online degree programs

Average cost of online college degree programs


Students choose online degree programs for different reasons. Nevertheless, the most common of these reasons is the affordability of studying at an online college. Most students are aware that taking courses online reduces the cost of an undergraduate degree. However, they may be unaware of how much money they can save.

In this article, we will talk about the average cost of online college degree programs. Consequently, you will be able to have the necessary information before deciding to pursue online degrees. Online colleges provide a convenient, adaptable path to a degree. Distance learning is frequently appealing to working adults who must juggle their studies with other obligations. Let us observe:

  1. How much do online college degree programs cost?
  2. Are online degree programs cheaper than traditional degrees?
  3. How can you pay for your online degree programs?

1. How much do online college degree programs cost?

Most prospective students consider direct costs such as tuition and fees charged to distance learners when calculating the overall cost of college degree programs. However, indirect costs can significantly increase degree expenses. 

1.1 What is the net cost of online degree programs?

The entire sum you pay in tuition is typically referred to as the net cost of an online degree. Tuition is typically paid on a per-credit basis for online students. For each credit they attempt, a college might charge undergraduate students $300 in tuition. Since most bachelor’s programs require 120 credits, students at that institution must pay a total of $36,000 in tuition to earn their online degrees.

The sum of money you obtain in grants, scholarships, or other ways of financial aid is also taken into account when calculating net cost. For instance, if your university charges $60,000 in tuition for a degree and you are awarded a $10,000 annual scholarship, your four-year education will only cost you $20,000 overall. 

The financial aid alternatives available to students who pursue their degrees on campus might not be available to online learners. Some online colleges also charge out-of-state tuition as their only option.

1.2 How do online school fees work?

Most students pay several fees. A typical application fee at most colleges and universities is no more than $100. For specific student populations, such as active-duty military recruits, veterans, or the families of those individuals, some schools may waive this fee.

Online students must pay fees related to distance education; even though they can usually avoid paying for campus-based services like parking, meal plans, or the required student health insurance. For instance, a college might impose a technology or online learning fee on a per-credit or per-course basis.

Additionally, schools may charge fees for taking online classes, transferring credits, or missing the tuition payment deadline. To find out about all the fees you might have to pay as an online student, be sure to get in touch with the financial services or billing office at your college.

Furthermore, when calculating the cost of online degree programs, students must consider the cost of housing and other expenses. On top of tuition, students frequently spend around $10,000 per year on expenses. Online college students can save money on housing, transportation, and parking by taking their classes at home.

2. Are online degree programs cheaper than traditional degrees?

While online college can be less expensive than traditional colleges on average, tuition costs vary greatly according to the academy. In general, tuition at in-state public schools is the lowest, while tuition at private universities and colleges is the highest. Students can learn more about the costs of various types of schools by clicking on the links below.

2.1 In-state versus out-of-state colleges

The residency status of students affects their tuition at public colleges. For in-state students, public colleges offer substantial tuition discounts. According to studies, in-state tuition and fees at 4-year universities cost students an average of $8,800. Out-of-state students paid $24,850 on average per year in tuition and fees, which is nearly three times as much.

Since state funding covers a portion of their operating costs, public schools provide reduced tuition for residents of the state. Because of this, enrolling in an in-state public college can result in annual tuition savings of thousands of dollars. 

For online students, many public colleges offer reduced tuition rates. Some schools charge all distance learners the same in-state tuition rate, regardless of where they live. Others charge online students less in tuition than out-of-state, on-campus students. The average price of online college at a public institute therefore frequently costs less than out-of-state tuition rates.

2.2 2-year versus 4-year colleges

In general, two-year colleges are less expensive than four-year ones. According to the NCES, the average cost of a two-year public college is approximately $3,000 per year, while the most affordable four-year colleges charge nearly $9,000 per year in tuition and fees.

An increasing number of community colleges often meet the general education requirements for four-year colleges. Two-year colleges offer online degree programs in a range of majors. At a community college, students can also earn credits online that they can later transfer to a four-year institution.

2.3 Private versus public colleges

Private colleges do not receive state funding, but public colleges do. Private colleges therefore typically charge more than public universities. According to the NCES, in-state students at public 4-year colleges paid about $8,800 annually in in-state tuition, whereas students at private schools paid about $29,500 annually.

However, since private colleges frequently offer financial aid more than public colleges, the actual cost of a private college frequently falls below the reported tuition price. Private universities make use of their endowments to provide scholarships, grants fellowships, and assistantships to students. The criteria for these awards are academic excellence and financial need.

3. How can you pay for your online degree programs?

To pay for their education, many online students need financial aid, even when the average cost of an online college can be less than that of a traditional university. These are some of the options students can obtain when looking to pursue college degree programs:

  • Fill out the FAFSA form.
  • Seek out loans.
  • Apply for grants.
  • Do work study.
  • Apply for scholarships.