2018 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 upward mobility rates for low-income students, based on data from the Equality of Opportunity Project. All schools have Mobility Scores higher than 65 due to their mobility rates, Pell Grant rates, and early career salaries. The most affordable school, Cochise College, offers 17 online associate degrees and 3 online certificate programs. The University of Texas at El Paso has the highest mobility score of the group.

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Rank College Annual Tuition Mobility Score
#1 #1 Cochise College Annual Tuition $3,936 Mobility Score 72.5
#2 #2 Barton County Community College Annual Tuition $4,800 Mobility Score 70.8
#3 #3 Odessa College Annual Tuition $5,490 Mobility Score 84.0
#4 #4 Fort Valley State University Annual Tuition $5,859 Mobility Score 79.0
#5 #5 North Dakota State College of Science Annual Tuition $5,965 Mobility Score 71.1
#6 #6 Albany State University Annual Tuition $6,000 Mobility Score 75.3
#7 #7 Lamar University Annual Tuition $6,240 Mobility Score 79.8
#8 #8 Union College - KY Annual Tuition $6,750 Mobility Score 80.0
#9 #9 Central Texas College Annual Tuition $7,050 Mobility Score 81.5
#10 #10 Broward College Annual Tuition $7,073 Mobility Score 73.4
#11 #11 The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley Annual Tuition $7,499 Mobility Score 82.3
#12 #12 Carl Albert State College Annual Tuition $7,525 Mobility Score 66.7
#13 #13 Southeastern Oklahoma State University Annual Tuition $7,950 Mobility Score 84.3
#14 (tie) #14 (tie) SUNY College of Technology at Canton Annual Tuition $8,000 Mobility Score 66.8
#14 (tie) #14 (tie) SUNY Empire State College Annual Tuition $8,000 Mobility Score 87.2
#14 (tie) #14 (tie) University at Buffalo Annual Tuition $8,000 Mobility Score 85.8
#17 #17 Craven Community College Annual Tuition $8,040 Mobility Score 65.9
#18 #18 Nicholls State University Annual Tuition $8,250 Mobility Score 78.1
#19 #19 University of Louisiana-Monroe Annual Tuition $8,750 Mobility Score 76.3
#20 #20 Bismarck State College Annual Tuition $8,775 Mobility Score 66.2
#21 #21 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Annual Tuition $8,912 Mobility Score 77.3
#22 #22 Texas A & M University-Kingsville Annual Tuition $8,915 Mobility Score 97.2
#23 (tie) #23 (tie) University of Florida Annual Tuition $9,000 Mobility Score 71.7
#23 (tie) #23 (tie) The University of Texas at El Paso Annual Tuition $9,000 Mobility Score 97.6
#25 #25 University of Washington - Seattle Annual Tuition $9,360 Mobility Score 65.8
  • Annual Tuition: $3,936
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Mobility Score: 72.5
  • With campuses in Sierra Vista and Douglas, Cochise College is home to around 5,500 students. Online courses are offered through their Moodle system and have quite a few degree programs including Computer Information Systems, Philosophy, English, Computer Programming, and more. You can also take courses in the Arizona General Education curriculum which allows students to fulfill the general education requirements at all Arizona universities. Students who complete an AGEC with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a grade of C or better in each course are guaranteed to be admitted to any Arizona public university.

  • Annual Tuition: $4,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Mobility Score: 70.8
  • This Great Bend, KS community college enrolls over 17,000 students and sits atop a hill on 160 acres of land. Barton County Community College is 1 of 6 Kansas community colleges included in the EDUKAN cooperative program which offers over 205 online courses every year. These courses include Business Administration, Mathematics, Dietary Management, Pre-Nursing, and Military Studies. Their TRIO programs, which are funded through the United States Department of Education, provide free services and grants for online students. These services include free counseling, cultural enrichment activities, academic support through their tutoring lab, and workshops that help students become acclimated to the college experience.

