The Most Affordable Online Colleges

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Updated November 14, 2022

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Did you know online college can be an affordable way to earn a degree? Discover the cheapest online colleges and the costs of an online degree.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A college degree has plenty of upsides: You can increase your earning potential and job prospects while also benefiting from a lower unemployment rate than those without a degree.

But college is a big investment, and you might be worried about the cost. You can earn affordable degrees by enrolling in online colleges with cheaper tuition and fees.

The most affordable colleges offer degrees in various fields, such as business, healthcare, and engineering. Students can choose a major and electives to fit their career goals. These accredited online colleges also meet the same high standards as traditional colleges.

This page lists the cheapest online colleges. Use our ranking to find the best fit for your budget and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Degrees


  • Are online degrees cheaper than traditional college degrees?

    Yes. The average online-only undergraduate degree costs $4,291 per year compared to $4,707 for non-online-only undergraduate degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

  • Can I go to college online for free?

    Some online colleges offer tuition-free options to qualifying students. Learners can also apply for scholarships and grants. These options provide free money for college.

  • Are online colleges cheaper?

    Yes, online college can be cheaper. Online students can save money on campus-related expenses, such as campus fees, room and board, meal plans, and commuting.

  • Is online college worth it?

    Online college is worth the investment for two main reasons: Your employment and earnings potential significantly increases with a bachelor's or master's degree, and data shows employers take online degrees just as seriously as traditional degrees.

  • Does college cost more at the different degree levels?

    Tuition and fees may cost more or less as you increase your college degree. According to the NCES, these are the average annual costs by degree level:


Featured Cheap Online Colleges


Why Get a Cheap Degree Online?

To pay for school, a typical college graduate may take on up to $30,000 in debt, according to the Association of Land-Grant Universities. Getting a degree from schools with cheaper online programs can save you money and give you flexibility with convenience. The big perk: You can customize your class schedule so it doesn't interrupt your work or family responsibilities.

A college degree can also help you pay off debt quicker because it increases your salary potential and job security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with a bachelor's degree earn $27,000 more yearly than those with a high school diploma. Plus, median annual salaries increase at every degree level, and unemployment rates drop.

Pros of Getting a Degree Online

  • Flexible learning schedule
  • Learn from anywhere
  • Work while earning your degree
  • No commuting necessary
  • More free time

Cons of Getting a Degree Online

  • Needs more self-discipline
  • Requires technical savviness
  • Increased social isolation or loneliness
  • Added screen time
  • Lack of hands-on interaction

The Cheapest Online Colleges 2022

See Our Rankings Methodology

  1. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    Location

    Little Rock, AR

    Tuition

    $13751

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Business, communications, criminal justice, education, health and social sciences, information sciences, interdisciplinary, writing

    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    UA Little Rock offers certificates and cheap online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can enroll in one or more of about 400 courses, and prices and academic requirements vary by program.

    For example, the master's degree in health education and promotion requires 36 graduate credits and costs $383 per credit. The bachelor's degree in history, by contrast, requires 120 credits to graduate and costs $280 per credit.

    Undergraduate applicants should submit a high school transcript and SAT or ACT scores. Graduate applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA and may need to send GRE or MAT scores.

    Available Scholarships: Chancellor's Academic Distinction

  2. Franklin University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Analytics, business, education, finance and accounting, healthcare, management, marketing and communications, nursing, public and social sciences, technology

    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Located in Columbus, OH, Franklin University has focused on education for working adults throughout its 115-year history. The average Franklin student is 34 years old, and about 80% of the university's students are learning online.

    Franklin's online programs include certificates, associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees across a wide variety of disciplines. Remote learners can access Franklin's faculty and advisors after 5:00 pm thanks to the school's late-night support initiative.

    Application requirements vary by degree level. The university maintains a generous transfer policy, and 90% of its students transfer credits from other schools.

