In 2013, Ohio’s nearly 400 institutions of higher education served more than one million students at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate levels. This ranks Ohio 6th in the nation for number of colleges and 8th for student volume. One of every 30 college students in the United States chooses to earn a college education in Ohio. Perhaps Ohio’s most notable educational feature, however, is institutional diversity. The state boasts a diverse collection of community and junior colleges, public four-year colleges, religious institutions and online colleges.
Top Cities in Ohio for College Education
Ohio colleges reside in a variety of locations, with various mid-sized urban areas making up a majority of the student population and number of colleges. Here’s a look at the college and student landscape in Ohio:
Most Popular Cities for College Students (Total)
- Columbus (154,082 total students)
- Cincinnati (90,958)
- Cleveland (87,491)
- Dayton (79,341)
- Akron (37,323)
Cities with the Most Colleges (Total)
- Columbus (37 total colleges)
- Cincinnati (35)
- Cleveland (16)
- Dayton (15)
- Akron (11)
Columbus, Ohio: Spotlight on Education
Ohio’s state capital and largest city, Columbus has a celebrated past in higher education, primarily for its flagship campus of The Ohio State University (OSU). OSU offers 137 undergraduate degrees and hosts 57,466 undergrad students with the largest percentage of enrollments in engineering, business, arts and sciences, and education. OSU was ranked 16th among the best public universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The other public college in the city, Columbus State Community College, features two-year degree programs targeting industries such as human services, business, health, information systems, technology, law and paralegal assisting.
Among private institutions, Ohio Dominican University has a Catholic foundation but serves students of all backgrounds. ODU provides a selection of 45 undergraduate and 11 graduate degree programs as well as a degree-completion program offered at night school. Columbus is home to several independent colleges and universities, including Franklin University, Ohio Business College, Capital University Law School, the Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio Institute of Health Careers and Bradford School.
Plugging In: Columbus Online Schools
Columbus residents can complete a college degree without ever stepping on campus. Columbus State Community College is the largest Ohio provider of distance education, delivering offerings in entirely online or blended (hybrid) formats. Its extensive selection of associate degree programs include accounting, architecture, business management, digital design, environmental health and safety, finance, health information management, marketing, nursing and supply chain management. OSU has been nationally recognized for its digital programs: U.S. News & World Report has ranked them among the best online offerings for bachelor’s programs and graduate programs in education, engineering and nursing.
Columbus is a city built of neighborhoods with diverse cultural and educational opportunities such as the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), the zoo, the Columbus Museum of Art and festivals throughout the year. Many of the city’s 810,000 residents enjoy the Short North Arts district, the bar crawl in the Arena District or the German Village Book Loft with more than 32 display rooms -- not to mention Buckeyes football games.
Online Colleges in Ohio
In all states, including Ohio, private for-profit institutions dominated online learning for years. Yet over the last decade or more, many traditional colleges in Ohio have incorporated distance learning into their program and course line-ups, giving students the chance to work toward certificates or degrees remotely. In 2013, 161 colleges in the state offered online learning in some capacity. One online college leading the way is Ohio State University. In addition to an increasing program and course list, the university stresses value, quality and rigor in all of its distance learning. Franklin University in Columbus also holds its online programs to the highest of academic standards, and offers degree options in 34 different areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, respectively.
Cost Matters: Tuition and COL in Ohio
College hopefuls looking to study in Ohio need to be mindful of the numerous costs that come with higher education. At the most basic level, tuition serves as the principle college-related expense, and varies depending on school, location and residency. In 2012, Ohio students who had established residency in the state paid an average of $13,665 per year in tuition, placing Ohio 14th nationally when it comes to the priciest in-state tuition.
On top of tuition, most colleges and universities have fees associated with attendance, which can include parking, technology fees, lab fees and a small fee to secure access to the recreational facility. In 2012, fees at Ohio colleges averaged $479 per student per year, bringing the total tuition + fees for Ohio students to $14,144 per school year.