Online Associate Degrees (49)

Online Certificate Programs (10)

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  • Annual Tuition: $5,490
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 84.0
  • At Odessa College, minority and low-income students can take eight-week semesters, which permits students to focus and tailor their education to their busy schedules. This innovative model increased enrollment, graduation rates, and financial aid awards. Odessa College also allows students to enroll in one free class, which helps students explore classes and college. This led to $653,102 in total tuition savings in 2015. With a course withdrawal rate of only 1.8%, students are supported by student mentors, success coaches, and faculty. Prospective students can choose from various online programs such as an Associate of Arts in Child Development, English, Psychology, and more.

  • Annual Tuition: $5,859
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 79.0
  • Fort Valley State University is a historically black college that was founded in 1895 and holds the esteemed position of being the only university in Georgia that is designated as an 1890 land-grant institution. They offer the Sallie Mae Fund Scholarship which provides close to $2.5 million dollars each year for minority and low-income students and the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve which provides up to $4,000 per year to students who commit to a teaching service after graduation for four academic years. heir online program offers undergraduate degrees in a number of majors, such as Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Political Science. They also offer an online graduate degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Online courses are currently $189 per undergraduate credit hour and $219 per graduate credit hour.

  • Annual Tuition: $5,965
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Mobility Score: 71.1
  • North Dakota State College of Science provides students with financial aid including grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans. The North Dakota University System Blackboard Learn allows students to take classes online that helps maintain the look and feel of an on-campus classroom. Prospective students can choose from a variety of online programs such as A.A.A. in Business Technology Management or an A.A.S. in Web Design and Development.

  • Annual Tuition: $6,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 75.3
  • Albany State University provides low-income students with the opportunity to participate in MALES, Men Advocates for Leadership, Excellence, and Success. This program pairs students with mentors who help male students overcome academic obstacles with an aim to increase graduation and retention rates. Students can also apply for Federal Grant programs, Foundation Scholarships, State Grant and Scholarship Programs, and more to ease the burden of tuition each year. Prospective students have access to online resources such as an online writing center and an online math center to assist them in their programs.

Online Associate Degrees (22)

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Online Master's Degrees (5)

Online Certificate Programs (8)

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  • Annual Tuition: $6,240
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 79.8
  • Lamar University started in 1932 with 125 students in its first semester. Now with over 15,000 enrolled, this Beaumont, TX college offers undergraduate and graduate online degrees, as well as dual credit courses for high school students. Undergraduate degrees include Computer Science, Industrial Technology, Criminal Justice, and graduate degrees include Master of Science in Public Health, Accelerated Master in Nursing, and Master of Business Administration in Management. Lamar University offers Federal Pell Grants of up to $5,920 for students who require financial assistance. There is also the Texas Public Education Grant and State HB Grants, from $200 to $3,000, and the Lamar University Promise which covers the full amount of tuition for qualified Texas students who have a Household Adjusted Gross Income of less than $25,000.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (15)

Online Master's Degrees (32)

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Online Doctoral Degrees (1)

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  • Annual Tuition: $6,750
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 80.0
  • Union College was founded in 1879 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. They offer online undergraduate degrees in Business Administration, Law Enforcement, General Management, Substance Abuse, RN-BSN, and General Studies. Their online graduate degrees include Master of Business in Administration, Master of Science in Administration, and Master of Science in Athletic Administration. Tuition for undergraduate students currently starts at $225 per credit hour and tuition for graduate students starts at $340 per credit hour. Union College s Student Support Services provides free academic advising, tutoring, counseling, and mentoring for low-income, first generation, and disabled students. Their Kentucky Tuition Grant and Supplemental Federal Grant provide money for Kentucky residents who require financial assistance.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,050
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 81.5
  • With almost 50,000 students, Central Texas College has been offering associate degrees, vocational degrees, adult continuing education, and high school programs since 1965. Their online associate s degree courses include Modern Language, Business Management, Applied Technology, and Teacher Education. They also provide many online courses in Military Training and Education. Their commitment to affordable education is exemplified by their Central Texas College Scholarship Fund, which is awarded every year to eligible high school students.