    Available Scholarships: The Franklin University Undergraduate Scholars Program

  3. Brenau University
    Location

    Gainesville, GA

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Education, autism endorsement, human resource management, liberal studies, communication, accounting, business, finance, marketing, organizational leadership, psychology

    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Founded as a women's college in 1878, Brenau began co-educational programs in 1972. Today, the university maintains seven campus locations in Georgia and Florida along with an online campus.

    Brenau first launched online education in 1998 and now offers about 40 affordable online college degrees. Online students can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's, graduate certificate, or doctorat. Subjects include business, education, accounting, and leadership. Courses operate on a seven-week format, and each course is asynchronous in its delivery.

    Admission requirements vary according to program level. Prospective students should contact Brenau's admission team to learn about the specific requirements for their program of interest.

    Available Scholarships: Trustee and Faculty Excellence Scholarships

  4. Franciscan University of Steubenville
    Location

    Steubenville, OH

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Dual enrollment, theology, philosophy, management, clinical psychology, Catholic studies, education, business administration, catechetics and evangelization

    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Founded in 1946 with 258 students, Franciscan's first semester lasted just one month. Today, the university maintains its Catholic spirit and employs a modern approach to education. Franciscan students can pursue cheap online degrees, including associate, bachelor's, and master's programs.

    Though flexible and individualized, Franciscan's interactive learning environment incorporates collaborative approaches to education. Online learners engage professors and peers one on one while also studying independently.

    Prospective graduate students need a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate applicants need a high school GPA with a 2.4 GPA or better along with acceptable ACT or SAT scores. Qualifying high school students may participate in Franciscan's fast-track program to get an early start on college education.

    Available Scholarships: Chancellor's Scholarship

  5. Delgado Community College
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $9795

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Accounting, business, cloud computing, computer information technology, criminal justice, general studies, and hospitality management

    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Located in Slidell, LA, Delgado is the state's oldest and largest community college, serving more than 13,000 students. The school maintains six campuses along with an online program.

    Today, Delgado offers associate degrees and certificates online with a focus on education for career-preparation. Prior to enrolling in one of Delgado's cheap online degrees, students can take a success in college course to prepare for their college experience.

    In addition to its fully online programs, the college provides numerous hybrid learning opportunities. All off-campus learners can enjoy access to tutoring, the writing center, exam proctoring, and videos on demand.

    Available Scholarships: Building Futures Scholarship for Construction Management

  6. Ozark Christian College
    Location

    Joplin, MO

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Biblical studies
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Located on a 60-acre campus in Joplin, MO, OCC has trained students for Christian service for more than 79 years. Since its founding, the school has graduated 15,000-plus students, and about 90% of them serve in ministry.

    OCC offers an online bachelor's degree in biblical studies. This cheap online degree requires 120 credits, including 42 credits of biblical education. Graduates may serve as church planters, student ministers, preaching ministers, or directors of parachurch ministries.

    Applicants must complete the online application and send all previous transcripts. The school offers five start dates for its online program.

    Available Scholarships: Online Platinum Scholarship

  7. Glen Oaks Community College
    Location

    Centreville, MI

    Tuition

    $6208

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: General studies; nursing and health
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

    Situated in Centreville, MI, GOCC occupies a 142-acre campus that was once a private farm. Today, the school works with Michigan Colleges Online, a project of the Michigan Community College Association, to deliver internet-based education.

    GOCC's affordable online degrees include an associate of general studies and a certified coding specialist certificate. Both programs require at least 16 credits from GOCC with an additional 47 transfer credits. Graduates of the coding specialist program may sit for the certified coding specialist-physician office exam and/or the certified coding specialist- CCS exam.

    Throughout the semester, GOCC offers free, online, live tutoring for degree-seekers learning online.

    Available Scholarships: Glen Oaks Community College Foundation Scholarship

  8. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
    Location

    Salisbury, NC

    Tuition

    $3963

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Accounting and finance, business administration, criminal justice technology, early childhood education, emergency management, emergency medical science, fire protection technology, healthcare management technology, information technology

    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

    RCCC sits in Salisbury, NC where it serves more than 20,000 students in both curriculum and continuing education courses. The institution offers 49 degrees and 31 diplomas.

