entrepreneurs, novelists, photographers, and videographers. The University offers 13 fully online degrees and more than 450 online courses, in subjects including agribusiness management, homeland security, nursing, and veterinary service administration. Ninety-six percent of its students receive annual financial aid, via grants, loans and merit scholarships.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,650
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NCA HLC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 85.4
  • True to its mission of providing an environment conducive to excellence in teaching and learning, Southern Arkansas University has a strong online presence, offering 358 online courses annually, with over 1,200 students enrolled during a typical semester. Its online master's degree program offerings are particularly robust, and include MBAs with numerous emphases, as well as a Master's of Education, and Master's of Science degrees in subjects including agriculture, kinesiology, and computer and information science. Southern Arkansas University utilizes the federally funded Student Support Services program, with its seven TRiO educational opportunity outreach programs, to support low income and first generation students.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,840
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 94.1
  • Monroe College offers both need- and merit-based financial aid through a number of scholarships and grants, including the Freshman-only Adult Learning Grant. Through its Monroe Advantage Plan (MAP) program, it allows students to participate in three full semesters a year, giving them a chance to earn their degree in a mere three years. Monroe Online offers associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs. Bachelor's degrees can be obtained in subjects ranging from business management to human services, and master's degrees can be obtained in business administration, criminal justice, hospitality management and public health.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 91.0
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide is an educational institution with a broad reach. Not only does it have over 135 physical locations worldwide, it has been offering distance learning since 1971, and now offers a best-in-class online curriculum. Embry-Riddle launched its virtual EagleVision classroom in 2007, allowing students face-to-face time with both faculty and fellow distance learners, and has since upped the ante by adding a Virtual Crash Lab and a Virtual Aerial Robotics Lab. Its 9-week online learning sessions have multiple start dates, so that there are 10 graduate terms and 12 undergraduate terms per calendar year, allowing students flexibility to customize their schedules. In total, Embry-Riddle Worldwide students receive more than $30 million in financial aid through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans each year.

Online Associate Degrees (6)

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  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 84.2
  • Norwich University is a private military college with academic programs for both Cadets and civilian students. 98% percent of its students receive financial assistance, and the University awards roughly 27 million dollars annually in financial aid. Furthermore, the University offers military tuition assistance, Veterans benefits, and tuition discounts through its Partner Program. Norwich University Online offers online bachelor's degrees in subjects including management studies and national security studies, and master's degrees in subjects ranging from diplomacy, to executive leadership, to military history.

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  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 99.1
  • For the past 100 years, University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has played a major role in education in U.S.-Mexico border communities. Featuring seven colleges, and offering 72 undergraduate programs, 74 master’s programs and 21 doctoral degree programs to a student body that is 80% Hispanic and 5% Mexican, it has the lowest net tuition of all research universities in the country. In addition to being military friendly and offering on-campus degrees in a broad range of subjects including computer information systems, special education, and bioinformatics, UTEP also offers a growing number of online degrees. These include bachelor's of arts in both security studies and media advertising, a Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Master's of Science in Construction Management.

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  • Annual Tuition: $11,492
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Rate Percentile: 82.8
  • University of Louisiana-Lafayette is a world-renowned research institution with a mission to produce leaders and innovators from its enrollment of over 18,000 students. Since 1972, its Department of Special Services has provided support to over 10,000 first-generation and low-income students through its federally funded TRIO programs. In addition, student assistance is provided through programs such as Upward Bound and Veterans Upward Bound, the McNair Scholar Program, and federal work-study. UL Lafayette offers numerous online undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, education, general studies, healthcare, nursing, professional writing, and systems technology.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (5)

Online Master's Degrees (15)

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