In order to be considered for our 2019 Most Affordable Online Colleges with Open Admissions, schools needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Offer at least three fully online bachelor's degrees.
  • Have regional accreditation.
  • Offer an open admissions policy, as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics
  • Have reported four-year graduation rate and retention rate to the National Center for Education Statistics
  • Have reported mid-career alumni salaries from PayScale

Schools were then ranked according to their annual tuition rates.

Annual tuition numbers for these schools were manually researched and represent the bachelor degree level. Out-of-state tuitions were used unless in-state tuition is offered to all online students. Tuition was calculated assuming full-time status. Unless otherwise stated, bachelor’s programs were assumed to require four years to complete and master’s programs were assumed to require two years.

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 schools' official websites, reflecting data for the 2018-2019 school year. Programmatic accreditation and profit status of schools were collected from official websites of the accreditation agencies or from the National Center for Education Statistics. Open Admissions/Open Enrollment status was also collected from the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES is the primary governmental entity for gathering and presenting data related to education. NCES data are updated annually. The NCES does not release data into downloadable formats until they have been approved, so the most current available data will not be for the most recent academic year.