    Online learners can take advantage of more than 250 courses, 17 degrees, nine diplomas, and 37 certificates. These affordable online college programs include blended, hybrid, and 100% online learning experiences.

    New student applicants must complete an application and send transcripts of previous academic work. Prospective students must also complete a residence determination form. Currently, 49% of RCCC students live in Cabarrus County, 36% in Rowan County, and 15% in other NC counties.

    Available Scholarships: Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation

  9. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
    Location

    Indianapolis, IN

    Tuition

    $9807

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Applied science, business, computing and technology, design, education, general studies, health and health sciences, humanities, informatics, labor studies, library science, mathematics, music, parks and recreation, philanthropy, physical education and tourism management, public affairs and administration, public health, science, social work

    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

    Founded more than 50 years ago as a partnership between Indiana University and Purdue University, IUPUI today provides 550 graduate, undergraduate, and professional programs.

    Off-campus learners can choose from more than 200 cheap online degrees, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. Although most courses take place 100% online, some classes require in-person meetings or virtual meetings at specific times.

    Applicants can take advantage of IUPUI's transfer policy, which allows undergraduates to transfer up to 69 credits from community colleges and 90 credits from four-year institutions. Interested learners should submit the appropriate application — graduate or undergraduate — and an admissions representative will follow up with further information.

    Available Scholarships: IU General Scholarship Application

  10. Daemen College
    Location

    Amherst, NY

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Applied behavior analysis, business administration, public health, social work, nursing
    Accredited By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Located in Amherst, NY, Daemen College has offered a private, non-sectarian education since its founding in the 1940s. Today, the school provides hybrid and affordable online degrees for off-campus learners.

    Students can complete partial requirements for board certification in applied behavior analysis by earning a master's degree or a post-master's certificate. Degree-seekers may pursue an MBA, a hybrid master's in public health, or a master's in social work. The school also offers an RN-to-BSN program for registered nurses with an associate degree.

    Applicants to the MBA do not need to take the GMAT, but all master's programs require a bachelor's degree for admission.

    Available Scholarships: Founders Scholarship


How Much Does an Online Degree Cost?

The cost of an online degree varies by school and degree level. Students who attend in-state public schools pay the most affordable tuition. According to the NCES, learners at in-state public colleges spent an average of $9,350 in 2019-2020. Students attending private colleges spent over $32,770.

An online learning format may save students money. Learners can attend the most affordable programs without relocating. The cheapest online colleges may offer distance learners tuition discounts.

How to Make College More Affordable


  1. 1

    Earn Credit at a Two-Year College

    Research shows two-year colleges are far more affordable than four-year institutions. You can earn credits at these colleges, then transfer them to a four-year school to finish your degree.

    If price is a major deciding factor, transferring credits can save you thousands of dollars. This path also works for both online and in-person education.

  2. 2

    Residency in Another State

    If you prefer in-person education but are worried about the tuition price, consider going out-of-state to college. While out-of-state students usually get charged extra, this isn't always the case.

    Some schools are willing to offer lower tuition for out-of-state students. This is especially true for schools in less populated areas, which are eager for students to enroll and even offer discounts.

  3. 3

    Apply for Financial Aid

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can help make paying for college less of a burden. FAFSA determines the amount of financial aid students can receive to pay for school.

    How much you receive depends on different factors: your school's tuition cost, your income and assets, your family size, and if you have siblings attending college.

  4. 4

    Take Fewer Credits

    The average college credit costs $456, which isn't cheap. You can make college more affordable by only taking what you need to graduate.

    While having a well-rounded college education is important, you can still be deliberate about what you want to take versus what you need. You may save money in the long run, too.


Available Affordable Online Degrees


  • Business

    More students pursue business degrees than any other degree — for a good reason. A business degree offers graduates many career options, including financial analyst, accountant, or management consultant. During school, students learn core organizational behavior and leadership concepts and complete specialized courses in accounting, finance, and marketing.

  • Nursing

    An online nursing degree provides skills in patient care, health assessment, and clinical nursing practice. Students take classes in nursing, anatomy, and physiology. A certain number of clinical hours are required to graduate as well. After earning an online nursing degree, graduates can apply for nursing licensure.