Online Associate Degrees (29)

Online Certificate Programs (30)

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  • Annual Tuition: $7,073
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 73.4
  • Broward College is committed to excellent and affordable access to higher education, with over 145 bachelor s, associate s, and certificate programs available to their student body. They re serious about online instruction as well, providing webinars to help matriculating students and textbook-free courses online so students can save on materials. Broward is already known for having some of the lowest tuition rates in Florida and due to a $2.2 million grant from the Department of Education in 2015, there are now even more programs and scholarships available for low-income students who are struggling to pay for tuition.

Online Associate Degrees (15)

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  • Annual Tuition: $7,499
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 82.3
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is committed to accessible education for low-income students with a focus on innovation and sustainable development. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs, as well certificate programs, and partial online programs in Criminology, Multidisciplinary Studies, and Health Services Technology. Along with its traditional 16-week semesters, it also offers accelerated 7-week semesters. In 2017, the Department of Education gave the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley $21.2 million for its Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP. This was the second-largest grant ever endowed to a UT System school and the money will go to help low-income students prepare for their matriculation into higher education.

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  • Annual Tuition: $7,525
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Mobility Score: 66.7
  • Carl Albert State College was founded in 1933 and named after the Speaker of the House at that time, Carl Albert. Their average cost for an online 3 credit course is a bit under $500 and students can major in General Studies, Social Science, Sociology/Psychology, Computer Technology, Business Administration, and Child Development. They offer 17 and 8-week courses so students can finish their degree at an accelerated rate. Carl Albert State College students average less than $2,000 of student loan debt for two years of education, which is much lower than the national average.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,950
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Mobility Score: 84.3
  • Annually, Southeastern Oklahoma State University serves 1,620 individuals through the Educational Opportunity Center program and 3,149 students through the TRIO programs. The TRIO program Upward Bound, which helps students prepare for and succeed in college, began in 1966 at Southeastern. Through these programs, students are connected to mentors, counselors, and tutors for guidance on course selection, financial aid, and more. Prospective students can choose from many online Master s degrees, such as a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction as well as an MBA in Finance.

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Score: 66.8
  • Established in 1906, SUNY College of Technology at Canton was the first two-year, postsecondary college in New York. SUNY Canton has 13 online degrees and over 450 online courses available for distance learners. Their online programs include Agribusiness Management, Homeland Security, Mechanical Engineering, and Game Design Development. Federal Pell Grants are awarded for up to $5,920 per academic year and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are available for up to $1,500 per year.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Score: 87.2
  • With an enrollment of over 10,000, SUNY Empire State College has 13 undergraduate degrees with 13 majors and 11 fields of study within those degrees. SUNY Empire State College has been committed to distance learning since 1971 and offers more than 400 online courses in undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. In 2017, SUNY Empire State College s Institute of International Education offered 100 low-income students $2,000 travel grants for studying abroad. They also provide assistance through the New York State Educational Opportunity Program, the Excelsior Scholarship, and the Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive.

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Mobility Score: 85.8
  • First generation college students and/or students that have a lower income status can qualify for the Student Support Services program at the University of Buffalo. This program assigns participants an advisor to help guide their academic and professional goals as well as overcome obstacles. Prospective students can expect to find various graduate online degrees to pursue, such as a Master of Social Work or a Master of Science in Information and Library Science. All fully online courses are delivered by seasoned practitioners and tenure-track faculty. The University of Buffalo offers strong student engagement and student services to their online students.

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,040
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 65.9
  • Founded in 1965, Craven Community College educates around 3,200 students in beautiful New Bern, NC. They have associate, diploma, and certificate programs in a number of different majors. Their Information Technologies discipline is particularly robust with courses in Accounting Tech, Productivity Software, Web Development Specialist, and Linux Operating Systems. Because of their commitment to providing affordable education to all their students, Craven Community College has over 80 scholarships that are available to their student body every year.

