In 2013, more than 207,000 students were enrolled in Nebraska's 52 colleges, universities, and career schools at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate levels. Nebraska ranks 37th in the nation for number of colleges and 37th for student volume -- one of every 142 college students in the United States chooses the Cornhusker State for higher education. Nebraska schools are known for traditional academic programs as well as career-oriented offerings such as cosmetology, real estate, and massage therapy. Postsecondary education in Nebraska is available through the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska State college system, community and tribal colleges, independent colleges and universities, and private career schools:
|College Type||Number in Nebraska|
|Private not-for-profit (religious affiliation)||14|
|Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation)||5|
Top Cities in Nebraska for Postsecondary Education
Nebraska colleges can be found across the state, with the greatest concentration of schools and students in major cities like Lincoln and Omaha, close to the border of Iowa. Take a look at the landscape of colleges in Nebraska:
Most Popular Cities for College Students (Total)
- Omaha (60,200)
- Lincoln (45,500)
- Grand Island (13,100)
- Bellevue (9,200)
- Scottsbluff (8,500)
Cities with the Most Colleges (Total)
- Omaha (18)
- Lincoln (12)
- Scottsbluff (3)
- Fremont (2)
Focus on Omaha: The College Landscape
Students in Omaha can take advantage of undergraduate and graduate opportunities at institutions such as Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). Also located in Omaha is Grace University, a private Christian school that encompasses Grace College of the Bible, Grace College of Graduate Studies and Grace College of Continuing Education.
Omaha's public postsecondary institutions focus on recruiting diverse groups of students, including personnel at Offutt Air Force Base. UNO proudly reports that almost one-third of its students are the first in their families to attend college. At the community college level, MCC provides easy access to education through multiple campuses, including one in Elkhorn near West Omaha. MCC also serves the community through five off-campus centers and opportunities at several local high schools. The college's broad outreach efforts include the Gateway to College program, a high school diploma completion initiative targeting at-risk students. Part of a nationwide network, the Gateway to College program at MCC is the first in Nebraska.
Online Learning Options in Omaha
While the University of Nebraska system boasts numerous online and hybrid offerings, students at the Omaha campus have additional opportunities. The UNO Division of Continuing Studies' Bachelor of General Studies program offers personalized learning in 50 areas of study. U.S. News & World Report ranks this degree among the nation's 20 top online bachelor's programs for 2014. UNO students also find flexible options for online graduate degrees and certificates, for example, a master's in social gerontology.
Thanks to MCC, Omaha students have access to a variety of online courses and degree programs at the two-year college level. More than 40 web-based options include Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees as well as career certificates and certificates of achievement. MCC students can select among online degree programs aimed at professional paths, for example, database administration or medical office management. Other online offerings focus on preparing students for the transition to four-year institutions, with transfer degrees in business, computer technology, general studies and liberal arts.
Online Colleges and Universities in Nebraska
In the early days of online education, private for-profit institutions took center stage nationwide. Today, however, a growing number of traditional colleges in Nebraska have added online learning to their education offerings, expanding access to those who can't make it to a brick-and-mortar classroom. In 2013, 17 four-year colleges in the state offered online courses or programs. In fact, the University of Nebraska (NU) prides itself as a leader in online education. Online Worldwide is an NU system-wide initiative that offers students more than 100 online and hybrid degree and certificate programs, all of which are of the same high quality as the university's traditional on-campus programs. To see how these schools stack up, and for more information on tuition, fees, enrollment and their online courses and programs, check out the list below.
Colleges in Nebraska: Tuition, Fees and Cost of Living
For students planning their college education, financial issues often top the list of concerns. The biggest expense comes in the form of tuition, which varies according to school, location and resident status. Thankfully, tuition at Nebraska colleges is lower than in many other states. In 2012, college tuition for Nebraska residents averaged $11,392 per year, placing Nebraska 24th in the nation for in-state tuition affordability.
But education expenses don't end with tuition. Many colleges and universities also charge activity fees, health fees, parking fees or technology fees. Nebraska college fees averaged ~$1,300 per student in 2012, bringing the total tuition and fees to $12,700 for the year for Nebraska students.
Tuition and fees are the primary financial consideration for college students, but living expenses such as room and board can also make a major dent in the budget. In Nebraska, however, the cost of living is approximately 10 percent lower than the national average, which can make a world of difference for cash-strapped college students. Take a closer look at the cost of living (COL) for Nebraska's major metropolitan areas compared to the national average (100%):
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
When comparing the financial costs and benefits of colleges, future students often focus on tuition. Yet considering that college is an investment, it’s perhaps more important to think about the potential return on that investment (ROI). The list below includes the colleges in Nebraska with the highest ROI in the state, with ROI being the result of an average graduate’s lifetime earnings minus total cost of attendance:
- Creighton University
- University of Nebraska – Lincoln
- Clarkson College
- University of Nebraska - Omaha
- Nebraska Wesleyan University
Scholarships and Federal Financial Aid
The price of a college education can be daunting, but students in Nebraska who take advantage of a variety of national, state and school-based financial aid can offset the costs considerably. The first step for all students is to fill out the FAFSA, which is required for eligibility for federal financial aid. In Nebraska, 62 percent of undergraduate students were awarded federal aid in 2012, placing the state 37th in the nation.
Scholarships serve as another important source of financial assistance, awarding students money for college that does not need to be repaid. Students in Nebraska can apply for scholarships from their individual colleges and universities, as well as from private companies, nonprofit organizations and the state itself. Some of the major entities offering scholarships to Nebraska students include:
- AQHF Nebraska
- Better Business Bureau
- Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
- Korean American Scholarship Foundation – Midwest Regional Chapter
- MGMA Midwest Section
- Nebraska Elks Association
- Oxbow Animal Health
- Urban League of Nebraska, Inc.
- Willa Cather Foundation
If you want to be eligible for any form of financial aid, the Nebraska college you're considering must be accredited. Accreditation means that a school or program has met a specific set of quality and educational standards, and is, therefore, eligible to receive federal funding. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (http://www.ncahlc.org/) is the regional accrediting organization for Nebraska colleges and universities. Colleges and universities can have multiple accreditations. For example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, while many of its programs also maintain specialized accreditation by specialized accrediting agencies--the university's forensic science program is accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission, while its clinical psychology and counseling psychology programs maintain accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Current and aspiring college students in Nebraska must weigh their options when planning for higher education. School choice, campus vs. online learning, and financial aid opportunities are all key factors in the college decision. Browse the Nebraska college profiles below to learn more about each school, including their online education offerings.
AC Online: Ranking the Most Affordable Online Colleges in Nebraska
Nebraska is an excellent place to find some of the best online degree programs in the country. These distance-learning opportunities boast fully online four-year degrees from accredited colleges. Though classified as “distance” learning, unparalleled access to respected professors and an array of curriculum choices means that there is no distance between you and the benefits that on-campus students enjoy. Similar tuition assistance and admission requirements are also mirrored in the online schools of Nebraska. To ease your search, we’ve created a list of the very best online degree programs in Nebraska, ranked from lowest tuition to highest. Enjoy the multitude of choices among Nebraska online colleges.Click here to see our methodology.