  • Information Technology

    Information technology degrees focus on analyzing an organization's technology needs and designing solutions to meet those needs. Graduates go on to work as information security analysts, database administrators, and network architects.

  • Medical Billing and Coding

    Medical coding and billing degrees teach students to become medical records and health information specialists. Students learn key skills, such as electronically recording patient data, understanding medical terminology, and following Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act regulations. Graduates can work in healthcare facilities, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and doctors' offices.


Read Why These Students Found Their Online Degree More Affordable

Read why these students found their online degree more affordable

We believe the best people to share about online learning experiences are students who have really done it, which is why we surveyed 600 unique students. Filter to find a student like you or sort to read the good, the bad, and everything in between. By leaving a review, students were entered to win a sweepstakes.

* means this student may have had to visit the campus a few times a year for their program.

  • Age 25
  • IT Technology
  • University of Phoenix
  • Online *

Experience

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"It was move convenient for me, and it cost a lot less."

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 38
  • Business Administration
  • Devry
  • Online *

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Seemed more cost effective"

  • Financial assitance
  • First generation student
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 30
  • Business Administration
  • UTH Florida
  • Online

Experience

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Value

4.0
green star green star green star green star

Affordability

4.0
green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Because of the cost"

  • First generation student
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 29
  • Master of Social Work
  • Ohio State University
  • Online

Experience

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"I was working full time and would not be able to take in person classes. I had thought about getting my master's, and decided to peruse it since my employer paid the majority of the cost."

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 36
  • Medical Lab Science
  • CNM
  • Online *

Experience

3.0
green star green star green star blank star blank star

Value

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"More flexible and costs less"

  • Financial assitance
  • Has support system
Doesn't recommend
  • Age 30
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Arizona State University
  • Online *

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Easier to use and work at the same time, with more affordable prices"

  • Financial assitance
  • First generation student
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 23
  • Bachelor's - Business Management
  • Valdosta State University
  • Online

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"It was more cost effective than living on campus and saves me time"

  • Financial assitance
  • First generation student
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 21
  • Information Technology
  • The University of Alabama
  • Online *

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Because the cost is affordable and an easier way to study"

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 22
  • Finance
  • University of Minnesota
  • Online

Experience

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Value

4.0
green star green star green star green star

Affordability

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Covid and cost"

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 22
  • Associate Degree- Business Administration, Bachelor of Science - Retail Management
  • Florida State University
  • Online *

Experience

3.0
green star green star green star blank star blank star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

1.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"I decided to enroll in an online degree program because I live far from Florida State University. The cost of dorm living is too expensive."

  • Financial assitance
  • First generation student
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 40
  • MBA, BSC
  • Northeastern University
  • Online

Experience

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Because online degree programs take advantage of online's inherent ability for self-paced instruction, flexible adjunct faculty, and student mentors to help adult learners save on tuition, instruction, or other costs."

  • Financial assitance
  • First generation student
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 33
  • Master of Music
  • Kent State University
  • Online

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Convenience, cost, and to self-pace my degree"

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 26
  • BS - Communication
  • Regent University
  • Online *

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"It was convenient and cost effective"

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Doesn't recommend
  • Age 41
  • Business Administration
  • Grand Canyon
  • Online

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Price"

  • First generation student
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 30
  • MBA
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Online

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Price"

  • Works in field of study
Recommends

Online Students Survey Methodology

Student testimonials have generally been obtained with the offer of compensation for completion of a survey (e.g., entrance into a gift card drawing). Such testimonials are the opinions of such students and surveys are designed to avoid influencing such testimonials either positively or negatively. All student respondents were supplied by Lucid LLC.

Methodology:

All data was collected between 5/19/21 and 5/26/21 and respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. All respondents in the study were screened by multiple quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy. Survey participants include 622 individuals who graduated with an online degree in the past 6 years. Degrees ranged from certifications to associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level programs. Respondents are between 21 and 60 years of age and identified as 48% Female and 52% Male.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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