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,250
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 78.1
  • Nicholls State University, which sits on 287 acres of land in Thibodaux, LA, was founded on September 23, 1948 and named after two-term Louisiana governor Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls. Nicholls has a little over 5,750 students and the gender distribution is heavily female with the male population clocking in at 34% of the total enrollment while the female population is a whopping 65%. Nicholls s online program offers undergraduate classes that can be completed in their accelerated 8-week schedule. Courses begin in January, March, June, August, and October. Students who take three online courses a semester can graduate in three years. They offer the need-based Louisiana Go Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant for students with the lowest Expected Family Contribution who are also awarded a Federal Pell Grant.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,750
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 76.3
  • Established in 1931, The University of Louisiana Monroe offers over 30 degree programs and plenty of online courses. Online degree programs include Business Administration, Science in Elementary Education, Medical Laboratory Science, and Health Studies. They also offer a Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy. University of Louisiana Monroe provides a My Homework Application which helps students keep track of their homework and assignments on their phone.

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,775
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Mobility Score: 66.2
  • Built overlooking the Missouri River, Bismarck State College was established in 1939 and continues to be one of the most affordable colleges in North Dakota. Close to two-thirds of Bismarck students are enrolled in at least one online course and 44% of their student body is enrolled exclusively in online classes. More than $625,000 in scholarships are awarded every year and their North Dakota State Student Incentive Grant Program offers around $7,900 - $8,500 in grants for North Dakota residents.

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  • Annual Tuition: $8,912
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 77.3
  • The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is the only university in the world named after a geological formation. It is surrounded by one of the U.S. s largest oilfields and houses over 7,000 students. UTPB awards close to $15 million a year in financial aid. The Simple Access Valuable E-textbook Project, or SAFE, is a program that encourages faculty to create course materials that are more affordable and easy to access on the internet. UTPB offers online undergraduate and graduate classes for national and international students, as well as Texas residents. They offer courses in Industrial Technology, Marketing, Political Science, and more. They also offer certificate and endorsement classes such as their Fast-Track to Teaching certificate and their University Certificate in Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Early Childhood.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,915
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 97.2
  • Texas A&M University Kingsville s Office of Student Access offers First-Generation students access to programs such as Student Support Services, which assists 240 students with basic college requirements and reaching their academic potential; the Educational Opportunity Center, which provides counseling information on college admissions; and Upward Bound, which aims to help students succeed in their pre-college performance and higher education pursuits. Students can choose from many online degrees, such as an MBA. This program aims to empower both working and full-time students to be leaders in their communities.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 71.7
  • University of Florida offers a number of online majors including courses in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Warrington College of Business. Online credit hours are currently $300 per credit hour. Through their Online Optional Fee Package program, the University of Florida offers online students access to student services, such as, recreational and intramural sports, access to the Student Health Care Center, and free fare for their Regional Transit System.

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Online Master's Degrees (109)

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Mobility Score: 97.6
  • The University of Texas at El Paso is the only research university in the U.S. that has a majority Mexican-American population. Their online undergraduate majors include Chicano Studies, Media Advertising, Security Studies, and Criminal Justice. They also offer many online graduate courses, especially in their School of Nursing. 50% of University of Texas at El Paso students have annual family incomes of less than $38,000, so this university is committed to helping lower-income students achieve their goals. Their Paydirt loan program offers students an immediate short-term loan of up to $500 for emergency situations and the Promise Grant covers up to 15 credit hours of tuition for undergraduate Texas-resident students who have a yearly family income of less than $30,000.

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  • Annual Tuition: $9,360
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Mobility Score: 65.8
  • In 2017, University of Washington s College of Engineering STARS (STate Academic RedShirt) program was awarded $2.2 million to improve access for low-income students. This program aims to fund programming that helps students earn bachelor s degrees in STEM education, offering engineering students from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds extra academic support. In addition to STEM degrees, University of Washington offers programs such as a Bachelor of Arts in Early Care and Education as well as a Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management.

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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.