While tuition and fees make up the primary education costs for students, they also need to think about living expenses, most notably room and board. In general, the state of Ohio has a cost of living approximately 7 percent lower than the national average, a great sign for students on a budget. Here’s a closer look at the cost of living (COL) for Ohio’s major metropolitan areas compared to the national average (100):
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
Financial Aid and Other Funding for Students
When it comes to making college affordable, Ohio students have a number of national, state and school-based options. Federal financial aid, for instance, can make a serious difference for students at all college educational levels. Federal aid starts with filling out the required FAFSA forms so Uncle Sam can distribute funds based on need. In Ohio, 71 percent of undergraduate students received federal aid in 2012, putting the state 16th in the nation.
Scholarships offer students another avenue of financial assistance, many of which can be used in conjunction with federal aid. In Ohio, students can receive scholarships from the schools themselves, or from top non-profit organizations, private companies and local governments. Some of Ohio’s major entities that offer scholarships include:
- AA Plumbing
- Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
- Kiwanis Club of Sydney, OH
- McColloch-Baker Insurance Agency
- NTA Ohio
- Ohio Baptist Education Society
- Ohio Safety Officers
- Ohio Travel Association
- PMI-NEO Leadership Institute
- Ratermann Insurance Agency
- RCF, Inc.
- Robert E. Grubbs Foundation
- Shelby County, OH – Law Student Assistance Fund
- The Ohio Academy of Science
Accreditation for Colleges in Ohio
Whether receiving federal aid, a scholarship or another sort of funding, every Ohio college hopeful needs to consider accreditation. In order to receive financial assistance of any kind, the school you plan to attend must meet certain quality standards, often set by a regional or a national accrediting agency. The primary accrediting body active in Ohio is the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (http://www.northcentralassociation.org/). This private agency visits post-secondary institutions in Ohio (and elsewhere in the region) to ensure they adhere to peer-reviewed quality criteria. Also, Ohio universities may seek accreditation for special programs or schools within the institution. For example, Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law receives accreditation from the American Bar Association.
For current and future college students in Ohio, there’s a lot to think about when making college-related decision. Where to go, how to learn (campus or online), how to pay for it all, etc. The above information should provide a sufficient starting point. For more information about individual colleges in Ohio, especially on the specifics of their online program and course offerings, browse their profiles below.
Ohio offers some of the nation's most affordable online programs, but affordability isn't everything. To get a closer look at the state of distance learning in Ohio, we spoke to Youngstown State University's online department. Here's what they had to say:
Youngstown State University
How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?
YSU's approach to online learning is to support the delivery of high-quality, accredited, fully online degree programs, and provide world-class customer service to assist in the gainful employment of YSU online learners. Additionally, YSU's approach is to supports and assist in the creation, delivery, training, and student support for our faculty teaching distance learners in all online degree programs offered.
What makes your online programs so valuable to students?
At YSU, we offer both high quality and highly sought after degree programs. We have world-class faculty and top-notch student service being offered out of the office of Distance Education. This will ensure current and future service an unparalleled experience in pursing their online degree.
Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?
In the next five years, we at YSU expect more online program offerings and for those to be unique, media rich and state-of-the-art in terms of design, development, and delivery. We also expect them to remain affordable and be exceptionally diverse in our student population by hopefully seeing enrollments from all 50 states and many other countries.
Ranking: Most Affordable Online Colleges in Ohio
Ohio is garnering a reputation for providing some of the best online distance education programs in the nation. This reputation comes from the numerous fully online four-year degree programs in Ohio. These accredited programs offer the same curriculum, professors, and admissions requirements as their on-site equivalent, giving students the ability to earn an online degree identical to those granted on campus. With convenience in scheduling, accessibility, and tuition assistance, Ohio online colleges are an excellent value. To help in your search, we’ve created a directory of the finest online schools in Ohio. Ordered from lowest tuition to highest, you’ll find a perfect match for your educational needs at one of these Ohio schools.Click here to see our methodology.